BUDAPEST (Reuters) - The Netherlands should hold its own referendum on whether to leave the European Union following Britain’s vote in favor of exiting the bloc, the leader of the Dutch anti-immigrant PVV party, Geert Wilders, said on Friday.
Wilders’ Eurosceptical party is leading opinion polls in the Netherlands, one of the six founder nations of what has become the EU, ahead of a parliamentary election expected next March.
“I congratulate the British people for beating the political elite in both London and Brussels and I think we can do the same,” Wilders told Reuters in an interview.
“The Dutch would like to be in charge again of their own budget, their national borders and their immigration policy.”
“We should have a referendum about a ‘Nexit’ as soon as possible.”
On Thursday Britons voted to leave the 28-nation EU, forcing the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron and dealing the biggest blow to the European project of greater unity since World War Two.
Wilders said he expected several other countries to hold plebiscites of their own, adding that the EU’s efforts to forge a political union were doomed but that the countries of Europe needed to preserve economic cooperation.
“There is no future any more (for the EU). There is a future for cooperation like we see in Asia, like we see in Latin America, where there are also bodies where people cooperate economically but not politically any more,” he said.
Wilders said he would make a Dutch referendum on EU membership a central theme of his campaign to become prime minister in the run-up to the 2017 parliamentary election, adding that this would allow him to tackle other issues as well.
“Within the concept of national sovereignty everything comes together. I think we will benefit (from Nexit) not only economically but also ... (in tackling) the Islamisation of Europe, immigration, the threat of Islamic terrorism that we see growing, the emergence of asylum seekers,” he said.
“We cannot deal with (these issues) today (within the EU).”
Unlike Britain, the Netherlands uses the euro currency and is also a member of the open-border Schengen zone and so is more deeply integrated in the EU.
Reporting by Marton Dunai; Editing by Gareth Jones