British Prime Minister David Cameron has said he will resign as prime minister after Britain voted to leave the European Union.
Mr Cameron tried to reassure businesses around the world that Britain’s economy was fundamentally sound but world markets were thrown into turmoil on Friday after the final vote was announced.
Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump arrived in Scotland on Friday morning and said the British people had ‘taken back their country’, adding: ‘It’s a fantastic thing’.
Later, when asked his opinion on Cameron quitting, Trump said: ‘Well, that’s too bad.’
But Britain’s former Prime Minister Tony Blair said Brexit would have ‘enormous consequences’ and it was ‘very sad for our country, for Europe, for the world’.
Mr Cameron said he would stay on for three months and New York-born Boris Johnson, the former Mayor of London who led the ‘leave’ campaign, is the hot favorite to replace him.
Bank of England governor Mark Carney moved to reassure panicking markets this morning after the Pound nose-dived to its lowest level against the US dollar for 31 years, and the FTSE slumped by 8 per cent.
Scottish Nationalist leader Nicola Sturgeon raised the prospect of a second independence referendum in Scotland within two years, potentially heralding the break-up of the UK, after 62 per cent of Scots voted to remain but were outvoted by the English.
Initial polls had the ‘remain’ camp winning by a knife-edge. But the final count saw a narrow victory for ‘leave’ as the nation split 52-48 in favor of becoming the first of the 28 EU member states to request an exit.
The historic result sent the British pound plummeting to a 31-year low, one of its biggest one-day falls in all time, dropping from about $1.50 to below $1.35.
US markets were expected to open down 550 points on Friday morning. Trading in Tokyo was halted after stocks plunged nearly 7 per cent, while South Korea’s Kospi tumbled about 4 per cent. Crude oil prices also took a hit.
More than $137billion was wiped off the FTSE 100 this morning – the biggest fall in UK history – with London’s premier index plunging 458 points to 5,880 – down 7.19 per cent – as experts warned of more carnage to come.
The collapse is far greater than Britain suffered after the political crises in 1978, 1992 and 2009.
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said they were prepared to deal with the market volatility.
Canadian-born Carney said the bank had ‘engaged in extensive contingency planning’ and he was in close contact with Chancellor of the Exchequer,
European Parliament President Martin Schulz said the EU assembly would hold an emergency session on Tuesday and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said that after ‘the blow’ of Britain voting to leave, the whole European project needed a rethink.
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed ‘great regret’ at the result, but said the EU was ‘strong enough’ to ‘find the right answers’ to the vote.
EU President Donald Tusk, from Poland, said it was ‘a historic moment but for sure not a moment for hysterical reactions’.
Tusk, who had earlier warned that Brexit could ‘end Western political civilization’, said on Friday: ‘Today on behalf of the 27 leaders, I can say that we are determined to keep our unity as 27.’
Merkel, Tusk, French President Francois Hollande and Italy’s Matteo Renzi are planning to meet in Berlin on Monday to discuss the next step.
Mr Cameron has suggested he would delay invoking Article 50 – which triggers formal exit from the EU – until his successor takes over in the fall, but the EU leaders may decide they want a quick and clean break with the UK to avoid continuing instability.
As results poured in, a picture emerged of a sharply divided nation: Strong pro-EU votes in London and semi-autonomous Scotland were countered by sweeping anti-Establishment sentiment for an exit across the rest of England, from southern seaside towns to rust-belt former industrial powerhouses in the north.
Nigel Farage, leader of the U.K. Independence Party (UKIP), said June 23 should be considered Britain’s ‘Independence Day’.
But in a remark that could prove controversial after pro-Europe MP Jo Cox was shot dead last week, Mr Farage said the country was separating from the EU ‘without a single bullet being fired’.
A key factor in the vote was the migrant crisis which has hit Europe in the last few years, but many working class British voters also resented immigrants from EU countries such as Poland, Hungary and Romania who they feared were taking ‘their’ jobs.
John Mann, one of the few Labour MPs to support the ‘leave’ campaign, said there had been a split between middle class voters who felt they benefited from EU membership and working class voters who felt the disadvantages – especially migration – outweighed the advantages.
Mr Cameron, who called the referendum to placate the conservative anti-Europe wing of his party, backed the ‘remain’ campaign and was left with no option but to resign after the vote.
In an emotional resignation speech outside the prime minister’s official residence, 10 Downing Street in London, he said: ‘I held nothing back. I was absolutely clear about my belief that Britain is stronger, safer and better off inside the EU.
‘I made clear the referendum was about this and this alone – not the future of any single politician including myself.
‘But the British people have made a very clear decision to take a different path and as such I think the country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction.’
Choking back tears, Mr Cameron said he would not depart immediately and would seek to calm the markets over the coming ‘weeks and months’.
But he said a new Prime Minister should be in place for the Conservative Party conference in October.
Boris Johnson, who stepped down last month as Mayor of London, will be the overwhelming favorite to take over.
Johnson’s successor, and the first Muslim Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said today Britain ‘can survive and prosper outside the European Union’.
He said: ‘I want to send a clear message to the British people and to businesses and investors around the world this morning – there is no need to panic.’
In a speech this morning Johnson said Britain cannot and should not ‘turn its back on Europe’ and the Brexit vote was not a signal for the UK to ‘pull up the drawbridge’ and cut itself off from the continent.
He said the EU was a ‘noble idea’ for its time but was ‘no longer right for this country’.
Johnson said Britain now had a ‘glorious opportunity’ to set its own laws, set its own immigration levels and ‘take the wind out of the sails’ of extremists who play on fears about immigration.
He said: ‘Yesterday the British people spoke up for democracy and I think we can be very proud of the result.’
Johnson also paid tribute to Cameron, who he described as a ‘brave and principled’ man and expressed sorrow at his decision to resign.
One of the repercussions of the vote will be in Scotland, which was out of kilter with England, having overwhelmingly voted to remain.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon this morning said she would be pressing ahead with plans to stage a second Scottish independence referendum, which could be held within two years, as the Brexit vote was a ‘material change’.
She said: ‘Scotland faces being taken out of the European Union against our will, which I consider democratically unacceptable.’
Prominent Irish nationalist politician Martin Guinness also demanded a referendum on whether Northern Ireland should stay in the UK or unite with the Republic of Ireland, which remains in the EU.
McGuinness, who is Deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland, said: ‘The British government now has no democratic mandate to represent the views of the North in any future negotiations with the European Union and I do believe that there is a democratic imperative for a ‘border poll’ to be held’
McGuinness’s party Sinn Fein was the political wing of the now-defunct Irish Republican Army and Brexit has raised fresh fears that the Good Friday Agreement, which ended ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland, could unravel.
Last week Ireland’s prime minister Enda Kenny raised the prospect of border controls being reimposed along the border between the Republic and the UK, in Northern Ireland, if British voters opted to pull out of the EU.
The former prime minister of the Turks and Caicos Islands, a British overseas territory in the Caribbean, Michael Misick, tweeted: ‘#turksandcaicos and other #British colonies should be given a #referendum to decide whether we would like to remain British.’