After a nail-biting sleepless night, the results are in – and Britain is out! By a slim majority of 52-48% the British public voted to leave the EU. Following this result, David Cameron announced his resignation, to take place in October.
A tearful Mr Cameron – his wife by his side – said the country needed “fresh leadership” and is now understood to be meeting the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
The PM campaigned to remain in the EU but the public rejected his arguments and chose to leave the EU by 51.9% to 48.1%.
Speaking outside Downing Street, the PM said he would aim to have a new leader in place by the Conservative party conference in October.
“This is not a decision I’ve taken lightly but I do believe it’s in the national interest to have a period of stability and then the new leadership required.”
Mr Cameron said he had fought the “only way I know how … head, heart and soul” to stay in the EU but that voters had chosen a different path.
With tears in his eyes, his voice cracking, the PM said: “I love this country, and I feel honoured to have served it and I will do everything I can in the future to help this great country succeed.”
It is heartening to see the Great British stiff upper lip in play, together with their concept of fair play:
The PM also used his speech to congratulate Leave campaigners – who included Boris Johnson and his friend Michael Gove – for their “spirited and passionate case”.
Speaking after the resignation, both men paid tribute to the PM and said they were sorry he was stepping down.
They were also among more than 80 Tory MPs who had earlier signed a letter saying the Prime Minister had a “mandate and a duty” to stay on whatever the result.
It is indeed a shame that Cameron is resigning. From what I have seen, he has been an excellent PM, representing Britain well in all international forums. He has steered Britain carefully through the upheavals of mass immigration, threats of terrorism as well as this European imbroglio. For all the disagreements between Israel and the UK I believe Cameron was a friend of Israel.
So what happens now? The Telegraph attempts to explain what comes next?
Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament, meets the Conference of Presidents at around 8.30am, to agree a common position from MEPs. They are expected to demand that Article 50 is triggered immediately, to prevent months of uncertainty.
Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, has said it is ready to intervene to steady the markets. Central bankers from Japan to Switzerland have also offered to step in to provide additional liquidity – a measure not seen since the financial crisis.
By contrast, the official Out campaign has said there is no need to trigger Article 50 until informal negotiations have taken place – potentially lasting years.
Also on the agenda is a discussion of the migration crisis, including tentative proposals for “compacts” to speedily deport migrants back to Africa and the current deployment of naval craft off Libya to intercept smugglers. Britain has a major role in this – a British warship is deployed in the EU’s naval operation and a second has been promised – but the crisis takes a back seat.
Triggering Article 50, formally notifying the intension to withdraw, starts a two-year clock running. After that, the Treaties that govern membership no longer apply to Britain. The terms of exit will be negotiated between Britain’s 27 counterparts, and each will have a veto over the conditions.
It will also be subject to ratification in national parliaments, meaning, for example, that Belgian MPs could stymie the entire process.
Two vast negotiating teams will be created, far larger than those seen in the British renegotiation. The EU side is likely to be headed by one of the current Commissioners.
Untying Britain from the old membership is the easy bit. Harder would be agreeing a new trading relationship, establishing what tariffs and other barriers to entry are permitted, and agreeing on obligations such as free movement. Such a process, EU leaders claim, could take another five years.
A “new” Britain will have to be created without the umbrella of the EU:
One option will be to simply recreate EU laws as British statute. But Civil Service insiders expect a new Brexit government to opt for something much more radical, and to use the opportunity of “throwing off the shackles” to re-regulate Britain.
It means that the Government would have to do three acts simultaneous: negotiate a new deal with Brussels, win a series of major bilateral trade deals around the world, and revise its own governance as EU law recedes.
Running the show would be an effective “Ministry for Brexit”, under a senior minister.
Hundreds of Treasury lawyers and experts would have to be hired for areas – such as health and safety, financial services and employment – where Britain had lost competence to Brussels. Meanwhile, a Trade Ministry will be required, with hundreds of new negotiators, to establish new deals around the world.
For further reading, have a look through these items from the Times of Israel:
Stocks and oil were in free fall after the results became known.
The British vote has energized right-wing Europeans like the French and Dutch who also want to leave.
Nevertheless, the stunned EU vows to remain united.
With global markets in turmoil, Tusk — who had earlier warned that a Leave vote could “end Western political civilization” — said it was “a historic moment but for sure not a moment for hysterical reactions.”
Although the EU had recently gone through “the most difficult” years in its 60-year history, it was worth remembering that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” he said.
But the biggest fear in capitals across the Continent was of contagion, with immediate calls by far-right leaders in France and the Netherlands for their countries to hold their own votes on EU membership.
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen said the British result was a “victory for freedom” and there should be referendums across Europe, while Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders said “the Dutch people deserve a referendum as well.”
European Parliament President Martin Schulz said he was speaking to Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel to avoid a “chain reaction” of euroskeptic success across Europe.
As for the rest of us, we’re just going to have to hold on tight and be ready for a bumpy ride. No one has much idea of the implications of this vote. Never a dull moment.