Protesters have gone on a “March for Europe” in London and other cities in Britain. Many opponents of British plans to leave the EU are hoping for another referendum on the so-called Brexit.
Up to 2,000 demonstrators marched through the British capital, London, on Saturday in protest against Britain’s plan to exit the EU after an in-or-out referendum in June showed a majority in favor of the move.
Under the slogan “March for Europe,” the protesters took a route from Hyde Park to the British parliament building in Westminster. Protests also took place in other British cities, including Edinburgh and Birmingham.
Demonstrators carried placards with slogans such as “Stop Brexit!” and “We Need EU!”
The organizers are calling for a pause in the triggering of Article 50, the formal process for leaving the EU. They also want close cultural and economic ties with Europe to be maintained, and a greater voice in how the process of Brexit takes place.
A smaller counterprotest also took place, with banners such as “No More Excuses, We Want Brexit Now!”
Second referendum debate
On Monday, the British parliament is set to debate whether to hold a second EU referendum, after receiving a petition signed by more than 4 million people that was submitted before the June vote.
The petition demands that another referendum be held if less than 60 percent voted in favor of the Brexit with a voter turnout of less than 75 percent.
The June referendum showed just 52 percent of participants in favor of leaving the EU, with a voter turnout of 72 percent.
The British government has already announced that it has no plans to hold a second referendum, saying that it respects the will of voters.
Prime Minister Theresa May has however said that her government will not trigger Article 50 before next year.
May, who took office in July after the Brexit vote, said on Saturday that she wanted Britain to be a “global leader in free trade” after the Brexit. Her government is currently working on blueprints for Britain’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU.
Le Pen for ‘Frexit’ vote
Also on Saturday, France’s far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen vowed to hold a referendum on EU membership like the one in Britain if she is elected president in the 2017 elections.
“Look at the Brits! They chose their destiny; they chose independence … We can again be a free, proud, and independent people,” she told supporters in the tiny village of Brachay in northeastern France.
The National Front, which campaigns on a Euroskeptic, anti-immigration platform, was the only major French political party to call on Britons to vote to leave the EU.
Opinion polls still show a majority of voters not wanting Le Pen as president, though she might possibly make it to a run-off in early May.
tj/rc (dpa, AFP)