Brexit: Supporters of Leave pop the champagne at party

Leave EU supporters celebrate the result in Sunderland after polling stations closed in the referendum on the European Union in London, on June 23, 2016.
Leave EU supporters celebrate the result in Sunderland after polling stations closed in the referendum on the European Union in London, on June 23, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Chanting and cheering, Leave supporters hailed victory in the EU referendum at a lavish party in London featuring a large cake decorated with a champagne bottle and a Union Jack flag.

"We've done it! We've won!" anti-EU campaigners shouted at the festivities in an office block in Westminster, popping open champagne bottles as Leave victories flowed in.

"Out! Out! Out!", they chanted as dawn broke.

"People are sick to death of the European Union," said Ms Georgina Thorburn, a campaigner in her 50s.

"We are a small island. We cannot cope. We have no space in schools, in hospitals," she said, emphasising one of the key planks of the Leave campaign - the desire to restrict EU worker arrivals.

 
 

UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage, a key Brexit campaigner, was loudly cheered when he rose to speak.

"The eurosceptic genie is out of the bottle and it will now not be put back," he said.

"EU's finished, EU's dead."

The mood was far more despondent at the Remain party in London's Royal Festival Hall where supporters sat glued to TV screens clutching beers - some with their hands over their mouths.

At the Lexington bar in Angel in central London, where many Remain supporters had gathered, there was growing despondency as the night wore on. Drink followed drink.

"I am concerned about the polarisation of the vote. Geographically, it appears to be divided," said 20-year-old Harlan Matthews.

 

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Ms Beverly David, 33, said: "People in London have a different identity. We are Londoners first, then European, then British."

Mr Julius Beltrame said: "This is a protest vote on an international scale. This is an inheritance of 30 years of neo-liberal economics.

"I never felt less British and more Londoner," the 39-year-old said.

In Manchester, where the official nationwide results were being declared in the 19th-century town hall, campaigners from both sides had endured a tense wait in the glare of television lights.

"I'm very excited, there is definitely a buzz in the air, that's for sure and above all we don't have anything to lose," said Mr Luke Thomson, chief of staff for a UKIP European Parliament lawmaker.

With a British departure from the European Union, the 22-year-old admitted that he would lose his job since there would no longer be British MEPs but he said: "Yes that's fine, it's a price worth paying."