A mobile rig hosting almost 40 DJs including Artwork, Groove Armada, and Bicep took to the streets of London last Saturday to demand a second vote
In case you hadn’t already heard, British politics is a shitshow. Last Tuesday, Boris Johnson’s deal secured approval for a second reading (don’t buy into the Tory’s rhetoric: MPs haven’t ‘passed’ the deal, they’ve only agreed to scrutinise it further), but the PM hit a roadblock when his timeline of three days for the bill to pass through the Commons was rejected, forcing him to seek an extension from the EU.
The EU have since granted the UK a ‘flextension’ until January 31 2020, while a vote on whether to proceed with a general election is due to take place today, which Labour say they will only back if no-deal is ruled out. Brace yourselves for more of the same Brexit purgatory.
On October 19 – what was supposed to be the day Johnson’s withdrawal deal was voted on in Parliament – a staggering one million people took to the streets of London in a march organised by the People’s Vote Campaign. Huge cheers erupted when the Letwin amendment was confirmed, a ruling which – in what now feels like groundhog day – frustrated the PM’s hopes of passing his deal by forcing him to ask for an extension.
Diane Abbott, Emily Thornbury, John McDonnell, and Keir Starmer addressed the crowd in Parliament Square soon after, with Thornbury declaring: “We are internationalists, we are Europeans and we want to stay that way”. Starmer, Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary, reaffirmed: “When we get to that vote, we need to fight for Remain”.
While the future of Brexit was plunged into deeper uncertainty, the sentiment from protesters brandishing EU flags and signs reading ‘Fuck Boris’ and ‘Shantay EU stay’ couldn’t have been more explicit. One protester, seeming to have lost faith in all leaders entirely, called on the iconic Coleen Rooney (footballer Wayne Rooney’s wife, Wagatha Christie herself, who exposed another WAG selling stories about her to the press in a now-infamous post – keep up!) with a placard which read: ‘Coleen, sort out Brexit like you sorted Vardy’.
At the heart of the protest was the thundering R3 Soundsystem, a mobile rig hosting almost 40 DJs, which started off in Park Lane and gradually made its way to Trafalgar Square. It drew in a diverse, ebullient crowd of people, all committed to ‘raving to Remain’, to the sounds of Groove Armada, Artwork, Bicep, Daniel Avery and many more. From house, to techno, to rock and disco, there were countless anthemic bangers to sing along to, with all the gusto of being drunk at a wedding, but in the middle of Piccadilly Street.
By the time the R3 reached its final destination outside the National Portrait Gallery, the crowd was heaving, subsumed in waves of blue smoke the colour of the EU flag. The MC gave a shout-out to the people that had gathered on the gallery’s balcony: “We love you all! You’re welcome in London”. Berghain even got a mention on the mic to rapturous cheers, because of the many things we’re reluctant to kiss goodbye to if we do leave, risking rejection from the Berlin superclub is right up there.
At a time when the political landscape couldn’t feel more tumultuous and our future so uncertain, it was reassuring to see that creativity and music are still such a galvanising force. It’s exactly the kind of unity, zeal and determination we’ll need to bring to the next election campaign.
If you couldn’t make the march last weekend, it’s not too late to make your voice heard: register to vote, and watch our video of the soundsystem’s journey above.