We’re having a bit of a political moment here in the UK, what with the Brexit clock running down to 31st October, the Prime Minister unilaterally deciding that extended prorogation of Parliament is the best way to reclaim Parliamentary sovereignty (shades of ‘It became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it’…) even though he no longer has a functional majority, and now a will they / won’t they general election in the offing. It’s a huge mess – whatever side of the Brexit divide you sit on, it’s hard to see how denying Parliament its voice is a democratic move, especially when there is so much work to be done to come up with a settlement that doesn’t torpedo the Good Friday Agreement before time runs out.

I travelled up to London to the #stopthecoup demo on Whitehall last Saturday. I’m not great with large crowds I can’t see an easy way out of, especially not in this heat, but I figured I should at least turn up for a bit. As my other half was going in for work as well, I got a ridiculously early train with her and gave myself a few hours’ wandering time.

Street portrait: Brandon
Street portrait: Brandon

I met Brandon at College Green, as the scaffolding for the usual media scrum were starting to go up. He was at his partner Joely’s protest pitch; apparently she had been there for three or four days, but I’d just missed her. Now that’s dedication – if only there was a bit more of that spirit actually in Parliament…

I headed back towards Parliament Square after taking an hour or so at Tate Britain (got to love free galleries) – they’ve got a really interesting display of photos by Edith Tudor-Hart and her brother Wolfgang Suschitzky at the moment, so I wanted to have a look at that while I was in the area.

Street portrait: Joely and Cory #joelysprotest
Street portrait: Joely and Cory #joelysprotest

I’d realised in the meantime that I hadn’t asked Brandon if he was okay with me posting his portrait or given him my card, so I was hoping to see him again on the way back in. Fortunately he was, and by that time Joely and Cory had also come back. Lovely to meet you all!

Joely was very clear that her protest was not just about Brexit, but against Boris Johnson’s government pushing through their agenda without going through Parliamentary process, and their alarming lack of respect for the rule of law. I have to agree that this is going nowhere good unless Parliament can ‘take back control’ as it were.

Street portrait: Evdoxia Lymperi
Street portrait: Evdoxia Lymperi

I met Evdoxia at the Parliament end of Whitehall, as she was packing up after recording an item for the Greek public service broadcaster ERT. She’s been in the UK for 12 years. We talked for a while about the uncertainty Brexit has caused for all the EU citizens living here, not to mention the British citizens living and working in the EU. Evdoxia’s own residency status is now sorted, but I can understand the uncertainty that she and many others feel about being in the UK right now.

Finally, here’s a few shots from the demo itself. I started out on the fringes, and within an hour so many people had arrived that I was now slap bang in the middle of it all, so that was my cue to leave… Took a good 15-20 minutes to actually get out!

#stopthecoup protest, Whitehall, Saturday 31st August 2019

#stopthecoup protest, Whitehall, Saturday 31st August 2019

#stopthecoup protest, Whitehall, Saturday 31st August 2019

#stopthecoup protest, Whitehall, Saturday 31st August 2019