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THOUSANDS of anti-racism activists took to London’s streets today, hugely outnumbering the “Tommy Robinson” Brexit march.
About 15,000 cross-group anti-racists assembled outside the BBC and marched to Whitehall to oppose the “stop Brexit betrayal” demonstration led by the far-right leader, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon.
About 3,000 far-right protesters assembled outside the Dorchester pub on Park Lane and headed to Parliament Square with union flags, chanting “Oh, Tommy, Tommy.” One man carried a noose for “traitor” Prime Minister Theresa May.
Ukip leader Gerard Batten spoke to his smaller crowd, calling out “Remainer” Ms May and her “treasonous political class.”
The Metropolitan Police had placed restrictions on freedom of assembly around Westminster for fear of violent confrontation between the demonstrations; a heavy police presence kept them apart.
Speaking at the concluding rally outside Downing Street, Stand Up To Racism’s Weyman Bennett called for solidarity.
He said: “We are just at the beginning of a united movement against the rise of the far right. We can defeat them if we stay together.
“I believe that the majority of people in this country reject fascism and racism. There’s deep concern in Britain about the growth of the far right in this country under the guise of Tommy Robinson and Ukip.
“All of us have come together from whatever party or faction we represent and have agreed that we have to march together to defend our democratic rights.”
Labour national executive committee member Claudia Webbe conveyed greetings from party leader Jeremy Corbyn to the crowd.
“When he is prime minister we will continue marching with you until the far right are defeated,” she said.
Education union NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “We have outmobilised the far right today, and our task is to mobilise the overwhelming majority of anti-racists and anti-fascists to defeat them.
“Let’s go back to our communities and workplaces and do that.”
Jewish Socialist Group’s David Rosenberg said racists and fascists are experts in only one thing: “Spreading hate. They offer no solutions. We cannot beat back the racists without offering solutions, nor can we allow the racist right to set the agenda.”
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “Our march has people who voted both Leave and Remain.
“We stand together against racism, fascism and exploitation, and we refuse to be divided by racists.”
A support march for the “Brexit betrayal” protest by a far-right group called Mersey Nationalists was set to take place in Liverpool — but counterprotest organisers declared victory after the group failed to show up.
Senior Labour figures suggested today that the party could either attempt to force a general election or seek to form a minority government with other parties if Ms May’s Brexit deal is defeated in the Commons tomorrow.
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