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.
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
Trump is wallowing in ‘self-pity’ even though McConnell promised to protect him: Morning Joe
Appearing on MNBC's "Morning Joe," New York Times reporter Peter Baker said Donald Trump is wallowing in "self-pity" that fluctuates with "combativeness" as he worries about the effect being impeached will have on his legacy.
Speaking with host Joe Scarborough, Baker filled in the blanks from his Times report, saying the president is obsessed with the impeachment hearings and Senate trial still to come.
Asked by host Scarborough about Trump's "humiliation," Baker said, "He can count on the Republican-controlled Senate to hold the trial where he seems almost certain to be acquitted, or at least see the charges dismissed in some fashion."
WATCH LIVE: House holds historic vote on the impeachment of Donald Trump
After a 14-hour House Judiciary Committee Thursday hearing considering the impeachment of Donald Trump, Democrats and Republicans on the committee will reconvene once again Friday morning where they are expected to finally vote on the articles of impeachment before sending them to the House floor for a full vote scheduled for next week.
According to NBC, "In a surprise move, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler delayed the vote until Friday morning at 10 a.m. after more than 14 hours of debate. There were five votes on Thursday: one to eliminate the first article on abuse of power, a second to strike a reference to former Vice President Joe Biden, a third to note the aid withheld from Ukraine was eventually released, a fourth to strike entire second amendment on obstruction of Congress and a fifth to strike the last lines in each article. All were voted down and along party lines."
‘Trump was caught’: Every major GOP excuse for president’s conduct destroyed by ex-prosecutor
Former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade said Thursday's marathon impeachment hearing left her "shouting" at her television, so she gathered her thoughts and blew up Republican defenses one by one.
McQuade, an MSNBC legal analyst and former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, exposed the weaknesses in each of the GOP's sometimes contradictory defenses of President Donald Trump against impeachment by the House of Representatives.
Here are the GOP defenses I have heard so far to articles of impeachment, along with the knee-jerk responses I have been shouting at my television.