Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home News UK

Brexit a hot topic as revellers celebrate Pride parade

Published 25/06/2016

The Pride parade takes place two weeks after the massacre at an Orlando nightclub
The Pride parade takes place two weeks after the massacre at an Orlando nightclub

Thousands have gathered in London to celebrate Pride, with the Brexit vote not far from people's minds.

The flag of the European Union was among those leading the annual parade as the city's mayor reassured European Union (EU) nationals they are welcome in the capital.

Coming just a day after the UK's vote to leave the EU was announced, people at the event spoke of their concerns for the future.

As tensions on the issue ran high, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was heckled when he turned up to the parade.

Confronted by a party activist who told him he should resign, Mr Corbyn insisted he had done all he could despite claims by some that his heart was not in the Remain campaign.

Addressing the crowd in Trafalgar Square, mayor Sadiq Khan made a vow that Europeans will continue to play a part in the future of the city following a majority vote by Londoners to stay in the EU.

Mr Khan said: "We've got to remember that there are Europeans in London - our friends, our families and our neighbours. You are welcome here.

"I recognise the huge contribution you make to our city, you are welcome here. I make you this promise as your mayor. That won't change."

Belgian Georges Peters, who took part in the main parade, said people felt Friday was a "black day" for Europe.

Flying the flag of his nation, the 44-year-old said: "I have friends from other parts of Europe who live in the UK and they are saying it's very sad, it's a black day in the history of Europe."

Irishman Antaine O'Briain said he is worried the vote could lead to referenda in other EU countries.

The 51-year-old from Dublin, who lives in London, said: "I hope it doesn't break up with the Union because we are stronger together.

"I was a Remain voter and I hope things work out in the end."

The capital was awash with colour, with people flying rainbow flags and carrying bright banners as the march made its way through the streets.

Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders, who are promoting their new film Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, posed with flagbearers but declined to comment on the vote.

Saunders described the result as "hideous" in a tweet on Friday.

The carnival atmosphere was punctuated by signs and messages for the victims of the Florida massacre two weeks ago.

Forty-nine people were killed in the shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

Amid the usual song and dance, Trafalgar Square fell silent for one minute as people paused to reflect on the deaths.

To huge applause and cheers, the US Ambassador to the UK Matthew Barzun told the crowd: "I have a message from my country to your country and it is simply this: thank you. Thank you for being our best friend."

After the Orlando attack, Scotland Yard vowed to increase the visible police presence for the parade in a bid to provide reassurance.

A police helicopter hovered high above the parade while officers lined the route at various points.

Cabinet minister Justine Greening used the celebratory day to reveal she is in a same-sex relationship.

The International Development Secretary tweeted: "Today's a good day to say I'm in a happy same sex relationship, I campaigned for Stronger In but sometimes you're better off out! #Pride2016".

Almost 300 groups, including charities, religious organisations and businesses, took part in the parade.

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph