Tue, Oct 09, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Dogs, owners hound May for Brexit ‘Wooferendum’

AFP, LONDON

A dog gets fitted with an EU flag-themed rosette as anti-Brexit dog owners and their pets take part in a “Wooferendum” march in London on Sunday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

Huskies, Chihuahuas, boxers and beagles — and even a lumbering Leonberger — joined a “Wooferendum march” in central London on Sunday as their pro-European owners called for a new people’s vote on Brexit.

The gathering commanded politicians, actors and activists, accompanied by hundreds of four-legged friends, all united in their opposition to Britain’s departure from the EU in March next year.

“We will not roll over ... it’s time for the Wooferendum,” said Labour Member of Parliament Stella Creasy, a self-confessed cat — not dog — owner, in a pun-laden speech. “Go fetch people: Get Britain a better future.”

The dog parade — which drew pooches and people from far beyond the capital — took place two weeks before a larger pro-referendum rally planned for Oct. 20.

“I do think we’ve got momentum,” Alastair Campbell, a former Labour government spokesman and people’s vote campaigner, said alongside his five-month-old cavalier King Charles spaniel, Skye.

“In a campaign, use whatever you can that helps,” he said ahead of Sunday’s pet prelude. “Today is showing that this country just isn’t uniting around any vision for Brexit and it’s one way of fighting.”

After Brexit, Britain might have to leave the EU’s pet passport scheme, which allows registered pets to travel to member states freely with their owners. As a result of the change, dog owners are likely to face increased bureaucracy and need more preparation time to take their canine companions to the continent.

Some at the march bemoaned that and other predicted effects — such as difficulty importing pet food and a decrease in the number of vets in Britain.

“It’s just one of the many aspects that people have taken for granted ... and now won’t be there,” marketing consultant Anthony Robinson, 48, of London, said of the much-loved pet travel scheme as he walked with Fred, his two-year-old corgi.

Thanks to a pet passport, two-year-old retriever Summer traveled to Venice and Rome, its owner Diana Muvoli said.

“She wants to continue her travels,” said Muvoli, whose husband, Umberto, is Italian and regularly visits family there.

At least 1,000 people took part, some sporting fancy dress and painted dog faces, after assembling with their furry companions near Trafalgar Square.

“It’s nice to highlight a serious point in such a fun way — everybody loves dogs,” German university lecturer Flora Renz said.

She has lived in Britain for a decade and turned out with Billy, a three-year-old beagle draped in an EU flag.

Others were decked out in signs — “Brexit’s barking mad” — while marchers carried similarly themed placards, including “Brexit, it’s a dog’s dinner.”

The atmosphere was light-hearted, with urinals for the dogs plastered with images of ardent Brexiteers like Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage drawing laughs.

“They’re peeing on command on them,” organizer Daniel Elkan said. “People have got really into it. They might not have marched before, but came today because their dogs have led them.”

Organizers later handed a petition to British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Downing Street office “signed by dogs and owners.”

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