Our little group – only little because Ely is little – was formed following the Referendum vote on 23 June 2016. I agreed sometime last year to become the group’s co-chair, thinking that when elections came up I would take a casual step backward and watch as others clamoured for the position. That didn’t happen. I’m still co-chair. But in truth, I don’t mind as we have evolved into a group that’s actually getting things done.
In the early months of our existence, we spent much of our time together grumbling about how the Leave campaign won the vote and consoling each other as if we had been victims of a train crash. Our activities then had to do with keeping each other informed, writing to our MP and attending the protest marches around the triggering of Article 50.
Soon after, we were wrapped up in local elections. This made it difficult for our cross-party group to meet and discuss issues without members gritting their teeth at each other, the odd gibe slipping out. Overlapping with that, in terms of campaigns, was the general election. That too made meetings difficult, but as it was more or less an election about Brexit, we were able to come together on that and deal with the many tasks of being an official organisation – we have a constitution and a presence on Facebook, Twitter and in the local events magazine, along with links to national anti-Brexit organisations.
Now that a lot of our admin tasks are out of the way and we’re into our second year, we continue to attend rallies against Brexit, write to our MP and hand out flyers and leaflets at market stalls. More importantly, we acknowledge that there are different points of view – those that want to stop Brexit before it officially happens and those who are resigned to it happening, but want to limit its damage. While those aims might sound negative or reactionary, the positive sides are still there and are in our name – we want to keep our ties to the rest of Europe, share in its cultures, ideas and languages, and to welcome its citizens, who, like us, are citizens of the world.