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Calls for unity as thousands attend anti-Brexit rally in London

Lib Dem Ed Davey says remainers should listen to other side and be a unifying force, as estimated 50,000 turn out in capital

Opponents of Brexit who turned out in their tens of thousands for one of the largest marches yet against Britains withdrawal from the EU have been told they need to listen and understand leave voters and bide their time for a referendum on any deal that may emerge.

The plea, met with polite applause from many in the crowd in Parliament Square, came from the Liberal Democrat MP Ed Davey. He said his emotions had shifted from anger to distress, from fury to despair and then to embarrassment at the Brexit negotiations.

Davey told a sea of demonstrators clad in the blue and yellow of the EU flag that the odds, and the parliamentary arithmetic, were even more stacked against them than before.

We need to be a unifying force and that means that we need to listen to the other side, he said. We need to understand where they come from and listen in a way that heals the wounds and reunites our country.

There were gutsier cheers for bawdy chants led by other speakers who echoed slogans such as Bollocks to Brexit and called for more protests as the legislation passes through parliament.

Organisers estimated that at least 50,000 protesters marched through central London to converge on Parliament Square.

The Peoples March For Europe carried the message unite, rethink and reject Brexit. The organisers said leaving the EU no longer holds credibility inside Westminster, let alone on the streets of Britain.

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Various home-made placards are on show at the demonstration. Photograph: Amer Ghazzal/Barcroft Images

Among the largely white, often self-admittedly middle class crowd, the raw emotion and despondency of many remainers was all too evident, with many sharing stories of how the vote had directly affected their lives.

Carole White, 73, from Southend, said others in her generation which backed leave in larger numbers were harking back to a bygone age.

I have travelled all over Europe in my life and in Poland there were people who were nostalgic for communism. It was because they longed for a time when they were young, which they had good memories off and had no responsibilities. Its the same here, she said.

Danny Serieux, 52, from London used a word that most people reached for when asked to describe what they felt about Brexit: devastation. He said the money he sent to relatives in St Lucia was no longer worth as much after the decline in the value of sterling.

Brexit isnt a holy cow. It has to be stopped, and why shouldnt it be stopped if it is a disaster for our country, he said.

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A woman wears face paint in the colours of the European flag. Photograph: Stringer/Reuters

Kate Matthews, marching with her friend Kirsty Morrison, both 31, said the vote had affected her too. I lost my job because I worked for an international company that had been based here, she said. She was now looking into qualifying for an Irish passport through her ancestry.

Rosie Niven, mother of eight-month-old Aida who was wearing a remain sticker on her beanie hat, said: I work for a higher education company and we knew what Brexit would mean for that industry, so there was a lot of despondency on the morning after the vote.

Personally, I just also feel sad about the potential loss of being able to freely work and live in other countries. It was something that we had been strongly considering doing next year as a family. It was quite early in my pregnancy with her when the referendum result came through and we thought immediately of what it could mean in future.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/sep/09/brexit-pro-eu-demonstration-london

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