There were various reactions from world leaders shortly after the referendum favoured Britain’s leaving the European Union
European Union President
Donald Tusk, European Union President, said the bloc will meet without Britain at summit next week to assess its future. “We are determined to keep our unity as 27 … I will propose that we start a period of wider reflection on the future of our union,” he said, adding: “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”
The special relationship between the UK and the US is “enduring”, President Barack Obama said in his first response to Britain’s vote to leave the EU.
“The people of the United Kingdom have spoken, and we respect their decision,” the US president said.
“The special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is enduring, and the United Kingdom’s membership in Nato remains a vital cornerstone of US foreign, security, and economic policy. So too is our relationship with the European Union, which has done so much to promote stability, stimulate economic growth, and foster the spread of democratic values and ideals across the continent and beyond.”
He added that the UK and the EU would remain “indispensable partners of the United States even as they begin negotiating their ongoing relationship to ensure continued stability, security, and prosperity for Europe, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the world”.
The Australian prime minister was the first world leader to comment on the outcome of the British referendum.
Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull said he was “confident” that his country’s negotiations towards a free trade agreement with the EU will continue.
“The impact on Australia immediately, directly, from a legal point of view, will be very limited because it will take some years for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, to negotiate an exit. However, we’ve seen already large falls on stock markets and there will be a degree of uncertainty for some time.”
Laurence Fabius, the French foreign minister, said: “I am sad for the United Kingdom. Europe continues, but she must react and rediscover the confidence of the people. It is urgent.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin, currently on an official visit to China, did not make any comment Friday morning. His spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “Brexit is the internal affair of Great Britain and a question of the relationship between Great Britain and the EU,” RIA Novosti reported.
But Russian officials said that the Brexit vote will likely weaken EU’s resolve on sanctions imposed on Russia over the 2014 Ukraine crisis. Britain was one of the strongest backers of the sanctions, which were seen in London as an important measure to curb Moscow’s imperial ambitions.
“Without Britain in the European Union there is no-one to so eagerly defend sanctions against us,” tweeted Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the European Union must change quickly not just because Britain has voted to leave the bloc but to strengthen support for its citizens.
Sobotka said the British vote did not mean the end of the EU and the bloc should agree Britain’s leaving “quickly and rationally”.
“The European Union must change quickly,” he said on his Facebook page. “Not because Britain has left, but because the European project needs much stronger support of its citizens. Europe must be more ready to act, be flexible, less bureaucratic and much more sensible to the diversity that the 27 member states represent.”
Germany’s Foreign Ministry has tweeted that this is “a sad day for Europe” and that the news from Britain was “very sobering:”
FM #Steinmeier: The early morning news from #GreatBritain are truly sobering. It looks like a sad day for #Europe+the #UnitedKingdom. #UK
— GermanForeignOffice (@GermanyDiplo) 24 June 2016
Manfred Weber, a senior German conservative MEP and a close ally of Angela Merkel, has warned Britain will receive “no special treatment” and must leave the EU within two years.
He writes in four tweets: “We respect and regret the decision of the British voters. It causes major damage to both sides. This was a British vote, not a European vote. Co-operation within Europe is a question of self-assertion of the continent.
“We want a better and smarter Europe. We have to convince the people and bring Europe back to them.
“Exit negotiations should be concluded within two years at max. There cannot be any special treatment. Leave means leave.”
Wir respektieren und bedauern die Entscheidung der britischen Wähler. Sie verursacht großen Schaden für beide Seiten. #Brexit 1/4
— Manfred Weber (@ManfredWeber) 24 June 2016
Danish PM Lars Lokke Rasmussen said in a statement “We must respect the choice that a majority of the British people have made. At the same time, I won’t hide the fact that I think it is a very sad result for Europe and for Denmark.”
He said, “It is now up to the British government to determine the next steps for Britain. I hope that Britain still wants to maintain close relations with the EU.
“The last three referendums in the UK, the Netherlands and Denmark should give pause for thought and action. In the population, there is a scepticism towards the EU. We must as decision-makers in the EU take this very seriously.”
Poland’s foreign minister said the British leave vote “is bad news for Europe and bad news for Poland.”
Britain leaving the EU would deprive Poland’s euro-sceptic of a key alley in Brussels, casts a huge cloud of uncertainty over the status of hundreds of thousands of Poles working in the UK.
“First it means destabilisation for the UK. There is a great dilemma for the euro-crats: we all want to keep the EU, but in what shape.”
Viktor Orban, the Hungarian Prime Minister, said Brussels must now listen to the voice of the people and that is “the biggest lesson” of the referendum.
“The British voters have spoken and that’s the way it is,” Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg told the NRK broadcaster.
“I think this will create a more introverted Europe, which will be concerned with finding solutions to organisational problems, instead of providing solutions to the issues voters really want addressed. How do we secure enough growth? How do we create jobs?”
Robert Fico, Prime Minister of Slovakia said, “Let’s realise that a great part of people living in Europe reject the EU’s migration policy, there is great dissatisfaction with the EU’s economic policy.
“It is up to us, the remaining 27 union member states, whether we find enough strength to say that fundamental policies of the EU must go through fundamental changes.”
Slovakia will take on the six-month presidency of the EU from next month.
Bohuslav Sobotka, Czech Prime Minister, “Britain’s decision is serious and irreversible.
“The EU has to change. Not because Britain left, but because the European project needs much stronger support from citizens.
“The EU is for us, the Czech Republic, the best possible guarantee of stability, peace and prosperity.”
Tavi Roivas, Prime Minister of Estonia said, “Deeply sad for the EU referendum result. We will go on and stay strong with 27, but EU will not be the same without Great Britain.”
Sebastian Kurz, Austrian Foreign Minister said, “A domino effect on other countries cannot be ruled out.”
He told Austrian radio that the EU as a whole would survive.
Mariano Rajoy, Prime Minister of Spain said, “Spain will remain committed to the EU.
“The EU is the area of greatest prosperity and wellbeing; we will continue building a better future between us.
“We need stability. Above all we will continue defending Spaniards’ interests and greater European integration.
“Spain now has a solid economic base in order to weather the financial turbulence which Brexit could cause. We are prepared.”
Fabian Picardo, Chief Minister of Gibraltar said, “We have surpassed greater challenges. It is time for unity, for calm & for rational thinking. Together & united we will continue to prosper.”
Charles Michel, Belgian Prime Minister said, EU members should meet to “define priorities and set out a new future for Europe”.
The Irish government said, “This result clearly has very significant implications for Ireland, as well as for Britain and for the European Union. The government will meet later this morning to reflect on the result. Following that meeting, the Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) will make a public statement.”
Mark Rutte, Dutch Prime Minister said, “The dissatisfaction you see in Britain is also present in other countries, including my own. This has to be a stimulus for more reform, more welfare.”
He said the withdrawal process would be lengthy. “First the British have to decide when they want to start the process of leaving.”
Alessandro Minuto-Rizzo, NATO Secretary General said, “The UK will remain a strong and committed NATO ally, and will continue to play its leading role in our Alliance.
“Today, as we face more instability and uncertainty, Nato is more important than ever as a platform for co-operation among European allies, and between Europe and North America. A strong, united and determined Nato remains an essential pillar of stability in a turbulent world, and a key contributor to international peace and security.
“The alliance remains committed to closer cooperation with the European Union.”
Dora Bakoyannis, Greek centre-right MP for the opposition New Democracy party said, “The cost of populism emerged today in all its glory. Mr Cameron is bearing great responsibility.
“It’s a hard day for Europe and an even harder day for the UK.”
Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine said, “It’s a pity, but we will have to mind our own business. I believe that regardless of the result of the referendum, Britain will stay in a united Europe to defend common European values.
“I think that today the most urgent challenge the European Union is facing is finding a way to the hearts and minds of Eurosceptics in order not to leave a single chance to opponents of the European integration project and their generous sponsors. I do hope that the sanctions again Russia as an aggressor state will be extended.”
Gianni Pittella, leader of the Socialist group in the European Parliament said, “This is a sad day for us, but we will respect the will of the British people. This is not a funeral for Europe. This can be a new start for Europe, and we will regain the confidence of the citizens.”
Timo Soini, leader of the eurosceptic Finns Party in Finland said, “The nation has had its say.”
Speaking of the negotiations that must come between the UK and the EU following this vote, he said: “Any retaliation and whinge is out of the question.”
Hua Chunying, Spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, said, “A prosperous Europe is in the interests of all parties and China is willing to keep co-operating with Britain and is fully confident in China-EU ties.”
She said the foreign ministry respects the choice of the British people.
Arun Jaitley, Indian Finance Minister said, “In this globalized world, volatility and uncertainty are the new norms. This verdict will obviously further contribute to such volatility not least because its full implications for the UK, Europe and the rest of the world are still uncertain.
“All countries around the world will have to brace themselves for a period of possible turbulence while being watchful about, and alert to, the referendum’s medium term impacts.”
Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore said, “The UK vote to leave the EU is a turning point.
“Other developed countries also face similar challenges as Britain. We all live in a globalised, interdependent world. The desire to disengage, to be less constrained by one’s partners, to be free to do things entirely as one chooses, is entirely understandable. And yet in reality for many countries, disengaging and turning inwards will likely lead to less security, less prosperity, and a dimmer future.
“Singapore will continue to cultivate our ties with Britain, which is a long standing friend and partner. We hope in time the uncertainty will diminish, and we will make the best of the new reality.”