Posted on 13/03/2021Comments Off on MARK CUNLIFFE

When did you first attend the SODEM protest outside Parliament and why did you come? 

I first visited SODEM on 5th June, 2018, when I had an invite to actual Parliament on behalf of Stratford4Europe! So, I attended my first protest wearing a blazer! I then went into meet with Chuka Umunna, Caroline Lucas and Tom Brake. It was one of the very first ‘People’s Vote’ meetings with groups from across the country. I went in with Elspeth Williams, Polly Ernest and Sally Long, all whom I met at SODEM before we went into Parliament. We have remained friends and in contact since that first day.

Roughly how old are you?


How frequently did you come and when was the last time you attended?

I used to attend with groups from Stratford4Europe, WarwickDistrict4Europe and Banbury4Europe, each time I and the others would drag more along. We always tried to visit once a month, and for all the big votes which I think I only missed one due to work commitments.

How far from Westminster do you live and what was your travelling time?

I live about 90 miles away. The travel time door to door was about 2 ½ hours.

What’s your favourite memory?

I have so many fond memories: going to the Tory Party Conference with SODEM in Birmingham, “Cake Not Hate”, “Pies Not Lies” they were all so much fun. But perhaps the one that stands out the most was the “Impromptu March” in 2019. It was a beautiful sunny day and so warm we were wearing T shirts in February! It happened to be a taxi driver strike and so we took full advantage of this and had the now infamous “Impromptu March to Number 10”. 

Tell me your story

I campaigned for Remain somewhat as a lone wolf in 2016. This was all online and I remember endlessly arguing with them online on how Norway pays more in than we do as full members and the returns we got for every pound. How strange they would all go onto argue that they voted to leave the Single Market, even with no deal, yet Farage and co all argued how great the Norway deal was.

Soon after the referendum I somehow contacted Stratford4Europe on Facebook and within days I had the keys to their account. I was then addicted, and it was wonderful to find like-minded people.

I knew that Vote Leave etc had won it with the use of Facebook and I was determined to play them at their own game. Over the next few years, I would go on to start or edit nine Facebook groups across the West Midlands, namely Stratford4Europe, WestMidlands4Europe, Worcestershire4Europe, Herefordshire4Europe, Banbury4Europe, EUinBrum, BlackCountry4Europe, Rugby4Europe and Staffs4Europe. At their peak we had a reach of 1-2 million a month! We really were changing minds; we could have turned this around in the shires.

I could tell you about all the marches and protests that we had away from London. I even led an impromptu march through sleepy old Stratford with over 200 people once. It was very much in the spirit of SODEM.

In the end we were only let down by our political parties, both Labour and the Liberal Democrats. They had so many opportunities to stop this, or at least put it back to the people on a vote on the deal. We did everything we could to save our country and to stop Brexit. 

In the process we created the largest pro EU movement. I have now gone onto be a founding member of the Central Bylines, where we will continue to hold the government to account, not only over Brexit but so many other issues. Part of the wider Bylines network. Our Pro EU pages still of course continue to publish every day.

We were wonderful, you were all wonderful. We are SODEM.

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