UK votes to leave the European Union

The UK is to leave the European Union, following the decision made by the UK public during yesterday’s referendum. Results saw 51.9 per cent of the vote go in favour of the leave (‘Brexit’) campaign; this was the majority in England and Wales, while every council in Scotland saw Remain majorities.

Also, following the result, Prime Minister David Cameron announced he will step down by October. Speaking outside 10 Downing Street, he said “fresh leadership” was needed. The PM had urged the country to vote Remain.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage, one of the main (yet unofficial) faces of the Leave campaign, called today the UK’s “independence day”, while Boris Johnson claimed the result would not mean “pulling up the drawbridge”.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she wanted to keep Scotland in the EU and has since said that a second Scottish independence referendum was now “highly likely”.

Ex-London mayor, Boris Johnson, who was campaigning for Vote Leave right until the last minute on Wednesday, is now said to be one of the main options for the UK’s next Prime Minister.

Britain is set to be the first country to leave the EU since its formation. It may be some time before the effect on trade and business across the continent is fully known; during the months of campaigning some businesses claimed leaving would be better for them, yet others said it could have negative effects. Those that focus on daily deals between here and European countries could face a turbulent few months. Only time will tell.

The process of leaving the EU could take a minimum of two years; Leave campaigners suggested that it should not be completed until 2020 – the date of the next scheduled general election. This afternoon it was reported that experts called for movements to be made “as soon as possible”.

Even before the full results were announced early this morning, the pound fell to its lowest level against the dollar since 1985 as the markets reacted. The FTSE 100 index fell by more than eight per cent, then regained some ground to stand four per cent lower. The more UK-focused FTSE 250 fared even worse, down eight per cent in early afternoon trading.

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director general, said: “Many businesses will be concerned and need time to assess the implications. But they are used to dealing with challenge and change and we should be confident they will adapt. The urgent priority now is to reassure the markets. We need strong and calm leadership from the Government, working with the Bank of England, to shore up confidence and stability in the economy.”

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