Police around the country are on standby ahead of the People’s Vote march in London on Saturday which is expected to be one of the country’s largest ever protests.
The anti-Brexit march on October 19 coincides with the end of Extinction Rebellion’s fortnight of protests around the capital as well as the emergency-sitting of MPs in the Commons – the so-called “Super Saturday” to discuss Brexit.
More than a million marchers are expected to attend the People’s Vote protest which has been allowed by the Met Police to march to Parliament Square where Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists are camped.
“It does look like it’s going to a very, very large event, without any doubt one of the largest protests this country has ever seen,” said Tom Baldwin, director of communications for People’s Vote.
The National Police Coordination Centre (NPoCC) – the body responsible for deploying police to large scale events – are in discussions with Scotland Yard ahead of Saturday’s march with forces from England and Wales on stand-by to deploy officers.
“We have considered what the event may entail and we will continue to monitor the resource level that we have,” said Laurence Taylor, deputy assistant commissioner in charge of policing Saturday’s march. “UK policing, let alone the Met, has very significant capacity and capability and if we need to draw on that, we will certainly do.”
The People’s Vote Campaign comprises more than 100 grassroots groups who are actively campaigning across the country for a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal.
The march in London will start at noon from Park Lane according to the People’s Vote website, which states: “We will then march through the heart of London to Parliament Square, where we will hear speeches from leading cross party politicians and celebrity voices who support a People’s Vote.”
A fleet of more than 170 coaches will “bring people from all corners of the country to London on October 19th for enormous Final Say march”, with another 15 rallies taking place across Britain.
“Boris Johnson wants to run a campaign of the people versus the politicians,” said Baldwin. “On Saturday you’re going to get politicians like Boris Johnson sitting inside the Houses of Parliament trying to force a form of Brexit on the British people and the people will be outside parliament demanding a final say.”
Also there in Parliament Square will be XR activists at the end of their two-week campaign to force urgent action on climate change.
The first week of XR protests has seen more than 1,100 arrests – including an 83-year-old man who was part of a group trying to block access to London City Airport – as activists shut down parts of the capital.
Given the large numbers of activists already arrested, the group are as yet unsure as to how – or even if – the climax of their protest on “Super Saturday” will proceed.