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Brexit : A Historic Vote
January 16, 2019
by Stuart Franklin
With just over two months to go until the UK is due to leave the European Union, politicians from all sides — Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, nationalists, unionists — voted down the deal painstakingly negotiated by Prime Minister Theresa May over the past two years.
Magnum photographer Stuart Franklin documented the moment among the crowd gathered outside the houses of Parliament and shares his words:
"As Theresa May suffered the worst cumulative defeat in Parliament ever, Britain is left polarised and confused. For two days outside the historic buildings of London, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, protestors both to Leave the EU and to Remain in the EU, fought to get their voices heard. The Leave supporters appeared in two forms: mostly smartly dressed men and women with placards reading LEAVE MEANS LEAVE, and ruffians (men and women) who formed a small group of about twenty, mostly connected to the far right movement, the English Defence League (EDL), some wearing yellow "gilets jaunes" jackets. The Remain supporters, who gathered en masse in Parliament Square in the hours leading up to the crucial vote, were mostly liberal, middle-class: teachers, librarians, students, nurses, doctors, pensioners and a few children. They had arrived from all over Britain: from Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Devon, Yorkshire. Spurred on by speakers from all political parties, including a man who one stood next to Theresa May in Parliament, Dominic Grieve, they wanted one thing: a PEOPLE’S VOTE. Against the backdrop of the dim orange lights of the Houses of Parliament, participants in the People’s Vote protest listened to speakers and gazed at two vast screen that occasionally showed the actual voting inside Parliament. As the minutes drew close to the fateful moment, the crowd stared at the screens, huddled together in European and British flags, warmed by EU berets, waiting. It was an emotional moment when the vote revealed that Theresa May had lost by 230 votes. The crowd were jubilant. One man in a red jacket broke down in tears of joy. Some punched the air; other just hugged each other. More than ever, this historic evening in London seemed reminiscent of a 1960s protest festival, for example against Vietnam or the Biafran wars. Here the people wanted peace, life as it has been before the vote to leave the EU on June 23 2016, not civil war: a coming together to heal the injustices and lies that led to such a polarised vote."
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