Brexit blamed for UK's political chaos at pro-EU rally

Remainers argue the cost-of-living crisis would not be as bad if Britain was still a member of the EU

Pro-EU campaigners protest in London on Saturday. EPA
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Brexit has been blamed for the UK’s current political upheaval by protesters at a pro-EU rally in London.

Thousands opposed to Britain’s departure from the trading bloc took part in the National Rejoin March on Saturday, which culminated in a gathering at Parliament Square.

Demonstrators took aim at the Westminster crisis and cost-of-living emergency, pointing the finger at Brexit.

“For lower bills rejoin the EU,” read one sign. “Brexit was never going to work,” read another.

Guy Verhofstadt, a Belgian MEP who has for years been outspoken in his disapproval of the UK’s choice, was among those who took part in the rally.

“I want to see in my life the return of the UK [to the] European Union,” he told the crowds. “Why? Because in fact Brexit has been a disaster for the UK and a disaster for Europe.”

He said Europe is “weaker today than before Brexit” and turned to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to push his call for a strong, united EU with the UK as a member.

Mr Verhofstadt attacked the ruling Conservative Party, which is wracked by division amid another leadership contest.

He pointed to a statue of former Conservative prime minister Sir Winston Churchill outside Parliament, saying “the greatest British politician” would not have “done what the Conservatives are doing now”.

Nikki Ajibade, 60, from Warwickshire, was among the protesters at the march.

The teacher said she felt “very strongly” that the situation the UK is facing could be traced back to the 2016 EU referendum, which saw British voters opt to break ties with the EU.

“It wasn’t a supermajority result, 52 [per cent voting to leave] and 48 [per cent voting to remain] is not something that you can just completely upturn and upend the whole country,” she said. “Look six years on where we are. So we feel very strongly that we need to get a sensible government in place, general election now, because this lot are squabbling like rats in a sack.”

Oliver Jackson, 26, travelled to London from Dorset to make his views known. The warehouse worker said that it was important for politicians to listen to those who wanted to rejoin the EU.

“We need to get our voices heard,” he said. “And especially during all this chaos … Honestly, the best way to get the UK back on track is to rejoin, at the very least, the single market and then the EU.

“Brexit has been the slow death that has been bleeding the UK dry for years.”

Updated: October 23, 2022, 11:21 AM