Protesters gather outside Parliament as MPs debate way forward on Brexit
The debate comes amid speculation that a general election could be called.
Anti-government protesters have cheered calls for a general election outside Parliament as MPs sought to take control of the Commons agenda.
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Parliament Square in Westminster, London, on Tuesday evening, as MPs prepared for a crucial Brexit vote.
Crowds applauded speakers criticising austerity policies and demanding a general election who addressed them from a small stage erected at the edge of the square.
Protesters brandished placards bearing anti-Boris Johnson and anti-Brexit slogans, such as “Tories Out”, “No to Boris Johnson” and “Stop Brexit!”.
Kevin Vickers, 40, a civil servant from Milton Keynes, said an election was the “only way we can get rid of this terrible Government”.
He said a new government was needed to end “the rule of the rich, by the rich, for the rich.”
Mr Vickers added: “The Tory party have never been so unpopular and never been so weak”.
Sue Clutterbuck, a pensioner from Essex, hit out at the Prime Minister.
She said: “I think what Boris Johnson is doing is totally undemocratic.
“He’s not been elected, he’s got no mandate.”
Mrs Clutterbuck said she had concerns about the outcome of an election but believed the country would ultimately be facing one.
“It’s going to end up being in everything but name a second referendum.”
Philip Smith, 47, a chartered surveyor from north London, was hesitant about a potential election.
He said: “I agree for once with what Tony Blair said, the timing is not right for a general election.
“We need to sort out the Brexit mess first, after that I’m keen to see the back of Boris Johnson.”
He said the UK needed constitutional reform, including an elected head of state and new voting system.
Another demonstrator, who only gave his name as David, said: “I think a general election could play into Boris’s hands and the far right who probably want a no deal.
“What I’m scared of is a coalition with the Tory party and the Brexit Party.”
The 52-year-old from Essex who works in the pharmaceutical industry, said he had EU national colleagues who were worried about their post-Brexit status.
He added: “I’m against Brexit and the proroguing of Parliament and basically stopping democracy.”
As speakers continued to address the crowd some protesters marched past the Houses of Parliament towards College Green carrying coloured smoke flares and chanting “stop the coup”.
Another mass of demonstrators waving EU flags, singing and playing music gathered by tents erected for the media on the green.
Some pro-Brexit supporters also gathered at College Green.
Will Peters, 64, from Luton, carrying a large banner reading Brexit Now, said he wanted to see an end to freedom of movement.
He said claims that the UK would be negatively hit by a no-deal Brexit were “ludicrous” and criticised MPs trying to seize control of the Brexit agenda.
He said: “It’s treachery because we voted to leave.”
Patricia Ward, 65, a freelance editor and university tutor from Sheffield, said the result of the EU referendum was not being honoured by MPs.
She added: “Parliament is the servant of the people, the people voted to leave the EU.
“Parliament should make sure we leave, that’s what we voted to do.”
Asked for her thoughts on a potential general election, she said: “What would have to happen is that the Leave supporting parties would have to come together and get behind one Leave candidate per constituency.”