London: Never Gonna Give EU Up

This blog post will be a little different. For a start I’m sure you’ve noticed that this is set in London, not Japan. It will be a little less cultural and a little more political. Worry not, there are more Japan posts on the horizon, but this was an event well worth writing about. I’m not going to be particularly preachy or political, as there are far better writers writing far more persuasively on this issue than I. However, I did get some great pictures of the event, which is the main purpose of the post. With that out of the way, let’s get on with it!

As you may be aware, on the 23rd of June, the UK voted to leave the European Union, also known as ‘Brexit’. I, like many young people, voted to Remain, and was therefore horrified to wake up to the news that we would be leaving the EU. I will not go into my reasons for voting remain, a simple google search will find you the arguments for both sides, but I do stand by my vote. So much so that I joined the pro-EU march in central London today urging parliament to act in the country’s best interests and not invoke Article 50 (the article that would give us 2 years to leave the EU). This was my first protest march, and I’m glad I did it.

I understand that this march is controversial, as many say we should shut up and go with the referendum result, however I believe that due to the lies perpetuated by the Leave campaign, the economic shock, and the rise in racist incidents since the vote, parliament should consider whether we really should leave the EU. So I marched. Here is a good letter explaining the flaws of the referendum.

I joined the marchers at about 11:30 at Park Lane, where we milled about for about an hour, before setting off towards Westminster via Trafalgar square. The Facebook group had 20,000 people saying they would attend, and the BBC has reported “thousands” marching, but there as of yet no exact figure. Roads were closed, helicopters hovered overhead, and the police had a strong presence. Fortunately the protests were peaceful.

It’s amazing how many puns you can manage with EU, which just sounds like “you”. I took pictures of a lot of the best signs, though not all made the final cut for this post. Honourable mentions go to the following : “Hold up, they don’t love EU like I love EU“, “I wanna be inside EU” and “Hopelessly devoted to EU“. There were also signs with witticisms such as “No Brexit please, we’re British” and “what about my chance to go over there and take their jobs?“, as well as the hashtag #EtonMess. Of course there were serious signs too. I spent the first hour wishing I had cardboard and pens so I could join in! I did at least wear blue and yellow, the colours of the EU flag.

The most amusing part of the day occurred fairly early on. We had just passed the sign referring to Cameron’s pig exploits, when a policeman standing behind us said “‘Effed a pig? What did we do?”. This confirmed to me that British police are pretty great. There were a lot of pig jokes, jabs at Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and Michael Gove, as well as signs reading “Theresa May we have human rights?” and “Theresa May we stay?“. There were a number of Corbyn supporters, which I found a little odd considering he has never been particularly enthused by the idea of remaining in the EU. Regardless of this smorgasbord of political opinion, the pro-EU sentiment was clear.

In addition to the puntastic signs, there were several chants taking advantage of the “you”- “EU” switch. Hey Jude was popular, replacing “Jude” with “EU”, as was the internet’s favourite prank song, becoming “never gonna give EU up” (which elicited groans from some nearby, and enthusiastic singing from others). Strangely enough, the Astley classic had great lyrics for the occasion, making this one of the few times that the song has exceeded its role as a meme and became something more.

There were children, adults, disabled, able-bodied, many races and many political perspectives represented at the march. The heavens threatened to open at least once, but soon we were baking in the usually shy British summer sun.

I am very glad I took the time to travel to London to participate in the protests. While I do not expect them to have made much of a difference, applying pressure to the government and main political parties at a time of such uncertainty is important. Normal programming will resume soon, though I may include other non-Japan based posts in the future.