Britons cast historic vote on EU future

June 23, 2016 7:19 am
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– ‘Out is out’ –

“If you jump out of the aeroplane you cannot clamber back through the cockpit hatch. That is why anyone in any doubt should vote remain tomorrow.”

EU leaders warned Britons that there would be no turning back from a vote to quit.

“Out is out,” European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said in Brussels, dismissing any talk of a post-vote renegotiation of Britain’s membership terms.

French President Francois Hollande warned an exit would be “irreversible”.

A British withdrawal from the EU would trigger a lengthy exit negotiation, leading to the loss of unfettered access to its partners in the EU’s single market and forcing the country to strike its own trade accords across the world.

In Europe, the referendum has raised concerns of a domino effect of exit votes that would imperil the integrity of the bloc, already buffeted by the eurozone and migration crises.

Though many voters fret over the financial consequences of a Brexit, others relish the prospect of taking back power from Brussels and reining in high levels of immigration.

Pat Hand, a 50-year-old construction worker, said he would be voting to leave the EU. “The country is in an absolute mess. I work in construction and every single person on my job is not English,” he said.

The referendum battle paused for three days to honour the brutal murder of pro-“Remain” British lawmaker Jo Cox, a mother of two who was stabbed, shot and left bleeding to death on the pavement a week ahead of the vote.

“Jo’s killing was political. It was an act of terror,” her husband Brendan Cox told around 5,000 people gathered in London’s Trafalgar Square on Wednesday what would have been her 42nd birthday.

Thomas Mair, 52, has been charged with Cox’s murder.

On his first appearance in court on Saturday, he gave his name as “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain”.

A psychiatric report was requested.

EU leaders will open a two-day summit in Brussels on Tuesday to deal with the result and decide how to cope with the risk of similar referendums on the continent that could threaten the bloc’s integrity.

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