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Remainers from Ross-shire set to board the bus for capital push for People's Vote

By Hector MacKenzie

Lauren, Moray resident and Highlands for Europe supporter, preparing for a 600-mile journey to London. Picture: LogieBird
Lauren, Moray resident and Highlands for Europe supporter, preparing for a 600-mile journey to London. Picture: LogieBird

ROSS-SHIRE activists from Achiltibuie to the Black Isle will have their voices heard at a London rally agitating for a People's Vote on Brexit.

Campaigners from across the Highlands and Islands - one of the strongest pro-remain areas in the country - keen to join Saturday's #PutItToThePeople march will board a bus heading for the capital after a successful crowdfunding drive to overcome the logistical challenges.

Some are faced with a round trip of more than 1400 miles.

Gill Bird, a Moray resident and organiser for Highlands for Europe, said: “We’re determined to have our voices heard, and to stop the shambles the Brexit has become, no matter how far we have to go.

"The north of Scotland will be badly hit by the loss of EU funding and lower exports, and the departure of our EU fellow-citizens. But more than that, we just want peace, stability, prosperity and progress for our families and our communities.

“It’s essential that Scotland is represented - not just because we voted remain, but also because we need to show the world the People’s Vote movement belongs to every part of the country. But it’s a long old way from the Highlands of Scotland to central London, and a real challenge if you have a large group of people.”

Assisting the drive was Lambeth for Europe, and a campaigner originally from Helmsdale in the far north of Scotland.

Fiona Mackenzie approached the Highland group and helped them set up a crowdfunder to get the Scots to the #PutItToThePeople March. Lambeth for Europe and neighbouring Londoners from Wandsworth and Merton European Movement mobilised supporters, and with their help smashed the £2500 fundraising target within five days.

A coach of 70 people fwill now head from Inverness to London.

Ms Bird said: “We have been overwhelmed by the generosity, kindness and encouragement shown by fellow Remainers - one lady has even offered to make us breakfast!”

Hundrdeds of Scots are expected to join the march.

Ms Mackenzie, from Lambeth for Europe, said: “In Lambeth, we are in the lucky position of just having to wander over the Thames to make our voices heard. But the whole country is in this together. It felt absolutely right that we should help as many Highlanders as possible be alongside us at the #PutItToThePeople march.

“Their presence shows just how broad this movement is - and how determined. We have people coming not just from Scotland but all across the UK, and beyond. This will be a truly national gathering to demand a vote on the reality of Brexit, which is so clearly not what was promised. And we want citizens of other EU countries, and those who voted Leave but are ‘Remainers Now’, to join us front and centre at the march.”

Prominent among the passengers on the Highland coach will be students from across the different campuses of the University of the Highlands and Islands, which stretch from Shetland to Argyll.

Sorcha Kirker, vice-president of the Highlands and Islands Student Association (HISA), said: “Students are a vital part of the push for a People’s Vote, as it is their future that is at stake with Brexit. Our members come from all over the UK and Europe, and on the day they will be travellingfrom as far away as Orkney and Stornoway. Some of them will make a round trip of over 1400 miles, using ferries, busses, trains, and taxis to get themselves to that starting line. If that isn’t dedication, then I don’t know what is."

Highlands for Europe is a non party political group of Highlands and Moray residents who believe that leaving the EU would be a terrible mistake economically, socially and environmentally for Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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