POLITICS
23/09/2018 17:38 BST | Updated 24/09/2018 14:43 BST

Liverpool Protest Demanding 'People's Vote' On Brexit Piles Pressure On Labour

“Are you listening Jeremy Corbyn?," shouts MP David Lammy within earshot of the party's conference.

Chants of “we are European” and flags bearing the slogan “not a done deal” were part of a huge protest in Liverpool to demand a final vote on the deal Theresa May strikes with Brussels. 

Pressure was building on Jeremy Corbyn to get behind the so-called ‘People’s Vote’ campaign as the crowd of 5,000 people marched from St George’s Hall to a rally at Pier Head, on the bank of the Mersey. 

Prominent Labour MP David Lammy greeted the crowd from a stage set up outside the iconic Royal Liver Building, just metres from ACC Liverpool, where the Labour Party conference was getting underway.

“Are you listening Jeremy Corbyn?,” he shouted into a microphone. 

To cheers, he highlighted how people from across the UK had travelled to make their voices heard, saying: “They are saying squarely to the leadership of the Labour Party ‘listen to us, hear us, give us a People’s Vote’.”

The country was at a tipping point, he said, and faced with a resurgence in the “radical right”, adding: “This cannot be a Labour Party that allows others to wreck our country and stand with the far right.”

Meanwhile, sections of the crowd could be heard shouting: “Hey Jeremy, take a note, for the many, People’s Vote.”

Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson, GMB union general secretary Tim Roache, economist Ann Pettifor and Labour activist Ayesha Hazarika were among the speakers. 

Labour peer Lord Adonis also took to the makeshift stage to give a stump speech.

“The only good Brexit is a dead Brexit,” he said. “There is no such thing as a good Brexit because Brexit means trashing jobs, trashing Ireland, trashing the young ... and our socialist values.”

Bashir Ibrahim, a Labour activist from Jeremy Corbyn’s Islington North local Labour Party, made an appeal to party backers. 

“Supporting a people’s vote is not being anti-Corbyn,” he said, urging Labour’s left wing to “unite” to secure a re-run of the vote.  

There was also a short speech by Everton and England footballing hero Peter Reid, who urged the crowd to “keep the blue flag flying”.

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Protestors Jude Williams, right, and Melanie Crowley 

Jude Williams, a mum-of-two from Birmingham, who manages a medical research project for Birmingham University, said she left the Labour Party a year ago after 25 years over Corbyn’s Brexit stance. 

She said she “desperately wanted to rejoin” and would if Corbyn backed a second referendum that made remaining in the EU an option. 

“I totally and utterly believe that we must remain in the EU for all of our people, and we must change Jeremy’s mind,” she said. 

“I would like to say ‘Jeremy, listen to your membership and all of the people out here who would love to vote for you’. 

“We need to be able to decide on what deal we get, or even better to remain in the EU.” 

Melanie Crowley, a dyslexia support tutor, also from Birmingham, said: “I think people were conned into Brexit and it would be terrible for the country. 

“I don’t think most people want it to happen now, even though it was a slim majority.

“Today has been really inspiring and what a great crowd. 

“I’m very disappointed Jeremy is not here. He needs to look out of the window at just how many people are here. 

“The EU’s values are so similar to Labour’s values. Come on, Jeremy.” 

PA Wire/PA Images
Jeremy Corbyn speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr on Sunday 

It came as Corbyn told reporters he was “bound by the democracy of [the Labour] party” as party chiefs weighed up whether to put a motion to the conference floor which specifically backed a second referendum. 

Appearing earlier on BBC1′s Andrew Marr Show, Corbyn was asked whether he would feel obliged to respect a vote by delegates to support a second referendum.

He replied: “Let’s see what comes out of conference. Obviously, I’m bound by the democracy of our party.”

The Labour leader said there would be a vote on Brexit at the Liverpool conference, but said it was not yet known exactly what the question would be. 

“There will be a clear vote in the conference. I don’t know what’s going to come out of all the compositing meetings that are going on,” he said.

His deputy Tom Watson, in an interview with the Observer, said that if members backed the idea then the party should switch position. 

He said: “Jeremy and I were elected in 2015 to give the Labour party back to its members. So if the people’s party decide that they want the people to have a final say on the deal, then we have to respect the view of our members.”