Impromptu demonstrations have sprung up across the UK in protest at the government’s move to suspend parliament for five weeks between 9/10 September and 14 October, which was yesterday approved by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.
Announced on social media only hours beforehand, the “Stop the Coup” protest began at 5.30pm, as thousands gathered on College Green in front of parliament, where they were joined by journalist Owen Jones, commentator Paul Mason and members of the shadow cabinet, including John McDonnell, Keir Starmer and Diane Abbott.
Addressing the crowds, Abbott declared: “This is an attack on democracy. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter where you stand on Brexit. What matters is where you stand on a Tory Prime Minister closing down parliament because they don’t want to give people a say.”
“If this was a Latin American country, it would be called a coup, complete with an American president publicly backing it,” she added, to chants of “Stop the coup”.
While similar protests took place in Edinburgh, Cambridge, Cardiff, Durham, Manchester, Tavistock, the London protesters made their way from College Green to Downing Street, where the crowd sat in the street, bringing the traffic to a standstill on Whitehall as they chanted “bring him down”, “Boris is a liar” and “defend our democracy”.
Among the crowds of people waving EU flags, wearing People’s Vote stickers, or standing under the banner of their local Labour, SWP or Green party branch, were many unadorned with the paraphernalia of protest.
Asked what drew him there today, a softly-spoken man in his fifties said it was simply “outrage”, adding, that he doesn’t “make a habit” of attending demonstrations. “But this is just a demagogue in action,” he added.
No one wanted to talk about exactly what should happen next. Their focus was an outcry of frustration on the streets of Westminster.