Press Release 24th March 2017 – Unite For Europe Organisers

Big turnout expected in support of the EU, as more high-profile speakers confirm


Unite for Europe, National March to Parliament, London, 25 March 2017

Organisers of the Unite for Europe March on Saturday, have seen a surge in grass-roots interest this week. There will be tens of thousands of people coming to demonstrate their support of the EU, from across the UK and mainland Europe.

“Saturday is the 60th Anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome – the foundation treaty of the EU,” says Unite for Europe march organiser, Keiran MacDermott. “The Metropolitan Police and the GLA (Greater London Authority) are supportive of the march going ahead, and we will be marching in reflective mood, to demonstrate our belief in the principles of tolerance, respect and unity, ideals that lie at the heart of the European community. We will also be remembering those affected in Wednesday’s terrible events.”

The post-march rally has attracted a number of high-profile speakers, including Tim Farron MP, Nick Clegg MP, Alastair Campbell, Sir Patrick Stewart,  Tim Farron MP, David Lammy MP, Seb Dance MEP, Jonathan Bartley (Green Party Co-Leader), Nick Clegg MP, and Jolyon Maugham.

You can read their statements (and many others) here:

“I look forward to marching with people from all over the country and celebrating openness, cooperation and unity across our great continent,” Tim Farron says, “Democracy did not end on the 24th June, and I will continue to make the case that the British people should decide whether to accept the final deal,” Mr Farron states.

Latest updates:

  • A minute’s silence will be observed at the start of the rally to remember the events of Wednesday. (Approx 13:10).
  • Estimate of attendees: Approx. 115,000
  • New speakers: Alastair Campbell, Peter Tatchell.
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March and make our voice heard – March 25th London

On Saturday there is a march in London, one that is about principles that go to the heart of the UK’s democracy.

The UK’s democracy is founded on fundamental principles: the sovereignty of parliament, freedom of speech, the right to argue the alternative view among them.

Many diverse groups will be represented in the march; the common element is their opposition to the autocratic, even dictatorial tone coming from Theresa May.

Members of The People’s Challenge will be present to help to make sure that decision-makers inside and outside the UK realise that the Deal/No Deal approach to Brexit being pursued by the Prime Minister is not the only view held by the people of the UK.

It is important that we “Stop the Silence”, the silence the Brexiters and the Government are using to try to stifle democracy and reasoned debate.

We must support all those who have relied on the UK’s tolerant and welcoming attitude to establish their homes in the UK, and those from the UK who have relied on the UK’s word and gone to work with or establish themselves among our European friends.

It must not be forgotten that the rights of UK citizens resident in the UK are also under threat, including the right to work and trade across the EU borders, the right to reciprocal health care in EU countries, including those many popular holiday destinations.

The People’s Challenge will be travelling from far and wide, including, Gibraltar, Wales and France to attend this event.

So we ask you, our supporters, to attend this march and encourage others to do the same so that our voice can be heard clearly and unambiguously.

We will be gathering outside the Dorchester on Park Lane from 10:00 onwards, look for our banner.

Be there or be square!

Booklet front cover

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March on the 25th to make sure our voice is heard.

Dear People’s Challenge supporter,

on the 25th there is a march in London, one that goes beyond the pros and cons of Brexit.
Many diverse groups will be represented in the march; the common element is their opposition to the autocratic, even dictatorial tone coming from Theresa May.

One of the strengths of the UK’s democracy is the tolerance of an alternative argument; a tolerance that no longer exists, according to senior members of this government.
Indeed, the Prime Minister herself has said that those of us who ask the courts to enforce the rule of law “are not standing up for democracy, they’re trying to subvert it.”

Members of The People’s Challenge will be present to help to make sure that decision-makers inside and outside the UK realise that “The Red Queen” does not speak for the majority anymore, let alone everybody.

The People’s Challenge will be travelling from far and wide, including, Gibraltar, Wales and France to attend this event.

It is important that we “Stop the Silence”, the silence the rabid Brexiters are using to try to stifle democracy and reasoned debate.

We must support all those who have relied on the UK’s tolerant and welcoming attitude to establish their homes in the UK, and those from the UK who have relied on the UK’s word and gone to work with or establish themselves among our European friends.

So we ask you, our supporters, to attend this march and encourage others to do the same so that our voice can be heard clearly and unambiguously.

Here is our banner, be there or be square!


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It is not about what we have not yet achieved, it is about those things we have achieved – so far.

This update is about reminding you of the things that you’ve helped to achieve.

It can be hard to remember where we all started from, especially when things seem as if they aren’t going our way. So let’s look back on a few “impossibles” we’ve achieved to date.

We obliged the Government to abandon its attempt to keep its arguments secret prior to the Divisional Court case, which the Government then lost.

The crucial element in the winning of the case in the Divisional Court were the arguments we put forward, showing that only Parliament can authorise the removal of fundamental UK citizenship rights.

Not many people thought we could win. But we did win, and thousands of you backed us by contributing to the huge amount of money raised through Crowd Justice.

If we and others hadn’t taken on the government, Theresa May would have triggered Art. 50 when she walked into No 10.

Having won in the Divisional and then the Supreme Court, we knew that was not going to be the end of it, and we had a plan ready to put into action.

Having kicked off research about the revocability/conditionality of Art 50, we commissioned the “Three Knights Opinion”, written by 5 experts with impeccable credentials. It is fair to say that the “Three Knights Opinion”, together with the skills and savvy of our legal team, was pivotal in influencing the HoL to support the meaningful vote amendment.

Ultimately, the HoC removed the amendment, BUT they cannot remove the “Three Knights Opinion” – it is there to be used to hold the Government to account, we just have to judge when the time is right to do that.

So we must keep our chins, tails and dander up.

The Government has tried and failed four times to “see us off”, we are still here and we’re not out of ammunition!

The conductor is playing her dissonant symphony for now (see the reports of the Commons Brexit Selecte Committee where David Davis admits that the Gov. has NOT done an economic impact assessment of leaving the EU without a deal).

But we are waiting in the wings, ready to act when the time is right.

If it is necessary and when the time is right we will mount or support a challenge to any attempt by the Government to force the results of the negotiations without a meaningful vote on what is in the best interests of the UK.

The Fat Lady is there with us, under strict instructions that there will be no singing until Parliament has decided what is in the best interests of the UK.

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Brexit Bill – the Decisive Moment.

On Monday afternoon MPs will debate the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill again. The Government’s aim is to strip away the EU residents’ and parliamentary approval amendments, then return the Bill to the Lords and press there for it to be passed in its original form, unamended. The Prime Minister hopes to give the Article 50 notification soon afterwards, as soon as Tuesday, according to some reports.

We promised to take urgent action to remind MPs of their constitutional and moral responsibilities ahead of the next Commons debate, so that they can decide which way to vote on an informed basis.

We are taking that action.

First, our legal team prepared a fresh briefing, Seven reasons to stand up for Parliament’s sovereignty. It explains that Parliament is being asked to write a ‘blank cheque’, giving ministers power to withdraw the country from the EU, two years from now, on whatever terms ministers agree, or indeed without any agreement at all and that allowing the Government to proceed in this way would be the most serious abdication of parliamentary sovereignty in living memory. The manner and terms on which we withdraw from the EU will have implications for the rights and interests of every citizen and business, for years to come. Parliament must take responsibility for those decisions. The parliamentary approval amendment asserts parliamentary sovereignty and puts it in its proper place – in black and white on the face of the Bill.

Secondly, 650 briefing packs were prepared for containing an introductory cover sheet, the new briefing, the Three Knights Opinion and a professionally printed version of our plain English ‘Gold Card’ booklet about the citizenship rights at stake in the Brexit negotiations. Every single one of the country’s MPs has been sent one.

Thirdly, over the weekend, the team will send the briefing in electronic form and links to the other materials to all MPs and parliamentary assistants. They will also make contact with key MPs to emphasise its importance and answer questions.

The value our work is adding to the debate over Parliament’s role becoming very clear. The Three Knights Opinion was referred to repeatedly in the Lords debates, and many peers draw on our Lords briefing in their speeches on the parliamentary approval amendment. Labour has said it will fight to keep the amendment in place. And yesterday the House of Commons Library, which produces authoritative, non-partisan briefing papers for MPs, published a special 49 page paper discussing the Three Knights Opinion to inform Monday’s debate.

Our action is effective because of your support. Please do continue to back us at this critical time.

You can take action yourself today, first by making contact with your MP, ideally at a local constituency surgery this weekend, or by e mail, or via their parliamentary assistant by phone on Monday morning (020 7219 3000 and ask to be put through to their office giving your MP’s name). Urge them to read the briefing pack, especially the Seven reasons to stand up for Parliament’s sovereignty briefing. If you can meet with them, download it and take a copy along. Tell them why this issue is so important to you. Some key points are set in the last update.

Secondly, please consider making a further small donation towards our fundraising stretch target via CrowdJustice. This last, big push is time consuming and costly. But whatever happens on Monday, we believe we should do everything in our power to improve the Bill now, at this decisive moment.

Please back the The Second People’s Challenge: helping Parliament take control and help our parliamentarians ensure that Parliament has meaningful control over the Brexit process.


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Ping pong stage of Brexit Bill about to start, make sure your MP stands up and is counted in the fight for parliamentary democracy

As discussed in previous updates,  the government is determined to overturn the parliamentary approval amendment we backed  as well as the earlier amendment that aims to protect the position of economically  active EU nationals here on the date Article 50 notification is given.

Worse still,  the government is acting very swiftly. The debate to  overturn the amendment is likely to take place next Monday, 13 March in the afternoon  and could well be followed by a further Lords debate the same evening.

We are moving as quickly as we can to brief MPs on why they should resist the attempt to overturn the parliamentary approval amendment.

We also believe the EU nationals amendment should remain in place:

the proposed protection would be both compassionate and pragmatic;

case-by-case decisions on the fate of millions are impractical;

and acknowledging that resident EU nationals should remain here would encourage other EU states to reciprocate with their UK national residents.

In the meantime, however, you can take direct action yourself by making your MP aware of your own views on the parliamentary approval amendment  on the importance of Parliament, not the Government, deciding on your own and your family’s future once the outcome of negotiations with the EU and the 27 remaining  member states  becomes clear.

You can do this by:

  • finding out who your MP is using this link;
  • making direct contact with them or, if they are unavailable, their Parliamentary assistant (whose details you should be able to obtained by calling 020 7219 4272);and
  •  either  setting out your views clearly and concisely in writing and asking them  to reply and commit to  defending Parliamentary sovereignty; or
  • better still,  arranging to see them tomorrow or over the weekend at a local constituency surgery to explain your views in person; and
  • telling them that they can expect to receive a briefing from the People’s Challenge solicitors, Bindmans, and asking them to look out for and read it.

Some key points you might want to consider making are:

  • what is at stake for you and your family in the Brexit process and who you want to be the ultimate decision maker over what happens to you– Parliament or the Government;
  • whether you are concerned about there being no deal agreed with the EU at all, if so, why and what role you would expect Parliament to have at that stage;
  • whether you believe Parliament been given a good reason for surrendering its sovereignty to the Government in relation to the most important constitutional decisions of a generation;
  • whether the Government’s reason for not giving Parliament a meaningful say on the outcome of negotiations – to improve its negotiating hand – makes sense toyou; and
  • what you expect your MP to do now, as your elected representative.

Last, if you have not already done so, please consider making a further donation to back the The Second People’s Challenge: helping Parliament take control

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Rock on the Lords, can the Commons Jive – a resounding cheer for the Lords and now, thanks to your support, on to the fight in the Commons .

On Tuesday evening, a record number of peers passed, by a majority of 98, an amendment to the European Union (Withdrawal Notification) Bill, giving Parliament a meaningful vote on what happens at the conclusion of the Brexit negotiations. The Bill now says that the power to notify can only be exercised subject to Parliament’s final decision on the outcome of the negotiations.

This amendment is a massive improvement on the Bill in its original form.  As we said in our briefing to peers, there is no good reason why Parliament should not explicitly define in the Bill its sovereignty over the most important constitutional decision of our time – whether we should leave the EU on any terms the Government negotiates or, if no terms can be agreed, what should happen next.

This was a principled position championed time after time during the debate.

The five key points we made about the merits of the amendment were all highlighted.

First, the amendment ensures a meaningful choice for Parliament, not just a “Deal/No Deal” vote on the result of the Government’s negotiations.

Baroness McIntosh of Pickering picked up this point and quoted from the “Three Knights Opinion” including:

“I will refer also to an article written by five eminent QCs, including three knights, who gave their opinion on the matter and stated:

‘Meaningful Parliamentary decision-making cannot be achieved by Parliament authorising exit from the European Union, two years in advance, on as yet unknown terms. Equally, it cannot be achieved by a single ‘take it or leave it’ vote at the end of the process’”.

Lord Hailsham added:

“I believe that the proper interpretation of the referendum is this: it is an instruction to the Government to negotiate withdrawal on the best terms they can get. But that raises an absolutely fundamental question to which this proposed new clause is directed. When the negotiations have crystallised and there are agreed terms—or, perhaps, no agreed terms—who determines the way forward: is it the Executive or is it Parliament? That is the old question we have to resolve. In my view, any believer in a democratic state has to say that the authority lies with Parliament.”

Second, the amendment would give Parliament genuine control.

On this, Lord Pannick told the House:

“I find it disappointing that those who most loudly asserted the importance of the sovereignty of Parliament during the referendum campaign are now so alarmed by the prospect of the sovereignty of Parliament at the end of the process.” 

Lord Hailsham added:

“Our sole purpose is to ensure that the outcome—agreed terms or no agreed terms—is subject to the unfettered discretion of Parliament. It is, in our view, Parliament and not the Executive which should be the final arbiter of our country’s future. Ironically, in this sense we stand with the campaigners for Brexit who wanted Parliament to recover control over policy and legislation.”

Third, the amendment would make explicit the need for Parliament’s approval of any agreement and that an “assurance” from the Government that Parliament will be asked to express a view in a consent motion is constitutionally meaningless.

On this Baroness Smith, Labour’s Shadow Leader in the Lords, explained:

“Our priority is Amendment 3, to ensure that Parliament has a meaningful vote and that we maintain parliamentary sovereignty… “ 

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean added:

“We need this in the Bill because the Government have form for bypassing Parliament, and we need to know that that will not happen again.” 

Lord Heseltine said the same:

“This amendment, as the noble Lord so clearly set out, secures in law the Government’s commitment, already made to another place, to ensure that Parliament is the ultimate custodian of our national sovereignty.”

Baroness Jones added:

“During the referendum we voted for taking back control. However, taking back control does not mean giving such a momentous decision for the future of the UK to a tiny cohort of politicians.”

then went on to say:

“People change. Governments change. We cannot be sure that the same people will be in power when this finally happens, so it is important to get a commitment. Parliament has to have scrutiny, and a say in something so incredibly important—a deal that is being thrashed out between the UK and the EU that will affect our future for ever. I also think it is a mockery if the European Parliament gets a vote on this and we do not. That again is not taking back control.”

Fourth, the amendment was clear about what Parliament must decide.

Baroness Altmann put the point in this way:

“I believe it is my duty, given the very serious concerns that I have expressed, to ask the other place to reconsider the need for elected MPs to take responsibility for the future of their constituents. I believe that they must have the final say on the Bill and I want to ask them to think again.”

Last, the amendment would provide greater legal certainty, important because the UK’s decision to withdraw from the EU can only be effective for Article 50 purposes if taken in accordance with the UK’s constitutional requirements.

Baroness Kennedy developed this point very powerfully:

“the Supreme Court’s principal conclusion was that primary legislation is required to authorise the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. I make it clear that this Bill is a notification Bill; it is not an authorisation Bill.”

Baroness Kennedy went on to say:

I also remind the House what the Supreme Court judges said. They said that the reason why this was a matter for Parliament—both the notification and, finally, withdrawal—was because any fundamental change to our laws that inevitably amends or abrogates our individual rights requires the approval of Parliament.”

What now?

The Bill returns to the Commons for further debate focused on the Lords’ amendments.

Our next step is to send every MP a briefing pack and to support key MPs who will influence the debate (anticipated to take place in the first half of next week).

It is an ambitious objective to hold the parliamentary control amendment in place, but it was ambitious to believe we could get this far.

As ever we need your backing. We’ve got this far because of you.

We must never doubt our ability as individuals to gather together and change circumstances.

Please help keep the campaign rolling by making another donation and/or encouraging others to support what we’re doing. This will mean we can continue to make your voices heard and ensure Parliament’s control over all our futures.

For the moment, I’ll let Michael (Lord) Heseltine have the final word on the amendment:

It ensures that Parliament has the critical role in determining the future that we will bequeath to generations of young people.”

Thank you,

Grahame Pigney

Please back the The Second People’s Challenge: helping Parliament take control and help our parliamentarians ensure that Parliament has meaningful control over the Brexit process.


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