Both Remain and Leave supporters rejoiced outside Parliament last night after MPs rejected Theresa May’s Brexit deal by a majority of 230 – the biggest government defeat in history.
Protestors from both sides of the debate had been waiting on College Green and Parliament Square for the outcome of the vote since yesterday morning – although many had dispersed by the time the result was announced.
The majority of those present wanted to see Mrs May’s deal voted down. A group of ‘gilet jaune’ protesters chanted ‘Bye bye EU, bye bye’ to the tune of Auld Lang Syne, as pro EU demonstrators sang ‘You can stick your Brexit up your a***’.
The exchange was peaceful although police and security staff were present.
However, there were dramatic scenes earlier as a far right protester and bodyguard of Tommy Robinson was arrested.
Daniel Thomas was among protesters at a ‘Yellow Vest’ demonstration this weekend attended by James Goddard, who was arrested over ‘Nazi’ slurs aimed at Tory MP Anna Soubry last week.
An anti-Brexit supporter reacts in Parliament Square after news came through that MPs had rejected Theresa May’s Brexit deal by a majority of 230
Before the outcome of the vote was announced, far-right activist Daniel Thomas was led away by police. He was among protesters at a ‘Yellow Vest’ demonstration this weekend attended by James Goddard, who was arrested over ‘Nazi’ slurs aimed at Tory MP Anna Soubry last week
Protesters waving Union Jack and EU flags react to the news Mrs May’s deal had failed. Both sides of the debate gathered outside Parliament appeared to welcome the news
How did your MP vote? 202 voted For and 432 Against in a historic – and devastating – Commons defeat for the Prime Minister
An anti-Brexit protester waving a European Union flag cheers after news of the Prime Minister’s huge loss filtered through
Pro-EU protesters smile as they watch a giant television screen relay the news of Mrs May’s loss on Parliament Square yesterday evening
Demonstrators wearing yellow vests and holding signs saying ‘leave means leave’ celebrate the outcome of last night’s vote
The majority of those present wanted to see Mrs May’s deal voted down, including these protesters waving EU flags
Campaigners outside Parliament welcoming the news Mrs May’s Brexit plan had failed when put to a vote by MPs
Most of the protesters had actually gone home by the time the outcome of the vote was announced, although a substantial minority – like the ones pictured – stuck around
Mrs May (pictured in the Commons last night) will now have to face a vote of no confidence brought by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
Daniel Thomas (seen being led away by police yesterday evening) was a bodyguard for former EDL leader Tommy Robinson
Campaigners wearing yellow vests confront each other in Westminster last night amid the vote on Mrs May’s Brexit deal in Parliament
A protester wearing the stars of the EU flag among a crowd of demonstrators gathered in Parliament Square yesterday evening prior to the outcome being announced
Both pro-EU protestors (pictured) and their Brexit-supporting counterparts pictured bedding in for a long night ahead outside the House of Commons
An EU flag flutters next to the statue of Winston Churchill outside the Houses of Parliament, where hundreds of protestors gathered before last night’s vote
Despite the tension in the air, yesterdays’ protests passed without serious incident. The Metropolitan Police (whose officers are seen in this image taken yesterday evening) said its response would be ‘appropriate and proportionate’
Mrs May’s Brexit deal finally reaches the House of Commons yesterday evening and MPs begin voting on it at 7pm. Pictured: Pro-Remain supporters outside Parliament
Eva, aged 7, from Exeter, waves a Union Jack while leaning on an EU flag among the crowds of protestors outside Parliament
Grotesques of Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and David Davis outside the Palace of Westminster last night
Hundreds of flags were on display outside Parliament last night as a large contingent of police officers watched on
Firms fear more uncertainty
The pound swung sharply last night as business leaders warned that Theresa May’s Brexit defeat has sparked a national emergency that could cripple the economy.
Sterling fell to under $1.27 in the moments after the vote, before rallying to $1.286. Against the euro, sterling fell towards €1.11 before bouncing back towards €1.13.
The bounceback came as traders bet Brexit could now be delayed and weakened – or even overturned.
Meanwhile, business leaders voiced concerns over the continuing uncertainty. Most senior City figures backed Mrs May’s deal because it ruled out the risk of no deal, which they fear could create chaos at Britain’s borders and risk a recession.
Stephen Martin, of the Institute of Directors lobby group, said: ‘As things stand, we will leave on March 29, with or without a withdrawal agreement, and yet MPs are behaving as though they have all the time in the world – how are businesses meant to prepare in this fog of confusion?’
One group of Remain protesters kept up a steady racket with a bell and a bass drum they dubbed The Liberty Bell with the words Save Our Sovereignty above it.
Brexiteer David Hurlibut, 62, from Ipswich, said: ‘It’s not being true to the referendum. We may as well stay in the EU.’
Remainer John Wilkins, 64, from Crediton in Devon, also wanted to see the deal blocked.
‘The Government hasn’t managed to find a solution to the Irish border and no one is happy with the agreement,’ he said.
Remainer Tony Singh, 53, said: ‘No one will support a trade deal that’s detrimental to the interest of the UK.’
In nearby Parliament Square a platform and two screens were set up by those campaigning for a people’s vote.
A float with a sculpture of Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and David Davis with the words ‘Brexit is a monstrosity’ circled the area.
The demonstrations ahead of the vote were calm, although a small number of ‘gilets jaunes’ protesters verbally abused police, calling them ‘EU Police’ and ‘EU fascists’.
Earlier yesterday, former UKIP leader Nigel Farage posed with pro-Brexit campaigners on Parliament Square as the number of protestors from both sides continued to swell.
He claimed Mrs May had never really wanted to leave the EU.
‘This should be a day of celebration for Brexiteers but unfortunately the Prime Minister never wanted us to become an independent country, her deal costs us a fortune, ties us into EU rules indefinitely and is a total shocker,’ he told the Daily Star Online prior to the outcome of the vote.
‘This failure of leadership has given the Remainers the opportunity to hijack the process.’
Crowds converged on the square and street opposite the Palace of Westminster – the formal name for the Houses of Parliament and grounds – from around 10am, under the gaze of TV cameras beaming the images around the world.
BBC politics reporter Joey D’Urso tweeted ‘Properly bonkers feeling in Westminster right now. People’s Vote rally roaring in one direction. Pro-Brexit bell portentously ringing out in the other. It’s an utter carnival and it’s about to dial up a notch.’
In one of the more eye-catching displays, pro-EU protestors reimagined the Titanic disaster, erecting a cardboard ship, iceberg and caricature of Prime Minister Theresa May on the bow beside a life-ring.
‘Brexit is a sinking ship,’ said Bert Wander, one of the organisers. ‘It paralyses our politics, and today Theresa May’s Brexit deal will be defeated in parliament.’
‘This is a symbol, people are showing what could happen,’ observed Joseph Iliasz, a Polish tourist visiting London who stopped to view the spectacle. At first, it looks funny, but if you think more, it is not funny, it is rather sad,’ he said.
Mr Iliasz admitted he is worried that his daughter will not be able to study in the British capital after Brexit. ‘We want to keep England in Europe,’ he added.
Others had showed up simply to witness the spectacle.
Tony Brack, who was in London for business, used his mobile phone to film the growing numbers of demonstrators mid-afternoon waving signs and placards like ‘Don’t Let May Betray the UK’ and ‘Stop the Brexit Mess’.
‘I’ve never seen anything like it,’ he said. ‘It is a circus. What does the rest of the world think about it?’
A man wearing what appears to be a ‘Make America Great Again’ cap bangs a drum attached to a display topped with a banner reading, ‘Save our sovereignty’
Banners reading ‘The Truth About Brexit’ and ‘Stop Brexit’ were seen being held outside the House of Commons yesterday evening
Protestors from both sides of the Referendum debate hold their respective banners outside the House of Commons
Three Remain demonstrators wave pro-EU flags in the shadow of the Houses of Parliament ahead of the vote yesterday evening
Crowds converged on the square and street opposite the Palace of Westminster from the early hours of the morning, under the gaze of TV cameras beaming the images around the world
An anti-Brexit activist wrapped in an EU flag stands with other protestors on Parliament Square last night
‘People’s Vote’ supporters dance and listen to speeches during a rally last night on Parliament Square
Earlier in the day, demonstrators had lined the walkways around nearby makeshift broadcasting studios, with each side staking out their camp and no mingling on show.
‘I would have talked to them, but because they are abusive, no,’ said 65-year-old Sally Smith, pointing to the pro-EU faction.
The no-deal Brexit supporter, originally from Shropshire near Wales, had taken the day off work to come and make her point – by frantically ringing a bell.
In the opposite camp, Louise Hummerstone, a 66-year-old potter and craftswoman wearing an EU beret, admitted that she had ‘lost friends’ who voted Leave in the 2016 referendum.
‘I can understand naive voters, I completely understand people who believed the lies, but I cannot tolerate those who voted for racist reasons,’ she said.
Despite the entrenched opposition, the atmosphere remained civil as large numbers of police looked on.
‘I am talking to MPs who are on the fence, not sure which way to go – [to] give them support to reject the deal,’ explained Pete Bell, between shouts of ‘Stop Brexit’ through his megaphone.
An effigy emblazoned with the words ‘Brexit is a monstrosity’ depicting Theresa May, Boris Johnson, environment secretary Michael Gove and former Brexit secretary David Davis was displayed outside Parliament yesterday
A police officer extinguishes a flag that was set alight by pro-Brexit protestors outside the Houses of Parliament, London, ahead of yesterday evening’s vote
Nigel Farage posed with a crowd of flag waving activists outside the House of Parliament hours before MPs had their say on Theresa May’s deal
The former Ukip leader spoke to party supporters and Leave supporters outside the House of Parliament yesterday
Speaking earlier this week Mr Farage called last night’s vote ‘the most important vote since 1940 when Churchill became PM’
Tensions have been running high in recent days as Leavers and Remainers coming head-to-head on the streets of the capital. Pictured: A pro Brexit supporter argues with a cyclist outside the House of Parliament
Leavers hold up signs next to pro-European demonstrators protesting opposite the Houses of Parliament
The NHS doctor believes that leaving the EU ‘will leave us economically in a bit of a disaster’ and is campaigning for a second referendum.
Timeline to Theresa’s Commons defeat
6.45pm: Theresa May will sum up the debate and make a final appeal to MPs to back the deal.
7pm: Voting will begin. First, MPs will vote on the amendments to the motion.
Four have been selected by the Speaker.
If any pass, the final vote on the deal is with the amendment attached.
Each vote will take around 15-20 minutes, meaning the result should be in by around 8.30pm.
8.30pm: After the votes, Mrs May will make a statement setting out her response and the next steps the government will take.
Mark Stevens also wants May’s deal to be defeated, but for very different reasons.
The ardent Brexit supporter hopes a damaging loss will lead to May – who backed Remain in 2016 – losing power.
‘At the moment we have very little enthusiasm and leadership shown for leaving,’ he said. ‘Someone who would have a more positive approach would help the thing work a lot better,’ he added.
The Metropolitan Police said yesterday that preparations to deal with protests will be ‘appropriate and proportionate.’
It came as Theresa May told her Cabinet yesterday that she won’t quit even if her Brexit deal falls to the biggest Commons defeat in history.
The PM signalled defiance as she gathered her team despite fears that she is on track for catastrophic failure in the showdown last night – with warnings the margin could be more than 200 votes.
That would eclipse the record humiliation of 166 suffered by the minority Labour government in 1924.
But Mrs May is said to have told Cabinet that she will not quit regardless of the scale of the loss, as her plan is the ‘only option’.
She said she was the ‘servant of the people’ and determined to implement the referendum result.
Protestors gathered outside Parliament yesterday as MPs prepared for the historic showdown
A protestor dressed as the Prime Minister as the tense scenes unfolded at Parliament yesterday
Pro and anti-Brexit campaigners protest outside Parliament just hours for last night’s crunch vote
How the Commons will vote: Theresa May’s deal was expected to lose heavily last night, and it led to a no-confidence motion which could possibly lead to a general election
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