More than 150,000 people have taken to the streets of the British capital to voice their anger at the harsh austerity measures by the conservative government.
The Saturday rally, which was organized by activist group the People’s Assembly, saw demonstrators from across the UK
on the streets of London protesting against cuts to health, social housing, jobs and education.
Protest organizers accuse the government of being favorable to the privileged, saying the austerity drive has pushed ordinary Britons further into poverty.
Addressing the protesters, lawmaker Dianne Abbott said, “Austerity is a threat to the National Health Service and to our public services. We must unite to defend them.”
The protesters also called for Prime Minister David Cameron
’s resignation over a recent offshore scandal.
Cameron has been under pressure by the media and the opposition to disclose details of the financial relations between his father, Ian Cameron, and a Panamanian law firm specializing in reducing the tax burdens for the wealthy.
Demonstrators hold placards during an anti-austerity protest in London, Britain, April 16, 2016. (Reuters photo)
Earlier, Cameron rejected the allegations against him and his father over tax evasion as “deeply hurtful and profoundly untrue.”
The Panama Papers are a leak of 11.5 million files from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. The records, which were obtained from an anonymous source, contain information on 215,000 offshore entities connected to individuals in more than 200 countries and territories.
Brexit to leave UK ‘permanently poorer’
The protest rally comes amid Britain’s potential exit from the European Union (EU), known as Brexit.
In an article printed in the Times, UK Chancellor George Osborne warned that the country would be “permanently poorer” if British citizens vote to leave the EU.
Osborne described Brexit as the “most extraordinary self-inflicted wound.”
He is set to publish a 200-page report on the costs and benefits of the EU membership.
Based on the report, Britain’s economy would shrink by six percent by 2030, costing every household the equivalent of £4,300 a year.
Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne (AFP photo)
“The conclusion is clear for Britain’s economy and for families – leaving the EU would be the most extraordinary self-inflicted wound,” he wrote.
British voters are scheduled to go to the polls on June 23 in a referendum to decide whether to leave the 28-nation bloc or stay in it. Recent opinion polls suggest that voters remain sharply divided on the issue, with about 40 percent on either side and almost 20 percent still undecided.
Supporters of EU membership say Brexit would be a disaster for the UK because it excludes financial services which are a crucial part of the British economy. On the other hand, supporters of the exit campaign accuse the opponents of scaremongering.