David Cameron has announced his resignation as Prime Minister following the UK’s historic vote to leave the EU.
He refused to give an exact time table for his departure, but said that he wanted a new leader to be in place by the start of the Tory Party conference in October.
In his statement, delivered outside the front door of 10 Downing Street, he said that “the British people have voted to leave the EU and their will must be respected… the will of the British people is an instruction which must be delivered.”
“There can be no doubt about the result.”
He reassured markets and investors, saying that Britain’s economy was strong and also pledged that there would be no sudden change in circumstance either for Britons who live abroad or Europeans who live in the UK.
51.89% of the population voted to leave the European Union, while 48.11% voted to remain. Almost 46.5 million people were registered to vote in Thursday’s referendum.
Pro-“Brexit” campaigners cheered, but the largely unexpected decision played havoc on world markets. London’s FTSE 100 index plunged by more than 8% at the open, with bank stocks getting hit particularly hard.
Pro-independence party UKIP leader and Leave campaigner Nigel Farage told a group of journalists at Westminster following the Leave side’s victory that the EU is “dying.”
Calling for a ‘Brexit government,’ he added that “we’ve given ourselves the chance to rejoin the world … June 23rd needs to become a national bank holiday and we will call it Independence Day.”
The result reflects a deeply divided union.
In one of the most divisive campaigns in recent memory, polls had consistently shown voters split down the middle, with the outcome too close to call, and wavering voters likely to determine the result.
The UK has been a member of the European Union — and its precursors — since 1973.
The results have prompted mixed reaction from politicians. London Mayor Sadiq Kahn said that the decision was a “clear message” but urged calm.
European Council President Donald Tusk said the UK’s decision to leave the European Union was “historic, but not a moment for hysterical reactions.
“Today on behalf of the 27 (European) leaders, I can say that we are determined to keep our unity as the 27. For all of us, the union is the framework for our common future.”
The far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders congratulated the UK on its decision, and called for a Dutch referendum on EU membership.
“We want be in charge of our own country, our own money, our own borders, and our own immigration policy,” he was quoted as saying in a statement on his website.
“If I become prime minister, there will be a referendum in the Netherlands on leaving the European Union as well. Let the Dutch people decide.”