Hundreds of people descended on parliament on Monday evening in a colourful show of defiance against the impending state visit of Donald Trump.
On the day MPs debated a 1.85m-strong petition against Trump’s planned June visit, chants of “Dump Trump, dump the special relationship,” rang out besides Westminster Hall, the historic setting for a once-mooted speech by the billionaire property tycoon and now leader of the free world.
Journalist Owen Jones and Stop Trump UK, a coalition of anti-Trump MPs, activists, trade unionists and celebrities, organised the demonstration at the heart of Westminster.
Watch our video of the protest below:
MPs told the crowd Trump’s visit ran counter to British values. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said a state visit was “an honour Donald Trump does not deserve.”
McDonnell said Labour would fight to stop Britain becoming “ a colony of the Trump regime through [US] trade deals.”
Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said: “We live in an era where there is a dark shadow of racism and anti immigrant internationally, but it’s hard to stand up to it - and I’ve tried to stand up to [it] all my political life... With Donald Trump you don’t have to look into a crystal ball, you can read the book.”
“A state visit is meant to be an honour, and I would say Donald Trump has done nothing to be honoured for,” she added.
“No wonder so many people have turned out tonight. No wonder so many people have signed that petition that is being debated over there right now,” the Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said.
“Be in no doubt of the future Donald Trump is trying to create. A future where people feel scared and unsafe. That’s not a future, that’s a nightmare, and we want no part of it.”
A Facebook group for the event had some 16,000 people listed as attending. Organisers have yet to give an estimate on the numbers there.
Trump’s planned state visit has been controversial. Earlier this month, Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, stunned Westminster with a speech attacking a “racist, sexist” Trump and a pledge to bar the president from speaking in parliament’s Westminster Hall.
More recently, there have been suggestions Trump’s visit will take in a campaign-style rally at London’s Olympic village.
The atmosphere was generally passionate but calm. Although at one point, as Abbott addressed the protest, an altercation near the front of the stage threatened to distract those nearby.
Many of those attending the event told The Huffington Post UK they travelled for hours to protest Trump and the UK’s apparent appeasement of his brand of politics.
Laura Williams travelled alone from Bournemouth to attend the rally. “We’ve normalised Trump and I just think we have to do everything we can to stop him visiting,” she said.
“I’m here because Trump is a fascist,” Elliott Bernard-Cooper said holding a ‘No to Trump’ placard. “I’m Jewish so I feel know inherently what Fascism looks like.”
“He’s just bigoted,” Nia Nash, a 16-year-old college student from north London said. “We want to make clear he’s not welcome here.”