Just days after voting to leave the European Union, more than 1.5 million Britons and UK residents had signed a petition calling for a second vote, forcing MPs to at least consider a debate on the issue. The petition on the British parliament website was posted before the June 23 referendum, saying the government should hold another plebiscite on EU membership if the support for Leave or Remain in a referendum is less than 60 percent based on a turnout of under 75 percent of electors. Since then, the petition -- which only British citizens or UK residents have the right to sign -- was proving so popular that by 1417 GMT on Saturday, 1,580,220 people had signed it with the number rising quickly.
By Elisabeth O'Leary EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Scotland's devolved government will start a drive to protect its European Union membership and will prepare for a possible fresh independence vote after Britain voted to exit the bloc, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Saturday. "We are determined to act decisively in a way that builds unity across Scotland," Sturgeon told reporters, adding that might include a vote on Scottish secession from the United Kingdom. Scots rejected independence in a 2014 referendum by 55-45 percent and at the time the vote was considered a decisive verdict for a generation.
British finance minister George Osborne's chances of succeeding Prime Minister David Cameron have been "much weakened" by the country's decision to quit the European Union, senior Conservative Party member Alan Duncan said on Saturday. "Remain" campaigner Osborne, Cameron's political ally and Chancellor since 2010, had been seen as the frontrunner to become the party's next leader. Chief Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson is now favourite to become prime minister in a leadership contest which will be concluded by October.
The European Commission said on Saturday Scotland was part of the United Kingdom and declined to "speculate further" after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called for talks with the European Union to keep Scotland in the bloc. "Scotland is part of the UK," a Commission spokeswoman told Reuters. "Constitutional arrangements apply.
Pope Francis on Saturday issued a rallying cry to protect memory at the Armenian genocide memorial in Yerevan, on day two of a trip likely to stir tensions with Turkey. Accompanied by President Serzh Sarkisian, Francis laid a wreath and prayed at the Tsitsernakaberd site where 12 giant stars represent the regions where Armenians says Ottoman forces killed some 1.5 million of their people between 1915 to 1917. "I pray here, with pain in my heart, that such tragedies will not happen again, that humanity does not forget and knows how to overcome evil with good," Francis wrote in large golden book of commemoration.
More than a million Britons pleaded for a second referendum Saturday as Britain's seismic vote to abandon the EU split the country after pounding world markets, toppling the prime minister and raising the threat of the island nation's break-up. In a sign of the fissures exposed by the June 23 vote, 1.2 million people signed a petition on the official government website by late morning calling for a repeat vote -- more than 12 times the 100,000 signatures required for a proposal to be discussed in the lower house of parliament. "I was expecting a 'Remain' vote.
By John Irish and Andreas Rinke BERLIN/HERMANNSWERDER, Germany (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Saturday for clear-headed negotiations with Britain on its departure from the European Union, stressing that talks with the "close partner" must take place in a good atmosphere. Merkel's reasoned approach came despite a call from foreign ministers from the EU's six founding members for Britain to leave the bloc as soon as possible after Britons voted to quit in the biggest blow to the project since World War Two. "Britain will remain a close partner, with which we are linked economically," she said, adding that there was no hurry for Britain to invoke Article 50 of the EU treaty -- the move it must make to set in motion the process to exit the bloc.
MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — A suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle at the gate of a Mogadishu hotel, followed by a second explosion heard inside the hotel as gunmen fought their way inside, police said Saturday. At least four bodies were seen outside the hotel, one officer said.
Scotland's devolved government is right to start preparing legislation for a new independence referendum after Britain's vote to leave the European Union, but a new vote should be decided by "clear public appetite" for one, a spokesman for the Scottish Greens said on Saturday. The Green party is the kingmaker for the pro-independence Scottish National Party, which is two seats shy of a majority at Scotland's devolved parliament. "It is too soon to say whether and when a further referendum on Scottish independence will take place, but in the wake of the EU referendum result few people will doubt that it must be on the table," a spokesman for the party told Reuters.
A huge blast rocked a hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Saturday, followed by heavy machinegun fire, said an AFP photographer at the scene. "There is heavy fire going on inside the hotel, it started after the massive explosion but we cannot know what is going on," Abdihafid Mudey, who lives near the hotel, told AFP. A loud explosion was heard at around 16:30 pm (1330 GMT), according to AFP reporters in Mogadishu.
By Michael Holden and Paul Carrel LONDON/BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany and France led demands on Saturday for Britain to negotiate a quick divorce from the European Union, with Paris warning that populism will otherwise take hold after the vote to leave the bloc sent shockwaves around the world. The European Central Bank added to the pressure by saying Britain's financial industry, which employs 2.2 million people, would lose the right to serve clients in the EU unless the country signed up to its single market - anathema to "leave" campaigners who are set to lead the next government in London. Britain's decision to leave the EU, the world's largest trading bloc, is the biggest blow since World War Two to the European project of forging greater unity.