Leeds City Square packed for anti-Brexit protest over Boris Johnson's plans for Parliament suspension

The anti-Brexit rally in City Square. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
The anti-Brexit rally in City Square. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Protesters packed City Square in Leeds to rally against Prime Minister Boris Johnson's plans to suspend Parliament.

Mr Johnson yesterday revealed that he intends to prorogue Parliament from mid-September after news broke that around 160 MPs are planning to band together to block any possible no-deal Brexit from being pushed through.

Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Crowds at the Leeds for Europe rally tonight, waving European Union flags and sloganeering placards, repeatedly chanted "stop the coup" in reference to the suspension.

Retired advertising copywriter Beverley Mattocks, 60, said: "It's obscene and anti-democratic. They talk about this being a return to sovereignty and democracy - well they're actually taking it away."

Asked what impact she thought the rally would have, she said: "Probably none at all - not to Boris and co. But it just shows everybody else people care, people want a voice, people have a voice. It's the oldest democracy in the world and it's being taken away from us."

A series of speakers took to the stage to raise concerns about a no-deal Brexit and the effect that potential medicine shortages could have on ill people.

Shaffaq Mohammed, Liberal Democrat MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, told the crowd that there was "no doubt about it, this is a coup".

He added that a no-deal Brexit - a scenario in which the UK would leave the EU without a formal agreement on October 31 - would "not affect the children of [Tory Cabinet member Jacob] Rees-Mogg but it will affect ordinary working class people's children across our region".

Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg today hit back at the PM's critics, saying the outpouring of outrage it triggered was "phoney".

"I think the outrage is phoney and it is created by people who don't want us to leave the European Union and are trying very hard to overturn the referendum result and don't want the benefits of leaving the European Union."

He added: "Parliament wasn't going to be sitting for most of this time anyway. This is completely constitutional and proper."

The protest came as Mr Johnson was facing legal challenges in London, Edinburgh and Belfast as the backlash to his decision to suspend Parliament for over a month in the run up Brexit continued unabated.