Photo: Sophie Michelena

From Bramley to London: ‘Why I marched over Brexit referendum’

25 October 2018

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Bramley resident Sophie Michelena was one of the 700,000 protesters marching in London at the weekend calling for a People’s Vote on the current Brexit proposal. Here’s her story …

‘I am not a bargaining chip’: Sophie Michelena sets off for London from Bramley Station.

I have lived in Bramley for 11 years and supported community organisations, as well as sat on the board of Barca (a local social enterprise) for many years, and also took part in the Bramley First Grant panel which funded many good things locally, such as Bramley Mermaids club, memorial gardens, credit union etc

The reason why I went on the march is I’m a French national, and I couldn’t vote in the referendum but I wanted to make my voice heard that I think Brexit is an atrocious prospect for the country I’ve chosen as home for the last 15 years.

A welcoming country full of lovely open people I should add; I have always worked and integrated well in the UK, I had never felt alien here.

But the day of the shock referendum result, I started worrying about the future of the country and my own future in it.

A Polish shopkeeper was attacked in Bramley shopping centre shortly after it. A French friend of mine was verbally assaulted on a train a few months back and told to go home!

Fellow marchers in London. Photo: Sophie Michelena

I have not had any personal attack myself and I thank everyone who is so kind and welcoming to me, but the fact my EU brothers and sisters have suffered all throughout the UK but also so close to where I live, has affected me.

On top of this spike in hate crime, the economy is forecast to go down for the next 10 years…. And it’s now apparent people will not take back control until the UK government makes significant changes to how they support their residents, their health service, and the growth of the country.

I believe everyone is going to suffer (well apart from the very rich who are already protecting themselves and their families!) So what IS good about Brexit?…

I passionately believe in free movement, and that’s due to end…

I might lose my right to vote in local elections, for local representation. I would not feel like an equal EU citizen in Bramley any more, I would feel like a second-class citizen.

Taking to London’s streets. Photo: Sophie Michelena

My rights under the new “everything’s fine” settled status will not be enshrined in European law, and could be reversed by the UK government at any time. And no, marrying a Brit does not help anyone’s immigration status!

But back to the hope bit… London was buzzing at the weekend, and I was especially struck by how many older people (who according to the media voted to leave) were in attendance and wanting a second say.

And definitely very happy to see so many young people wanting a say about their future.

I am hoping the recent People’s Vote March will help politicians ask the people: now you know the ugly face of Brexit, is it worth it?

Thanks for reading.


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Phillip Bell says:

Dear Sophie, it is called democracy, nothing more, nothing less. The majority of UK nationals voted to leave the EU so leave it we will do. You do not get a second go, what next, best of three, best of five etc etc etc. It is the will of the people! Democracy!

Slinkton says:

Phillip Bell,

If you knew what democracy was then you would know people have the right to continue trying to make their point after a vote, people are also allowed to react to changing situations and new evidence. In a democracy people are also allowed to change their mind and decisions are not set in stone.

UnusualNameThatI'mNotGoingToPostAsLeaversLikeToAttackPeopleWhoDisagreeWithThem says:

Phillip Bell: “You do not get a second go” – you REALLY think that’s the definition of “democracy”?! And Leavers claim not to be any more stupid than the rest of us. Things change, and YOU are now the minority – you’re just scared of having it proved.

Victoria Smith says:

Dear Sophie,
Thank you for this piece and for attending the march. I was unable to go to London so I thank everyone who made the journey. This morning my boyfriend and I woke to read how Brexit is expected to cause millennials to be £108K worse off during their lifetime. He’s 26 and said how he can’t believe how his generation will be the first to be worse off than their parents.

Mary Fisher says:

Do the remainers think that we wouldn’t have had peace without EU? Who has threatened peace in the last centuries? France and Germany, not Britain. We have workers’ rights without the EU. Easy travel? It’s not so difficult to travel to all parts of the world, we don’t need (or want) open borders. Wine/ English wine is superb, so is that from many other parts of the world, we don’t need the EU for good wine (I drink wine with every evening meal and little of it is from other EU countries). There have always been attacks on people from other countries,it’s wrong but it happens. One of our daughters lives in France and has suffered insults from French citizens, her son and daughter came back to England because they hated it there, especially the attitude of French people towards them. My husband and I voted to leave because we’ve never been happy about being told what to do by un-elected EU commissioners. We remember the days before we were part of EU and preferred them. The European Common Market was nothing like the EU – but you’re too young to know about all that. Sorry, Sophie, democracy is very important in Britain so you’ll have to suffer – or go back to where you think things are better.

Stephen McBarron says:

Disgusting comment from
Mary Fisher – amounts to little more than ‘if you don’t like it – go back where you came from!’ Clearly yearns for a return to the age of Vesta Meals, Twiglets and Blue Nun Wine. Must be a spoof – surely nobody can really think like that in this day and age?

Mary Fisher says:

Not a spoof and as fort Twiglets, Vesta meals and Blue Nun – we never have any of those. Apart from wine I make everything we eat from scratch, much from what we grow ourselves (or what we’re allowed to grow by EU). I used to make wine but it was never any good and we like to have good food and wine. I can’t understand,though, why you should think my comments amounted to a spoof.

danny Bailey says:

Part of Europe but but not ruled by Europe , SIMPLE REALLY , despite all the BBC would have you believe !