On June 26, thousands of people gathered in central London to protest against the U.K. government’s Covid-19 restrictions — never mind that most of the measures were due to be lifted in two weeks’ time. Billed as the Freedom March, the event drew a crowd comprising a wide range of groups and individuals. Among them anti-vaxxers, placard-waving QAnon followers, Donald Trump supporters and a host of coronavirus deniers. At one point, they launched a barrage of tennis balls with angry messages written on them at the Houses of Parliament and lit flares.
From the summer of 2020 on, London had hosted smaller protests against the state’s pandemic response. However, this time, a number of prominent and well-connected right-wing figures also hit the streets. Among them were TalkRadio presenter and newspaper columnist Julia Hartley-Brewer and conservative political commentator Calvin Robinson. In order to “ensure proper coverage” that “cannot be ignored” by the mainstream media, Richard Tice, leader of Reform U.K — the new name for the Brexit Party — hired a helicopter to film the event for a YouTube stream titled Freedom March Live.