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Brexit divorce ‘not amicable’ but must be quick: European Commission chief Juncker

world Updated: Jun 25, 2016 14:01 IST
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A person holds European country flags in an hand and a United Kingdom flag in another on June 25, 2016 in Lille, northern France. (AFP)

Britain was under pressure on Saturday to set out a quick timetable for a divorce from the European Union after the country’s historic vote to leave the bloc sent shockwaves around the world.

Global stock markets plunged on Friday, and sterling saw its biggest one day drop in history after Britons voted by 52-48 percent to exit the EU, which it joined more than 40 years ago.

Ratings agency Moody’s downgraded its outlook for Britain, saying its creditworthiness was now at greater risk as the country would face substantial challenges to successfully negotiating its exit from the bloc.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he wanted to begin negotiating Britain’s departure immediately.

“Britons decided yesterday that they want to leave the European Union, so it doesn’t make any sense to wait until October to try to negotiate the terms of their departure,” Juncker told Germany’s ARD television station.

“It is not an amicable divorce but it was also not an intimate love affair,” he said.

“It is not a good day for Britain and the European Union but we must go on.”

Prime Minister David Cameron announced on Friday he would resign after leading the failed campaign to stay in the bloc, and said someone else should take the lead in negotiating the unprecedented and complicated extrication.

He suggested his replacement would be in place by October. That person could be his Conservative Party rival Boris Johnson, the former London mayor who became the most recognisable face of the Leave camp and who is now favourite to succeed him.

Britain’s decision to leave the EU is the biggest blow since World War Two to the European project of forging greater unity.

The United Kingdom itself could also now break apart, with the nationalist leader of Scotland, where nearly two-thirds of voters wanted to stay in the EU, saying a new referendum on independence from the rest of Britain was “highly likely”.

Scottish government ministers were meeting on Saturday to decide their next move.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet French, German and Italian leaders in Berlin on Monday to discuss future steps, and the foreign ministers of Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, will meet on Saturday morning.

Read: What next? European leaders to discuss EU future after Brexit shock

Full coverage: Britain EU referendum

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