- Serving soldiers will join march despite being threatened with court martial
- First time soldiers have demonstrated on streets of London since 1649
More than 400 serving and retired troops will this week descend on Parliament to confront David Cameron in a protest unprecedented in the history of the British Army.
Officers and soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers will mount the Army’s first picket of the Palace of Westminster on Thursday after the Government axed its second battalion.
Despite being threatened with court martial, serving soldiers are due to join their retired colleagues on the march, which coincides with a Parliamentary debate about defence cuts.
The Army forbids their participation in any anti-Government demonstration.
It is the first time soldiers have demonstrated on the streets of London since the Bishopsgate Mutiny of 1649, when 300 members of the New Model Army launched a protest against Oliver Cromwell’s order that they be sent to Ireland.
It is also the first time the British Army has taken to the streets in protest since it was formed in 1707.
The Fusiliers claim Mr Cameron forced through the disbandment of 2RRF to save the Royal Regiment of Scotland because he feared cutting soldiers north of the border would boost nationalists in an independence referendum due in 2014.
Captain Joe Eastwood, a former Regimental Sergeant Major of the Fusiliers, said: ‘There is a lot of anger because we know the Government did a deal to save the Jocks and to cut 2RRF.
‘I am sure that serving soldiers will join us on the protest, but given the risks to their careers, the arrangements for their participation are under the radar.
‘The MoD is threatening to use Section 69 of the 1955 Army Act. Pressure is being applied, with courts martial promised for those who defy orders. So some arrangements must remain cloak-and-dagger.’
During Thursday’s protest, the Fusiliers, led by retired Colonel Brian Gorski, will march through Whitehall wearing their black berets, and red and white hackles. As they pass the Cenotaph, they will salute fallen comrades before proceeding to Downing Street where petitions against 2RRF’s disbandment will be handed in.
Afterwards, they will watch a debate on the cuts from the Commons public gallery. A motion opposing the scrapping of 2RRF– so far signed by 30 MPs – has been brought by Tory John Baron, an ex-Fusiliers officer.
Colonel Gorski said: ‘The Army marching on Parliament is unique. The MoD is making enquiries and it may well have people out monitoring the march.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2217318/Soldiers-risk-court-martial-march-Houses-Parliament-Cromwell-More-400-troops-protest-axeing-Fusiliers.html#ixzz29UgSK4VQ