UK votes to leave EU; PM David Cameron announces resignation
Decades after joining the European Union, more than 17 million voters in the United Kingdom have opted to leave. FSRN’s Andrew Connelly reports from London.
The vote was tight – Leave won with 52 percent to Remain’s 48. The pound dropped to its lowest level since 1985, the country is now in a constitutional crisis, and Prime Minister David Cameron has already announced his resignation:
“I’m very proud and very honored to have been Prime Minister of this country for six years,” Cameron said. “I believe we’ve 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’m grateful to everyone who’s helped to make that happen.”
The vote exposed deep demographic fractures in the country. The provincial working class shouted to leave; the urbanite, university graduates begged to stay.
Those who wanted Brexit the least will have to live with it the longest. Three- quarters of 18-24 year olds voted to Remain. Largely a plebiscite on migration policy, areas with large immigrant populations also voted to stay.
Britain is the first to leave the EU, but may well not be the last. Within hours of the result, right-wing populist leaders Marine Le Pen of the Front Nationale in France, and Geert Wilders of the Freedom Party in the Netherlands both announced their hope for similar referendums.
Meanwhile, the majority in Scotland voted in favor of staying in the EU. Seizing the opportunity, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said a second referendum on Scottish independence will certainly be on the table.
Northern Ireland also showed strong pro-EU sentiment, and Sinn Fein Chairman Declan Kearney has re-opened the debate on reuniting the north with the Republic of Ireland.
And thousands have even taken to Twitter, demanding that London hold its own vote on independence.
The European project has suffered the biggest defeat in its post-war lifetime. The coming months and years will see the tortuous disentanglement of the United Kingdom from Europe, and some say perhaps even disintegrate in the process.