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‘Hundreds of thousands’ expected at disruptive protests over prorogation move

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has urged MPs to join the demonstrations.

Protesters outside Parliament on Wednesday (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
Protesters outside Parliament on Wednesday (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

By Luke Powell, PA

Organisers are hoping “hundreds of thousands” of people will take part in disruptive protests across Britain this weekend in response to the Prime Minister’s plan to prorogue Parliament.

Anti-Brexit campaign group Another Europe Is Possible has organised 32 #StopTheCoup demonstrations to take place in England, Scotland and Wales on Saturday.

Meanwhile, left-wing group Momentum is calling on its members to “occupy bridges and blockade roads” in conjunction with the protests.

Michael Chessum, national organiser for Another Europe Is Possible, told the PA news agency that “disruption is the only form of leverage protesters can rely on”.

He said the group is not encouraging demonstrators to block roads, but that kind of disruption is “certainly possible”.

He added: “We would go further than anticipate (civil disobedience). We would defend it.”

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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has urged MPs to join the demonstrations (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has urged MPs to join the demonstrations and oppose the shutdown of Parliament as he prepared to address a rally on Saturday.

Further mass demonstrations, organised by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, are planned to take place on Tuesday to coincide with MPs returning to Westminster.

And the annual Westminster Dog of the Year competition, due to take place on Thursday, has been cancelled over safety concerns of the dogs and MPs taking part.

Organisers the Kennel Club and Dogs Trust said it will still be announcing the 2019 Westminster Dog of the Year in due course.

Protests began to flare up in locations across the country on Friday evening, including in Shrewsbury, where some 200 people gathered in a spontaneous demonstration against Mr Johnson’s plans.

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Protesters in Shrewsbury on Friday evening (@judith_everard/PA)

“I think if enough of these protests happen all over the country – and they are – then people who’ve felt disillusioned and abandoned by politics over the last couple of years will find a renewed sense of purpose,” said 38-year-old Hannah Schwarzer.

“(People) will be all the more enthused to protest more and more vehemently until irresponsible and self-serving politicians are unable to simply rely on retaining ‘safe’ seats.”

The calls for protests come as a petition against Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to suspend Parliament racked up more than 1.5 million signatures as of Friday morning.

It also follows multiple protests in London, Edinburgh and other cities on Wednesday, which took place within hours of Mr Johnson announcing his plans.

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A Brexit protester in Westminster (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

The main London protest is due to take place outside Downing Street from midday on Saturday.

Other demonstrations will be held in cities including Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Swansea, Leeds, Bristol and Aberdeen.

The Jo Cox Foundation, which was set up in the wake of the Labour MP’s murder in 2016, warned that anger over Brexit “should not spill over into something more dangerous”.

It said: “People have an absolute right to protest, whether in Parliament, on demonstrations or in the media.

“We believe strongly in freedom of speech. But we would urge everybody to avoid saying or doing anything that could incite or lead to violence.”

PA

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