Conservative Party leader David Cameron has resigned as British Prime Minister, and said he will step down in October. He made his resignation speech this morning outside Downing Street after Britain voted to leave the European Union. Mr Cameron said he accepted the decision of the electorate, which voted for a ‘Brexit’ yesterday by 52% to 48%.
Flanked by his wife Samantha, Cameron said he had informed the English royals of his decision to remain in place for the short term as negotiations take place.
“The British people have voted to leave the European Union and their will must be respected,” he said. “The will of the British people is an instruction that must be delivered.”
He said he would leave it to his successor to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which kicks off the two-year process of negotiating a new relationship with the EU. Cameron said this will need to involve the “full engagement of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland governments to ensure that the interests of all parts of our United Kingdom are protected and advanced”.
“The country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction,” he added. “I will do everything I can as Prime Minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months, but I don’t think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.”
Elsewhere, there were ugly scenes in London as a panicked and angry crowd labelled Boris Johnson a “twat” and “scum” as he emerged from his home following his campaign’s victory in the EU referendum. Mr Johnson’s car was trapped by a crowd of around 40 cyclists and onlookers blocking a junction who taunted him with profanities as his car was trapped. One man yelled: “The pound is down, what do you say about that? Is it going to be all right, Boris? Is the UK going to be all right, Boris? Are we going to be all right, mate? Come on, man up.”
While England and Scotland voted to quit the EU, both the north of Ireland and Scotland voted to remain. In the Six Counties, only seven constituencies voted to leave, mostly along the eastern seaboard: Belfast East, Lagan Valley, Strangford, Upper Bann and the three Antrim constituences.
Sinn Fein MEP Matt Carthy said that Britain’s decision to leave the European Union means that a referendum on a United Ireland is now vital.
“The British Government has no mandate to drag the north of Ireland out of the EU. It has no mandate to re-erect border controls between north and south,” he said.
“Irish interests are being actively and gravely damaged by the decisions taken in England.
“The north of Ireland has voted to remain in the EU. The British Government cannot now negotiate on behalf of people there to exit the European Union.
“A referendum on a United Ireland is now a democratic imperative and it is incumbent that the Irish Government and all Irish nationalist parties support this demand. To do anything less would be to betray the best interests of the Irish people.”
In Belfast, Martin McGuinness said the decision to “drag us out” of the European Union had “nothing to do with issues around the European institutions and everything to do with the civil war within the British Tory party”.
“The people of the north of Ireland, nationalists, republicans, unionists and others have made it clear at the polls that they wish to remain in the EU.
“The British government now need to take account of that and recognise that reality and allow the people of the north to have their say on their own future.
“Dragging us out of Europe will be to the detriment of all our citizens and will be bad for business, trade, investment, and wider society
“I, and all Sinn Fein ministers will work to ensure the political institutions remain on a stable footing but it is very difficult to put detailed contingencies in place until we know the extent of the impact of Brexit on our finances, our infrastructure and health services.
“All of that is still subject to a negotiation but the fact is that we are in unchartered waters.
“Sinn Fein will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Irish government, the European institutions and also with our counterparts in Scotland to discuss how we move forward in the best interests of all of our people.”