Sun, Jul 03, 2016 - Page 5 News List

Britons protest against vote to leave EU

NO LONG GOODBYES:The French president said a swift exit ‘would avert all the uncertainties and instability, especially in the economic and financial domains’

AFP, LONDON

Crowds marched through London yesterday in protest against Britain’s vote to leave the EU, which has plunged the government into political turmoil and left the country deeply polarized.

Demonstrators plan to gather on the city’s Park Lane about 11am before making their way toward the Houses of Parliament, in the second show of public anger this week over the shock results of the referendum.

“We can prevent ‘Brexit’ by refusing to accept the referendum as the final say and take our finger off the self-destruct button,” organizer Keiran MacDermott said on the march’s Facebook page. “Let’s not leave the next generation adrift... Let’s march, let’s protest, and let’s stop Brexit.”

Inside the halls of power, the favorites to succeed British Prime Minister David Cameron in the ruling Conservative Party have been pushing for a delay in starting the process that would see Britain leave the 28-member EU.

British Secretary of State for Justice Michael Gove on Friday said he had “no expectation” that Article 50 — the formal procedure for leaving the EU — would be invoked this year, echoing similar comments from British Home Secretary Theresa May.

However, EU leaders have called for a swift divorce, fearful of the impact of Britain’s uncertain future on economic growth and a potential domino effect in euroskeptic member states.

“The decision has been taken, it cannot be delayed and it cannot be canceled,” French President Francois Hollande said on Friday, on the sidelines of Battle of the Somme centenary ceremonies.

A speedy Brexit “would avert all the uncertainties and instability, especially in the economic and financial domains,” he said. “The faster it goes, the better it will be for them.”

Last week’s shock vote plunged financial markets into crisis, wiping trillions off equities around the world and sending the pound to its lowest point in more than three decades against the dollar.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney on Thursday hinted he could unleash monetary stimulus this summer, saying that the economic outlook had “deteriorated” since Britain voted to leave the EU.

In further signs of the fallout, the government warned it would likely abandon its promise to achieve a budget surplus by 2020, while no-frills airline EasyJet announced contingency plans to protect its European operations.

The vote to leave the EU was deeply split. Voters in Scotland, Northern Ireland and London backed remaining, while the 52 percent that chose to leave were largely from less affluent areas in England and Wales.

The narrow victory has triggered anger in Britain among those who wanted to remain in the EU and more than 4 million people have signed a petition calling for a second referendum.

Thousands gathered in London’s Trafalgar Square on Tuesday, defying pouring rain to vent their anger at the result of Thursday last week’s referendum as they marched toward Westminster.

“Liars, liars!” booing crowds shouted outside parliament, urging lawmakers to “do your job, vote it down!”

A poll for BBC’s Newsnight program found that 16 percent of voters think Britain will stay in the bloc, and 22 percent said they do not know if it will leave.

May, who is expected to take over from Cameron in September after signing up dozens of MPs to her campaign, has assured “leave” supporters she will respect the result.

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