LONDON — For the last two years, demonstrator Steve Bray has become known for his protests outside Westminster, shouting “Stop Brexit” at British lawmakers inside parliament and disrupting live news reports with his pro-European Union banners.
And despite Britain’s EU divorce now looking inevitable after Prime Minister Boris Johnson won Thursday’s election with a pledge to deliver Brexit by the end of January, the 50-year-old Welshman has no intention of stopping his demonstrations.
“The fight carries on, absolutely,” Bray told Reuters on Friday outside parliament, dressed in his usual uniform of a blue and yellow hat – the colors of the EU flag – and wearing a large joint Union Jack and EU flag on his back.
“I’m going to do everything I can, and I’m sure millions of other people will too. Whilst we are still in the European Union there is hope, albeit the odds are stacked against us. Rome was not built in a day.”
A self-employed numismatist, Bray left his home in Port Talbot, south Wales, in September 2017, with the aim of standing outside Westminster each day while lawmakers were in session.
While both pro- and anti-EU demonstrators have regularly protested outside parliament, Bray’s “Stop Brexit” cries and waving of banners behind news crews have made him instantly recognizable.
“For me, Brexit is an absolute travesty for our nation because it’s like turkeys voting for Christmas,” said Bray, often referred to as “Mr Stop Brexit”.
Results from Thursday’s vote for the United Kingdom’s 650 parliamentary constituencies showed Johnson’s Conservative Party winning a commanding 365 seats, the party’s best win since 1987.
Bray stopped his protests when parliament was dissolved weeks ago. He even ran as a candidate for the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats in Cynon Valley in Wales, coming sixth out of seven candidates with just 949 votes. That party scored just 11 seats nationwide, with leader Jo Swinson losing hers.
“OUR NATION HAS LOST”
“We’ve all lost. It’s not just me that’s lost, Great Britain has lost, our nation has lost and it’s not good for any of us,” added Bray, whose interview with Reuters was interrupted by a pro-Brexit demonstrator.
In a victory speech, Johnson appeared to refer to Bray, saying: “I say respectfully to our stentorian friend in the blue 12-star hat: ‘Time to put a sock in the megaphone and give everybody some peace.'”
“My response to Boris Johnson? ‘When you stop telling lies and start being honest with the British people, I’ll put a sock in it,” Bray said.
“The man is not fit for public office. To have him as prime minister of our nation is an absolute disgrace.”
Holding a placard reading “Lead with the facts not leave with lies”, Bray said he would be back outside parliament as soon as it meets again.
(Reporting by Johnny Cotton; Additional reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Gareth Jones)