A noose dangled from a sturdily built gallows on Parliament Street today amid Ukip flags and placards declaring “Brexit means exit”. A few hundred yards farther down Whitehall, banners vowed to “smash fascism” and defend “free movement for all”.

Two opposing marches converged on Westminster this afternoon as thousands of demonstrators rallied in support of Brexit and Tommy Robinson, the English Defence League founder, while thousands more turned out to protest against him.

Riot police and mounted officers were deployed in large numbers because of fears of violent clashes, but the two marches were kept strictly apart, separated by a few hundred yards of no man’s land in the middle of Whitehall. There had been three arrests by mid-afternoon.

A man giving his name as Laukan Creasey from Stevenage brought a gallows and noose to the Brexit Betrayal marchSam Blewett/PA

One group, many wearing yellow vests…

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