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Tens of thousands of anti-Brexit protesters march in London as MPs delay decision

Thousands of people took to the streets of London today to call for a second referendum.

Updated Oct 19th 2019, 7:34 PM

brexit Protesters at the rally in London today. Source: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire/PA Images

TENS OF THOUSANDS of second referendum supporters converged on the UK parliament in London asking for a vote on Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal.

Effigies of the prime minister and pets draped in EU flags have been pictured at the People’s Vote march to Westminster.

Walking behind a pink banner proclaiming “together for the final say”, protesters chanted: “What do we want? People’s vote! When do we want it? Now.”

“The first referendum was jumping on a train without a destination,” said Douglas Hill, 35, from Oxford, south-central England, with his Estonian wife and their baby daughter.

“Now that we have a destination, we need to have a second referendum.”

Another attendee, Theodor Howe, a 20-year-old student in Dundee, eastern Scotland, conceded another poll could be divisive but insisted it was still necessary.

“People should have a say in what is going to happen,” he told AFP.

The mood was buoyant when news came through that MPs had voted to delay their decision on whether to accept the deal, although the Johnson vowed again he will not negotiate an extension beyond 31 October.

Thomas Lambert, a rare Brexit supporter wandering among the crowds, said he was “gutted” by the vote, adding: “Another delay is an abomination.”

brexit Stewart speaks on stage during an Anti-Brexit, Let Us Be Heard rally in Parliament Square in London, Source: Yui Mok/PA Wire/PA Images

Star Trek actor Sir Patrick Stewart praised the crowd for “transforming” British politics. He was joined by other celebrities and politicians, including Sandy Toksvig. 

Patrick said the crowd has proven a second referendum was not the “pipe dream” that opponents have described it as.

He said: “You haven’t just filled a nice bar in north London, you have taken over an entire city.

You haven’t just impacted the Brexit debate, you have transformed British politics.

Patrick added there was “nothing democratic” about the 2016 referendum.

“People weren’t just misled, they were lied to,” he said.

britain-london-brexit-deal Source: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Following the Government defeat, four members of Labour’s front bench left Parliament to address the rally.

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry told them: “We must put it back to the people.

“This is a pivotal moment in our history and it shouldn’t be left to a handful of MPs.”

She was joined by shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer, who said it was “fantastic” to see the demonstration.

He added: “It’s an historic moment, we have defeated Johnson again. We are not going to let him whip out with his sell-out deal.

We will say no to him again and again. Whatever deal he brings must go back to the people.

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MP Antoinette Sandbach, who had the Conservative whip removed, credited the crowd with “changing her mind” on a second vote.

She said: “My local party voted no confidence in me for resisting no deal.

“It’s undemocratic and not what people voted for, but it’s honourable that I put my job on the line to protect tens of thousands of jobs that will be lost in the north west from no-deal Brexit.”

- With reporting by Dominic McGrath and AFP 

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