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Brexit: International Reaction

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Brexit: International Reaction

Britain has this morning made an historic decision: To divorce from the European Union and ‘take back control’ of its economy, borders and sovereignty. Leaders and figureheads from around the world are reacting to the result of the referendum on television and social media, here’s what they have to say:

Joint statement by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Council President Donald Tusk, European Parliament President Martin Schulz, and Dutch PM Mark Rutte:

“We now expect the United Kingdom government to give effect to this decision of the British people as soon as possible, however painful that process may be. Any delay would unnecessarily prolong uncertainty”.
“We hope to have the UK as a close partner of the EU also in the future.”


Angela Merkel has offered a statement, saying that “We take note of the British people’s decision with regret. There is no doubt that this is a blow to Europe and to the European unification process”.

Ms Merkel said that because of its history, Germany has “a particular interest and a particular responsibility” to make European unity a success.

Earlier, two senior German politicians have made comments on Twitter this morning in light of the result.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Foreign Minister
“The news from Britain is really sobering. It looks like a sad day for Europe and Britain.”

Sigmar Gabriel, German Vice-Chancellor
“Damn! A bad day for Europe.”

Carsten Brzeski, chief economist for German retail bank ING-Diba tweeted a picture of the Frankfurt skyline this morning captioned: “New financial heart of Europe?”


President Obama says he “respects” the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, and says that the relationship between the UK and USA is “enduring”.

He added that both the UK and the EU would remain “indispensable partners” of the USA.

Presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said this afternoon that “Our first task has to be to make sure that the economic uncertainty created by these events does not hurt working families here in America”.

Whereas Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump said that “The UK had taken back control. It is a great thing”.


President Francois Hollande has called an emergency meeting following Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.

In a televised address to his nation, President Hollande said “The British vote is a tough test for Europe”.

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Gerard Araud, French ambassador to the US said:
“Now to the other Members states to save the EU from unravelling which excludes business as usual, especially in Brussels. Reform or die!”

The leader of the French National Front Marine Le Pen, and her nephew Marion Le Pen hailed the result a “Victory!”,calling for a French exit or ‘Frexit’ from, the EU

“It is now time to import democracy in our country. The French should have the right to choose”

Ireland Taoiseach Enda Kenny said in a statement this morning that “I am very sorry that the result of the referendum is for the UK to leave the European Union”. He added that Ireland would “do our utmost” to maintain a pre-EU agreement of an open borders for travellers, goods and services.

Ireland views the UK as an important trading partner and will want to maintain historical links. However some argue that these might be threatened by the need for a ‘hard’ border between the two nations. The Republic is the only land border with the UK, and there is an agreement in place which allows citizens to travel over the border from Northern Ireland to the Republic, and vice versa, without interruption or passport checks.


Finnish foreign minister and fervent eurosceptic Finns party leader Timo Soini said the result must be respected and that any “retaliation” in future negotiations between the UK and EU must be ruled out.
“The nation has had its say,” he wrote on a Finns party blog “Any retaliation and whinge is out of the question.”


Prime Minister Rutte put his name to the statement issued by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Council President Donald Tusk, European Parliament President Martin Schulz, at the top of this page.

Elsewhere in Dutch politics, Geert Wilders, head of the eurosceptic Freedom Party in Holland Tweeted early this morning: “Hurrah for the British! Now it is our turn. Time for a Dutch referendum!”

Czech Republic

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the European Union must change quickly to support its citizens.

The European Union must change quickly. 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.


No official word from the government yet, although Mateo Salvini, leader of Italy’s anti-immigration Northern League, had this to say:

“Hurrah for the courage of free citizens! Heart, brain and pride defeated lies, threats and blackmail.
THANK YOU UK, now it’s our turn.”


Nothing from the Austrian PM yet, however, Sebastian Kurz, Austrian Foreign Minister warned that:
“A domino effect on other countries cannot be ruled out.”
Adding, that the EU as a whole ‘would survive’.


The Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel made a statement this morning, saying that EU members should meet to “define priorities and set out a new future for Europe”.


No comment from Obama, or Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton, although Donald Trump – who is in Scotland – has reportedly commented that Brexit is a ‘great thing’.


Malcolm Turnbull, Australian Prime Minister had this to say:
“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.”