Thousands take to the streets to defend democracy across the UK
PUBLISHED: 14:17 31 August 2019 | UPDATED: 16:06 31 August 2019
Chants of ‘shame on you’ were directed at Boris Johnson by demonstrators outside Downing Street as streets around government buildings in Westminster were brought to a standstill.
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Scores more have taken place across the United Kingdom - all united by the same cause - against the PM's decision to suspend parliament for up to five weeks ahead of the October 31 Brexit deadline.
Demonstrators gathered outside Oxford University's Balliol College, which was attended by Johnson, to express their displeasure about his handling of Brexit.
Lesley McKie, who was at the college with her family, criticised the "undemocratic actions of Boris Johnson and (senior adviser) Dominic Cummings".
Denouncing the prime minister outside the institution where he established his "political profile" sends "a powerful message to Johnson and others leading this coup", she added.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell told the large crowd gathered on Whitehall: "It is a fight to protect our democracy - we know what Boris Johnson is up to, it is not very subtle is it?
"He wants to close down our democracy and force through a no-deal Brexit."
McDonnell said previous generations fought and made huge sacrifices, some giving their lives, in the fight for parliamentary democracy so they could "have their say over policies and the future of our country".
He added: "Boris Johnson, this is not about parliament versus the people, this is about you versus the people."
More than 1,000 protesters gathered in cities including York, Manchester and Newcastle.
Chris McHugh, 33, who works for Labour MP Liz Twist and was demonstrating in Newcastle, said the protest is about "protecting democracy".
He added: "The fact that thousands have taken to the streets of Newcastle today is so telling."
NHS pharmacist Bridie Walton, 55, joined protesters in Exeter. She said: "Nobody voted for a dictatorship.
"These are the actions of a man who is afraid his arguments will not stand scrutiny.
"Before the Brexit vote I'd never been to a demo in my life... I am watching a nastier world emerge."
In Manchester a counterprotest led by self-styled yellow vest protester James Goddard was jeered by anti-Brexit campaigners.
Wearing a Trump 2020 T-shirt and a Public Enemy baseball cap backwards, he took to a loudhailer.
Goddard invited them for one-on-one conversations on camera but police prevented anyone coming forward.
He was banned from going near parliament for five years after hurling abuse at Remain-supporting MP Anna Soubry and was handed an eight-week jail sentence, suspended for a year.
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