Pro-Brexit protests arrive in Parliament Square
PUBLISHED: 14:17 29 March 2019 | UPDATED: 14:40 29 March 2019
Pro-Brexit protesters have rallied across London as MPs voted on Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement.
Leave Means Leave supporters lined past parliament, while a March To Leave procession that started in Sunderland two weeks ago headed for Westminster.
Traffic came to a standstill by Parliament Square as Brexit backers blocked the road while chanting “we shall not be moved”, “Brexit now” and “Bye bye EU”.
Some moved on to chants of “Oh Tommy Robinson”, in support of the English Defence League founder who is now advising Ukip and will later address crowds.
A planned counter-protest was yet to materialise ahead of the vote, which was scheduled to start at 2.30pm.
Hundreds on the March To Leave filed from Fulham towards Parliament Square.
Many waved Union flags, placards and banners as they called for an immediate Brexit.
Brexit Party MEP for Scotland David Coburn celebrated the march: “Excellent, isn’t it? It’s like Cromwell’s Army.”
Wearing a kilt and wielding a Saltire flag, he told the Press Association: “It’s ridiculous, May has no intention of giving us Brexit.
“It’s now an argument between the establishment and the people.”
Some wore hi-vis vests, with Conservative Party member Colin Grostate saying they were “a symbol from France”.
The former black cab driver, 67, said: “We support the populism.
“Our politicians are not listening. Too many people are trying to stop what people voted for.”
Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin and broadcaster Julia Hartley-Brewer will speak at the “Brexit Betrayal” rally.
From 4pm, Robinson will be joined by current Ukip leader Gerard Batten to address a Make Brexit Happen rally outside the Palace of Westminster.
Scotland Yard was compelled to dismiss as “baseless and false” suggestions from Mr Batten that water cannon could be deployed at protests to “provoke Brexiteers”.
The Metropolitan Police did have three water cannon - purchased while Boris Johnson was London Mayor - but they were sold at a more than £300,000 loss because their use had been banned.
Westminster Council said it is aware of up to 13 separate scheduled protests and the Metropolitan Police said “appropriate policing plans are in place”.
Stand Up To Racism said it was to hold a counter-protest “against the far right who are trying to capitalise on the Brexit crisis”.
Fishermen accompanied by a 32-foot trawler aboard a lorry were also expected to set off from Lincoln’s Inn and walk into Parliament Square at around noon escorted by a pipe band.
The group, which has the slogan “Yellow wellies not yellow vests”, said: “Our fishermen have been sold down the river by Theresa May.”
The Met said: “We will always provide a proportionate policing plan to balance the right to peaceful protest, while ensuring that disruption to communities is kept to a minimum.
“To date, protests have been largely peaceful and we have no intelligence at this time to suggest that will change.
“We would like to reassure the public that officers will be ready to respond should any incidents or other spontaneous protests arise.”