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Tory MP visits Churchill-themed London café after protest

A students’ union has backed protesters who stormed a Winston Churchill-themed ‘Blighty’ café, saying it has a ‘concerted historical amnesia of British colonialism’.

The School of Oriental and African Studies University of London Students’ Union spoke out after the café in Finsbury Park was targeted by Left-wing protesters.

Halimo Hussein, 24, who is a SOAS student and member of the union, was involved in the protest and has campaigned for more ‘non-white thinkers’ in education.

It came as Tory MP Jack Lopresti today had a solidarity breakfast at the cafe because he wanted to ‘support the business’ after it was besieged by activists.

Today, the SOAS Students’ Union released a statement in support of Ms Hussein, who serves as its co-president for equality and liberation.

It said: ‘On Saturday members of the Students’ Union led a protest against a cafe called Blighty, which celebrates British colonialism. The cafe currently has two branches.

‘At the Finsbury Park location there are murals of war criminal Churchill and breakfast options such as the ‘Winston’ and the ‘Gandhi’.

Tory MP Jack Lopresti took the trip to the Blighty Cafe because he wanted to ‘support the business’ after it was besieged by activists

The cafe¿s co-owner, Ed Yarnton (pictured with the MP), was working at the cafe when the protesters from Soas university stormed the eatery

The cafe’s co-owner, Ed Yarnton (pictured with the MP), was working at the cafe when the protesters from Soas university stormed the eatery

‘The protest involved reading out sections of Heathcote William’s poem ‘Great Britain’s, Greatest Beast’ followed by chanting ‘Churchill was a racist’.

‘The cafe exercises a concerted historical amnesia of British colonialism, which is offensive to those who continue to experience institutional racism.

‘The protest was targeted at the owner – calling for them to change the decorations and imagery of the cafes – and to the customer – to boycott until the owner takes these actions.’

The café in Finsbury Park was stormed by protesters who chanted ‘Churchill was a racist’ and called for customers to boycott it.

Mr Lopresti, an aide at the Ministry of Defence, treated two of his assistants to the cafe¿s famous ¿Winston¿ full English breakfast

Mr Lopresti, an aide at the Ministry of Defence, treated two of his assistants to the cafe’s famous ‘Winston’ full English breakfast

Sitting next to a model of Winston Churchill, Mr Lopresti polished off the breakfast of sausages, beans, black pudding, bone marrow and eggs

Sitting next to a model of Winston Churchill, Mr Lopresti polished off the breakfast of sausages, beans, black pudding, bone marrow and eggs

Its owners are now considering stepping up security amid fears more extreme protesters will target it.

Mr Lopresti, an aide at the Ministry of Defence, treated two of his assistants to the cafe’s famous ‘Winston’ full English breakfast.

Mr Lopresti told MailOnline: ‘I know the cafe has had some difficult times and I wanted to support it and sample what they have.

‘I think the place is great. Sir Winston Churchill is a hero of mine, he deserves our respect and gratitude.’

Sitting next to a model of Winston Churchill, Mr Lopresti polished off the breakfast of sausages, beans, black pudding, bone marrow and eggs. 

Halimo Hussein, 24, was among campaigners who burst into the cafe in Finsbury Park, north London , and urged customers to boycott it for 'colonialism'

Halimo Hussein, 24, was among campaigners who burst into the cafe in Finsbury Park, north London , and urged customers to boycott it for ‘colonialism’

The cafe, which has models of RAF Spitfires hanging from ceiling and a mural of London in the Blitz painted on the wall, has come under attack by vandals before

The cafe, which has models of RAF Spitfires hanging from ceiling and a mural of London in the Blitz painted on the wall, has come under attack by vandals before

And he gave the breakfast 10 out of 10 – adding: ‘We will definitely be coming back.’

The cafe’s co-owner, Ed Yarnton, was working at the cafe when the protesters from Soas university stormed the eatery. 

He told MailOnline: ‘It wasn’t something I expected, in the middle of a local community cafe.

‘They wanted us to apologise to the community, which is ironic when we have been a big part of this community for over four years now.’

He said he is concerned the cafe will be targeted by more extreme protesters in the coming days.

The cafe¿s co-owner Ed Yarnton (right) said he is concerned the cafe will be targeted by more extreme protesters in the coming days

The cafe’s co-owner Ed Yarnton (right) said he is concerned the cafe will be targeted by more extreme protesters in the coming days

The cafe, in Finsbury Park north London, was stormed by protesters who chanted ¿Churchill was a racist¿ and called for customers to boycott it

The cafe, in Finsbury Park north London, was stormed by protesters who chanted ‘Churchill was a racist’ and called for customers to boycott it

He said: ‘I saw that SOAS has released a statement about the protest and and I’m worried that people with more extreme views might come along and disrupt things.

Tory MP Jack Lopresti stands outside Blighty

Tory MP Jack Lopresti stands outside Blighty

‘We will definitely be keeping our eyes open.

‘I don’t know if we will bring in security or perhaps alert the local authorities.’

Asked what he thought about Mr Lopresti’s visit, he said: ‘It’s great that people are stopping by to try to full English.

‘The cafe is inspired by Britishness, and Winston Churchill was an iconic British figure.’

Speaking to Mr Lopresti, he said: ‘You should bring the rest of Parliament down to the cafe and have a big discussion about things.’

Police were called after Labour activists stormed the eatery.

The cafe, which has models of RAF Spitfires hanging from ceiling and a mural of London in the Blitz painted on the wall, has come under attack by vandals before.

The cafe’s owners were forced to take down a giant mural of Sir Winston after it was daubed with graffiti which branded the wartime leader ‘scum’.

‘Blighty’ café owner reveals Jeremy Corbyn is a regular customer who ‘pops in for coffee’

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is a customer at the Winston Churchill-inspired cafe which was stormed by a ‘hard-left mob’, it has emerged.  

It comes after Boris Johnson called on Mr Corbyn to denounce the 24-year-old activist who stormed the Blighty UK cafe shouting that the wartime prime minister was a ‘racist’.

Halimo Hussein, 24, was among campaigners who burst into the cafe in Finsbury Park, north London, and urged customers to boycott it for ‘colonialism’.

The politics student, who is the co-president of Equality and Liberation at SOAS, University of London, later asked the owner to apologise to the local community.

Now the cafe’s owner, Chris Evans, has revealed that Mr Corbyn has been to the cafe with his wife and shared a picture of him with the Labour leader on Facebook, according to The Sun. 

Chris Evans, the owner of the Winston Churchill-themed cafe, is pictured with Jeremy Corbyn who he says has been to the cafe with his wife

Chris Evans, the owner of the Winston Churchill-themed cafe, is pictured with Jeremy Corbyn who he says has been to the cafe with his wife

Halimo Hussein (left) seemed to be leading the chants and kept repeating 'we have nothing to lose but our chains'

Halimo Hussein (left) seemed to be leading the chants and kept repeating ‘we have nothing to lose but our chains’

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson condemned their actions on Saturday and said that Jeremy Corbyn should 'denounce' the group 

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson condemned their actions on Saturday and said that Jeremy Corbyn should ‘denounce’ the group 

The group read from scripts as they urged customers inside the packed cafe to boycott the Blighty UK 

The group read from scripts as they urged customers inside the packed cafe to boycott the Blighty UK 

Mr Evans told Sun Online: ‘They say they’re Corbynistas but he’s been in the cafe before for a coffee and his wife has brought bread from us – are they going to boycott him now?

‘I don’t know if you can ever win against these people. If you can’t, do you then just say f*** it and whitewash the walls and call yourselves the ‘Bland Cafe’ just to please them and lose your regular customers?’  

Boris Johnson was outraged after watching a video of the ‘hard-left mob’ inside the cafe after they launched a ‘disgraceful attack’ on the UK’s finest ever wartime leader’.

It comes as other Tory MPs branded Ms Hussein and the other eight campaigners as ‘childish’ and ‘puerile’. 

Mr Johnson tweeted on Monday afternoon: ‘Disgraceful attack on our finest ever wartime leader by hard-left mob.

‘Jeremy Corbyn should denounce the actions of these ‘activists’ immediately.’    

Meanwhile, Jack Lopresti, the Conservative MP for Filton and Bradley Stoke, said her behaviour was ‘ignorant’ and praised the ‘courage and leadership’ of Sir Winston.

He told MailOnline: ‘This outrageous behaviour represents the hard left’s politics which is of the most puerile and ignorant kind. 

‘Without the bravery, courage and leadership of Sir Winston Churchill, we would not be living in a free country where we have the freedom to express our personal views, regardless of how, in their case, ridiculous or offensive they are.’  

Michael Fabricant, Tory MP for Lichfield, told MailOnline: ‘It is thanks to Winston Churchill that fools like these are able to hold their childish views and not be thrown into a concentration camp.

‘They should think about this before the next time they behave like yobs.

A giant mural of Winston Churchill was daubed with graffiti which branded the prime minister 'scum' 

A giant mural of Winston Churchill was daubed with graffiti which branded the prime minister ‘scum’ 

‘As the local MP, I hope Jeremy Corbyn will join me in condemning these actions.’ 

Police were called after the nine campaigners stormed the eatery, which has already been under attack from vandals and more Labour activists.

Owner Chris Evans, 47, reported the intruders, who are also leaving scathing online reviews slating the cafe, to police after his staff were left shaken. 

He was also forced to remove a giant mural of Churchill after it was daubed with graffiti which branded the former prime minister ‘scum’ and and ‘imperialist’.

Mr Evans said: ‘If you cannot celebrate Britain and great Britons you are just erasing history. And if you cannot celebrate Churchill, you cannot celebrate anyone.’  

It has now emerged that the group’s leader, Ms Hussein, is an avid Labour supporter and Jeremy Corbyn fan.

Ms Hussein, whose family fled the civil war in Somalia, could be heard shouting: ‘We have nothing to lose but our chains.’

Ms Hussein, who who studied at William Morris Sixth Form in Hammersmith, west London, also uploaded a picture on her Facebook page which read: ‘No Tories on my profile.’

She also posted a photograph of her with fellow Labour supporter, comedian Russell Brand, on her Facebook page.

Halimo Hussein (centre) led the chants inside the packed cafe on Saturday and repeatedly shouted: 'We have nothing to lose but our chains'

Halimo Hussein (centre) led the chants inside the packed cafe on Saturday and repeatedly shouted: ‘We have nothing to lose but our chains’

She also uploaded this photograph of Jeremy Corbyn and wrote online: 'The moment we found out Jeremy was elected. The look on the rest of their faces has made my day 

She also uploaded this photograph of Jeremy Corbyn and wrote online: ‘The moment we found out Jeremy was elected. The look on the rest of their faces has made my day 

In 2015, the student also said ‘another five years of austerity, snaking the poor, students and migrants’ after David Cameron was re-elected.

And when Corbyn was elected the leader of the Labour Party in 2015 she uploaded an image of the moment he found out he was in charge.

She wrote: ‘Found my cover photo’ and she added that the moment had ‘made her day’.

Ms Hussein was elected Co-President of Equality and Liberation by her fellow students and said ‘I F***ING WON’ when the news was announced. 

Outlining her policies and aims before the vote, she said: ‘Decolonial politics should be at the forefront in pushing for institutional change.

‘I want to fight against the exploitation of our tutors and cleaners, SOAS claims to be committed to living wage yet disregards workers rights.’

Ms Hussein also left a scathing online review of the cafe which read: ‘Bland breakfasts and awful watery tasting coffee, toilets filthy.’

It also emerged that she has backed the anarchist online trend which uses the hashtag #RobThisEngland.

People on social media who use the hashtag are seen to be committed to not paying for services and goods.

In 2016 she wrote on Facebook: ‘I will live and embody the spirit of #RobThisEngland from not paying back tuition fees to not paying for TV license.’

The Labour activists are behind an online campaign against the business and its sister cafe, Blighty India in nearby Tottenham.

Labour Party members Ewa Lefmann and Zainab Khan originally started a petition demanding that Mr Evans ditches his Churchill theme, which they claim uses ‘history in a light-hearted fancy dress manner’.

Nine protesters then burst into the cafe on Saturday and stood in front of startled diners, chanting about racism and taking it in turns to read from a prepared script.

One woman declared: ‘We cannot accept the unashamed colonial and gentrifying presence of this cafe’ before the group chanted ‘You will never make colonialism palatable’.

The next to speak was Ms Hussein who said: ‘To the owner of the cafe, apologise to the local community for their poorly thought and insensitive branding and promptly change it from the menu to the aesthetics and décor of the cafe’. 

The cafe's signature dish is 'The Winston' - a traditional full English breakfast with Cumberland sausage and Yorkshire black pudding

The cafe’s signature dish is ‘The Winston’ – a traditional full English breakfast with Cumberland sausage and Yorkshire black pudding

Nine protesters stormed the cafe in north London on the weekend and were heard chanting 'Churchill was a racist' 

Nine protesters stormed the cafe in north London on the weekend and were heard chanting ‘Churchill was a racist’ 

Boris Johnson (pictured) said that the group launched a 'disgraceful attack on our finest ever wartime leader' and described them as a 'hard-left mob'

Boris Johnson (pictured) said that the group launched a ‘disgraceful attack on our finest ever wartime leader’ and described them as a ‘hard-left mob’

The other female protester resumed: ‘To the customer, we ask you that you boycott this cafe until they take the concerns of the community seriously’.

Other group chants included ‘It is our duty to win’ and ‘We must love and support each other’.

As they trooped out, a customer hit back: ‘Churchill fought for our freedom’, to which the group chanted: ‘Churchill was a racist’.

Ms Hussein is a staunch supporter of the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn. 

While running for office in her student union, she explained: ‘I want to bring decolonial politics to the forefront in our fight for institutional change.’

She is pictured on Facebook with comedian Russell Brand, a fellow Corbyn supporter.

Ms Hussein also left a scathing online review of the cafe that read: ‘Bland breakfasts and awful watery tasting coffee, toilets filthy.’

Owner Mr Evans said: ‘I have already invited these people in for coffee to discuss their concerns.

‘Instead, they have come in and shouted at my customers. My staff have been left frightened and so I am reporting the incident to the police today.

A group of protesters stormed the cafe and sang it is our duty to fight for our freedom 

A group of protesters stormed the cafe and sang it is our duty to fight for our freedom 

Nine demonstrators burst into the Blighty UK Cafe in North London on Saturday and told customers to boycott the place for ¿celebrating colonialism¿

Nine demonstrators burst into the Blighty UK Cafe in North London on Saturday and told customers to boycott the place for ‘celebrating colonialism’

‘I would much rather they came to debate in a civilised manner what it means to be British in modern Britain.

‘As far as I am concerned, if you cannot celebrate Britain and great Britons you are just erasing history.

‘And if you cannot celebrate Churchill, you cannot celebrate anyone.’ 

Mr Evans previously reported vandals to police for defacing the cafe’s striking street art mural of Churchill’s famous two fingers pose alongside the slogan ‘double shot’, jokily claiming that he was ordering a double espresso.

After a spate of graffiti attacks over several years, he decided it was easier simply to ditch the design.

Blighty India boasts a neon portrait of Gandhi, Bollywood posters and India flags as part of the cafe chain’s branding celebrating Commonwealth countries.

Diners a the cafe drink from Churchill mugs underneath model Spitfires and Union Jack flags.

The cafe’s signature dish is ‘The Winston’ – a traditional full English breakfast with Cumberland sausage and Yorkshire black pudding.

And they can pose for pictures alongside a sculpture of the wartime leader – whose extraordinary achievements are currently being celebrated in hit movie Darkest Hour – or inside a World War II air raid shelter. 

One of the diners said that Churchill fought for the UK's freedom which resulted in the group chanting: 'Churchill was a racist' 

One of the diners said that Churchill fought for the UK’s freedom which resulted in the group chanting: ‘Churchill was a racist’ 

When one diner says 'Churchill fought for our freedom', a protester replies 'Churchill  was a racist'. The wartime leader is seen leaving Downing Street in an undated image

When one diner says ‘Churchill fought for our freedom’, a protester replies ‘Churchill was a racist’. The wartime leader is seen leaving Downing Street in an undated image

The cafe’s menu offers a vegan breakfast called ‘The Gandhi’ as well as ‘Bombay Hash’, ‘Bengali Breakfast’ and ‘Eggs Kerala’ and the cafe stages regular curry nights, yoga classes and creates cocktails with name like ‘Bombay Sunrise’.

In their petition, Haringey residents Ewa Leffman, Zainab Khan, and Jasmine Davies are calling for Tottenham MP David Lammy to intervene.

They claim the cafes ‘insensitively evoke memory of the Empire’, writing: ‘We understand that many see the Commonwealth as a celebration of a group of countries but it has little to do with cafes.

‘While Blighty does make a point of sourcing its coffee from countries that are in the Commonwealth, we feel its framing of the Commonwealth is an outdated concept using its history in a light-hearted ‘fancy dress’ manner.

‘We would like to step in now and ask them to adjust their brand whilst there’s still only two branches.’

Khan, whose family moved from India in the Sixties, complained that Blighty India ‘ignores the suffering the Empire caused and turns colonial rule into a frivolous theme’.

She is pictured on Facebook outside 10 Downing Street, campaigning against then PM David Cameron. She wrote: ‘Just going in to kick Dave out’.

She is also pictured with Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow, who she jokes is her ‘best friend now’ after repeated meetings.

There is no suggestion that those behind the petition or protest in the cafe were involved in the vandalism of the Churchill mural.

One diner tweeted about the protesters: 'They had a script and everything. Could have at least bought a coffee'

One diner tweeted about the protesters: ‘They had a script and everything. Could have at least bought a coffee’

Stunned customers carried on eating, drinking and talking during the demonstration on Saturday 

Stunned customers carried on eating, drinking and talking during the demonstration on Saturday 

A debate is also raging about the cafes on social media. Activists from Black Lives Matter UK tweeted: ‘So glad people are calling this Empire nostalgia out’.

But other customers and local residents are calling the campaign against the cafes ‘madness’.

Alexander Hamilton, who was dining during the demo, tweeted: ‘Just been a reluctant part of some form of anti-Churchill protest at @BlightyUKCafe.

‘They had a script and everything. Could have at least bought a coffee’.

Another customer wrote to the cafe, saying: ‘I was horrified to read about the attack on your cafe and this pressure from a group of self-appointed nobodies trying to stop you presenting it in the way that you wanted and intended.

‘After all, if they do not like your cafe nobody is forcing them to patronise it – but they would like to force their views on others and stop them from enjoying Blighty being presented in the form you intended.

‘I hope plenty of others show their support for you.’

Another resident wrote: ‘Sorry but is this a joke? They’re a small business providing employment in the local area.

‘Stop harassing them! Surely there are more worthy campaigns!? I didn’t know they existed, so I’ll now definitely give them my custom!’



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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