3 Women On Why They Want A Second Brexit Referendum

Natalie Gil

More than 100,000 people are expected to gather in central London tomorrow for what's being described as the "biggest, loudest and most important" anti-Brexit march since the referendum. The rally, organised by campaign group The People's Vote, is calling for a referendum on the final deal. "Brexit negotiations are taking us towards a future that nobody voted for," says the umbrella group, which is make up of several grassroots campaigns. "We have just weeks to make our voices heard and have a say on what Britain’s future looks like."

The action kicks off at 12pm on Saturday 20th October on Park Lane and will see demonstrators make their way to Westminster, where impassioned speeches will be made in Parliament Square. Politicians from across the political spectrum have appealed for people to join the march, including London Mayor Sadiq Khan, and several celebrities have also shown support for the campaign (Sir Patrick Stewart, Steve Coogan and Delia Smith, to name a few).

It would be an understatement to say Brexit plans are going badly. With fewer than 200 days to go until "Brexit day" on 29th March (after which we'll have officially left the EU), negotiations have reached an impasse over the crucial Irish border question, and there are myriad other issues around trade and travel. Then there's the huge intergenerational schism that's developed, with young people blaming older Leave voters for ruining their futures.

Ahead, three young women explain why they're marching for a second referendum.

Shakira Martin, 30, is the president of the National Union of Students and based in South London.

The stakes are high for women and the outcomes of Brexit. Many of our protections are derived from EU treaties and directives. Even if these rights are automatically put into UK law, future governments could quite easily remove and undermine them. I have a personal reason to be at the march along with my need to represent the millions of students across the UK.

In addition, amidst all the talk of reclaiming sovereignty and securing independence, of ensuring freedom to dictate new trade deals or the shape of our bananas, the future of our education has not been spoken about. There are 1.4 million young people who have turned 18 since the EU referendum in 2016, who didn’t get their say on the biggest – and as yet unresolved – issue of our time. Now they are looking forward to an uncertain future, thanks to Brexit. They are terrified about what this means for themselves and their peers. These are the voices that must be heard. This is why we need a People’s Vote. The NUS will be demanding a final say on the Brexit deal so that, whatever the outcome of all this, it is done so with the consent of the generation who will be affected the most.

If there were a second referendum, I'd want the voices of students and young people to actually be listened to. Young people who have the most to lose should be properly protected and not worse off after the UK's departure from the EU.

Sarah McCluney, 20, is a mechanic traveling to the march from Bracknell, Berkshire.

Young women have an incentive to march, especially with the risk of losing human rights. We need to stand up for ourselves and make sure we have things in place that protect us and ensure we keep the same rights as others. We make up most of the population and women fought hard for us to have a democratic say in this country over a century ago, so we shouldn’t sit around and let others make decisions for us. We have our voices so we should let them be heard.

I'm marching because the way government is dealing with the Brexit talks is just not good enough. We need to know what’s going to happen if we leave the EU and that we'd have the final decision to either stay in the EU or leave with the deal the government has put in place. I also want the government to see that young people do care about this country – we’re not just going to let the older generation, that Brexit will hardly affect, make all the decisions. Many politicians haven’t given a second thought to the likes of apprentices and the working people losing their jobs because of businesses leaving the UK, or the lack of funding after Brexit. Then there's the question of what will happen to Northern Ireland – there’s been talk of electricity blackouts in the country, and we still don't know what will happen with the border between it and Ireland. Brexit risks destroying all the hard work that was put in making the Good Friday Agreement.

Kathryn Rose Breitner, 34, is a strategic consultant and campaigner based in London. She'll be wearing a rainbow flag, painted in glitter and carrying a banner that reads: “LGBT+ Demand a People’s Vote” at the march.

As a woman, and particularly as a queer woman, I know that my rights are best protected in the EU. I want to tell the government that, like me, the majority of the LGBT+ community want a People’s Vote. I just got married to my girlfriend, and it's not lost on me that were I born in any other time in British history, I wouldn’t be able to be fully who I am. Previous generations fought hard for me to enjoy the rights I have now, so I’m marching for the LGBT+ community of tomorrow.

Leaving the EU will leave British LGBT+ people vulnerable to the whims of (potentially homophobic) future governments. I dread to think of the damage that the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg could do. Currently, the EU locks the UK into protecting people on the basis of sexuality and gender identity. It also provides gay, bi and trans people with a legal route to appeal if the UK doesn’t treat them fairly. For example, Section 28 – the censorship law that prohibited the promotion of homosexuality – couldn’t have happened under the modern EU rules. But without EU membership, the UK has nothing to stop LGBT+ community-hating politicians from passing a similar law in future.

Brexit impacts all of us, but women disproportionately so. Yet the political discourse around Brexit is being dominated by men. Women’s voices need to be heard more. We need to care about Brexit and fight for a path forward that’s good for women, because men won’t do it for us.

If there were a second referendum, I'd like the government to focus on the issues that caused the leave outcome in 2016. There is great disparity in Britain (economically, socially, etc.) and certain populations have been neglected. I’d like to take the energy that is going into the disaster that is Brexit and put it towards working for a fairer society.

Kathryn (right)

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