Southern Rail has sparked a furious response from unions after warning customers against travelling via rail to Brighton Pride this weekend due to claims of “industrial action”.

In a statement yesterday, Southern warned that because of continuing train crew shortages, some services may have to be cancelled and there will be a reduced service over the weekend to and from Brighton, meaning very busy trains and long wait times.

The network operator put the blame squarely at the feet of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), with Southern’s Brighton Area Manager, Paul Wyborn saying: “The industrial action and the dispute with the RMT is continuing to cause misery to people’s lives.”

However, the RMT’s General Secretary, Mick Cash, has denied that industrial action is set to take place over the weekend due to the union’s desire to “fully support” Brighton Pride.

“The RMT made the decision not to take industrial action this weekend so that we could fully support Brighton Pride,” he said in a statement. “If Southern are advising the public not to travel by train because they cannot provide a service that meets passengers’ expectations, please know it is due to Southern’s incompetence and poor management and has nothing to do with the RMT.”

He added: “It really is simply wrong for Southern to put people off from attending Brighton Pride by train and blame their staff for an inadequate service.”

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Meanwhile, Britain’s new prime minister Theresa May has issued a statement of solidarity with the LGBT community ahead of the event on the south coast this weekend, paying tribute to June’s “tragic and senseless” murders in Orlando as she wished Pride-goers well.

Saturday’s Pride festival in Preston Park will see global superstar Carly Rae Jepsen take to the main stage, alongside other acts including Sister Sledge, Alesha Dixon, DJ Fresh, Fleur East and X Factor’s Seann Miley Moore.

For more information on the acts, the events and the all-important weather, check out our Brighton Pride round-up.

Tickets for Brighton Pride 2016 are now available here.

For more information visit brighton-pride.org, or check out our ultimate guide to the weekend’s festivities.

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