AROUND 1,000 demonstrators gave President Trump's former chief strategist a wintry welcome tonight, ahead of a speech to the Oxford Union.

Steve Bannon eventually addressed dozens of students inside the half-empty building, after police smuggled him into the venue.

But many struggled to enter as hundreds of protesters blockaded both the St Michael's Street and Frewin Court entrances.

UPDATE: 'Nazi salutes' made during Bannon protest in Oxford

The large turnout of protesters came despite the Union announcing the far-right figure's appearance just two days ahead of time.

That followed the cancellation of an appearance by a far-right German leader at the institution earlier this month.

Oxford East MP Anneliese Dodds condemned the union in both instances.

She said: “It is deeply concerning to see that yet again the Union is trying to court controversy by inviting someone who has made racist statements to speak. Indeed, [Mr] Bannon actually said to Front National activists that they should be proud to be described as racists.

"Those involved with this invitation should realise that their actions have consequences and that in this way they are legitimising racism."

She continued: "The activities of Bannon and his ilk are affecting real people in real communities right across the US, who are facing a rise in racism and hate crime.

"We have seen the same appalling rise here, and yet those who are already privileged within the Oxford Union seem to think they can stoke the flames of division with abandon."

The Oxford Union would not comment on the protest and did not answer how many days in advance the invitation was given - amid suggestions that Mr Bannon's appearance had been organised some time ago.

READ MORE: Alice Weidel at Oxford Union: Pressure grows to revoke invite

But president Steven Horvath previously defended free speech and challenging disagreeable opinions.

Passerby Dianne Gibbons, a lifelong Oxford resident, said she was 'disgusted' by the protesters as they were delaying people picking up children from school.

There were also around 20 - 30 pro-free speech demonstrators. One, Maya Thomas, said: "I respect the other protest and think Bannon's views are abhorrent but that is actually why I want him to speak and be challenged."

Protester Caroline Raine, from Cowley, said: "I think it is really important that people in Oxford say 'we don't want far-right views in our city.'"