As it happenedended1544380258

Brexit 'betrayal' march: Tommy Robinson and Ukip lead London protest amid huge police operation

Police appeal for people to protest peacefully amid disorder fears 

Lizzie Dearden
London
,Colin Drury
Sunday 09 December 2018 16:02 GMT
Comments
Tommy Robinson and Ukip lead Brexit 'betrayal' London protest amid huge police operation

Thousands of people took to the streets in central London in a “Brexit betrayal” protest led by Tommy Robinson and Ukip.

Counter-demonstrators and anti-fascists held a separate protest they claimed had drawn some 15,000 people, although there has been no official crowd size estimates.

The Metropolitan Police mounted a significant public order operation to prevent potential disorder but only three arrests had been made - all of counter-protesters - by the time both rallies ended.

Robinson, the English Defence League (EDL) founder who has been welcomed into the Ukip fold as an adviser to leader Gerard Batten, hinted he could run as a Ukip MP.

Speaking at the Brexit "betrayal" rally, he said that after watching MPs criticise him in parliament he "thought one day I'll be sitting in there amongst you".

Ukip’s official event page for the Brexit march said it would be “a democratic and peaceful demonstration expressing the strength of feeling amongst Leavers”.

The party is looking to gain fresh momentum following a wave of resignations from MEPs and high-profile figures, including Nigel Farage, over Robinson’s appointment and Mr Batten’s focus on Islam.

Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, gave a speech at the march alongside controversial YouTubers who have been welcomed into Ukip in recent months.

The EDL founder noted that he did not want to be seen to "jumping on the Brexit bandwagon" but that his supporters "need a political voice".

He also called for a mass Ukip membership drive asking his supporters to join the party.

Mr Batten described getting Robinson talking about Brexit as being a "huge success".

“I’ve persuaded Tommy Robinson to talk about Brexit, that’s what he will be talking about. Brexit and the EU will be the only subjects on the agenda at that rally," he said last week.

“We want as many there as possible to show you’re opposed to this withdrawal agreement, we want to dump the deal.”

Around 1,300 people have pledged to attend on Facebook and the number of marchers are not expected to approach the hundreds of thousands who demonstrated for a Final Say referendum on Brexit in October.

The Metropolitan Police imposed strict conditions on the “Brexit betrayal” march and counter-protests in efforts to keep opposing demonstrators apart.

Police warned that anyone breaking restrictions under the Public Order Act, which require protesters to stay within designated areas and leave by a stated time, would be committing a criminal offence and would be arrested.

Scotland Yard said the move was proportionate based on “current tensions and concerns”, intelligence and the violence seen at Free Tommy protests in the summer.

“The right to protest is a fundamental right in our democratic society, but this right must be balanced against the right of people to go about their day without fear of violence, disorder or disruption,” said Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor.

”Experience has shown us that when groups with conflicting views come together it can create tension and disorder, not just on the day itself but in the longer term."

See below how we covered this story live

Please allow a moment for the live blog to load

1544346529

Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of the 'Brexit betrayal' march in London. Protesters will be led from Park Lane to Parliament Street by Tommy Robinson and Ukip leader Gerard Batten.

Police have mounted a significant operation to prevent disorder, and keep groups of counter-protesters separate. 'Free Tommy' protests held during the anti-Islam activist's imprisonment earlier this year saw violence and some of his supporters have praised the gilets jaunes in France. Robinson and Mr Batten have called for supporters to protest peacefully.

Lizzie Dearden9 December 2018 09:08
1544347897

Police have imposed strict conditions on the march and counter-protests and say anyone breaking them will be arrested for a criminal offence under the Public Order Act.

The Brexit 'betrayal' march must leave from Park Lane by 12.30pm and follow a set route to Parliament Street. No-one is allowed to join en-route and no vehicles will be allowed.

The march must take place between 12.30pm and 2pm, and the rally must end by 3.30pm.

A counter-protest by Oppose Tommy Robinson and Unite Against Racism & Fascism must march from Portland Place along a set route to Whitehall and set off by 12pm. No-one is allowed to join en-route and no vehicles will be allowed.

The march must end by 1.15pm and a rally in Whitehall, near Trafalgar Square, must end by 4.30pm.

Lizzie Dearden9 December 2018 09:31
1544348097

Ukip leader Gerard Batten has denounced violent protests in France, after some Ukip members and Tommy Robinson supporters praised riots and said they would be wearing yellow vests today

Lizzie Dearden9 December 2018 09:34
1544348218
Lizzie Dearden9 December 2018 09:36
1544349217

The march comes at a time of renewed uncertainty over Brexit, with the EU withdrawal agreement proposed by Theresa May expected to be rejected by MPs on Tuesday.

Marchers want to "dump the deal" but it unclear how another agreement would be drawn up before the UK would crash out of the EU without a deal.

A majority of the country now think Britain should remain inside the European Union, according to exclusive research for The Independent . As of this month, 52 per cent were favour staying in the bloc, and almost half felt the prime minister's proposals were a "bad deal" for Britain.

Lizzie Dearden9 December 2018 09:53
1544349245

When BMG asked some 1,500 respondents, “should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union, or leave the European Union”, 52 per cent said “remain”, 40 per cent said “leave”, six per cent said they did not know and one per cent refused to say.

Lizzie Dearden9 December 2018 09:54
1544352219

Protesters are starting to gather in Park Lane, where they will be setting off in around an hour's time.

Lizzie Dearden9 December 2018 10:43
1544352292

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor, who is leading the police operation for the protest and counter-demonstrators, has said:

“The right to protest is a fundamental right in our democratic society, but this right must be balanced against the right of people to go about their day without fear of violence, disorder or disruption.

“Experience has shown us that when groups with conflicting views come together it can create tension and disorder, not just on the day itself but in the longer term. We have had to carefully consider how to balance the right to protest with the potential impact on our communities and our ability to manage any disorder that may have resulted from these protests going ahead as they were suggested.

“If you want to protest on Sunday we ask that you do so peacefully, no matter what your view. We will adopt a robust arrest policy on anyone who attends and is intent on violence and disorder, or is in breach of these conditions.”

Lizzie Dearden9 December 2018 10:44
1544352363

Counter-protesters are also gathering in a different part of central London for a separate 'Oppose Tommy Robinson' march

Lizzie Dearden9 December 2018 10:46
1544352821
Lizzie Dearden9 December 2018 10:53

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in