LONDON (Reuters) - More than 1,000 protesters rallied in central London’s Trafalgar Square on Tuesday to show their opposition to Britain’s leaving the European Union, after a demonstration planned earlier was called off on safety grounds because too many people wanted to attend.
London voted in favor of remaining in the EU in last Thursday’s referendum, but 52 percent of Britons overall cast ballots in favor of leaving.
An event organized on Facebook under the initial banner “London Stays” but changed to “Stand Together” was called off when around 50,000 people said they would attend, exceeding the safe capacity of the square close to the Houses of Parliament.
Tom Stoker, a 22-year-old filmmaker from Wales, said he still wanted to make his voice heard.
“We are with Europe, and not separate,” he said. “The vote doesn’t reflect the whole country’s view.”
The referendum result has stunned global financial markets and thrown British politics into turmoil. Prime Minister David Cameron resigned and opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn lost a vote of confidence held by Labour lawmakers.
It has also splintered Britain along the lines of age, location and education, according to polls. Scotland and Northern Ireland wanted to remain in the EU; England and Wales voted to leave.
Young protesters said they felt upset and betrayed by a vote that saw many older people turn their back on Europe after more than 40 years.
“It feels like the worst breakup, like when I broke up with a boyfriend when I was 16,” Carmel Dann said. “It’s a tragedy that it’s come to this.”
Leave campaign leader and former London mayor Boris Johnson was the focus of many protesters’ anger. One of many homemade placards had a picture of Johnson and the words: “This is the real threat”.
Edward Till, aged 43 from London, said the referendum should never have happened.
“We’re a parliamentary democracy, not a direct democracy,” he said. “The issues were complicated and subtle, but the vote was not decided on the realities of the EU.”
Writing by Paul Sandle, editing by Larry King