'Shouting at the seat of power': remainer gatecrashes 100 TV interviews

Simon Murphy

Millions of viewers will have witnessed his uncanny knack for gatecrashing live TV broadcasts brandishing pro-remain placards, and politicians leaving the House of Commons have become familiar with his daily bellowing.

Dubbed Mr Stop Brexit, Steve Bray has built a reputation for sneaking into the background of interviews outside Westminster.

Wrapped in a hybrid union jack-EU flag, sporting his distinctive blue top hat, in recent months his “STOP BREXIT” cry at 6pm outside Parliament has become almost as inevitable as were the bongs of Big Ben – or a ministerial resignation.

But just who is he? And, perhaps more crucially, does he really believe he can stop Brexit? “100%,” the 49-year-old from Port Talbot, Wales, defiantly told the Guardian as he stood in the shadow of parliament. “People are waking up to the fact of what a shambles this is and they’re beginning to realise, albeit slowly, that we were never going to be better off.

“For me, it’s a massive sociological and economic disaster for our nation. I’m very patriotic. We are better together. I’ve got a daughter, I’ve got a grandson. I want them to have the same future rights that I had.”

A coin collector and trader by profession, he has dutifully stood outside Parliament every day MPs have sat since September 2017. He arrives at 10.30am each morning and stays until 6pm, before heading home to stay with a friend in the capital.

A £28 top hat bought off eBay adorned with “stop Brexit” gold lettering that he purchased from Home Bargains and coloured black to be more “photographic” helps him stand out from the crowd.

Steve Bray has become an expert at camera angles. Photograph: Rick Goodman/PA

He is modest about the attention he has garnered. “I’m quite humbled by it all actually. It’s not something I did this for. I wanted to encourage people to come out because not enough people are coming out and standing up to this,” he said.

Why did he start shouting “stop Brexit”? “I just started doing it to make myself feel better that I’m shouting at the seat of power,” he said.

On Thursday, as the Tory MP and arch-Brexiter Jacob Rees-Mogg gave a press conference outside the House of Commons after calling for a vote of no confidence in Theresa May, Bray rushed in to gatecrash it, shouting some of his trademark slogans. Graciously, Rees-Mogg stopped to praise his heckler.

He has developed special tactics for gatecrashing broadcasts. “I know how to spot when they’re going live from a distance because sometimes they’re hanging around for quite a while. Commentators move their heads a bit more, they hand gesture a lot,” he explained.

The protester, who has even mastered the art of following the camera as it cuts to different angles, added: “I do like to get on BBC for the simple reason I think there should be a clearer message on the BBC. Personally, I’ve felt they haven’t covered Brexit very well, they’ve under-reported marches.”

He has had the odd harsh word from a cameraman, he said, but largely the reception has been positive. But what about those who might argue he is spoiling interviews? “I say to them, look, this is people’s futures. I’m here as a protester, we’ve both got our roles here.”

He is clearly popular, especially with the gaggle of other protesters who turn out alongside him. Remain-supporting Lord Adonis shook his hand as he walked past, while another passerby asked to pose for a picture to show his son.

Bray, who estimates he has gatecrashed in excess of 100 TV interviews, said he does not believe Brexit is a party political issue, admitting he has voted Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrats in general elections over the years.