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Brexit virus SPREADS across Europe: Italy, France, Holland and Denmark want their referendum

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International reactions poured in on Friday for the dramatic decision by British voters to leave the European Union (EU) in Thursday’s historic referendum as voters in France, Italy and the Netherlands are demanding their own votes on European Union referendum

“We respect the result. Now is the time for us to behave seriously and responsibly. (Prime Minister) David Cameron has his responsibilities for his country, we have our responsibilities for the future of the EU. You can see what is happening to sterling on the markets. I don’t want the same thing to happen to the euro,” European Parliament President Martin Schulz said early Friday morning after the results were announced.

Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders hailed the decision and said that it was the time for a referendum in the Netherlands.

“Hurrah for the British! Now it is our turn. Time for a Dutch referendum!” he tweeted

Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right Front National party, has welcomed the result. She said she also wants a similar referendum in France.

“From #Brexit to #Frexit: It’s now time to import democracy to our country. The French must have the right to choose!” she leader tweeted.

Manfred Weber, leader of the largest group in the European Parliament, the EPP, said: “Exit negotiations should be concluded within 2 years at max. There cannot be any special treatment. Leave means leave.”

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier deemed it as a sad day for Britain and for the EU.

The head of Germany’s Foreign Trade Association, Anton Boerner, said: “That is a catastrophic result for Britain and also for Europe and Germany, especially the German economy. It is disturbing that the oldest democracy in the world turns its back on us.”

Gerard Araud, the French ambassador in Washington, tweeted: “Now to the other member states to save the EU from unravelling which excludes business as usual, especially in Brussels. Reform or die!”

The ‘Leave’ campaign won by 52 per cent to 48 per cent with England and Wales voting strongly for Brexit, while London, Scotland and Northern Ireland backed staying in the EU.

The referendum was held all across the country on Thursday. The turnout was 71.8 per cent – with more than 30 million people voting.

 

Europe

UK’s Prince Andrew steps back from public duties over scandal

The 59-year-old has been accused of having sex with a 17-year-old girl, Virginia Roberts, in 2001 after going to a London nightclub.

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London, Nov 21 (IANS) The United Kingdoms Prince Andrew has announced he is stepping back from royal duties over the Jeffrey Epstein scandal.

In a statement released on Wednesday he said he would end his public work “for the foreseeable future “over his links to the convicted sex offender, Efe news reported.

He also offered to help police investigating allegations against the disgraced hedge-fund manager and accused sex trafficker.

Andrew said his former association with Epstein had become a “major disruption” to the royal family.

“Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission,” he added.

“I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstien.”

Epstein was found dead in a prison cell in the United States while awaiting trial for sex trafficking of minors.

He was found to have died of suicide by hanging.

Andrew’s statement said his death “has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure”.

“I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives,” he added.

“Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required.”

Andrew has been under increasing criticism for his relationship with the well-connected financier, with a number of sponsors severing ties with the royal after an interview he gave with the BBC on Saturday.

The 59-year-old has been accused of having sex with a 17-year-old girl, Virginia Roberts, in 2001 after going to a London nightclub.

He has denied all the allegations and in the BBC interview said he was at a pizza restaurant on the day in question.

Roberts said she had sex with Andrew three times, in London in March 2001, weeks later at Epstein’s New York mansion and a third time on his private island.

Epstein, who was known for friendships with high-profile figures such as US Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, and Israeli former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, faced up to 45 years in prison if convicted.

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Donald Tusk elected as new EPP leader

Outgoing European Council President Donald Tusk was elected the new president of the European People’s Party, the largest bloc within the EU Parliament. Tusk vowed to fight “populists, manipulators and autocrats.”

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Donald Tusk

Zagreb, Nov 21 : The European People’s Party (EPP) elected outgoing President of the European Council Donald Tusk as its new leader at annual congress here.

Tusk, whose term in the European Council expires at the end of November, got 93 per cent of votes in his favour on Wednesday night.

He is replacing Joseph Daul who has been leading the largest political group in the European Parliament since 2013, Xinhua news agency reported.

Tusk promised earlier on Wednesday that he will tackle populists as soon as he becomes the new president of the EPP.

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Belgian court ends extradition case against Catalan leader Puigdemont

The judge had declared the case to be “without merit” during an in-camera hearing.

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Carles Puigdemont

A Belgian court formally closed extradition proceedings against deposed Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont on Thursday.

Puigdemont and four of his deputies fled to Belgium in October to avoid charges of rebellion, sedition and misusing public money in relation to Catalonia’s independence bid. The Spanish Supreme Court withdrew the European arrest warrants last week.

The judge had declared the case to be “without merit” during an in-camera hearing, Paul Bekaert, Puigdemont’s Belgian lawyer, told AFP.

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