Waving European Union flags and chanting "no Brexit", thousands gathered despite the pouring rain in central London on Tuesday to express their rage and dismay at Britain's vote to leave the EU.
In unprecedented scenes for a country not known for protest marches, large crowds gathered in Trafalgar Square before marching on parliament, urging lawmakers to block the 52 percent vote in favour of Brexit with chants of "do your job, vote it down!"
Britain has been thrown into disarray since the June 23 referendum result, with the economy suffering a string of sharp painful shocks and Scotland raising the prospect of independence to ensure its place in the EU as it voted overwhelmingly in favour of ‘Remain’.
Carolyn Berry, a 53-year-old teacher, said at the protest that she was rattled by the political chaos, which saw Prime Minister David Cameron resign and a revolt in the opposition Labour Party to oust its leader Jeremy Corbyn.
"It's like one disaster after another. There is no government, the opposition is imploding, it's scary,” Berry said.
The crowd held signs including "We are Europe", "Stay" and "Stand together, stop Brexit".
The protesters also made their anger at pro-Brexit politicians clear, after some Leave campaigners appeared to backtrack on promises made during the campaign to cut immigration and increase health spending.
"Liars, liars!" the booing crowds shouted in extraordinary scenes outside parliament.
Other demonstrators expressed fears about the rise in racist incidents since the vote.
"I'm born and raised in England but because of how I look, I was told on Monday to go home," said 28-year-old teacher Clare Johnson, who looks Mediterranean.
"For a British person to experience this, it is scary."
Susanna Flood, 51, said xenophobic sentiments unleashed by the Brexit vote went completely against London's core values.
"This city is a welcoming, open and cosmopolitan city," she said. "And this does not represent what we believe in."
A string of rallies had been organised in cities around Britain but many were cancelled after too many people indicated they would attend, leading to the police raising fears over crowd safety.
The London protest was cancelled by its organisers, but the determined crowds still turned out.
UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage was specifically targeted, with chants of "Fromage (cheese), not Farage!" and placards comparing him to Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter series of books
The crowd also blasted former London mayor Boris Johnson, tipped as a possible successor to David Cameron as prime minister, who was a vocal Brexit campaigner.
Thursday’s referendum revealed a deep divide across Britain, with Scotland, Northern Ireland, university cities and the capital London voting to remain.
But the vote to leave the EU was carried by deep opposition to the European bloc in less affluent areas of England and Wales.
The result went against polling data and betting markets and deeply shocked the markets, world leaders and many British citizens who expected a victory for ‘Remain’.
An online petition for a second referendum on the result has already gathered four million signatures.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Date created : 2016-06-29