Demonstrators rallied on Saturday in cities across Britain against Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s controversial move to suspend parliament weeks before Brexit.
The protests come ahead of an intense political week in which Johnson’s opponents will seek to block the move in court and legislate against a no-deal departure from the EU and could even try to topple his government in a no-confidence vote.
Thousands of protesters took to the streets of various towns and cities from late morning, with organisers using the slogan #StopTheCoup saying they hoped hundreds of thousands would take part.
The left-wing group Momentum, closely allied with the main opposition Labour Party, called on its supporters to “occupy bridges and blockade roads” ahead of the protests.
Crowds gathered in Manchester, York and Newcastle in northern England, the Scottish capital Edinburgh and Belfast in Northern Ireland, with events planned in around 30 locations.
Whitehall right now. pic.twitter.com/qxB5vWJQO5
M L R Esq (@Hedspaceyoga) August 31, 2019
The biggest demonstrations were expected in London, where thousands of whistle-blowing, drum-banging people, many waving EU flags, had converged on Downing Street by lunchtime chanting “Boris Johnson shame on you!”
They also held hand-written signs reading “defend democracy: resist the parliament shutdown” and “wake Up UK! Or welcome to Germany 1933”.
“The decision about what happens to Brexit shouldn’t be a matter of what Boris Johnson decides,” said Bernard Hurley, 71, who turned out in Westminster.
“He’s taken the decision away from parliament which is undemocratic.”
Around a dozen shaven-headed men draped in Britain’s national flag walked through the crowds escorted by police shouting: “What do we want? Brexit! When do we want it? Now.”
Johnson warns MPs
Johnson, who only came to power a month ago following a Conservative Party leadership election, has promised to lead Britain out of the European Union on October 31 with or without an agreement with Brussels.
He has said he is ready to strike a deal as long as provisions for Britain to stay in the customs union even after Brexit are cut from an existing deal struck by his predecessor Theresa May.
— Nick Codling (@ncodling) August 31, 2019
But EU leaders have said they are still awaiting concrete proposals from London.
Johnson’s Brexit adviser David Frost is expected back in Brussels for talks next week.
Opposition MPs and some lawmakers from Johnson’s own Conservatives want him to delay Brexit beyond October 31 if he fails to strike an agreement with the EU.
The government meanwhile is ramping up preparations in case of no-deal.
Finance Minister Sajid Javid on Saturday defended parliament’s suspension, despite saying during the recent Conservative leadership contest when he stood against Johnson that “you don’t deliver democracy by trashing democracy”.
“It doesn’t usually sit for some time in September and early October,” he told BBC radio.
Johnson on Friday cautioned MPs against trying to hamper his plans, saying a decision to delay Brexit again would do “lasting damage” to public trust in politics.
He said the opposition’s efforts could in fact help lead to a no-deal Brexit as EU counterparts would be less likely to offer a compromise if they believed Brexit could be stopped.
1.6 million signatures
Queen Elizabeth II gave her approval to Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament for several weeks on Wednesday, sparking widespread outrage, legal challenges and promises of resistance from parliamentarians.
The move was widely seen as a way of limiting the time Johnson’s opponents have to organise against him.
Labour has said it is also mulling a no-confidence vote in Johnson’s Conservative government, which commands a fragile 320 to 319 majority.
An online petition calling for the government to reverse its suspension has garnered more than 1.6 million signatures.
In the courts, a Scottish judge is expected to hear a legal challenge against the suspension on Tuesday the same day MPs return from their summer break for their shortened parliamentary session.
There will be a separate court hearing Thursday for another challenge that is being supported by John Major, a former Conservative prime minister and staunch opponent of Brexit.
— #HelloMyNameIsJoan #NHSLove #FBPE 🇪🇺 (@RoaringNurse) August 31, 2019
Franklin Graham unleashes angry rant about Trump impeachment – then quotes the Bible: ‘The Lord detests lying lips’
Evangelical activist Franklin Graham, who is closely tied to President Donald Trump, is once again defending the Commander-in-Chief, and once again is twisting truth into a prayerful pretzel to do so.
This may be the most consequential week yet in the 146 week-long presidency of Donald Trump.
Starting Wednesday the House Intelligence Committee will hold open hearings for three administration officials who are expected to testify on live television across major cable news channels and broadcast networks that the President of the United States of America engaged in a systematic and sustained effort of extortion and bribery in an attempt to force a U.S. ally to manufacture false evidence against his top political opponent.
Republicans’ betrayal of America sinks to new depths as the impeachment hearings go public
The House is set this week to begin the first in a series of impeachment hearings. As we listen to testimony and consider the facts, we should bear in mind the big picture.
So far, the focus is rightly on Donald Trump’s extortion—the correct legal term—of Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, for personal political gain. Our attention is on his warping of American foreign policy, putting the service of our national interests below his own. That alone is an abuse of power that the framers themselves thought was worthy of indictment by a majority of the the US House of Representatives.
‘No complications’ from Carter surgery for brain pressure
Former US president Jimmy Carter was recovering in a Georgia hospital following surgery Tuesday to relieve pressure on his brain after he suffered multiple falls, an aide said.
"There are no complications from the surgery" to ease the pressure caused by a subdural hematoma, the Carter Center said in a statement.
The 95-year-old Nobel laureate was taken to Emory University Hospital on Monday ahead of the surgery, and he "will remain in the hospital as long as advisable for observation," the center added.
Carter spent three days in hospital last month after suffering a pelvic fracture.