On Saturday more than 700 000 people travelled from all corners of the country to march on the Houses of Parliament demanding a second Brexit referendum. The event was attended by many anti-Brexit politicians and celebrities including Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Steve Coogan, Delia Smith and Deborah Meaden who all gave speeches in Parliament Square
University students who attended largely ended up coming by buses funded by NUS, who spent £20 000 funding the transport for students up and down the country, including those at the University of York.
This caused controversy, especially within the NUS. The NUS campaign for a People’s Vote is being directed by Amatey Doku, the NUS Vice-President for Higher Education but some of the NUS members have criticised the NUS’ actions.
Laura Lunn-Bates questioned the source of the funding, and Eva Crossan Jory, NUS Vice-President of Welfare, disapproved of the source of the money in relation to the lack of money that was needed to “Repeal the Eighth” campaign which stood to change the Irish constitution to allow abortion in the Republic.
Riddi Viswanathan, International Students’ Officer at Manchester’s Student Union, added: “Without doubt, the People’s Vote Campaign is extremely important to amplify the voice of young people to have a final say on Brexit.
“It’s great to also note that the NUS has secured funding to cover the costs of SUs paying for minibuses and coaches. But, what would be better is more transparency around where the £20k came from”.
The criticism has also been seen from students some even encouraging people to use the event bus to visit London’s attractions instead. Nevertheless, University of York students have taken advantage of the coach serivce provided with a reasonable number of students from the Our Future Our Choice student group using the coach to attend the march.
In response to the criticism around the source of the funding used to put on the large amount of transport needed to ferry the students to and from the march, an NUS spokesperson stated that “we are working collaboratively with a number of organisations to secure a final say on the Brexit. “As part of those efforts, we are promoting funds that have been made available through our campaigning partners.