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Hundreds protest in UK over rising cost of living

LONDON (AFP) – Hundred of people protested in London and other United Kingdom (UK) cities on Saturday, demanding government action to tackle the sharply rising cost of living, AFP photographers reported.

One of the marches organised by The People’s Assembly headed for Downing Street in London where they called for the resignation of scandal-hit Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson. With inflation at a 30-year high and amid steep rises in the cost of fuel, heating and basic foodstuffs, protesters waved placards reading ‘Tax the Rich’ and ‘Save Fuel Burn a Banker’. The main demonstrations attracted around 200-300 people each in London and Glasgow.

Former Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn addressed the London protest, where demonstrators waved a large banner reading “Cut Energy Bills”. Similar demonstrations were held in several UK cities, including Glasgow in Scotland where a placard read ‘Freeze Prices Not the Poor’.

Many demonstrators’ banners mocked Johnson for lockdown-busting Downing Street parties, amid an ongoing police probe into whether the festivities were legal that has shaken Johnson’s premiership. “Maybe if you saved on cheese you could help me keep the lights on,” read a Glasgow placard. The People’s Assembly’s National Secretary Laura Pidcock tweeted that “working class people shouldn’t have to pay for a crisis they didn’t create”.

Food bank use is at a record high in England as millions struggle to pay their bills, despite huge profits by energy giants such as BP and government refusal to back down on tax rises that effect the poor the most. Low-income families are under extra pressure after the government returned welfare benefit payments to pre-pandemic levels, having increased them temporarily during lockdowns.

Britain’s Trades Union Congress (TUC) said last week that the number of people on Universal Credit benefits had increased by 1.3 million since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Demonstrators pose with placards in Parliament Square as they gather to take part in a protest organised by The People’s Assembly to demand action to tackle the cost of living crisis in London on February 12. PHOTO: AFP
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