Three arrests as Tommy Robinson 'Brexit Betrayal' protest and counter-protest flood central London 3 years ago

Three arrests as Tommy Robinson 'Brexit Betrayal' protest and counter-protest flood central London

Counter-protesters claim they outnumbered UKIP and Tommy Robinson supporters five to one

Three people were arrested on Sunday afternoon as thousands of protesters and counter-protesters descended on parliament in London's first street protest since UKIP leader Gerard Batten welcomed far-right figurehead Tommy Robinson as a party adviser.


White nationalist Generation Identity and the anti-Islam For Britain movement were among groups flying flags at the 'Brexit Betrayal' march, which comes after a week that has seen Nigel Farage, Paul Nuttall and a number of the UKIP MEPs desert the party due to its further move to the right.

Quitting the party, former leader Farage warned last Tuesday that, by supporting Robinson, UKIP was likely to “inspire violence and thuggish behaviour”.

Today, speaking to an estimated 5,000-strong crowd, Batten invoked the violent imagery of the British civil war, warning Theresa May that "the king lost his head" last time the UK underwent major constitutional crisis.


He added: “My message to Parliament is clear and simple: dump the deal and take Britain out of the EU now.

“The only way we will ever achieve a real exit from the EU is to rebuild the UKIP electoral threat once again.”


The protest - held ahead of the parliamentary vote on Theresa May's Brexit deal on Tuesday - represents one of the largest gatherings of the far-right in the capital this year.

It comes after a courtship by Batten, which has included the UKIP leader speaking at a number of pro-Robinson demonstrations following his imprisonment for contempt of court, as well as welcoming alt-right figures Carl Benjamin, Markus Meechan and Paul Joseph Watson as party members.

Coaches set off from as early as 4am in the morning from across the country for the march. Beginning at midday at the Dorchester Hotel on Park Lane, marchers waved Union Jacks and chanted "We want our country back” and "Oh Tommy, Tommy Robinson" as they descend onto Whitehall.

In opposition to the right-wing march, an estimated 15,000 activists - organised by Jeremy Corbyn-supporting Labour group Momentum and a number of antifascist organisations - came together at BBC Portland Place as they called for "No to Tommy Robinson, No to Fortress Britain".


Although police largely kept the opposition groups apart, small skirmishes occurred at the antifascist demonstration close to Trafalgar Square, with far-right activists being kettled by police. Three arrests were made in total. One for a public order offence, one for assault and one for possession of an offensive weapon, Met police said.

Tommy Robinson - who has previously avoided party-political affiliation - was seen laughing with Gerard Batten at the head of the march as it moved towards Whitehall. Later, speaking to the crowd, Robinson said “this is what the British establishment fears”, adding of the European Union that "Islamification" could not be stopped "unless we leave the EU and govern our own country by our own laws”.

Andy, 57, was one of the demonstrators at the front of the march. He told JOE that he always planned on attending the protest but Robinson's affiliation "made it even better". "People in the country have got to wake up because within a year it's finished," he said.


Comparing the march to the recent 'Yellow Vest' demonstrations in Paris, he added: "Look at France: they can't control them. They've put 95,000 police on the streets but they couldn't control it could they? Belgium's going up. Holland's going up. Spain, Italy, Poland don't want no Muslims."

Leon, 47, who came to the protest draped in the flag of Saint George, said that he had come to march in opposition to Theresa May’s Brexit deal and to stop “infiltration” of the UK by Muslims.

"They're calling for another referendum, a People's Vote, and it isn't democracy," he said. "It seems like they're going to keep doing the same as they did in [Ireland], where we keep getting referendum after referendum until they get the right answer. But a lot of the UK public aren't having it."

But counter-demonstrators voiced their opposition to the UKIP demonstration, chanting "Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here" and "Nazi scum, off our streets".

Organisers claimed the countermarch had "embarrassed" their far-right counterparts by outnumbering them at least five to one, building on the previous success of a far-right march by the Democratic Football Lads Alliance being blocked by antifascists in October.

Laura Parker, the national coordinator of grassroots Labour group Momentum, told JOE that she was "really pleased" with the day's demonstration and that an affiliation with Tommy Robinson could "sink" UKIP.

"It's so important that the Labour party has mobilised and Momentum has mobilised," she said. "Things are at such a crisis point now that we've got to mobilise as many people as we can. We can marginalise these people because we know that the vast majority of British people reject these politics of hate.

"What's worrying is that in other parts of Europe is that you've got the mainstreaming of some really far-right groups - if you look at the government of Italy, for example, its got fascists in the government of an leading EU member state. So you've got to guard against it and can't be complacent: but I think UKIP will collapse."

Ash Sarkar of Novara Media, who previously went viral for telling Piers Morgan that she was a “literal communist”, was also on the march. Speaking to JOE, she said she had been on the right-wing demonstration and as a Muslim woman she “wasn't welcome there”.

Of the people she had spoken to at the UKIP demo, she said: “Somebody told me that their main problem with the EU was they let in too many Iranians: I had to break it to them that Iran currently isn't one of the EU 27.

"There were lots of people there who seemed to really dislike Muslims, I again was confused, as it turns out the European Courts of Justice don't operate on the basis of Sharia Law.”