UK rallies ahead of Greek debt vote

Published: Saturday 4th July 2015 by The News Editor

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Events were taking place in Britain today in support of the Greek people on the eve of the country’s crunch referendum.

Voters will be asked in tomorrow’s poll whether to accept an austerity package put forward by international lenders in return for a further bailout from the eurozone rescue fund.

Many Greeks living in the UK are returning there to vote – while t hose who are unable to return at short notice say it is “always on their mind” as their concern for family members grows.

Greek citizens living in the UK can only take part in the referendum if they return to Greece to cast their vote.

Rallies were taking place today in London’s Trafalgar Square, Leeds, Liverpool, Bristol and Edinburgh, with another tomorrow in Manchester.

The London event features speakers including Green leader Natalie Bennett, War On Want, the Unite union and others, alongside a “solidarity festival” of Greek food and music.

Andrew Burgin, from the Greece Solidarity Campaign, said: “As Greece approaches this crucial day, we stand with the people.

“Huge numbers rallied yesterday in Athens’ Syntagma Square. We want to show the huge support that there is for them in Britain and across Europe.

“Greeks are standing firm in the face of financial blackmail. The only answer to this crisis is to admit the debt is impossible to pay, and cancel it.”

Banks have been closed all week in Greece to prevent a run driven by savers withdrawing cash amid uncertainty about whether the country will crash out of the euro, after falling into arrears with the International Monetary Fund.

Tomorrow’s referendum has been called by left-wing prime minister Alexis Tsipras, who has promised to ease austerity after six years of recession.

Rival rallies took place half a mile apart in central Athens last night and Mr Tsipras made his final pitch on a stage set up for a campaign rock concert outside parliament.

“This is not a protest. It is a celebration to overcome fear and blackmail,” he told a crowd of 30,000 as they roared: “Oxi, oxi! (No, no!).”

Mr Tsipras, 40, is gambling the future of his new left-wing government on tomorrow’s snap poll, insisting a No vote will strengthen his hand to negotiate a third bailout with better terms.

If he loses, he has strongly indicated he would step aside.

Published: Saturday 4th July 2015 by The News Editor

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