LONDON — Thousands of Brexit protesters marched through London waving European flags and chanting “We love you EU” on Saturday, as the queen urged calm after Britain’s stunning vote to quit the bloc.
Demonstrators shouted “Shame on you” as they walked past Downing Street, venting their anger at outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron who called last month’s referendum to leave the EU.
Organisers said more than 40,000 took part in the march, where demonstrators waved colourful banners reading “Breverse”, “The Leave Campaign Lied” and and “Never Gonna Give EU Up” — referring to the 1980s hit by Rick Astley.
“Baguettes not regrets,” chanted others as they headed towards Parliament in the second protest against Brexit on London’s streets in under a week.
“I think the Leave campaign misled people, we are (making) a wrong decision because of the lies,”protestor Casey, 37, told AFP.
In a move that sent world financial markets crashing, Britons on June 23 backed withdrawing from the 28-member EU. Many cited immigration concerns as the reason to leave the bloc.
The narrow victory has triggered anger in Britain among those who wanted to remain and more than four million people have signed a petition calling for another vote.
“There must be a second referendum. Everybody knows that if there is we’ll vote to stay,” said former television producer Nicholas Light, 82, on Saturday’s march.
Musician Bob Geldof, who led a flotilla of boats down the Thames as part of the “Remain” campaign, urged supporters to “take to the streets”.
“Come out. Take action among your friends, work colleagues and in your neighbourhoods,” he said.
The vote has laid bare serious divisions in Britain.
Younger voters — many of whom worried about their right to travel and work in the EU -— mainly voted to remain while their baby boomer elders were likelier to vote Leave.
Queen Elizabeth II urged calm in an “increasingly challenging world”, in what some commentators suggested could refer to the situation after the Brexit vote.
“As this parliament has successfully demonstrated over the years, one hallmark of leadership in such a fast-moving world is allowing sufficient room for quiet thinking and contemplation,” she said, while opening a new session of the Scottish parliament in Holyrood.
The BBC’s Scottish political editor, Brian Taylor, said the queen’s first comments since the Brexit vote could be seen as “a ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ message”.
The remarks appeared aimed “at the wider body politic, at those in Holyrood, Westminster and elsewhere who now have to cope with the impact of the vote to leave the EU,” he wrote. — AFP