Pro-Palestine protesters target Sir Keir Starmer’s office as 100 events take place across UK

Five were arrested at London Waterloo railway station after staging a sit-in protest

Holly Evans
Saturday 18 November 2023 19:12 GMT
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Pro-Palestinian protesters chant outside Keir Starmer's Camden office

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protestors gathered outside Sir Keir Starmer’s office in Camden, north London, as part of 100 events taking place across the UK calling for an immediate ceasefire.

Crowds could be heard chanting “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and “Keir Starmer’s a wasteman” as they blocked the road in Camden which led to his constituency office.

This comes after 56 Labour MPs defied their leader’s position of advocating for pauses in fighting so they could support a ceasefire in a Commons vote.

Protesters in Parnell Square, Dublin, during a pro-Palestine rally, demanding a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict

The march on Sir Keir’s office formed part of a day of national action on Saturday, with more than 100 rallies taking place across the UK instead of a large march in central London.

In Glasgow, politicians from the SNP, Scottish Labour and the Scottish Greens addressed a crowd of 18,000 people, with many of those attending writing their names on their arms as a symbol of solidarity with the citizens of Gaza.

Thousands also marched through the streets of Dublin in solidarity with the Palestinian people, with the protest beginning at the Garden of Remembrance and marching across the River Liffey before a sit-in at the Department of Foreign Affairs building, Iveagh House.

Meanwhile, protesters held sit-in protests at major UK train stations prompting increased policing across railway networks, with five arrested at London Waterloo.

People take part in a Palestine Day of Action demonstration, outside the office of Harrow East MP Bob Blackman

British Transport Police (BTP) deployed enhanced officer patrols in England, Scotland and Wales on Saturday, but footage shared on social media showed a small crowd sat on the floor in Manchester Victoria Station, while the force confirmed another group of around 25 had done the same at Leeds station shortly after 2pm.

Around 200 protestors gathered at London Bridge and were dispersed by police, while around 100 were removed from Waterloo, with no train services affected in either station.

A group of protesters who were removed from the station then made their way to Westminster Bridge where they sat in the road before moving to Parliament Square, the Metropolitan Police said.

Police officers remove pro-Palestinian protesters that took part in a sit-in demonstration at London's Waterloo Station

The force said on X, formerly Twitter: “We believe the group in Parliament Square is a mix of pro-Palestinian protesters and Just Stop Oil activists.

“We have arrested a prominent Just Stop Oil activist from within the group. We have a significant number of officers ready to respond if there is further disruption in the road.”

Over the course of the afternoon, 10 rallies took place across the capital including in Islington, Redbridge and Tower Hamlets. As a result, the Metropolitan Police said that a “significant” policing operation was planned for the capital this weekend.

They said they would target deployments in areas “with significant Jewish or Muslim communities”, which they said “continue to experience increased uncertainty and fear in light of events in the Middle East and their impact here in London”.

People take part in a march and demonstration in Glasgow

Previous weekends have seen thousands of protesters and counter-protesters converging on the capital.

A spokeswoman for organisers Stop The War Coalition said that Saturday’s day of action comes ahead of a national demonstration planned for the following Saturday.

Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said the rallies were organised to show that “ordinary people” support a ceasefire.

On Wednesday evening, MPs voted 293 to 125, majority 168, to reject the SNP’s King’s Speech amendment calling for “all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire”.

In a statement following the vote, Sir Keir said he regretted that party colleagues had not backed his position before saying he was more focused on the plight of people in Gaza than managing the splits within Labour.

Mr Starmer has called for humanitarian pauses. He has argued that a ceasefire would allow Hamas to regroup and launch further terror attacks on Israel.

Jess Phillips, the shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, was among 10 frontbenchers who rebelled against his order.

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