Conservative MP and Minister of State for Employment, Priti Patel (r) and Penny Mordaunt, Minister of State for the Armed Forces and Conservative MP for Portsmouth North (l) hold up “Vote Leave” posters with supporters in front of the Vote Leave battle bus as it stops in Portsmouth on May 13, in Portsmouth, England. Portsmouth City Council members voted in March in favor of a motion declaring that the UK would be better off outside the EU declaring that Portsmouth vote to leave the EU in the referendum to be held, June 23. (Matt Cardy | Getty Images)
British Prime Minister David Cameron announced his resignation, June 24, in the wake of defeat in the crucial referendum after Britain voted to leave EU in a deadly blow to the 28-nation bloc that triggered a panic reaction in world markets and raised questions over immigration and other issues in the UK after the divorce, writes Aditi Khanna. – @Siliconeer #Siliconeer Politics #Brexit #VoteLeave #VoteRemain #EuropeanUnion #EU #UK #PoundSterling
President Barack Obama said, June 24, that the U.S. respects the decision of British people to exit from the European Union and hoped that the United Kingdom and EU will remain “indispensable partners” of America, writes Lalit K. Jha.
Brexit won finally by a wafer-thin majority of 51.9% in the referendum held June 23, that also raised questions over the longevity of the Conservative Prime Minister who aggressively campaigned for Remain.
Shortly after the official announcement, Cameron stepped out of 10 Downing Street to make a brief statement in which he announced his intention to resign, saying a new Prime Minister will take charge in October to launch the process to leave EU.
Watched by his wife Samantha, the 49-year-old British leader, who has just completed a little over a year in his second five-year term, assured the world, more specifically the European nations, that there will be no immediate changes in the way people will travel and services will be sold in Britain.
“The country requires a fresh leadership to take this forward. While it is important that I stay on to steady the ship, it is not right to be the captain. I will do everything I can to do to help,” Cameron said as his voice choked with emotion.
Describing the referendum as a “giant democratic exercise,” the Premier said “will of the people must be respected” and their “instruction that must be delivered.”
“There can be no doubt about the result…I would like to reassure markets and countries around the world that Britain’s economy remains fundamentally strong,” he said.
“In my view I think we should have a new prime minister in place by the start of the Conservative conference in October,” Cameron said.
The Cabinet will meet on June 27 and a timetable for him stepping down will be drawn up.
European Union president Donald Tusk said the bloc was determined to stay unified after Britain voted to leave and warned against “hysterical” reactions.
“Today on behalf of the 27 leaders, I can say that we are determined to keep our unity as 27,” Tusk told reporters in Brussels.
EU Parliament President Martin Schulz expressed hopes that Britain’s decision to leave the EU would not lead to contagion.
“The chain reaction that is being celebrated everywhere now by euroskeptics won’t happen,” he said.
The EU was the biggest single market in the world and “Great Britain has just cut its ties with that market,” Schulz said.
The final national result, overturning over four decades of the UK’s membership of EU, was officially declared as 51.9% in favor of Brexit and 48.1% in favor of Remain by the UK Electoral Commission’s chief counting officer Jenny Watson from Manchester Town Hall.
Britain, the second largest economy in Europe after Germany, is the second country after Greenland to quit the bloc.
The referendum turnout was declared as 72.2% with over 30 million people turning out to vote, reflecting the highest turnout in the UK since 1992.
A total of 17,410,742 voters emerged as Brexiters compared to the 16,141,241 that sided with Remain, leading to a victory for Brexit by 1,269,501 votes.
Lauding the referendum exercise, Cameron said, “Over 33 million people from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar have all had their say. We should be proud of the fact that, in these islands, we trust the people with these big decisions.”
“We not only have a parliamentary democracy, but on questions about the arrangements for how we’re governed, there are times when it is right to ask the people themselves, and that is what we have done. The British people have voted to leave the European Union, and their will must be respected,” he said.
While thanking the Remain campaigners, Cameron also congratulated those who took part in the Leave campaign, for the “spirited and passionate case” that they made.
“It was not a decision that was taken lightly, not least because so many things were said by so many different organizations about the significance of this decision. So there can be no doubt about the result,” he said.
Cameron reassured Britons living in European countries, and European citizens living here, that there will be no immediate changes in their circumstances.
“There will be no initial change in the way our people can travel, in the way our goods can move, or the way our services can be sold. We must now prepare for a negotiation with the European Union. This will need to involve the full engagement of the Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Ireland governments to ensure that the interests of all parts of our United Kingdom are protected and advanced,” he said.
London, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted strongly to stay in the EU but Brexit held strong in the north of England, the Midlands region, Wales and most English counties, sending world markets into a shock with the Pound Sterling in free-fall.
Cameron, while announcing that he will step down, also said, “I’m very proud and very honored to have been Prime Minister of this country for six years. I believe we have made great steps, with more people in work than ever before in our history, with reforms to welfare and education, increasing people’s life chances, building a bigger and stronger society, keeping our promises to the poorest people in the world, and enabling those who love each other to get married, whatever their sexuality.”
Cameron, concluded his statement on an emotional note, saying, “I love this country and I feel honored to have served it and I will do everything I can in future to help this great country succeed.”
Bank of England governor Mark Carney moved soon after to also issue a strong statement to try and calm the turmoil unleashed on the world markets.
“We are well prepared for this. The Treasury and the Bank of England have engaged in extensive contingency planning and the Chancellor and I have been in close contact, including through the night and this morning. The Bank will not hesitate to take additional measures as required as those markets adjust and the UK economy moves forward,” he said.
“UK banks have raised over 130 billion pounds of capital, and now have more than 600 billion pounds of high quality liquid assets…This substantial capital and huge liquidity gives banks the flexibility they need to continue to lend to UK businesses and households, even during challenging times,” Carney said.
Cameron, who has been Prime Minister of the UK for six years, winning a majority second term for his Conservative party in the 2015 General Election, said the country now requires, “strong, determined and committed leadership” to negotiate the UK’s future with Europe and the rest of the world.
His most likely successor is believed to be former London mayor Boris Johnson, who was seen to have spearheaded his own campaign to become Prime Minister when he took charge of the Brexit camp earlier this year.
Other senior Conservatives on the bookmaker’s list include UK Chancellor George Osborne and home secretary Theresa May.
However, the general view is that the Conservative party leadership will be taken on by a pro-Brexit minister.
There had been much speculation about how the final outcome would impact Cameron’s own political future as Prime Minister.
While he repeatedly stressed that the 2015 general election has given him the mandate to continue irrespective of the result, the bitter campaign had exposed a deep divide within his own Conservative party.
It came down to a very personal vote for or against him for Cameron as, in his own words, he had put in his “head, heart and soul” into campaigning for Britain to remain within the EU.
More than 80 Eurosceptic MPs from his party, including leading Vote Leave campaigner Johnson and UK employment minister Priti Patel, had moved quickly to calm the internal party turmoil by urging Cameron to stay on as Prime Minister in a letter delivered to him soon after the polls closed on last night.
“We who are supporters of Vote Leave and members of the Conservative Party thank you for giving the British people a choice of their destiny on 23 June. We believe that whatever the British people decide you have both a mandate and a duty to continue leading the nation implementing our 2015 manifesto,” the letter stated.
U.S. RESPECTS BRITISH DECISION TO EXIT FROM EU: OBAMA
“The people of the UK have spoken, and we respect their decision,” Obama said in a statement in his first reaction to the result of the historic referendum.
“The special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is enduring, and the United Kingdom s membership in NATO remains a vital cornerstone of U.S. foreign, security, and economic policy,” he said.
So too is America’s relationship with the European Union, which has done so much to promote stability, stimulate economic growth, and foster the spread of democratic values and ideals across the continent and beyond, he said.
“The UK and the EU will remain indispensable partners of the U.S. even as they begin negotiating their ongoing relationship to ensure continued stability, security, and prosperity for Europe, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the world,” Obama said.
In another statement, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said the U.S. will work closely with both London and Brussels and international partners to ensure continued economic stability, security and prosperity in Europe and beyond.
“We continue to monitor developments in financial markets,” he said.
“I have been in regular contact in recent weeks with my counterparts and financial market participants in the UK, EU and globally and we are continuing to consult closely. The UK and other policymakers have the tools necessary to support financial stability, which is key to economic growth,” Lew said.
Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce said the vote will not change America’s special relationship with Great Britain.
“Prime Minister David Cameron s decision to step down is understandable. He is a fine leader, and I know he will do all that he can to help everyone on both sides of this debate come together and move forward. UK leadership is critical to global prosperity and security,” Royce said. Obama spoke over phone with Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss the situation after the results of the referendum.
“Just a few hours ago, I spoke with Prime Minister David Cameron. David has been an outstanding friend and partner on the global stage, and based on our conversation, I’m confident that the UK is committed to an orderly transition out of the EU,” Obama said in his address to Global Entrepreneurship Summit in California.
“We agreed that our economic and financial teams will remain in close contact as we stay focused on ensuring economic growth and financial stability,” he said, adding that thereafter he spoke to Merkel.
“We agreed that the U.S. and our European allies will work closely together in the weeks and months ahead,” Obama said, noting that the British referendum speaks of the ongoing changes and challenges that are raised by globalization.
“But while the UK’s relationship with the EU will change, one thing that will not change is the special relationship that exists between our two nations. That will endure. The EU will remain one of our indispensable partners,” Obama said.
The NATO alliance will remain a cornerstone of global security, he said, adding that in a few weeks they would be meeting in Warsaw for the NATO Summit.
“Our shared values, including our commitment to democracy and pluralism and opportunity for all people in a globalized world. That will continue to unite all of us. And that is the work that brings us here today,” he said.
“The world has shrunk. It is interconnected; all of you represent that interconnection. Many of you are catalyzing it and accelerating it. It promises to bring extraordinary benefits,” Obama said.