Europe faces a period of turmoil as UK voters have chosen to leave the European Union.
Calm call after EU vote
As the people's decision in the European Referendum became clear in the early hours of Friday (June 24), the pound suffered its greatest single day fall in 30 years, to a level not seen since 1985.
The chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz MP called it “a terrible day for Britain, a terrible day for Europe with immense consequences”.
At 6am the Leave campaign had secured victory with 52 per cent of the vote.
It received one million more votes than the Remain side; 16.8 million people had voted to leave the EU against 15.7 million to stay.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage hailed the result “a victory for real people, a victory for ordinary people and a victory for decent people”.
Some commentators predict a domino effect, resulting in political and economic instability as right wing, nationalist parties across Europe seek referendums, seeing their poll ratings soar.
The leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, Geert Wilders, said: "Hurrah for the British! Now it is our turn. Time for a Dutch referendum".
Marine Le Pen, the leader of the French National Front, tweeted: "A victory for Freedom,"
"We now need the same referendum in France and in EU nations."
The markets reacted as soon as the first votes were announced at around midnight on Thursday, showing the Leave campaign doing better than expected.
By 6am sterling was down five per cent against the euro and at one point reaching 1.33 US dollars (down ten per cent).
And the UK's financial credit rating was also threatened. Moritz Kramer, chief ratings officer for Standard & Poors, told the FT on Friday morning that the UK's AAA rating was "untenable under the circumstances".
Eyes are focused on the City where trading opens at 7am.
MPs on all sides called for calm and stability. Senior Leave campaigner Dr Liam Fox said it will take some time to untangle the UK and called on the Prime Minister to make an announcement that he will stay in office to lead negotiations.
He said there should be “a period of calm, a period of reflection, to let it all sink in and understand what all the technicalities are”.
David Cameron could step down, many have questioned his ability to lead negotiations with European partners. His former director of communications Andy Coulson said he is pondering resignation.
Labour MP John Mann said: “Yesterday he was a lame duck Prime Minister, today he is a dead duck Prime Minister.”
The Prime Minister must now decide whether to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to instigate the process of exiting the EU, or whether to enter discussions to find an alternative route to leaving.
These discussions will include important negotiations on extradition arrangements, data sharing agreements and participation in major European institutions, such as what the relationship will be with Europol whose director is British.
National Police Chiefs’ Council Vice-Chair, Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt said operational cooperation with Europe must be maintained as the UK leaves the EU.
“Ahead of the EU referendum, we stated our need to work closely and at speed with European countries to keep people in the UK safe from organised crime, cyberattack, terrorism or violent offenders,” he said.
“It is now for the Government to negotiate the terms of our relationship with Europe but we will work with them to ensure we retain our ability to share intelligence, biometrics and other data at speed and to work with foreign police forces on linked investigations, enquiries and arrests.”
Director General of the National Crime Agency Lynne Owens said: “The NCA works with partners in over 150 countries because organised crime is not constrained by geographical or jurisdictional boundaries.
“To tackle it effectively we must be able to cooperate closely and share intelligence in an agile way. If it cannot be met through EU mechanisms we will find others.
“For now, ongoing operations against international crime threats continue as before. We will be working closely with government to understand what the implications of exit will be for us, and to plan the steps we need to take with our law enforcement partners to keep people in the UK safe.”
Further updates and comment to follow.