Thu, 09 Feb 2017
MORE than 50 people marched through the streets of Newbury on Saturday in a show of solidarity with Europe.
Led by campaign group West Berkshire Stronger Together, the march through the town centre aimed to put pressure on Newbury’s representative in Parliament, MP Richard Benyon, as Britain prepares to sever ties with its European neighbours.
Last week, a vote in the House of Commons saw a majority of MPs, including Mr Benyon, back the triggering of Article 50, thus allowing the Government to begin Brexit negotiations.
In response, campaigners gathered at the Clock Tower in The Broadway before marching to the town hall where the crowd heard from a range of pro-EU speakers, including Newbury and West Berkshire Labour Party member Jonny Roberts, Green Party candidate Paul Field and Liberal Democrat candidate Judith Bunting.
Rally co-ordinator Sarah Lowes called for Mr Benyon to represent the “democratic voice of the people in West Berkshire” – 52 per cent of whom voted to remain in Europe in last year’s referendum.
Campaigners also referenced Theresa May’s recent visit to the US chanting “Yes to Europe, no to Trump” as the group made their way up Northbrook Street.
After the rally, Ms Lowes said she was pleased with the turnout and the response from the public.
“We must keep up the pressure on our MP to make sure the Government is negotiating to get the best possible deal with the EU, for the sake of our country’s, and our children’s, future prosperity,” she said.
“We do need to keep having this argument – it’s not about re-hashing the referendum from last year. With a heavy heart we accept there was a leave vote last summer, but a hard or a very hard Brexit has the potential to do a lot of damage to this country.
“There’s still a debate to be had about how we move forward.”
Mr Benyon was unable to attend the event owing to a prior engagement.
However, the Conservative MP met with the cross-party campaign group before the rally.
Mr Benyon said he welcomed the meeting in which the two parties had some “frank” discussions.
However, he added: “If the ardent Remainers believe there are 52 per cent of people in West Berkshire who share their determination to defy the referendum, I’m afraid I’m not with them.
“We need the Government to get on with it and make sure we get the best deal possible.”
Speaking about the meeting, Ms Lowes said: “We are very grateful that he agreed to meet with us.
“We feel there needs to be a strong voice in Parliament representing the likes of West Berkshire, who voted to remain, and we have given him a strong mandate to do that. I’m pleased. I feel we were able to strongly express our concerns and get his opinions face to face.
“It was important what we did in making it clear to people that,
“Okay, the vote was to leave but the negotiations aren’t over and we still have to fight for what we believe in.”