Brexit activists camped outside the UK Parliament
Updated 17:10, 15-Mar-2019
Daniel Harries and Linh Nguyen

Daniel Harries joined the campaigners who gathered as UK lawmakers held their key Brexit votes. Here he gives a flavor of the mood. With contributing reporting from Linh Nguyen.

Inside London's House of Commons the UK's MPs endlessly battle over Brexit. Just outside, across the road, is College Green. A small space of increasingly muddy grass not far from Big Ben, currently is home to scores of journalists alongside groups of the most ardent of supporters and opponents of Brexit.

As the date for Brexit (for now it's March 29) draws closer, the green has been both the location for reporting - correspondents often have to battle to be heard above chanting protesters - and at times, the story itself. 

Earlier this year, security was tightened in the area after anti-Brexit MP Anna Soubry was harassed.

On Tuesday and Wednesday this week, both sides were out, but there was no sign of trouble.

A campaigner poses with his poster in London. /CGTN Photo

A campaigner poses with his poster in London. /CGTN Photo

A dozen pro-Brexit activists dressed in yellow vests took their place in the area as Prime Minister Theresa May tried once again to get Parliamentary approval for her Withdrawal Agreement. They stood to one side, vastly outnumbered by police, journalists and Remainers, who they would goad with chants of "losers, losers".

Trying to drown them out, Remain activists kept warm by reeling off a selection of pop songs with lyrics suitably re-hashed.

"Never going to give EU up, never going to let EU down," they sang, rewording Rick Astley's 1987 pop hit.

Then, showing their age - it looked like quite a few of the Remain activists could have voted in the UK's original 1975 European referendum - they sang: "We're not going to Brexit, no we're not going to Brexit, we're not going to Brexit anymore" to the tune of the 1984 hair-metal anthem "We're Not Gonna Take It" by Twisted Sister. 

The Brexit activists camp outside the UK Parliament in London. /CGTN Photo

The Brexit activists camp outside the UK Parliament in London. /CGTN Photo

Despite the songs, many of which had unprintable lyrics, among the Remainers there were serious concerns. Gita King, a German native who fled East Berlin in 1975, saw the EU as essential to maintaining peace on the continent - having seen the damage European divisions can cause, King urged her adopted country to revoke Brexit and remain inside the 'EU family.'

Emotions ran high on the other side too, Johnny and Graham, stood amidst their opponents, struggling with fatigue, both holding their 'WTO Brexit Now' banner aloft in the wind and giving endless comment to journalists. Graham, who could quote verbatim from May's failed Brexit deal, dismissed the idea that following Tuesday's and Wednesday's votes Brexit should be stopped, instead warning of civil unrest in London should MPs decide to pull the plug on leaving the EU. 

Tension between the two sides was rare, but when they did occur, protesters were instantly surrounded by the world's media. Swedish, German, Japanese and Iranian TV cameras and dictaphones were thrust towards any sign of discord.

The complicated Parliamentary process led to some strange moments. On Tuesday, when news broke that May's deal had been defeated by MPs by 391 votes to 242, both Remainers and Leavers cheered, united for a moment in their opposition to the increasingly beleaguered prime minister. 

An opponent of Brexit takes part in the Brexit campaigns in London. /CGTN Photo

An opponent of Brexit takes part in the Brexit campaigns in London. /CGTN Photo

Should Brexit be delayed, as now looks likely, many of the journalists will leave. 

But not the activists. Those who have dedicated countless rainy days and windy nights to rallying for their respective causes over the past year or more will be going nowhere until the Brexit question is resolved one way or another.

They may be waiting a while. Perhaps they wouldn't have it any other way.