'We don't trust Boris Johnson to protect our democracy' - hundreds march through Sheffield in in protest against no-deal Brexit

Boris Johnson was famously told to ‘leave my town’ by one voter this week, so he did well to steer clear of Barker’s Pool in Sheffield today.

Saturday, 7th September 2019, 13:28 pm
Updated Monday, 9th September 2019, 10:48 am

The under-fire Prime Minister was unsurprisingly public enemy number one at the latest rally to be held in the city against a no-deal Brexit.

Around 300 protesters turned out to listen to speakers on the steps of Sheffield City Hall, before marching down Division Street to Devonshire Green.

Some were draped in EU flags, while others brandished placards painting Mr Johnson as the undoubted villain of the piece – including one of him made up like a clown and another referring to the ‘Eton’s Mess’ critics argue he and his private school-educated friends are making of the country.

Demonstrators at a protest in Sheffield city centre against no-deal Brexit

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i politics newsletter we'll give it to you straight

The demonstration was one of many taking place across the country this week as the prospect of leaving the EU without a deal continues to loom large despite further defeats for the Conservatives in parliament.

Mr Johnson has said he would ‘rather be dead in a ditch’ than ask the EU for a further delay to the UK’s current departure date of October 31, despite a bill requiring him to do just that being set to become law.

Bev Laidlaw, who is on the National Executive Committee of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), told those gathered: “Boris Johnson has written to his MPs and said he won’t seek an extension. He will defy the law of this country.

Demonstrators at a protest in Sheffield city centre against no-deal Brexit

“We don’t trust the Government, Boris Johnson or any of his friends to protect our democracy….

“Regardless of whether you’re leave or remain, we must unite on this. We can’t put up with our government forcing through a no-deal Brexit that’s against all of our will.”

Phillis Anchew, of the South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group (SYMAAG), warned that a no-deal Brexit could lead to another Windrush scandal for EU nationals living and working in the UK.

“We fear the two million who don’t have settled status could be treated similarly to those of the Windrush generation who came to work here when there was free movement within the Commonwealth,” he said.

Demonstrators at a protest in Sheffield city centre against no-deal Brexit

“Recently they’ve been harassed, detained and in some cases even deported by the Home Office because they lacked the documents to prove their right to stay in the UK.

“With no-deal Brexit, we fear the same thing could happen to EU nationals in the UK in years to come.”

Among the crowds were members of Sheffield for Europe, a non-political pro-remain group which claims to have around 600 members and more than 1,300 Facebook followers.

Neill Schofield, one of the group’s committee members, said: “What we want is a people’s vote because we know so much more than we did three years ago, and we now realise the dangers of a no-deal Brexit.

“We think we should check with the people what they want to do now.”

Today’s demonstration was jointly organised by activists from Another Europe is Possible, trade unions and Labour and Green Party members who are united in their attempt to, as they put it, ‘Stop the Coup’.

Sheffield for Europe is step to stage its own ‘Stop Boris, Stop Brexit’ rally next Friday, September 13, from 7pm at the Central United Reformed Church on Norfolk Street.

For more details, visit www.sheffieldforeurope.org.uk.