‘BREXIT has started to permeate my dreams,” says Joan Carter, a retired mediator from Edinburgh. She’s standing on the edges of a small crowd of People’s Vote supporters at a rally on this chilly Friday evening. It’s been organised by European Movement in Scotland in the city’s Bristo Square as a send-off party for Scots leaving the city on overnight coaches to attend yesterday’s Put it to the People Brexit march in London.

Hundreds boarded buses in Inverness, Glasgow and here in the capital this weekend with other coaches picking up people from Perth, Stirling and Gretna. Some marchers boarded ferries from Orkney and Stornoway on the Western Isles before picking up buses and trains, taking extraordinary steps in extraordinary times, to send a message to Westminster.

But on Friday, though the evening light is waning, the blue and yellow of the flags buffeting in the biting March wind are bright and the tone is determined but quietly celebratory. There’s a piper, a strip the willow, poems and speeches including one from veteran arts promoter and Europhile Richard Demarco.

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Carter – who believes strongly in a People’s Vote but has not been campaigning – has been brought here by a gnawing anxiety that is growing almost by the hour.

This should have been a week until Brexit day. Instead late on Thursday night a short extension was agreed. With Theresa May yesterday claiming that there might not be a third vote on her deal if there is insufficient support for it to pass, it looks like the deadline has moved forward by just two weeks until April 12.

May does not accept the responsibility of what some here in Edinburgh say feels like a “national crisis”. Instead she claimed last week that she was on the public’s side, blaming the squabbling MPs who refused to get behind her instead.

“The political response is getting more unbelievable every day,” says Carter. “I heard Theresa May say she was on our side on the radio and I couldn’t believe she had talked about this situation in that way. She is completely detached from reality.”

She finds the idea of no deal “terrifying”. “But it’s a bigger thing than that,” she worries. “It’s the way people are talking to each other, or not talking to each other, that concerns me. I do believe in the parliamentary system but this has probably has affected my faith in that.

“I’m very concerned about the division. Even if I get what I want, it’s going to be a divided country and I don’t see that anything we’re doing is helping to bring us together.”

Here though, as the sun sets streaking the sky pink, people are united in their cause, forming a circle to sing Auld Lang Syne with those who share their foreboding.

Public feeling is running high. Yesterday a petition calling for Article 50 to be revoked became the most popular to be submitted to the Parliament’s petitions committee, with 4.5 milllion signatures and rising.

Unable to go to London but desperate that future generations will be able to grow up with the freedom to live, work and love across Europe as she did, Petra Hardie – originally from Germany but resident in Glasgow for more than 20 years – woke up early on Friday morning and shared it with everyone in her address book and social media feeds.

“I don’t feel my voice has been heard, and I feel so strongly that we need to send a clear message,” she said. “May is not on my side. She is the one who created the hostile environment as home secretary. It has pushed us into a ‘them’ and ‘us’ situation and that is dangerous for everyone.”

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Meanwhile Gill Bird, Moray resident and organiser for Highlands for Europe, along with her husband and two teenage children, was packing for a round trip of around 36 hours – or almost 1000 miles – to London to join the march. Among 70 people on the coach were members of the Highlands and Islands Student Association, including some from Orkney and Stornoway.

Her 15-year-old son has autism and doesn’t like crowds. “But even he was determined,” she says. She works in a museum and has never been politically active before but due to her growing frustration with the lack of political leadership, agreed to head-up the newly formed Highland group.

AS the million-strong march wound-up yesterday – the streets still strewn with people with faces painted blue and yellow, EU t-shirts, flags and banners – she was feeling elated, adrenaline compensating for the exhaustion of the journey. “My 17-year-old daughter was right up the front with the students,” she says. “She texted me from Parliament Square and we hadn’t even left Hyde Park. So it feels like there must have been an awful lot of people.

“I just couldn’t do nothing. I couldn’t not come. If the politicians aren’t going to represent us, then we have to represent ourselves.” She feels hopeful that the march, combined with the petition to revoke Article 50, will have some momentum.

Niamh Donnellan, originally from Galway but who now lives in Edinburgh with her husband and two daughters, was less sure. “There was a quiet determination amongst my fellow marchers,” she says. “They do not think the PM will take much notice but they are here. They are sure Brexit is wrong for Britain and the EU.”

As someone who grew up in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, Brexit matters greatly to Donnellan. “For me membership of the EU was a step towards living as one world,” she says. “Of course the EU is not perfect but we need to talk to each other, listen and try to help each other up.” She believes a second vote should not be called on the deal itself, not just a principle.

It’s changed her political outlook in many ways. “At the last Scottish independence referendum, I went along reluctantly,” she admits. “Now I’d be up there like a greyhound [to vote Yes].”

There are others who believe that with Scotland’s views so roundly dismissed by the UK Government it’s on the question of independence that minds should now be focused.

Glasgow housing campaigner Sean Baillie says of the People’s Vote: “There is virtue to putting any agreed deal back to a public vote. But with Parliament in the state it is in, unable to agree on a deal it doesn’t leave you with much faith or patience to go through it all again.

“If there is another vote, Scotland should be granted another independence referendum with the results of both respected and any future votes time barred for a decade or two to allow everyone to recover.”

Jonathon Shafi, founder of the Radical Independence Campaign, is more adamant that a People’s Vote is not the way forward. “At a time when the whole establishment is in disarray, we need new ideas. The old order has totally failed,” he claims.

“But regardless of your view on Brexit, independence supporters can see that now is the time to be pushing forward. Now is the time to deploy the mandate and build a mass independence campaign.

“Instead the SNP are prioritising a second EU referendum. That means that at this very moment we are missing the best possible opportunity to move independence forward. If that doesn’t change soon – it could be over for a generation.”

There are many who vehemently disagree, believing it is the EU issue that must come first. Back in Edinburgh Bristo Square, filled again yesterday afternoon with those unable to get to London stood in solidarity, the atmosphere calm and purposeful. Among them was Esa Aldegheri, whose children are the third generation to have dual Scottish and Italian nationality.

“I have spent my whole life freely travelling working and studying across Europe and want the same freedom for my kids,” she says. “I hope that today will amplify the voices of those who want Scotland and the UK to remain part of something bigger and wider. Scotland voted to stay in the EU – I hope today will remind Westminster of that fact.”

Yet even after this weekend, it remains to be seen if Westminster cares what Scotland voted for, or what might unfold next.