David Cameron resigns as Prime Minister after Brexit vote
- Credit: PA
David Cameron has announced he will quit as Prime Minister by October after a humiliating defeat in the referendum which ended with a vote for Britain to leave the European Union.
The Prime Minister announced his decision outside 10 Downing Street minutes after the markets opened with carnage in the City of London.
More than £100 billion was wiped off the FTSE 100 as the index fell more than 7%, while the pound also crashed 8% against the US dollar.
Flanked by wife Samantha, Mr Cameron said he had informed the Queen of his decision to remain in place for the short term, but hand over to a new Prime Minister by the time of the Conservative annual conference.
'The British people have voted to leave the European Union and their will must be respected,' said Mr Cameron. 'The will of the British people is an instruction that must be delivered.'
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His voice breaking, Mr Cameron said: 'I love this country and I feel honoured to have served it and I will do everything I can in future to help this great country succeed.'
Mr Cameron said he accepted the decision of the electorate, which voted by 52% to 48% to quit the EU.
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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 trade relationship with the UK's former partners.
'The country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction,' said Mr Cameron. '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.'
Our region's MP's have reaction to news of Cameron's resignation.
Elizabeth Truss MP for South West Norfolk and Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said in a statement: 'I was saddened to hear the Prime Minister announce his departure. His statement was dignified and honourable.
'He has done a great job of moving the UK forward and the next Prime Minister will inherit a dynamic and driven country.'
Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman praised Cameron for his work as Prime Minister in a series of tweets following his resignation speech.
He said: 'The PM @David_Cameron at his statesmanlike best. So sad to see him go. A great man, democrat, patriot and Conservative of huge integrity.
'The inevitable result. Hugely honourable + statesmanlike announcement from the PM. So sad to see this.'
Great Yarmouth MP and Housing Minister Brandon Lewis tweeted: 'V sad @David_Cameron is stepping down. His speech showed his class. As PM he's taken us from economic abyss to growth & record job numbers.'
His announcement will trigger a battle for the Conservative leadership - and the keys to Number 10 - likely to feature Brexit standard-bearer Boris Johnson taking on figures such as Home Secretary Theresa May, who took a low profile in the referendum campaign.
The Prime Minister's statement on the outcome of the referendum on the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union:
The country has just taken part in a giant democratic exercise – perhaps the biggest in our history. Over 33 million people – from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar – have all had their say.
We should be proud of the fact that in these islands we trust the people with these big decisions.
We not only have a parliamentary democracy, but on questions about the arrangements for how we are governed, there are times when it is right to ask the people themselves - and that is what we have done.
The British people have voted to leave the European Union and their will must be respected.
I want to thank everyone who took part in the campaign on my side of the argument, including all those who put aside party differences to speak in what they believed was the national interest.
And let me congratulate all those who took part in the leave campaign – for the spirited and passionate case that they made.
The will of the British people is an instruction that must be delivered. It was not a decision that was taken lightly, not least because so many things were said by so many different organisations about the significance of this decision.
So there can be no doubt about the result.
Across the world people have been watching the choice that Britain has made. I would reassure those markets and investors that Britain's economy is fundamentally strong.
And I would also reassure Brits living in European countries and European citizens living here that there will be no immediate changes in your circumstances. There will be no initial change in the way our people can travel, in the way our goods can move or the way our services can be sold.
We must now prepare for a negotiation with the European Union. 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.
But above all this will require strong, determined and committed leadership.
I am very proud and very honoured to have been Prime Minister of this country for six years.
I believe we have made great steps, with more people in work than ever before in our history; with reforms to welfare and education; increasing people's life chances; building a bigger and stronger society; keeping our promises to the poorest people in the world, and enabling those who love each other to get married whatever their sexuality.
But above all restoring Britain's economic strength, and I am grateful to everyone who has helped to make that happen.
I have also always believed that we have to confront big decisions – not duck them.
That's why we delivered the first Coalition government in seventy years to bring our economy back from the brink. It's why we delivered a fair, legal and decisive referendum in Scotland. And why I made the pledge to renegotiate Britain's position in the European Union and hold a referendum on our membership, and have carried those things out.
I fought this campaign in the only way I know how – which is to say directly and passionately what I think and feel – head, heart and soul.
I held nothing back.
I was absolutely clear about my belief that Britain is stronger, safer and better off inside the European Union, and I made clear the referendum was about this and this alone – not the future of any single politician, including myself.
But the British people have made a very clear decision to take a different path, and as such 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.
This is not a decision I have taken lightly, but I do believe it is in the national interest to have a period of stability and then the new leadership required.
There is no need for a precise timetable today, but in my view we should aim to have a new Prime Minister in place by the start of the Conservative Party Conference in October.
Delivering stability will be important and I will continue in post as Prime Minister with my Cabinet for the next three months. The Cabinet will meet on Monday.
The Governor of the Bank of England is making a statement about the steps that the Bank and the Treasury are taking to reassure financial markets. We will also continue taking forward the important legislation that we set before Parliament in the Queen's Speech. And I have spoken to Her Majesty the Queen this morning to advise her of the steps that I am taking.
A negotiation with the European Union will need to begin under a new Prime Minister, and I think it is right that this new Prime Minister takes the decision about when to trigger article 50 and start the formal and legal process of leaving the EU.
I will attend the European Council next week to explain the decision the British people have taken and my own decision.
The British people have made a choice. That not only needs to be respected – but those on the losing side of the argument, myself included, should help to make it work.
Britain is a special country.
We have so many great advantages.
A parliamentary democracy where we resolve great issues about our future through peaceful debate; a great trading nation, with our science and arts, our engineering and our creativity respected the world over.
And while we are not perfect, I do believe we can be a model of a multi-racial, multi-faith democracy, where people can come and make a contribution and rise to the very highest that their talent allows.
Although leaving Europe was not the path I recommended, I am the first to praise our incredible strengths. I have said before that Britain can survive outside the European Union and indeed that we could find a way.
Now the decision has been made to leave, we need to find the best way, and I will do everything I can to help.
I love this country – and I feel honoured to have served it.
And I will do everything I can in future to help this great country succeed.