Tensions run high as five people arrested at Brexit protest in London

·3-min read

Five people were arrested as tensions ran high on Friday’s Brexit protest outside Parliament.

Crowds had originally expected to be celebrating Britain’s departure from the EU on ‘Brexit Day’ but were left with more uncertainty after Theresa May’s latest defeat in the Commons.

After planned speeches and demonstrations, protesters were spotted jostling with journalists and police, with one group filmed appearing to turn on the press, pushing camera crews away from a crowd of people.

The Metropolitan Police said it made five arrests during the protest, including one man on suspicion of assaulting a police officer and another who was wanted for an offence in Hertfordshire.

Two people were also arrested for assault and another for being drunk and disorderly.

<em>Tensions simmered during Brexit protests on Friday (Picture: PA)</em>
Tensions simmered during Brexit protests on Friday (Picture: PA)

The March to Leave started in Sunderland two weeks earlier and its final leg saw hundreds of marchers file from Fulham towards Parliament Square.

Ukip leader Gerard Batten was joined by Tommy Robinson, the English Defence League founder who now advises Ukip, on a stage in Whitehall during the protest.

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Mr Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, told the crowds they had been “betrayed”, saying: “Today is supposed to be our Independence Day.”

After his speech several of Mr Robinson’s supporters descended on Downing Street, chanting his name and exchanging heated words with police officers who guarded the gates. Some also brought traffic to a standstill in Trafalgar Square.

<em>Protestors brought traffic to a standstill on Trafalgar Square (Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire)</em>
Protestors brought traffic to a standstill on Trafalgar Square (Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire)

At least two MPs said they were abused during the demonstrations.

Joanna Cherry QC, the SNP MP for Edinburgh South West, said on Twitter: “Very relieved to be safely back to my base in London. Was abused by trailing ends of the #LeaveMeansLeave protest as I walked home. Called a traitor. Told to go back to my own country. Such a contrast from #PeoplesVoteMarch last weekend #BrexitChaos.”

The Labour MP for Wigan, Lisa Nandy, tweeted: “Today outside Parliament I and others were accosted by people shouting f****** traitor as we tried to get in to vote. Our staff were advised to leave the building for their own safety. There were armed police everywhere. This is not normal”

Scotland Yard dismissed suggestions from Mr Batten that water cannon could be deployed at protests to “provoke Brexiteers” as “baseless and false”.

It said: “We will always provide a proportionate policing plan to balance the right to peaceful protest, while ensuring that disruption to communities is kept to a minimum.”

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