YESTERDAY British capitalism was rocked to its core as the consequences of the massive Brexit vote to leave the EU emerged.
Tory leader Cameron visited the Queen to confirm his decision to resign as prime minister after his defeat in the EU referendum. Earlier, in a statement to reporters outside 10, Downing Street, he said: ‘The British people have voted to leave the European Union and their will must be respected.’
He added: ‘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 … 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 … 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…
‘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.’
Boris Johnson, the ex-London mayor and public face of Vote Leave, was shaken by Cameron’s demise. Treating Cameron as a fallen hero, he said, ‘I want to begin by paying tribute to David Cameron who has spoken earlier from Downing Street, and I know I speak for Michael (Gove) when I say how sad I am that he has decided to step down but obviously I respect that decision.’
Johnson added: ‘It was his bravery that gave this country the first referendum on the European Union for 43 years … Some people are now saying that was wrong and that people should never have been asked in that way. I disagree, it was entirely right and inevitable and there is no way of dealing with a decision on this scale except by putting it to the people.’
Johnson insisted that, ‘In voting to leave the EU, it is vital to stress there is no need for haste, and as the prime minister has said, nothing will change in the short term except how to give effect to the will of the people and to extricate this country from the supranational system. There is no need to invoke Article 50.
‘And to those who may be anxious both at home and abroad, this does not mean that the United Kingdom will be in anyway less united, it does not mean it will be any less European.’
The Tory party is to elect a new leader at its October conference, but many consider that by then there could be two or more Tory parties.SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon issued a warning yesterday. She said: ‘I intend to take all possible steps and explore all possible options to give effect to how people in Scotland voted – in other words to secure our continuing place in the EU, and in the single market in particular.
‘It is, therefore, a statement of the obvious that a second (Scottish independence) referendum must be on the table, and it is on the table.’ She said of London mayor Sadiq Khan: ‘I have also spoken this morning with mayor Sadiq Khan and he is clear that he shares this objective for London, so there is clear common cause between us.’
Khan’s office confirmed that he had talked to Sturgeon about the need for Scotland and London to be involved in Brexit negotiations and for a special status for London.