Anti Brexit campaigners protest in Leeds as Remainer MPs gather at conference

Anti-Brexit campaigner Lotty Mew with husband Jonathan and two children, Tristian, aged 3, and Leo, 10 months
Anti-Brexit campaigner Lotty Mew with husband Jonathan and two children, Tristian, aged 3, and Leo, 10 months
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Anti-Brexit campaigners gathered at a rally in Leeds today in opposition of a no deal Brexit - as Remainer MPs made speeches at a separate conference.

The 'defend democracy' rally was held outside Leeds Art Gallery to campaign against Boris Johnson's plan to prorogue parliament.

Protester Heather Woods at the Anti-Brexit rally

Protester Heather Woods at the Anti-Brexit rally

Protesters crowded around a loudspeaker where a number of speakers, including MEP Richard Corbett, addressed the crowd.

The rally drew smaller numbers than a protest on Thursday, August 29 when campaigners packed to City Square for a Leeds for Europe protest.

Lotty Mew attended today's protest with her husband Jonathan and two children, Tristian, aged 3, and Leo, just 10 months.

Lotty, who lives in Horsforth, said: "We want the boys to know that if they have an opinion there is things they can do to make their voices heard.

Richard Wilson, Chair of Leeds for Europe, addressing the Great Northern Stop Brexit conference at the Met Hotel

Richard Wilson, Chair of Leeds for Europe, addressing the Great Northern Stop Brexit conference at the Met Hotel

"Even at their age, we think it's important for them to have a voice and we want them to know they can fight for democracy.

"This is the first event we've been able to attend and Tristian drew his own placard today."

Heather Woods, from Leeds, came on her own to support the protest.

As a NHS clinical psychologist, she believes that a No Deal Brexit would lead to the wholesale privatisation of the NHS - something she strongly opposes.

Heather said: "It's a terrifying thought. We have already seen the impact of a decade of cuts to the NHS and every sector is struggling as a result.

"The simple facts about a No Deal Brexit is that it would see at least a 10% hit to our economy.

"We are willingly trying to drive our country into an economic crisis that is twice the size of the 2008 financial crash. We can't allow that to happen, that would be a disaster."

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Great Northern Stop Brexit Conference

At a separate event, Remainer MPs, MEPs and writers gathered at the Met Hotel in Leeds as part of an anti-Brexit conference.

The Great Northern Stop Brexit event, hosted by Leeds for Europe, was hosted to call for another referendum, or 'People's Vote'.

The conference ran from 10.45am to 4.45pm, coinciding with the 'defend democracy' rally.

Richard Wilson, Chair of Leeds for Europe, said: "We know Yorkshire is a part of the country most heavily interlinked in trade and business in Europe.

"Government figures show that Brexit would have a huge impact on the north, I don't think people realise how bad it would be.

"But it's not just doom and gloom, we want to be optimistic about the future and to do that we need to stop Brexit first.

"We are showing that the north can lead the way."

Former BBC Newsnight anchor and author Gavin Esler was the first speaker at the event.

Gavin is now Chancellor of the University of Kent and said a No Deal Brexit will have the greatest impact on young people.

Gavin said: "One of the great things about Brexit - and there's not many positives - is that so many people, particularly young people between 18 and 25, have become politicised and energised.

"They're not necessarily joining political parties, but what they are doing is thinking - is this the country I want to live in? What's my future going to be?

"Students have rightly pointed out to me that not one person born in the 21st century was able to vote on Brexit.

"They say it's their future and they're going to live a lot longer than anyone like me!

"For an 18-year-old to say that is both discouraging in one sense, but really inspiring, because they realising that politics is for them."

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Heavy police presence as three large protests descend on Leeds

The anti-Brexit rally was just one of a trio of protests in the city centre today.

There was a heavy police presence in City Square between 11am and 1pm as pro-Tommy Robinson supporters and 'anti-fascists' clashed in counter protests.

At 2pm in City Square, a Lesbian Strength March in Leeds was met with a counter-protest by trans rights activists