Hundreds of people rallied at the National Rejoin March (NRM) in Hyde Park in central London on September 23, demanding the UK re-enter the European Union.
Attendees were mostly dressed in blue outfits with yellow stars, sporting slogans such as “the road to rejoin the EU starts here” and “rejoin, rejoice”.
Another sign read: “Tories out, migrants welcome. Rejoin the EU.”
Arch-Europhile MEP Guy Verhofstadt spoke at the event, saying in a somewhat meandering speech: “British democracy can reverse Brexit.”
— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) September 24, 2023
Another joining the rally was the German Greens MEP Terry Reintke. She said the march showed the UK had “managed to build one of the biggest pro-European movements all across Europe”. Reinkte said, if there was a willingness to rejoin, “our door would be open”.
Her ideological ally Zack Polanski, deputy leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, said: “Brexit has failed. We need to be clear and honest about that.”
Polanski added that leaving the EU “has been bad for Europe, our economy, a disaster for the climate crisis. Brexit is hitting the poorest and most vulnerable in our country the hardest”.
Peter Corr, leader and co-founder of the NRM, said he had decided to organise the march as it “felt like everyone had given up” on the idea of re-joining the bloc.
The British press also seems to have given up, with little reporting of the march, much to the dismay of the organisers. They said it was “scandalous and bizarre” that the BBC had not covered the event.
Other UK media outlets chose to highlight a different march on the same day, against the American XL Bully dog ban. International media paid more attention to the NRM event than the British media.
You can’t keep pretending #BrexitLies
You can’t pretend we’re not here.
You will not silence us. pic.twitter.com/LQa7Qq90Wj
— Robbie Scowls (@RScowler) September 23, 2023
The NRM team claimed “tens of thousands from all around the country and Europe” were with them but pictures and videos of the march seem to suggest a more moderate turnout.
UK media channel GB News spoke with some on the Rejoin march, asking why they wanted to go back into the EU fold – and received some notable answers.
'An estimated crowd of only 5,000 compared to previous crowds of 50,000'@NanaAkua1 reacts to the National Rejoin March that took place in London yesterday, and @BenLeo444 went to have a chat with some remainers. pic.twitter.com/OOas2A3f7X
— GB News (@GBNEWS) September 24, 2023
Prominent UK politicians also seemed to shy away from the march. Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer has indicated he wants to “rewrite” the Brexit agreement but has not issued any re-join sentiments with his party currently leading in the polls.
Last year, another pro-EU march was able to muster a far bigger turnout than the NRM. Although polls do indicate a certain level of “Bregret” as things have not run particularly smoothly in the UK since Brexit, public appetite for a new referendum on reversing the move remains low.
Across the Channel, a Franco-German blueprint is being devised around associate membership for the UK, centred on the single market. Ironically, that was an idea originally brought up by the Brexit camp but dismissed by the European side at the time.
Daniel Hannan, a leading Brexiteer, argued in a recent opinion piece that the way EU handled Brexit has made the issue so toxic in the UK – with Eurocrats wanting to “punish” Britain – that neither the ruling Conservatives nor Labour would enter a re-join debate anytime soon.