Protesters rally at UK Conservative conference


Birmingham (United Kingdom) (AFP)

Around 1,500 demonstrators rallied outside the governing Conservative Party's annual conference on Sunday, calling for an end to austerity.

In a rally which brought together a broad range of grievances, protesters chanted "Tories out", erected banners saying "End Austerity Now" and waved placards reading "Cut war not welfare", "Defy Tory rule", "Refugees welcome here" and "No to Islamophobia. No to war".

The protest took place about a 10-minute walk from the conference venue. Demonstrators included trade unionists and members of other organisations.

Protests outside the annual Conservative conference are a regular occurrence.

At last year's event in Manchester, a section of demonstrators heckled attendees, calling party members and staff "scum" as they entered the venue. Some journalists complained of being spat at, and one delegate was hit by an egg.

Andy Jones, a trade unionist from Yorkshire, northern England, said: "It's like a pilgrimage to demonstrate at Tory party conferences."

Prime Minister Theresa May, the Conservative leader, has ruled out calling an early general election before the next one is due in 2020.

May became prime minister and the leader of the majority party in parliament after David Cameron stepped down in July following the referendum vote to leave the EU.

"She's there unelected, let's see who the people want in power because she's not got a mandate for the things she's doing such as grammar schools," said Jones.

May wants to end the ban on opening new academically selective state-funded schools in areas that want them.

Waldemar Olivera, originally from Brazil, came up from London to protest on Sunday.

"The Tories' attempt to reinstate segregation in education, it's a setback that we should fight back against," he said.

"If you take into account the amount of hate crime after Brexit, it's clear that Brexit triggered it and made racists feel more comfortable," he added.