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France’s yellow vest protests spread to UK streets

Protesters wearing yellow vests take part in a demonstration in central London on January 12, 2019. (AFP photo)

Thousands of demonstrators wearing yellow vests have taken to the streets of London, in the largest protest yet in Britain copying the "yellow vest" demonstrations rocking France since November.

Protesters opposed to the government's austerity program and demanding a general election marched Saturday through the center of the capital before rallying in Trafalgar Square.

A similar yellow-vest protest was held by people demanding more clarity surrounding Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. The pro-Brexit march attracted hundreds of people, despite the fact that a leading campaigner had been arrested by police for the alleged harassment of a lawmaker outside the parliament earlier this week.

A pro-Brexit protestor (L) is pulled away by the police after confronting a demonstrator from the People's assembly march during a demonstration in central London on January 12, 2019. (AFP photo)

The People's Assembly Against Austerity organized the main protest in central London and other UK cities. Anti-austerity protesters carried banners reading “Britain is Broken” during the march.

The pro-Brexit march, however, began outside St James Tube station and social media reports said the protesters were marching toward Westminster, the house of the British parliament.

The pro-Brexit march comes a week after around 100 people wearing yellow vests set off smoke bombs and stopped traffic in the same area in London. Police arrested four, including a 13-year-old girl, in the demonstration which was mainly focused on a political standoff in the parliament where lawmakers are set to vote on a government deal with the EU in the upcoming days.

Many believe the yellow-vest movement in Britain could expand in size and reach proportions seen in France over the past weeks if the uncertainty surrounding Brexit is deepened after the vote in the House of Commons on January 15.

A rejection of the government’s Brexit deal in the parliament could cause Britain to cancel its 2016 decision to leave the EU.

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