Tensions were high outside Parliament today as Brexit day came to a close with no signs of progress towards exiting the European Union.
Pro-Brexit protestors caused traffic to be diverted as over 3,000 people swamped the roads and nearby Parliament Square.
Protestors from the ‘Leave Means Leave’ campaign originally left Sunderland on March 16th, hoping to arrive with the intention to celebrate Brexit outside Parliament, but it became clear that this was not going to happen as they approached London. Ex-UKIP Leader Nigel Farage and around 100 followers originally set off on their 200-mile, 14-day journey to London chanting, “We’re marching for our freedom’, with followers growing in large numbers as they approached the capital.
The protest symbolised the opposition to Britain delaying its exit from the European Union, which came only a week after hundreds of thousands marched through central London calling for a second referendum – showing how divided Britain is over the issue of Europe, three years after voting to leave the EU.
Some cheered when the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement suffered yet another defeat in the House of Commons. But others were left fearing it meant a new EU referendum was could be on the cards and were frustrated by a delay. Protestors made their voices clear to journalists, with one male in his mid-thirties (who wanted to remain anonymous) telling us “Brexit is finished. The deal given is all that they’ll offer us and the PM simply needs to choose. Do we take their deal or leave with nothing? Anything is better than the dribble that Parliament is spouting.”
The overwhelming voice of the crowd however was confusion. People are now, more than ever, unaware of what the next steps are. We are in a state of confusion, with the majority of the balls in the court of the European Union. There are several steps which the UK could take, with the least likely outcome appearing to be yet another vote on the existing deal Theresa May had offered Parliament.
The march also caught the attention of those who object to Brexit happening completely, with some minority fringe-groups turning up to disrupt the pro-Brexit chanting. British writer, illustrator and political activist Madeleina Kay joined street performers to create debate and anger Brexit supporters. Nevertheless, the march largely ignored the disruptions, making its opinions loud and clear – Brexit should happen and it should happen now.
We’ve completed a helpful chart to help understand what the next steps are in the Brexit process.
The Metropolitan Police have confirmed that tonight five arrests have been made at the demonstrations in London, four of which are directly related to behaviour that occurred at the demonstrations. Critics will now compare the arrest numbers to last weeks People’s March, a peaceful march in favour of a second referendum, where a spokesperson for Metropolitan Police confirmed no significant arrests were made.
The march, unlike Brexit, was an overwhelming success for Leave Means Leave. Their journey has been heavily documented in the British media on networks such as BBC, ITV and in news publications like The Telegraph and The Express, raising awareness over the mass distaste for the current bill proposed by the Prime Minister.
For a full gallery of today’s events, view the selection of images below: