Referendum: the aftermath
EC president demands ‘quickie divorce’ from UK
* Cameron urged to speed up exit
* Johnson and May waiting in wings
David Cameron was coming under pressure today to quicken the process of splitting Britain from the European Union.
In a sign of frustration and anger at Thursday’s historic vote, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told German television: “It doesn’t make any sense to wait until October to try to negotiate the terms of their departure.”
When asked at a media conference whether Britain’s decision signalled a breakup of the EU, Mr Juncker gave a terse “no” before quickly departing.
Mr Cameron is now being pressed to start negotiations early rather than leave it to his successor as he stated in his resignation speech in Downing St yesterday.
The Prime Minister said he would do everything he could to “steady the ship” but he did not think it right for him to be the “captain that steers our country to its destination”.
He called for a new leader to be in place by the start of the Conservative Party conference in October. Mr Cameron said the negotiation with the EU should begin under a new Prime Minister and the new PM should take the decision on when to trigger Article 50 which concerns the secession of a state from the EU.
However, Mr Juncker wants these talks to begin immediately and it is likely Mr Cameron will be urged to do so when he attends a meeting of the Council of Ministers next week.
Reports this morning say that when he went back inside Number 10, he explained to aides that he did not want to go through the tortuous process of beginning the UK’s divorce from the EU and then resign.
“Why should I do all the hard s**t for someone else, just to hand it over to them on a plate?” he is reported to have said.
Mr Cameron offered a reassurance that “there will be no initial change in the way our people can travel, in the way goods can move, or the way our services can be sold.” But despite offering markets and investors reassurances that “Britain’s economy is fundamentally strong”, the decision sent shockwaves around the world.
Global stock markets plunged before staging a recovery, and sterling witnessed its biggest ever one-day drop, falling by 10%.
Ratings agency Moody’s has downgraded its outlook for Britain, saying its creditworthiness was now at greater risk as the country would face substantial challenges to successfully negotiating its exit from the bloc.
“During the several years in which the UK will have to renegotiate its trade relations with the EU, Moody’s expects heightened uncertainty, diminished confidence and lower spending and investment to result in weaker growth,” the agency said.
US President Barack Obama stood by his warning that Britain would now move to the back of the queue when it came to trade deals.
However, presidential candidate Donald Trump, who visited his Turnberry golf estate on Friday, called the vote a “great thing”.
Boris Johnson, the former London mayor who became the most recognisable face of the Leave camp, has been installed as favourite to succeed Mr Cameron. Other potential candidates are Home Secretary Theresa May (right) who may command greater support across both wings of the party, and Michael Gove.
In Scotland, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will today hold a meeting of the Cabinet which is expected to ratify her statement that the vote makes a second referendum on Scottish independence “highly likely”.
Ms Sturgeon made it clear that she now has a duty to fight for Scotland’s place in the EU.
She spoke with Mr Cameron who in his speech said Britain must now prepare for a negotiation with the EU which would involve the “full engagement of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland governments to ensure the interests of all parts of our United Kingdom are protected and advanced.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet French, German and Italian leaders in Berlin on Monday to discuss future steps amid speculation that other states are becoming restless.
Regulators will also seek to calm nerves among global investors after more than $2 trillion was wiped from the value of global companies on Friday. European stocks ended down 7%, the biggest one day fall since 2008. US stocks suffered their largest sell-off in ten months . The Dow Jones industrial average fell 3.4%.
Bank of England governor Mark Carney offered his own reassurances that it was ready to take whatever action was necessary to ensure stability.