‘Bollocks to Boris’: over 2000 protest parliament prorogation at Grey's Monument

Grey’s Monument has been the backdrop of many protests in the last year, from Extinction Rebellion’s “die-in” last May to the infamous milkshake-ing of Nigel Farage during his Brexit Party campaign. But an even larger spectacle was made on the 31st of August, exactly two months until Boris Johnson’s Brexit deadline, when over 2000 people swarmed around the landmark to protest Boris Johnson’s plan to suspend parliament. ‘Parliament prorogation’ […]

Molly Greeves
23rd September 2019

Grey’s Monument has been the backdrop of many protests in the last year, from Extinction Rebellion’s “die-in” last May to the infamous milkshake-ing of Nigel Farage during his Brexit Party campaign. But an even larger spectacle was made on the 31st of August, exactly two months until Boris Johnson’s Brexit deadline, when over 2000 people swarmed around the landmark to protest Boris Johnson’s plan to suspend parliament.

‘Parliament prorogation’ is a formal way of temporarily suspending parliament and ending the legislation currently being discussed. This usually occurs around this time of year, and as this parliamentary session has been the longest in 400 years, we are due a suspension. 

However, Johnson’s plan differs from the norm in that he wants to suspend parliament for five weeks, while prorogation usually lasts less than a week. Additionally, with the Brexit deadline swiftly approaching, parliament has tried to pass a law that would prevent us leaving the European Union without a deal. The Prime Minister’s call for prorogation is controversial as it is viewed by many as an attempt to achieve a no-deal Brexit without the support of parliament. 

A petition titled “Do not prorogue Parliament” gained over 1.6 million signatures in just two days and #StopTheCoup protests have been held all over the country since the Queen agreed to the prorogation request. 

Many people at the Newcastle protest held up EU flags and banners with slogans such as “defend democracy” and “stop Boris”. The atmosphere was reportedly lively with protestors chanting “stop the coup” and “bollocks to Boris”. 

There were also fourteen speakers at the event, most notably Labour MP Ian Lavery and the North Tyne major, Jamie Driscoll. 

Tony Dowling, chair of North East People Against Austerity and organiser of the event, claims that people are right to be “outraged” at Johnson’s “outrageous attack on democracy”.  

“I’m sure this is only the beginning,” Dowling states. "We need to defend and extend democracy in this country and we need a general election now to get rid of this unelected Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his attacks on our democracy.” 

Charlotte Boulton, a postgraduate student here at Newcastle, attended the event and had this to say: 

"The prorogation protest was a great reminder of the importance of rallying together as a community, with many excellent local speakers representing different groups who fear the impact that the government's decision to halt parliament during one of the most tumultuous times we've ever known will have on their jobs and lives. It was a re-energising gathering and the reassurance that there are at least over 2,000 in Newcastle who care about what's happening encouraged me to feel less hopeless about people coming together to oppose Boris Johnson's selfish decisions." 

However, not everyone viewed the protest in such a positive light. In the Facebook comments to The Chronicle’s news article about the event, one person called the march “anti-democratic” and another called it “any excuse to whinge”. 

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