Eurosceptics all over Europe cry victory over Brexit, demand votes in their own countries on leaving EU

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte speaks to reporters in The Hague, The Netherlands, on June 24, 2016.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte speaks to reporters in The Hague, The Netherlands, on June 24, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

THE HAGUE (AFP) - Eurosceptics cried victory early Friday after Britain voted to leave the EU, demanding referendums in their own countries and sharpening concerns about the future of European unity.

"Victory for Freedom! As I have been asking for years, we must now have the same referendum in France and EU countries," French far-right leader Marine Le Pen wrote on Twitter shortly after the results were announced.

In the Netherlands - like France, one of the six founding members of the European community - anti-Islam and anti-immigrant MP Geert Wilders also congratulated Britons on their "Independence Day".

"The Dutch people deserve a referendum as well. The Party for Freedom consequently demands a referendum on NExit, a Dutch EU exit," Mr Wilders said in a statement.

Elections are not due in the Netherlands until 2017, but since last year polls have consistently shown support for the Freedom Party (PVV) climbing on the back of the migration crisis.

 
 

Mr Wilders vowed that if he becomes prime minister next year "there will be a referendum in the Netherlands on leaving the European Union as well. Let the Dutch people decide".

In a separate Tweet using the hashtag #ByeByeEU, Mr Wilders added: "Hooray for the Brits! Now it's our turn."

He told Dutch broadcaster NOS he wanted to see a referendum in his country "as soon as possible".

There are growing fears the British vote could trigger a domino effect, threatening the core of the European project.

EU president Donald Tusk said the bloc was "determined to keep our unity".

And EU Parliament president Martin Schulz said Friday he would speak with German Chancellor Angela Merkel "on how we can avoid a chain reaction" of other EU states following.

But he voiced confidence there would be no contagion.

The EU was the biggest single market in the world and "Great Britain has just cut its ties with that market," Mr Schulz said.

 

"That'll have consequences and I don't believe other countries will be encouraged to follow that dangerous path."

But Mr Matteo Salvini, Italy's most prominent far-right politician, also hailed the Brexit vote as an example his country should follow.

"Cheers to the bravery of free citizens," the leader of the anti-immigration, anti-EU Northern League wrote on Twitter. "Heart, head and pride beat lies, threats and blackmail. THANKS UK, now it is our turn #Brexit".

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, in what was widely seen as a blow to the EU and a boost for eurosceptics.

There were similar reactions from other European eurosceptic parties:

In Denmark, the populist Danish People's Party (DPP), which has been calling for a renegotiation of its accords with the EU, hailed what it called a "courageous" decision by the British. But it called for everyone to "keep their heads" and said it wanted to see what happened next.

Sweden's small Left Party called for the country's government to renegotiate the terms of its adhesion to the EU.

"Let June 23 go down in our history as our independence day," said Britain's top anti-EU campaigner Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party.

Mr Farage had promised Britons the chance to retake power from Brussels and rein in high immigration.

"This will be a victory for real people, a victory for ordinary people, a victory for decent people," he told supporters early on Friday.

Voters in Britain decided 51.9 per cent to 48.1 per cent in favour of quitting the bloc, final results showed.