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Brexit vote shakes Europe, prompts British PM Cameron to resign

June 24, 17:07 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The European Union leaders reacted with disappointment to the Brexit news but expressed determination to maintain the bloc’s unity
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MOSCOW, June 24. /TASS/. British Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to respect the will of British people who voted on Thursday to leave the European Union. However, he said, the country will need a new prime minister to negotiate Brexit terms.

Some 52% of UK citizens (17.41 million people) voted on June 23 for leaving the European Union, while 48% (16.14 million) were in favor of remaining part of the bloc.

Cameron who had earlier urged his fellow citizens to vote for remaining in the EU said "the country requires fresh leadership," adding that the UK should have a new prime minister by October.

"I will do everything I can as prime minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months. But I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination," he said.

Meanwhile, Scotland, where some two-thirds of voters wanted to stay in the European Union, is likely to hold a second referendum seeking independence from Great Britain.

"It is highly likely that Scotland will hold a referendum about independence from the UK and that it is ‘democratically unacceptable’ that Scotland faces being pulled out of the EU against our will," said Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Europe’s reaction

The European Union leaders reacted with disappointment to the Brexit news but expressed determination to maintain the bloc’s unity.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the outcome of the British votes causes "deep regret."

"Today is a watershed for Europe, it is a watershed for the European unification process," Merkel said, adding that she invited EU Council President Donald Tusk, French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to Berlin for talks on June 27.

Hollande said in a televised address the UK referendum "is a tough test for Europe." He said the EU should be focused on security and defense issues, reinforcing the euro zone, and on coordination of tax and social policy.

Renzi tweeted that the British vote shows the necessity to change Europe and "to make it more human and just."

Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern dismissed fears of a "domino effects" of referendums on the EU membership.

"I do not fear a domino effect," he said. "Europe will lose status and significance in the world because of Britain's step. The long-term economic effects will also be felt for some time."

Meanwhile, the leader of France’s National Front party, Marine Le Pen, said Britain’s referendum has demonstrated the possibility more countries may decide to leave the European Union.

"Something that nobody dared believe was a possibility just months ago - exiting the European Union - has now become possible," Le Pen said. "The British referendum will cause a great impact on those who believed that nothing could be done in Europe without the European Union."

"What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger"

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker urged not to consider Brexit the beginning of the end of the EU, while European Council President Donald Tusk said, "What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger".

"There's no hiding the fact that we wanted a different outcome of yesterday's referendum," Tusk said in a statement. "On behalf of the twenty seven leaders I can say that we are determined to keep our unity as 27."

"Until the United Kingdom formally leaves the European Union, EU law will continue to apply to and within the UK. By this, I mean rights and obligations," he added.

The United Kingdom’s exit from the EU is expected to take at least two years. Tusk and other EU leaders urged London to give effect to its decision to leave the bloc as soon as possible.

"We now expect the United Kingdom government to give effect to this decision of the British people as soon as possible, however painful that process may be. Any delay would unnecessarily prolong uncertainty," says the statement, signed by Tusk, Juncker, as well as EU Parliament President Martin Schulz and EU Council Presidency holder and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Brexit has shown the growing role of the alliance in the new realities.

"Today, as we face more instability and uncertainty, NATO is more important than ever as a platform for cooperation among European allies, and between Europe and North America," said Stoltenberg.

World keeps calm

While the UK vote has inflamed passions in Europe, the rest of the world has responded calmly to the news from Great Britain.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Brexit vote reflects discontent of the British people with the state of security and their unwillingness to subsidize weaker economies.

"I believe it is clear for ordinary British subjects why it occurred," Putin said. "Nobody wants to feed and subsidize weaker economies, maintain other states and the whole nations."

"People are also probably dissatisfied with resolution of issues in the security sphere, which aggravated dramatically at present against the background of strong migration processes," he said. "People want to be more independent."

The president also said no global catastrophe is expected from Brexit.

"It is the choice of the British people. We did not interfere and we are not going to interfere. Apparently, some formal procedures associated with the British decision to withdraw from the EU will follow. We will watch it carefully and analyze it," Putin said.

US President Barack Obama said his country respects Great Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.

"The people of the United Kingdom have spoken, and we respect their decision," Obama said. "The United Kingdom and the European Union will remain indispensable partners of the United States even as they begin negotiating their ongoing relationship."

US presidential candidate Donald Trump hailed the outcome of the referendum, predicting that more countries will be willing to follow suit.

"People want to take their country back. They want to have independence in a sense. You see it with Europe, all over Europe," said Trump. "You're going to have many other cases where they want to take their borders back."

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he expects the UK and EU to remain solid partners for the United Nations.

"The Secretary-General expects the European Union to continue to be a solid partner for the United Nations on development and humanitarian issues, as well as peace and security, including migration," Ban said in a statement.

Pope Francis said he felt the UK vote was "the will of the people".

"It demands great responsibility on our part to ensure the well-being of the people in the United Kingdom, and the coexistence of the people on the European continent," the Pope said, addressing reporters onboard of his flight to Armenia.

Economic consequences

Analysts note that the results of the referendum in the UK may have a negative impact on economic stability of the country.

In an interview with FT, Moritz Kraemer, chief ratings officer for Standard and Poor's ratings agency said that political, financial and economic risks stemming from the referendum will lead to revision of the UK credit rating downwards in the near future. "We think that a AAA-rating is untenable under the circumstances," he told the FT.

The UK's decision to leave the European Union will lead to a prolonged period of uncertainty that will weigh on the country's economic and financial performance and will be credit negative for the UK sovereign and other rated entities, according to a statement by Moody's rating agency.

The agency expects that "Brexit" won’t to have major credit implications for most EU-based issuers. However, "the outcome of the nationwide referendum could increase the risk of political fragmentation within the EU if popular support for the bloc fades among member states".

According to Deutsche Bank AG Chief Executive John Cryan, it is impossible to say exactly what the consequences of the UK choice will be but these consequences "will be negative on all sides."

Cryan, who is Briton, said that the results of the referendum show that Europe "has obviously lost its attractiveness for many of his countrymen". "It’s a clear signal to the EU to get closer to its people and to strengthen democracy," he said.

Meanwhile the Bank of England promised to take all the required measures to maintain financial and economic stability after the referendum. "The Bank will continue to consult and co-operate with all relevant domestic and international authorities to ensure that the UK financial system can absorb any stresses and can concentrate on serving the real economy," according to the bank’s statement.

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