Scotland Yard said it's ready to "share resources across the country" should disorder erupt at the large number of planned demonstrations during the day.
UKIP, Tommy Robinson, the UK 'Yellow Vests', Democratic Football Lads Alliance and Leave Means Leave campaign are all holding rallies in London — concurrently, yet another vote on Theresa May's Brexit deal will take place the House of Commons.
"We would like to reassure the public that officers will be ready to respond should any incidents or other spontaneous protests arise. Our officers are well trained to maintain public order and stand ready to share resources across the country if any disorder breaks out. We will not hesitate to take necessary action against anyone who deliberately chooses to act outside the law," a spokesperson said.
Yellow vesters will meet near the Shard in the afternoon, while UKIP's ‘Make Brexit Happen' — sponsored financially by Robinson — will take place on the north side of the river. The anti-Islam activist, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was appointed by party leader Gerard Batten as an "adviser" on grooming gangs in 2018. The move sparked a wave of resignations and condemnation from former leader Nigel Farage.
For his part, Farage has called on supporters to join a demonstration in Parliament Square at 16:00 GMT, the culmination of a ‘March to Leave' protest in which people will trudge 270 miles to the UK capital from Sunderland. The protest is backed by the Leave Means Leave campaign, which claims the "establishment" are actively attempting to delay Brexit. The Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA) will also be convening a protest in central London — the group suggested in an online post MPs were "becoming worse than Nazis".
TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER 🇬🇧 pic.twitter.com/zu8yGLUNXu— THE DFLA: Democratic Football Lads Alliance (@TrueFla) March 22, 2019
Counter-protesters, including anti-fascists, trade unions and faith groups, intend to oppose the rallies. The National Police Chiefs' Council has made clear forces across the country are prepared for potential demonstrations. "Police forces will always seek to facilitate the right to peaceful protest, balancing the right to protest with disruption to local communities," a spokesperson added. "Forces work closely with protest organisers to achieve this. "To date, protests have been largely peaceful and we have no intelligence at this time to suggest that will change."
Even in Scotland, where 62 percent of voters backed remaining, 300 riot police have been mobilised in advance — senior officers speculate ports, airports and food supplies could be key protest ‘flash points'.
Operating from a dedicated ‘nerve centre' in Midlothian, officers with specialist training in public order maintenance drawn from five hubs across the country are on standby, under the command of Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr of the UK National Crime Agency.
Officers will remain primed for 12 weeks at least, their purview to maintain law and order, coordinate other emergency and public services and protect ‘service delivery' at pre-Brexit levels.