Red Rebel Brigade marches on 10 Downing Street for #BorisBigIssue campaign

Extinction Rebellion partners, the Red Rebel Brigade, launched a silent protest supporting Ralph Steadman’s exclusive cover for the Big Issue at 10 Downing Street. The avant-garde street art drew the attention of thousands of people who filmed the protest.

The Red Rebel Brigade took to the streets of London on 16th September 2019 to protest at 10 Downing Street, beseeching Boris Johnson and his government to stop obsessing over Brexit.

They were responding to the newly launched and uncompromising portrait by Ralph Steadman of the Prime Minister on the latest cover of the Big Issue.

Stopping traffic and escorted by police officers and squad cars, the unannounced parade by the silent campaigning group - accompanied by a naked man covered only by a shroud and a copy of the Big Issue - drew crowds of thousands who witnessed them offer a copy of the magazine to 10 Downing Street.

With over 320,000 homeless in the UK ignored, the Red Rebel Brigade’s powerful statement forced London to stop and take notice of their protest as they paraded slowly and sombrely to Trafalgar Square, providing a powerful physical demonstration of silent protest.

The #BorisBigIssue campaign is drawing the nation’s focus on the growing numbers of homeless and vulnerable in the UK. While the headlines focus on Brexit, real people are suffering and Beau Kerouac’s campaign with the Big Issue and Ralph Steadman, Gonzo artist, is changing that. Ralph’s uncompromising portrait of Boris Johnson - the spark of the Red Rebel Brigade’s protest - is available to win by anyone posting a photo of the magazine with the hashtag #BorisBigIssue online.

Beau Kerouac, conceptual artist and campaign originator:

“This striking protest was a dramatic demand on the people supposedly governing this country. When a naked and barefoot man walks through our capital’s streets to highlight the vulnerability of the homeless around the country, it’s time for Boris and his friends to sit up and take notice. The Red Rebel Brigade’s peaceful walk is in stark contrast to the anger that so many feel.

“It’s time for Boris to focus on the people struggling to feed their children, heat their homes, and keep themselves off the streets. While Boris decides turning up to a press conference is too much effort, how can we expect him to hold out a hand to lift up the oppressed? We have a #BorisBigIssue in this country, and we need to wake up to that so the most vulnerable won’t be left behind.”

Brexit is obfuscating debate and attention from other issues impacting on the UK. From homelessness to library closures, food banks to climate change, affordable housing to public transport. A report referenced in the Daily Mirror revealed that Hillingdon - in Boris’ own constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip - is in the top ten worst places for homelessness. The problems in Boris’ own backyard are being lost in the noise of Brexit.

An estimated 320,000 people are homeless in the UK, according to research by Shelter - that’s the equivalent of making Coventry homeless. With 14.2 million people in the UK population living in poverty, according to a report by the Social Metrics Commission.

Those wanting to contribute to the movement and join the campaign can show their support in several ways:


  • Buy your Big Issue on the street, take a photo and post on social media using #BorisBigIssue to enter to win a limited edition Ralph Steadman print.
  • Tweet using #BorisBigIssue stating what your bigger issue is.
  • Buy the t-shirt online from the Big Issue shop.
  • Buy your print online from the Ralph Steadman collection.
  • Write to your MP and ask for their focus on what matters to you here.

All proceeds go to The Big Issue to continue their work with homeless and vulnerable people around the UK.


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