October 1, 2017 / 2:04 PM / a year ago

Protesters descend on May's Conservative conference to denounce Brexit

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MANCHESTER, England, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Chanting “Bollocks to Brexit” and waving the gold stars of the European Union flag, thousands of protesters marched through Manchester on Sunday to the ruling Conservative Party’s annual conference to demand that Britain stay in the European Union.

Under a heavy police presence in the northern English city, protesters called on Prime Minister Theresa May to embrace closer ties with Europe. The country voted 52-48 in a referendum last year to leave the bloc, but negotiations with Brussels have been progressing slowly.

Paolo Orrigo , 51, managing director of a business which imports goods from Italy, said he had voted Conservative all his life but was now switching to the pro-EU party, the Liberal Democrats.

“How am I supposed to import goods on WTO tariffs?” he told Reuters. “We are already seeing the effects. Brexit is a house built on sand. It will fall over, it is just a folly.

“Theresa May is a zombie. She is not going to last.”

May will try to stamp her authority on her party and the cabinet during the four-day conference, having lost her parliamentary majority with a botched election gamble in June.

At a separate protest, many shouted using the slang for Conservatives: “Tories, out, out, out.” (Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Writing by Kate Holton; Editing by Ralph Boulton)

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