The rain may have been fierce, but spirits were not dampened in Europe meet
Stirling4Europe, a cross-party group dedicated to campaigning against Brexit and to promoting the values and ideas underpinning the EU, organised the pro EU event in King’s Street last Friday, urging members of the public that voted against Brexit to bring a light with them, as across Scotland hundreds in other towns and cities such as Glasgow did the same.
A host of speakers were lined up to address the crowds; current MP for Stirling Alyn Smith alongside EU nationals, and other representatives from pro EU parties.
The movements were sparked by recent comments from Stirling MP and former MEP Alyn Smith- that urged the European Union to ‘leave the light on’ for Scotland. Smith addressed the EU parliament last year with the sentiment, inspiring the subsequent events.
With Brexit proceedings now in full swing, the UK has officially left the EU; although during the transitional phase the UK is still subject to EU law, and part of the customs union and single market, we are no longer part of EU political bodies or institutions., and the aforementioned ties will soon be in flux, renegotiated or abandoned in a series of legislative talks that could likely last years.
Scotland voted on Brexit and chose to stay in the EU- 62% of the voting population voted to remain. Those that shared pro EU sentiments took to the streets across Scotland to Leave a Light on For Europe on the fated 31st deadline date.
Over 100 people gathered on King Street in the wind and rain to show their hope for a future relationship with the European Union. Phone torches lit up the street as the crowd gathered, waiting for the speeches to begin.
Alyn Smith was first to speak, emphasising the winning Remain vote in Scotland and his desire to remain a European citizen. Smith went on to state his hope for Scotland’s position within the EU regardless of Scotland’s position within the UK. Smith said, ‘I asked the European Parliament to leave a light on for Scotland, to leave a light on for us. They have answered our call.”
He went on to discuss his belief for greater action, per the SNP position on a second independence referendum: “If the people of Scotland would be in charge of their destiny, we would be in a better position than we are right now. The solidarity we have from our European fiends is significant, is warm and is real.’
Green MSP Mark Ruskell took the floor to articulate his feelings about Brexit, misinformation, and the sense of disunity and loss he felt. Praising EU nationals, he went on to reference the question of Scottish independence, which the Scottish Greens support. “We have an opportunity to walk side by side with our European friends and neighbours, to walk step by step and stay aligned with the European Union with our European family, so that one day we can hold hands with them once again and be a part of that European family.”
Two EU citizens living in Scotland each gave speeches expressing both concerns over Brexit, and passionate sentiments regarding the unity felt between Scotland and the EU.
Mireille Pouget, a French citizen who has been living in Scotland for 40 years, emphasised that Brexit and the European Union is not just about the commerce and trade, but about peace and cooperation between nations. She also said that, ‘Your children are now going to be deprived of a freedom that I have had to move freely between France and Scotland.”
Alenka Jelen-Sanchez, a Slovenian citizen who works at the University of Stirling, claimed that, ‘We hear so many times that the EU is not perfect, but it is pretty close to being perfect. It works for me. It works for you. But it doesn’t work for tax avoiding corporations who are willing to sacrifice our environment and wellbeing for profit.’
The continued rain began making crowds disperse and the event subsequently finished early, resulting in Lib Dem speaker Fayzan Rehman unable to give their speech.
Featured Image Credit: Ros Walker