BRITAIN’s departure from the European Union will be led by a new Prime Minister after David Cameron gave notice of his intention to quit today.
Speaking in Downing Street, Mr Cameron said he had told the Queen of his plan to stand down by the time of the Conservative Party conference in the autumn.
Mr Cameron made clear he would leave it to his successor to trigger the formal process of Britain’s departure negotiations.
His decision not to stand down immediately appeared designed to reassure markets already rocking from the overnight vote to leave the EU.
The Prime Minister defended his decision to call a referendum and said the country needed “new leadership” in the light of voters’ verdict.
He said: “I will do everything I can as Prime Minister to steady the ship in the coming weeks and months but I do not think it would be right for me to try and be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.
“This is not a decision I have taken lightly but I do believe it is in the national interest to have a period of stability and then the new leadership required.”
In the aftermath of sterling’s overnight plunge to a 30 year low, Mr Cameron stressed the British economy was “fundamentally strong”.
Watched by wife Samantha, Mr Cameron said the Brexit discussions with the EU would require “strong, determined and committed leadership”.
Explaining his decision to call the referendum, Mr Cameron said he believed in confronting big decisions which was why he had also entered into coalition with the Lib Dems in 2010 and allowed Scotland to decide its future.
He continued: “I fought this campaign in the only way I know how, which is to say directly and passionately what I think and feel, head, heart and soul. I held nothing back.”
The Prime Minister said the British people had made a “very clear decision” to ignore his pleas to vote Remain and new leadership was needed.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: “12 months ago David Cameron had the best result of his career. Today, the worst.
“I was honoured to share a platform with the Prime Minster on this campaign, but this result, this self-inflicted wound, will be his legacy.
“There have been many things I did not agree with the Prime Minister on, but I must thank him for his stewardship of the country and for the way he took the very bold decision to create a Coalition Government in 2010. It was an incredible act of bi-partisan cooperation.
“The result of the referendum has left him with no choice. In this immediate period, the Government must act quickly to steady the economy, reassure the markets, and immediately set a new course.
“Greater instability will lead to job uncertainty, falling investment, and greater pressure on public services.
“There is no doubt this is going to be an incredibly testing, difficult and fractious time.
“David Cameron has become the latest Conservative leader to fall victim to his party’s dangerous obsession with Europe. The Conservative’s political maneuvering has taken our country to the brink, and today we have toppled over the edge.”
Green MP Caroline Lucas said: “David Cameron was right to announce his resignation this morning – and indicate that Article 50 will be invoked by the next Prime Minister. The country needs a period of calm over the next few months to lessen the economic impact of brexit on working people up and down the country.”