'Time to take a stand': thousands across UK protest at Trump policy

US president’s travel ban provokes demonstrations in cities including Edinburgh, Cardiff and London

Thousands have gathered across the UK to protest against Donald Trump’s travel ban targeting seven Muslim-majority countries, his indefinite bar on Syrian refugees and his planned UK state visit.

About 10,000 people were thought to have marched on Downing Street in London, with the crowd stretching the length of Whitehall by 7pm. Edinburgh, Cardiff, Manchester and Birmingham also had large demonstrations.

Protesters showed their anger on the day that a petition calling for the US president’s visit to the UK not to be classed as a state visit passed 1.5m signatures.

Speakers in London on Monday evening, including Labour peer Shami Chakrabarti, were barely audible above the chants of “refugees welcome here”, and “Theresa May, shame on you”.

The shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, told the crowd she had come on behalf of the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn. “Donald Trump has been president for only a few days, and look at what he is doing,” she said. “We need to resist the Islamophobia and scapegoating of Muslims, we have got to resist it whether it is in the United States or here in the UK.”

One of the demonstrators in London was Browan Murphy, 17, who had travelled from East Sussex. “I just felt I needed to do something,” she said. “I am scared about what Donald Trump is doing and am angry about how Theresa May has reacted.”

Lotte Rice, a 28-year-old Londoner, said: “This is a key time to stand up and make our voices heard. What is happening is dangerous. If we come together, something positive can come from this.”

The London demonstration was one of several in the UK highlighting opposition to Trump’s executive order, issued at the weekend, that imposed a travel ban on people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

A sea of banners during a demonstration outside 10 Downing Street in London.
A sea of banners during a demonstration outside 10 Downing Street in London. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

In Cardiff, several hundred gathered at the statue of the Labour hero Aneurin Bevan to protest. Jim Gray, a student, said he had been shopping for trainers nearby when he saw someone with an anti-Trump placard. “I followed them and here I am. It suddenly made sense to me. I’d been worrying about the travel ban and this seems a way of making my views known. I’ve never done anything like this before.”

That protest was organised by Ash Cox, 18, a history student at Cardiff University. “I’d heard others were taking place across the UK,” he said. “I thought we had to have a demo in Cardiff too. It took off so quickly.”

Claudia Boes, an occupational therapist, organised an anti-Trump women’s march earlier this month. “I think rather than there being individual protests, this is going to turn into a movement,” she said.

Chants heard up and down Queen Street in the Welsh capital included: “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA.”

Aled Edwards, chief executive of Churches Together in Wales, said: “I’ve had the privilege of working with ­refugees for the past 15 years and I think his ­treatment of refugees has been appalling.”

Omar, a 17-year-old Muslim student, said his confidence had been knocked by the start to Trump’s presidency. “I’ve travelled quite a bit in Europe and in the US. Suddenly I’m thinking will I be able to go to the US? I was born in ­Cardiff. I feel British and Muslim. But what he is doing is scaring me.”

In Edinburgh, several thousand protesters packed out a civic square in the city centre, before marching to the Scottish parliament. They chanted: “Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here”, and: “Resist, revoke, stop Donald Trump.”

Trump was greeted by protesters when he visited Holyrood to protest at Scotland’s support for windfarms five years ago. To cheers from the crowd, Assad Khan of Edinburgh University’s Islamic society, said: “This campaign of dehumanisation has to stop; of women, of Muslims, of the LGBT community, of disabled people, of all minority groups. It has to stop.”

Protesters in Dortmund Square, Leeds.
Anti-Trump protesters in Dortmund Square, Leeds. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

Demonstrations were also under way in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee. Placards and banners were held aloft in the former as a crowd of about 500 people chanted “hope not fear, refugees are welcome here”. Glasgow’s demonstrations continued in George Square after a three-hour rally in Buchanan Street.

In Manchester, a crowd gathered at Albert Square, outside the city’s town hall. The site is a stone’s throw from Lincoln Square, where a statue of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th US president, was erected to give thanks to Lancashire’s cotton workers for “their fight for the abolition of slavery during the American civil war”, after an economic blockade of slave-picked cotton from the southern US states caused massive unemployment in the region’s cotton industry.

Clare Solomon, 43, an agency catering worker, said: “Donald Trump did not get the support of the majority of Americans who voted in the presidential election. He has even less support for his sexist, racist, war-mongering, pro-business policies in this country.

“The grovelling of Theresa May, who hasn’t been elected prime minister by anyone, even in her own party, is repugnant and unacceptable. Her offer of a state visit is appeasement of a reactionary bully. It should be withdrawn.”

Solomon said she hoped Monday night’s demonstrations would be the beginning of resistance to Trump. “Last week [at the women’s protest], we could just feel that something new was in the air. People were talking about it all over the place. In the coffee shops, on the bus this morning on the way to work ... there’s a real buzz. There’s a real feeling of anger, but also a feeling of hope that’s there’s something we can do if we all unite together.”

Dean Smith, a 24-year-old sports journalist, was the main organiser of the Manchester protest. Smith said a tweet by American writer David Slack had prompted him to act on his horror at Trump’s directive.

Remember sitting in history, thinking “If I was alive then, I would’ve…”

You’re alive now. Whatever you’re doing is what you would’ve done.

— David Slack (@slack2thefuture) January 28, 2017

Voices from Manchester and Edinburgh

Liz Parker (Manchester)

She said it was important that people sent a message to the government that they don’t agree with Trump’s actions. “To think that people in the world think that we agree because our leader refuses to speak out about it is ridiculous,” said Liz.

Liz Parker (middle) says she's here because she wants to send the message out that ppl in the UK don't agree with Trump #StandUpToTrump pic.twitter.com/uPqif68C00

— Frances Perraudin (@fperraudin) January 30, 2017

She says a demo like this one serves to get the message out. “Even just being here and it being in the news and on the TV means people around the world are going to see that we don’t agree with this and we want to help people,” she added. “We don’t care if someone is a Muslim or a Christian or what colour their skin is. We just want to live in harmony with the human race.”

Julia Steinberger (Manchester)

Steinberger, who is an academic at Leeds University and an American citizen, was at the march with her four-year-old son Jacob. Her father arrived in the US on the Kindertransport.

Julia Steinberger and her son are US citizens. Her father came to the US on the Kindertransport and she says the march feels very personal. pic.twitter.com/U88tM6Uzdj

— Frances Perraudin (@fperraudin) January 30, 2017

“This is very personal. Lots of people are dying because of the attitudes that Trump represents,” she said.

“I don’t think I had a choice about whether or not to come here. It’s just too important. Trump is Islamophobic, but he is also antisemitic. I don’t think there’s a single vulnerable or minority group that he has a fondness for.”

Debora Kayembe (Edinburgh)

Kayembe, a human rights lawyer and Congolese refugee who specialises in resettling refugees in the US, won loud cheers when she told a substantial protest rally at the Scottish parliament in Edinburgh: “I want you to understand today, that you are bigger than Mr Trump.”

Human rights lawyer Deborah Kayembe, refugee in #Scotland from #Congo, says "we reject intolerance" to loud cheers #ScotlandAgainstTrump pic.twitter.com/BShy39A8Bi

— Severin Carrell (@severincarrell) January 30, 2017

Kayembe, who won political asylum in the UK in 2005, told the crowd: “This is about equality, fraternity and respect for each other. You need to be in my skin to understand how I feel every day, not being able to return home.”


Matthew Taylor, Severin Carrell, Frances Perraudin and Steven Morris

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Mass anti-racism protests take place in cities across UK
Many thousands join rallies in response to George Floyd killing despite warnings

Alexandra Topping, Dan Sabbagh and Severin Carrell

07, Jun, 2020 @6:33 PM

Article image
Anti-Donald Trump protests take place around UK during inauguration
People gathered in their thousands in London, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh to voice their opposition to the 45th US president

Kevin Rawlinson

21, Jan, 2017 @1:15 AM

Article image
Women's marches across the UK: what you need to know
At least 14 UK events planned for Saturday in solidarity with march in Washington after Trump’s inauguration

Alexandra Topping

19, Jan, 2017 @11:01 AM

Article image
'Enough is enough’: biggest-ever climate protest sweeps UK
From babies to bagpipers, hundreds of thousands filled the streets in more than 200 rallies

Matthew Taylor in London, and Jonathan Watts in Edinburgh

20, Sep, 2019 @4:50 PM

Article image
Jamie Oliver restaurants that have closed – the full list
The chef’s empire has gone into administration, putting more than 1,000 jobs at risk

Guardian staff

21, May, 2019 @6:20 PM

Article image
Thousands protest across UK in wake of US travel ban – as it happened
Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen

Andrew Sparrow and Kevin Rawlinson

30, Jan, 2017 @10:58 PM

Article image
Thousands gather in Britain to support US George Floyd protests
Anti-racism demonstrators defy lockdown in London, Cardiff and Manchester

Mark Brown

31, May, 2020 @4:32 PM

Article image
Most of Britain's major cities pledge to run on green energy by 2050
Leaders of more than 50 Labour-run councils sign pledge to eradicate carbon emissions ahead of Paris climate talks

Rowena Mason Political correspondent

23, Nov, 2015 @4:34 PM

Article image
Trump protests: tens of thousands take to streets across UK
Baby blimp flies high as Jeremy Corbyn and Nick Clegg join those opposing president’s trip

Robert Booth, Alexandra Topping, Damien Gayle and Libby Brooks

13, Jul, 2018 @5:56 PM

Article image
Cities across UK submit bids to be second home of Channel 4
Shortlist of contenders to host new production hub will be announced on 30 May

Jim Waterson Media editor

10, May, 2018 @5:36 PM