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British Prime Minister David Cameron resigns in wake of U.K. vote to leave the EU

The Tory leader falls on his own sword.

British Prime Minister David Cameron announcing his resignation in front of 10 Downing Street
Dan Kitwood / Getty

British Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that he is stepping down just hours after the U.K. voted to leave the European Union.

Cameron is widely considered responsible for allowing the referendum to take place, having bowed to pressure from politicians in his own party and other parties further to the right. Speaking to a crowd of reporters on Friday morning, Cameron said that he believes the country needs “fresh leadership.”

The next prime minister, who Cameron says should be elected by October, will be the person who will actually initiate and negotiate the process by which the U.K. would formally leave the EU.

Although Thursday’s referendum was not technically legally binding, the political mandate of the popular vote (in a 70 percent turnout election) is likely too much for Parliament to resist.

Across the world, the damage of the referendum is being felt. The U.S. markets are expected to open around 700 below Thursday’s close, and the value of the pound has sunk to its lowest levels since 1985.

Leaders in Northern Ireland and Scotland, which both overwhelmingly voted for the U.K. to remain in the EU, now say they want independence referendums so that they may reenter the EU.

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