Leave Means Leave supporters claim march attendance was low for 'security' purposes

PUBLISHED: 20:42 16 March 2019 | UPDATED: 21:22 16 March 2019

Nigel Farage's Brexit Betrayal 'March' leaves Sunderland. Photograph: Leave Means Leave.

Nigel Farage's Brexit Betrayal 'March' leaves Sunderland. Photograph: Leave Means Leave.

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Supporters of the Brexiteer group Leave Means Leave have defended the low turnout in Sunderland claiming that the group had been "overwhelmed" by requests to take part.

That is despite organisers admitting earlier that day that just 350 people had signed up to participate in the event.

Journalist Isabel Oakeshott, who had previously enthused on television about the “Farage crusade”, scrambled to Twitter to assure Brexiteers that the group had to limit the number of people participating in the march for “security” purposes.

Oakeshott, who appeared to be taking a leaf out of the Donald Trump playbook, insisted the figure of 200 people was because it was “limited for security purposes”. She added that “they all turned up.”

This appeared to be at odds with the campaign’s Twitter account who were encouraging more to come along, and the campaign chairman Richard Tice’s comments on Channel 4 News. He claimed there were almost a thousand.

He said: “This is delightful. There are probably a thousand people here today. What it shows is true grit.”

Either way it is not clear what the possible risk was in Sunderland, given that in busy central London more than 750,000 were able to peacefully protest without there needing to be a cap last October.

A number of anti-Brexit protests greeted Nigel Farage as he started the march, including one from the Led By Donkeys campaign, before the Brexiteer left Sunderland on a bus approximately an hour later. He appeared in Hartlepool shortly after, with his supporters insisting he had walk all the way.

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Leave Means Leave posted a statement about the turnout in Sunderland: “Over the last few weeks we have been inundated with calls, emails and letters from ordinary Brits who feel betrayed by the Westminster establishment.

“Our #MarchToLeave is about representing those people.

“The media, politicians and elite may sneer, but we will be heard.”

Twitter user Damon Evans joked: “Apparently, these are the people who start a civil war if Brexit doesn’t go ahead. I think we can relax. “

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