Chaotic scenes as Nigel Farage leads 270-mile Brexit protest march - but only some of the way

There were chaotic scenes as Nigel Farage launched a 270-mile march from the north-east of England to Westminster, a walk the former UKIP leader admitted he will not fully complete.

The March to Leave set off from Sunderland on Saturday morning, and will make its way over to London over a 14-day period, arriving in the capital on March 29, where a mass rally will take place on Parliament Square.

Leading hundreds of people in the protest, Mr Farage said: "The will of the people is very clear.

"If you see what has been happening in Parliament this week, we may well not be leaving the EU.

"If politicians think they can walk all over us, then we're going to march back and tell them they can't. Simple as that."

The event, which has been arranged by the Leave Means Leave campaign, will proceed towards Hartlepool on Saturday, a trip of around 20 miles, before proceeding on to Middlesbrough on Sunday.

The walk aims to then stop off in towns including, Pontefract, Doncaster and Wellingborough before arriving London on what was supposed to be Brexit day, although the leave date now looks questionable.

The campaign's website says tickets to be "core marchers", who pay #50 to get fully-paid accommodation, breakfast and dinner for the duration of the 14-day event, have sold out.

Angry rows broke out as the march started, with several counter-protesters assembling in order to get their views across.

They were carrying love hearts bearing messages like "we love workers' rights" and "we love to have a say", but some marchers responded by calling them "EU money grabbers".

The counter-protesters were also told to respect the 2016 referendum result, with one man waving a fake blue passport in their direction.

As Mr Farage arrived, a flare was set off with the EU colours, with shouts of "exit Brexit" emanating form the counter-protesters.

A pro European Union demonstrator releases flares as the march kicks off. Credit: PA

In a social media post, Farage revealed he won't be completing the full 270-mile walk but will instead join campaigners for "some of it".

It is expected the march will be followed all the way by two advertising vans made by Led By Donkeys, a grass roots anti-Brexit campaign founded in January.

The group says the vehicles will ensure "marchers, onlookers and the rest of the nation are reminded of the contradictions, lies and hypocrisies that Nigel Farage has peddled throughout his campaign to ensure the United Kingdom leaves the European Union in the most disruptive and dangerous way possible".

Outlining the reasons for the “peaceful protest”, the march’s website states: "It is now clear the Westminster elite are preparing to betray the will of the people over Brexit.

"To counter this, Leave Means Leave are undertaking a peaceful protest to demonstrate the depth and breadth of popular discontent with the way Brexit has been handled."

It adds: "Failing to deliver a true Brexit will permanently damage the British people’s faith in democracy."

Leave Means Leave says tickets to be "core marchers" have sold out. Those who signed up paid £50 for fully-paid accommodation, breakfast and dinner for the duration of the 14-day event.

In announcing the march, Mr Farage said: "All of us who want Britain to be a great country once again accept that we must be prepared to stand up for what we believe in and fight for our independence."

Nigel Farage at a Leave Means Leave rally in central London. Credit: PA

Barry Lockey, who arrived in Sunderland carrying a flag with the message "Get Britain out: Time to leave the EU", said that the event is about supporting democracy.

He said: "The democracy in the Parliament building has been spot on. They've got their no-deal taken off the table by four votes."

Mr Lockey pointed out that this margin was much smaller than the 4% margin of victory during the EU referendum, which he said is now being discredited.

He added: "I'm sorry, but that really riles me. And they're not going to get away with it.

"They're going to get kicked out, them people, and they're an absolute damned disgrace."

In contrast, one counter-protester told the Press Association "it's going to be a disaster if we leave."

Frank Hindle, 66, said: "We're here to point out that not everybody agrees with this crowd, who think it's going to be wonderful if we leave."

Discussing the no-deal Brexit that many of the marchers are calling for, he said: "The impact that will have on businesses and on prices, and on the availability of things like medicines and so forth, it doesn't bear thinking about."