A group of protesters backing Brexit and Donald Trump have disrupted a speech by the London mayor, Sadiq Khan.
Khan’s address on gender equality to the Fabian Society in central London was suspended for several minutes on Saturday morning while a small number of demonstrators from a recently formed far-right group called the White Pendragons made their protest.
Shortly after Khan began speaking at the society’s new year conference, one man told the audience: “Ladies and gentlemen, we’re here today to make a non-violent, peaceful citizen’s arrest.”
One man shouted “No to the EU” and another displayed a US flag.
Audience members began to heckle and slow-clap, but the protesters resisted attempts to remove them, claiming they would sue anyone who touched them for “common assault”.
Several police officers then moved in to escort them from the venue.
The protesters claimed the Fabian Society was “subverting our English constitution”, with one quoting the Magna Carta.
Outside the hall, the ITV News reporter Paul Brand asked them several times for clarity about their objection to the society, but failed to get a clear response.
He said in a tweet that they claimed to be neither a racist, nor a far-right group. “But they told us Sadiq Khan has no right to be Mayor of London, referencing his religion.”
When Khan, a former chair of the Fabian Society, resumed his speech he quipped: “On the plus side, I wasn’t served with a P45” – a reference to Theresa May’s Tory conference speech that was interrupted by a prankster.
The mayor added: “It is a pleasure to be here even though we were distracted by the actions of what some would call very stable geniuses.”
#Fab18 conference slightly delayed by Trump supporters who wouldn't let Sadiq Kahn speak. The police had to intervene and remove the group of – in Kahn's words – 'very stable geniuses' pic.twitter.com/d7sVx9Dc1j— Mafalda Dâmaso (@DrMafaldaDms) January 13, 2018
Last Saturday the US president used the same phrase to describe himself in a tweet following questions about his mental health.