Six European Union foreign ministers meeting in Berlin are pressing the U.K. to make a quick exit from the bloc. This comes a day after referendum results showed that Britain has voted to leave the EU.
Representatives from the six founding member countries – France, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg and Italy – were huddled in crisis mode at the meeting to plan the bloc’s future course without the U.K., as NPR’s Eleanor Beardsley tells our Newscast Unit.
“There is a certain urgency … so that we don’t have a period of uncertainty, with financial consequences, political consequences,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said while flanked by the other ministers in Berlin, The Associated Press reported. They’re calling for quick negotiations “to avoid prolonged financial and political insecurity for the continent,” the wire service adds.
As Eleanor reports, during this display of unity, “German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says he is confident the EU would weather the shock of the British vote.”
On Wednesday, 27 EU heads of state will meet to discuss “the political and practical implications of ‘Brexit’,” according to European Council President Donald Tusk. It will be the bloc’s first major meeting without Britain.
But even as EU officials push for the U.K. to make a speedy exit, “leaders of the victorious exit campaign insist they will not act with haste in withdrawing from the EU,” Larry Miller tells our Newscast unit.
“It is vital to stress that there is now no need for haste,” said former London Mayor Boris Johnson, who is a vocal supporter of the “leave” campaign, the AP reports.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who resigned after the results were announced, has indicated that he intends to have his successor begin the formal process of leaving the EU, as we have reported. That means it will likely start in October, when Cameron’s term is finished.
Scottish political leaders are also meeting Saturday “to discuss whether they now want a referendum on leaving the U.K. — in order to join the EU as an independent country,” as Larry reports. In Scotland, 63 percent of voters favored remaining in the EU. As we reported, the vote result has revived new tensions between the nations that comprise the U.K.
And as global markets continue to reel at the news, credit ratings agency Moody’s says it has downgraded the U.K. from stable to negative. The referendum results “will herald a prolonged period of uncertainty for the UK, with negative implications for the country’s medium-term growth outlook,” Moody’s says in a statement. Here’s more:
“During the several years in which the UK will have to renegotiate its trade relations with the EU, Moody’s expects heightened uncertainty, diminished confidence and lower spending and investment to result in weaker growth. Over the longer term, should the UK not be able to secure a favourable alternative trade arrangement with the EU and other countries, the UK’s growth prospects would be materially weaker than currently expected.”
In the U.K., supporters of the ‘remain’ campaign have gathered more than 1,400,000 signatures on a petition calling for another vote. That means it has surpassed the number needed for Parliament to consider the petition for debate by more than tenfold.
It reads: “We the undersigned call upon HM Government to implement a rule that if the remain or leave vote is less than 60% based a turnout less than 75% there should be another referendum.”
As NPR’s Peter Kenyon tells our Newscast unit, “Thursday’s vote met neither criterion, but applying these rules retroactively is seen as unlikely.”