'Boris is learning from Putin': Portsmouth council leader has say at Stop The Coup protest

Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson addressed the crowd at the Stop The Coup protest.
Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson addressed the crowd at the Stop The Coup protest.
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A STOP The Coup protest against the suspension of parliament took place in Portsmouth last night.

More than 100 activists from Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and the Green Party demonstrated on the steps of Portsmouth Guildhall to oppose Brexit and prime minister Boris Johnson suspending parliament.

Protesters descend on Portsmouth on Tuesday, September 10, to protest the prorogation of parliament by prime minister Boris Johnson, which could lead to the UK leaving the EU without a deal.

Protesters descend on Portsmouth on Tuesday, September 10, to protest the prorogation of parliament by prime minister Boris Johnson, which could lead to the UK leaving the EU without a deal.

Addressing the crowd of protesters, Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson apologised for missing the city’s first Stop The Coup protest last Tuesday.

He said: ‘I was on holiday in Russia.

‘I can tell you – clearly Boris has been learning from what Mr Putin is doing.’

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said ministers ‘are not listening’ to concerns the council has about preparations for Brexit. 

He said: ‘Maybe they just have it in for Portsmouth.

‘Kent is being listened to. They do not know what to do with all the money they have been given to get ready for Brexit.’

The council leader said Jesse Norman, the financial secretary, had promised to call to discuss planning for Brexit but the Liberal Democrat councillor ‘had not heard from him’.

Mental health therapist Antonia Harrison, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Portsmouth North, said she would be challenging the constituency’s current MP, Penny Mordaunt, on work to ensure the port is ready for Brexit.

She said: ‘They expect taxpayers to pay the £4m bill for getting the city ready for Brexit gridlock. 

‘We do not want any form of Brexit.’

Protesters were seen wearing ‘Boris is a dinlo’ shirts, with the slogan chanted after several speeches.

Simon Sansbury, the Liberal Democrat campaigner who started the chant at the first Stop The Coup protest, said Portsmouth ‘would not stand’ for the prime minister’s actions.

He said: ‘We don’t have to put up with Boris treating our representatives with such disdain.

‘We need a People’s vote so we can say to the government “this is what we want”.

‘We have a democratic deficit in this county, not just with Brexit but with proportional representation and the north-south divide.’ 

Councillor George Field, of Central Southsea ward, attended wearing around his neck a QR code linking to a voter registration website. 

He said: ‘More work needs to be done with young people to ensure they are registered to vote.

‘This isn’t a party political event. It’s a cross-party event and we all want more people to register.’

One protester attended the event to have her voice heard as she is too young to vote. 

Nine-year old Emily Rose said: ‘Who doesn’t know about Brexit? 

‘It is crazy that we could have food shortages.’

Mum Dee, 39, said her daughter would be happy with certain food shortages.

She said: ‘She is more than happy there might not be so many vegetables on her plate and she is happy that we could have to live off mashed potatoes!’

The protest comes after parliament was suspended for five weeks, with MPs not due back until Monday, October 14.

At present, UK law states the country will leave the EU on Thursday, October 31.

But new legislation will force the prime minister to seek a delay until Friday, January 31 2020 unless a deal – or a no-deal – Brexit is approved by MPs.