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Anti-Brexit protesters to stage mass demonstration outside Tory conference

Pro-EU activists have promised an ‘autumn of discontent’

Jon Stone
Europe Correspondent
Monday 07 August 2017 15:18 BST
Tens of thousands of anti-Brexit protesters marched through London in the wake of the referendum result last year
Tens of thousands of anti-Brexit protesters marched through London in the wake of the referendum result last year (Getty)

Supporters of Britain’s membership of the European Union are to stage a protest march outside the next Conservative Party conference – with the stated aim of stopping Brexit.

The Manchester march will probably coincide with other mass protests against the conference – which have been a fixture of the party’s gatherings in recent years.

The protest, organised by Stop Brexit, will take place a month after another march on Parliament, staged by the People’s March for Europe group. Pro-EU activists have pledged an “autumn of discontent” against Brexit.

The Manchester march will begin on 1 October, the first day of the conference, and gather at Platt Fields. Speakers at the march’s rallies are expected to include former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and former Labour adviser Alastair Campbell.

Mr Clegg’s involvement is a major turnaround for the former Deputy Prime Minister, who previously served in a Tory-led cabinet. The Liberal Democrats are formally backing the march, arguing that they cannot “ignore the harm Theresa May’s Brexit will do to future generations”.

Peter French, of Stop Brexit, said: “This is our chance to actually let the people in the north of England have their voices heard because they have been neglected in every other way and this is a chance to give them their voice as well.

“And this is a chance to hopefully start to turn this around. Our aim is to actually stop the Brexit process and I think things are beginning to turn in that direction. We have a long fight on our hands but I think it is something that is achievable.”

Tom Brake, the Liberal Democrats’ foreign affairs spokesperson said: “Brexit is the battle of our lives and it is vital we make the Conservatives see the strength of feeling against their disastrous extreme Brexit, which threatens to crash the economy and damage the life chances of millions.

“They are heading for the very most reckless of Brexits in the teeth of public opposition to leaving the single market. Liberal Democrats didn’t take the decision lightly to protest at another party’s conference but we can’t ignore the harm Theresa May’s Brexit will do to future generations.

“Liberal Democrats on the march will protest peacefully and in good spirit but ministers should be under no illusions that a lot of people are very, very angry at their disastrous handling of Brexit, which has made a difficult situation a million times worse.”

Pro-EU protesters have held a series of marches across the country and in the capital since the EU referendum result. The protests have so far failed to change policy.

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