Thousands join march against Brexit

Supporters of the European Union marching in London as the British Parliament sat to discuss the fate of Brexit yesterday.
Supporters of the European Union marching in London as the British Parliament sat to discuss the fate of Brexit yesterday.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Anti-Brexit protesters used a bizarre array of humour yesterday to lampoon Britain's leaders, casting Prime Minister Boris Johnson's chief adviser as the manipulating devil behind an EU divorce that they view as the work of a privileged few.

The battle over Brexit spilled onto the streets of London when hundreds of thousands of people gathered to demand a new referendum while lawmakers decided the fate of Britain's departure from the European Union (EU).

Many turned to sometimes risque British humour, and their props ranged from exquisitely crafted effigies to battered empty boxes and a baguette.

Mr Dominic Cummings - cast by his enemies variously as the puppet master of Brexit, Britain's Rasputin and a political vandal - was made into a giant effigy of the devil, complete with horns and a glove puppet of his boss, Mr Johnson.

"Demonic Cummings" was scrawled across the head of the effigy, which was pulled by protesters - some with berets sporting the stars of the EU flag.

Another sign read: "I didn't vote for Dominic Cummings".

Other targets were the privileged financial backers of Brexit.

"Brexit is a billionaire con," read one banner.

"Brexit = Disaster Capitalism," read another.

Under the slogan "Eton Mess", one placard showed Mr Johnson and former prime minister David Cameron - both of whom had studied at Eton College, Britain's most privileged school.

Eton Mess is the name of a British dessert made of smashed meringue, strawberries and whipped cream.

The sign cast Mr Cameron and Mr Johnson as "Horror and Lardy" in the pose of historic comedians Laurel and Hardy, complete with bowler hats.

In 2016, 17.4 million voters, or 52 per cent, voted for Brexit, while 16.1 million, or 48 per cent, supported staying in the EU. Both campaigns had wealthy backers.

Sex was one topic employed yesterday - as, peculiarly, were vegetables and fruit.

"Brexit is like consent - we can change our minds during foreplay," read one placard.

"Pulling out never works," read another.

One man was dressed as broccoli while another was dressed as a banana, with the sign: "We are ripe for change."

Younger and older demonstrators drew attention to the fact that Britain's youth had overwhelmingly voted to remain in 2016, unlike the older generation.

"I'm here 'cos my grandad voted leave," read one sign.

"To my grandson, if Brexit still happens I'm so sorry, we tried our best," read another sign.

"I was 17 in 2016, give me a vote on my future!" demanded one protester.

Other protesters made light of the fact that "remainers" have been portrayed as out-of-touch, posh and wealthy residents of London and the South-east of England.

"I tried to make this sign funny but there's no bigger joke than Brexit," read another placard.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 20, 2019, with the headline 'Thousands join march against Brexit'. Print Edition | Subscribe