Dutch anti-immigration leader calls for Dutch referendum on EU membership

Geert Wilders, leader of the Freedom Party, reacts during an interview in The Hague, Netherlands.
Geert Wilders, leader of the Freedom Party, reacts during an interview in The Hague, Netherlands. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

AMSTERDAM (REUTERS) - Dutch anti-immigration leader Geert Wilders called for a referendum on the Netherlands' membership in the European Union after British media said Britain voted to leave the 28-member bloc.

"We want be in charge of our own country, our own money, our own borders, and our own immigration policy," he said in a statement.

“If I become prime minister, there will be a referendum in the Netherlands on leaving the European Union as well. Let the Dutch people decide.”

Elections are not due in the Netherlands until next year, but since last year polls have consistently shown support for the Freedom Party (PVV) climbing on the back of the refugee crisis.

Although it has slipped back in recent months, the last polls from May showed Mr Wilders’ party would win the largest support gaining some 31 seats in the 150-seat party, more than doubling its current 15 seats.

The statement sent by Mr Wilders said that recent polls showed a majority of Dutch people were in favour of holding a referendum, and that most would vote to leave.

The Netherlands, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU, held a referendum earlier this year on whether to back closer cooperation between the EU and Ukraine. Turnout was low, but over 60 per cent voted against the deal.