Protests staged across country as Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan faces mounting opposition

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Sejal Karia

Protests against Boris Johnson’s Brexit stance have been held across the country as the Prime Minister faces cross-party opposition to his EU withdrawal moves.

Demonstrators opposed to Brexit planned more than 30 events across the UK as Mr Johnson looked set for a torrid week in the Commons.

Hundreds brought London's Whitehall to a standstill - with demonstrators stretching across much of the usually busy road as they gathered outside the gates of Number 10.

Chanting of "Boris Johnson shame on you", punctuated by the clanging of a bell, blowing of whistles and bang of a drum echoed around the surrounding Government buildings, as many carried placards and European Union flags.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said European leaders aren't going to back a deal if the believe it could be "thwarted" by British parliamentarians.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said he believes a deal with the European Union is still possible before 31 October - despite the short time frame, and the fact one has not been agreed in the preceding two years of negations.

Speaking on Saturday afternoon, Mr Hancock backed his boss, saying: "I think we should the prime minister every opportunity to get a deal."

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott addressed the large crowd from a stage positioned near Number 10, and said Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had sent his support for the demonstration.

"We are here outside 10 Downing Street trying to get Boris Johnson's attention, but let me tell you, before too long Jeremy Corbyn will be in 10 Downing Street and Boris will be gone," she said.

Ms Abbott added: "We cannot allow Boris Johnson to shut down Parliament and to shut down the voice of ordinary British people."

Thousands gathered in cities across the UK on Saturday afternoon. Credit: PA

Speaking on Saturday morning, the opposition leader assured that he and his party will do "absolutely everything we can to prevent a no deal Brexit".

Mr Corbyn said: "The Prime Minister is taking us into the hands of Donald Trump and a trade deal with the USA because that is the real agenda of the prime minister.

"His answer is to shut down parliament and our answer is for parliament to assert itself for the people of this country to prevent a no deal Brexit."

Former chancellor Hammond angered at suggestion of deselection for Tories not backing no-deal

Philip Hammond expressed anger at reports Conservative MPs who actively oppose a no-deal EU withdrawal will be barred from standing at the next election.

Mr Hammond insisted a no-deal exit would be "undemocratic" as Boris Johnson's Brexit stance faced cross party opposition in the Commons next week.

Reports that any bid to extend Brexit beyond October 31 to stop a no-deal exit would be treated as a no confidence issue, with supporting Tory MPs stopped from standing for the party, drew a harsh response from the ex-chancellor.

Mr Hammond tweeted: "If true, this would be staggeringly hypocritical: 8 members of the current cabinet have defied the party whip this year.

"I want to honour our 2017 manifesto which promised a "smooth and orderly" exit and a "deep and special partnership" with the EU.

"Not an undemocratic No Deal."

A Government spokesperson said: "All options for party management are under consideration, but first and foremost the PM hopes MPs will deliver on the referendum result and back him on Parliament."

Court attempts to stop no-deal Brexit get backing of political heavyweights

Mr Johnson faces Parliamentary attempts to try to legislate against a no-deal exit from the EU, or hold a vote of confidence in his Government, the PM insisted opponents could be making the prospect of a withdrawal from the bloc without an agreement more likely.

Mr Johnson’s remarks came as a Tory predecessor in Number 10, Sir John Major, announced he wanted to join a legal challenge to the PM’s decision to extend the suspension of Parliament over the annual party conference season.

Bristol is just one of many cities across the country to see protests against Boris Johnson's plan. Credit: PA

Sir John suggested his experience in Downing Street could assist the High Court in deciding whether Mr Johnson’s actions in proroguing Parliament are lawful.

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson said he was also joining the legal action against what he called “an unprecedented affront to democracy”.

But Mr Johnson defended his decision and warned efforts to frustrate Brexit on October 31 would be seized on by Brussels to avoid offering a good deal.

“I’m afraid that the more our friends and partners think, at the back of their mind, that Brexit could be stopped, that the UK could be kept in by Parliament, the less likely they are to give us the deal that we need,” he said.

Businesswoman Gina Miller – who previously took the Government to court over the triggering of Article 50 to start the Brexit process – said her case would be heard on September 5.

Sir John Major, Gina Miller and Labour's Tom Watson are launching a joint legal challenge. Credit: PA

Shadow attorney general Shami Chakrabarti said she has been granted permission to intervene in the judicial review, as she accused the Government of operating from a “far-right play book”.

Baroness Chakrabarti said: “I am grateful to the High Court for granting me permission to intervene in these important proceedings on behalf of the official opposition.

“Parliamentary sovereignty remains the foremost and overarching principle of our constitution.

“Whatever far-right play-book Number 10 may be copying from, the abusive shutdown of our legislature won’t wash under United Kingdom constitutional law.”

In a separate legal case in Scotland, judge Lord Doherty rejected a call for an interim interdict to block the suspension of Parliament, but said a full hearing would take place on Tuesday.