June 24, 2016 / 4:57 AM / in a year

Dutch anti-immigration leader Wilders calls for Dutch referendum on EU membership

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch anti-immigration leader Geert Wilders called on Friday for a referendum on the Netherlands’ membership in the European Union after Britain voted to leave the 28-member bloc.

Dutch far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) leader Geert Wilders sits in a courtroom of the courthouse in Schiphol, the Netherlands March 18, 2016. REUTERS/Michael Kooren

Wilders, who is leading opinion polls, said if he is elected prime minister in March general elections in the Netherlands he too will call a referendum.

“We want be in charge of our own country, our own money, our own borders, and our own immigration policy,” he said in a statement.

“As quickly as possible the Dutch need to get the opportunity to have their say about Dutch membership of the European Union.”

A survey by a television channel Een Vandaag this week found that 54 percent of the people in the Netherlands, a founding EU member, want a referendum.

Dutch voters have twice voiced strong anti-EU sentiment at the polls, most recently in April when a vast majority rejected the Ukraine-EU treaty in a nonbinding referendum. [A5N162015]

“It is time for a new start, relying on our own strength and sovereignty. Also in the Netherlands,” Wilders said.

”If I become prime minister, there will be a referendum in the Netherlands on leaving the European Union as well. Let the Dutch people decide.”

Reporting By Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Kim Coghill

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