Protesters turn out in the rain to call on the Tories to 'reject Brexit' and 'defend democracy'

PUBLISHED: 08:46 30 September 2019 | UPDATED: 09:23 30 September 2019

Anti Brexit protesters at the Reject Brexit, Defend Our Democracy protest. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.

Anti Brexit protesters at the Reject Brexit, Defend Our Democracy protest. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.

Protesters have taken to the streets of Manchester as the Conservative conference gets under way.

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A Boris Blimp is inflated in Manchester as part of the Reject Brexit defend our democracy protest. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.A Boris Blimp is inflated in Manchester as part of the Reject Brexit defend our democracy protest. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.

A giant Boris Johnson blimp was inflated at Castlefield Bowl ahead of a Reject Brexit - Defend Our Democracy event on Sunday afternoon.

The six-metre tall inflatable depicted the Prime Minister dressed in blue shorts with red hearts and the word "Nigel" on, and a T-shirt showing a £350 million bus.

Marchers banged drums, blew whistles and chanted "Tories out" and "Boris Johnson, shame on you" as they made their way through the city, pausing as they passed near Manchester Central, where the conference is being held.

Roads through the city were closed by police as the march took place and mounted officers led the demonstrators.

Anti Brexit protesters at the Reject Brexit, Defend Our Democracy protest. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.Anti Brexit protesters at the Reject Brexit, Defend Our Democracy protest. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.

Demonstrators were greeted by the blimp when they arrived for the rally after marching from Whitworth Park.

Many waved European flags or wore blue berets with yellow stars on.

Speakers included human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who told the crowd: "The time for party self-interest is over. Everybody from every party must unite to stop a no-deal Brexit."

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: "The right to peaceful protest is a fundamental part of our democracy and we have seen that exercised on the streets of our city today.

Anti Brexit protesters at the Reject Brexit, Defend Our Democracy protest. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.Anti Brexit protesters at the Reject Brexit, Defend Our Democracy protest. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.

"It's a testament to the work of Greater Manchester Police, council staff and others involved in ensuring today went as smoothly as possible, as well as campaign groups who engaged with us and those taking part, that these large-scale protests have passed off without incident.

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