The "hysteria" and "contagious mourning" in the U.K. following the shock referendum result is akin to that which followed the death of Princess Diana in 1997, Boris Johnson, former London mayor and Brexit proponent has said.
"There is, among a section of the population, a kind of hysteria, a contagious mourning of the kind that I remember in 1997 after the death of the Princess of Wales," Johnson wrote in his regular article for The Daily Telegraph newspaper which was published on Monday.
Since the vote on June 23, there has been a strong backlash among the 48 percent of voters who elected to remain in the EU with protests and petitions calling for a second vote. Many – and overwhelmingly younger voters – are upset at what they see as being taken out of the EU against their will and fear the loss of freedoms offered by EU membership, such as free trade and the movement of people and goods.
The latest and largest protest took place on Saturday when an estimated 50,000 people attended a pro-EU demonstration in central London. Speakers at the "March for Europe" event included campaigner and musician Bob Geldof, who Boris Johnson accused of encouraging "confusion about the EU" among young voters.
"It is not about the EU, of course; or not solely. A great many of these protesters – like dear old Geldof – are in a state of some confusion about the EU and what it does."
"When Geldof tells them that the older generation has 'stolen your future' by voting to leave the EU, I am afraid there are too many who still believe it. It is time for this nonsense to end," Johnson said, adding that it was wrong for the government to offer a "binary choice" to voters on the EU.
"It was wrong of the government to offer the public a binary choice on the EU without being willing – in the event that people voted leave – to explain how this can be made to work in the interests of the U.K. and Europe."
Prime Minister David Cameron, who led the campaign to stay in the EU hoping that voters would be convinced by his attempts to seek reform in Europe, resigned following the vote subsequently unleashing more political uncertainty in the country.
A new Conservative leader and prime minister is expected to be in place in early September and he or she will have to take over the challenge of negotiating the U.K.'s new relationship with the remaining 27 EU member states.
Johnson was expected to run for the leadership but pulled out of the race after a key ally, Michael Gove, withdrew his backing for Johnson and decided to run himself.