Hundreds gather in Manchester to protest against Brexit as Tory party conference lands in the city

  • Protest against Brexit and Johnson’s government held in St Peter’s Square 
  • Messages include ‘Tory Brexit makes you poorer’ and ‘Leave meant lies’
  • Protest comes as Conservative Party conference takes place in Manchester Central this week

Hundreds of protesters gathered in St Peter’s Square in Manchester on Saturday to express disapproval towards the government’s approach to Brexit.

It came in the wake of food and fuel shortages and the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

The gathering, billed as the ‘biggest anti-Brexit protest since 2019’, was organised by Manchester for Europe with people travelling from as far as Yorkshire, Lancashire and the North East to take part. 

“The group states its main objectives are a ‘better deal’ with the EU: returning to the Single Market, the Customs Union and reinstating the free movement of workers. 

The event included speeches from a number of pro-EU organisations. 

Mike Galsworthy, of Scientists for EU, said that “the Conservative government’s Brexit is not working”.

He addressed the crowd on the loss of economic growth, jobs and opportunities that exiting the European Union brought.

Mr Galsworthy said: “The government has lost us £1.5bn on Horizon 2020 alone”.

“It’s this government who claims they champion science and want to attract the best and the brightest, but the UK has lost out on 30% of collaborative projects as a result of Brexit.”

Among the crowd were a mix of people across the political spectrum opposed to Brexit for different reasons.

One demonstrator told the Northern Quota he felt his identity had been taken away from him as a result of Brexit.

He said: ‘I’m a full European. I have a Norwegian father and an English mother, but I was educated in Belgium and have worked all over Europe,  it’s the only identity that fits.

“I’ve got a British passport, but to me that’s just a piece of paper,” he said. 

“We should have been allowed to get individual EU citizenship.”

Protestor Phil Jones felt passionate about the cause due to his family history. He spent part of his childhood in Germany due to his father being stationed at RAF Bruggen and felt his life has been shaped by European values and conscience as a result.

Many of Phil’s family members died in the First and Second World Wars and he felt the legislation and treaties of the European Union acted as a safety net between the countries in it.

Phil told the Northern Quota: “For me, the peace in Europe is not something that should ever be taken for granted, having a shared body of law across Europe that is open to everyone is part of the civilising effort and when I look at EU legislation it makes me feel safe.” 

The Conservative Party conference is on all this week at Manchester Central Convention Complex. The agenda includes: conversations with the Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, what’s next for English farming and the role of hydrogen in a net zero economy.