Crowds gather in UK cities to protest Johnson’s Brexit plans

LONDON — Crowds are gathering in London and other major British cities to protest Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament for part of the period before the Brexit deadline in two months.

Several thousand protesters gathered near Johnson’s residence at 10 Downing Street in central London, while others protested in in Belfast, York and others cities to show determination to block a “no deal” Brexit.

The crowds were galvanized by Johnson’s decision to shutter Parliament for several weeks when a debate about Brexit plans had been expected.

In London, they chanted: “Boris Johnson, shame on you.” Some carried signs saying: “Stop the Coup” in reference to what they say is a move that threatens democracy.

The protests have been organized by the anti-Brexit group Another Europe Is Possible and by Momentum, which is allied with the opposition Labour Party. The group is urging its membership to “occupy bridges and blockade roads.”

Organizers say protests are planned in more than 30 locations throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In Exeter in western England, 55-year-old pharmacist Bridie Walton said she was attending the first demonstration of her life.

“Nobody voted for a dictatorship,” she said, condemning Johnson’s suspension of Parliament. “These are the actions of a man who is afraid his arguments will not stand scrutiny.”

Johnson’s plan is also being opposed by some in Parliament who plan to introduce legislation this week to try to prevent a disorderly departure from the European Union.

Their task will be made more difficult if Johnson’s plan to shut Parliament for part of the time period before the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline is carried out.

Johnson’s supporters may well be able to delay any proposed legislation from being enacted in time. Tactics could include introducing a variety of amendments that would have to be debated, or the use of filibusters to stall the process.

The shutdown of Parliament is also being challenged in three separate court cases scheduled to be heard next week.

The prime minister, who helped lead the successful Brexit referendum campaign, says his government is actively pursuing a new deal with EU leaders and claims opposition to his policy will make it harder to wring concessions from Europe.

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