Pro-independence supporters to walk 500 miles to Westminster

A 500-mile march by independence supporters set off from Holyrood today, aiming to arrive at Westminster the day before the UK is due to leave Europe.

Protesters, 54-year-old Wren Chapman from Strathaven and Karl Claridge (49) from Glasgow, also plan to plant a “Yes stone” on College Green outside the House of Commons when they arrive in London.

Taking inspiration from The Proclaimers' song, the pair, who took part in the original 500 mile walk from Portree in Skye to Edinburgh last year, say they have devised a “scenic” route which will take in places of importance in Scottish history, such as Derby, to ensure they walk “500 more”.

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Ms Chapman, who is a mental health advocate, said: “We always said after walking 500 miles, we would walk 500 more and now is the time to do it when Scotland is faced with being taken out of the EU against our will. This is a pro-independence, pro-EU march, and while there won’t be the same numbers of people as last year, it’s just as important.”

Last year's 500 Mile march saw hundreds of pro-independence supporters take to the streets.

Admitting the march is small scale compared to the one in 2018, Mr Claridge, an actor, said they were inspired to hit the road again after being angered by Nigel Farage’s 280 mile “March to Leave”.

“The man is a charlatan. He wanted Brexit but still sits as an MEP drawing his EU salary,” he said. “It’s time the people of Scotland and our opinions got as much coverage. Scotland voted to Remain, yet Scotland is being ignored again. We are both originally from England but we are Scots and we are Europeans.

“We are going to Westminster to add our voices to staying in the EU, but also to demand independence. We're starting out as a pair but we hope to be joined by many others along the way.”

Asked about last week’s remarks by deputy SNP leader Keith Brown that “if we want to have a referendum, then we decide we’re going to have a referendum” and the emphatic “no” by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to the possibility of a second independence vote, Mr Claridge said: “The Tories have lost all credibility. Everything Theresa May says is contrary to the last thing she said. No-one can take anything they say seriously.

“Keith Brown is right that it’s time for a referendum. I trust Nicola Sturgeon, and all the travelling she’s been doing recently - you don’t do that if you’re planning to be part of a greater England. She’s playing her cards close to her chest but is giving us a subliminal message.”

The pair plan to arrive in Westminster on March 28 “even if we’re crawling by that time”, said Ms Chapman.

She added: “It is just the two of us but we do have a logistics team who will be there for back up should we need it. We will mostly be camping along the way though we have had offers of accommodation from friends as we make our way south.”