Surprise Brexit result claims PM as first victim

Surprise Brexit result claims PM as first victim

SBS World News Radio: The United Kingdom has stunned the world by voting to leave the European Union.

And whilst supporters of the so-called "Brexit" are joyful, the result has been met with disbelief and trepidation in many parts of the world, and by many in the U-K itself.

The question of what will now happen now looms over many aspects of world geopolitical and financial affairs - and the "leave" vote has already claimed its first victim, with British Prime Minister David Cameron announcing he'll step down later this year.

The chief counting officer for the referendum, Jenny Watson, made it official.

"The total number of votes cast in favour of Remain was 16,141,241. The total number of votes cast in favour of Leave was 17,410,742. This means that the U-K has voted to leave the European Union."

The United Kingdom joined the European Union in 1973.

Forty-three years later, against the will of the Prime Minister, Opposition Leader and many others, it's reversed course.

Around 52 per cent of the more than 30 million people who voted, voted to leave, with around 48 per cent voting to remain.

For the so-called Eurosceptics, pure joy.

The leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, Nigel Farage, has been advocating this move for years.

He has not taken long to celebrate what he sees as his victory against the odds and against very powerful interests.

"We've got our country back! The sun has risen on an independent United Kingdom. It's a victory for ordinary people, decent people. It's a victory against the big merchant banks, against the big businesses and against big politics. And I'm proud of everybody that had the courage, in the face of all the threats and everything they'd been told, they had the guts to stand up and do the right thing."

Mr Farage has even suggested that June 23rd become a new public holiday in the United Kingdom - independence day.

With a new era in the country will come a new Prime Minister.

Mr Cameron acknowledged his position is now untenable.

"I think the country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction. 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 says he'll quit before the Conservative Party conference in October.

The favourite to replace him as British Prime Minister: prominent leave campaigner Boris Johnson.

Despite his side of the referendum winning, and the potential reward that may be coming his way, Mr Johnson has been restrained in his public comment after the vote.

He says the referendum result is about the British people, and principle.

"In the end, this question is about the people. It's about the right of the people of this country to settle their own destiny. It's about the very principles of our democracy. The rights of all of us to elect and remove the people who make the key decisions in (our) lives. And I think that the electorate have searched in their hearts and answered as honestly as they can."

Mr Johnson denies the UK will be any less European as a result of leaving the EU, saying that it's simply a matter of an organisation like the EU not being wanted or needed in modern times.

The European Union itself is, unsurprisingly, disconsolate at losing a member.

It may take up to two years for the UK to fully disentangle itself from the European Union.

EU chiefs say the UK must start the exit process as soon as possible.

But European Council President Donald Tusk says until that disentanglement is complete, the UK must remember it is still an EU member.

"For all of us, the union is the framework for our common future. I would also like to reassure you that there will be no legal vacuum. 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 as well as obligations."

One of the immediate effect of the referendum, even before the result was confirmed, was on the world's financial markets.

There were falls all over the globe, and the pound sterling is now at its lowest value since September 1985.

The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, says the central bank is prepared for what is happening and what is to come.

"We are well-prepared for this. Her Majesty's Treasury and the Bank of England have engaged in extensive contingency planning, and the Chancellor and I have remained in close contact, including through the night and this morning. To be clear, the Bank of England will not hesitate to take additional measures as required, as markets adjust and as the U-K economy moves forward."

What's to come is far from certain.

In France and the Netherlands, far-right parties are suggesting that their countries too now hold a vote on whether to stay in the EU.

Whilst Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says Scotland sees its future in the EU, raising the prospect of another Scottish independence vote.

As for Australia, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says this country may have to wait and see like everyone else.

"The impact on Australia immediately, directly, from a legal point of view, will be very limited because it will take some years for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, to negotiate an exit. However, we've seen already large falls on stock markets and there will be a degree of uncertainty for some time."


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