World

Brexit must start immediately, EU leaders say

Amid the reactions pouring in after Britain's vote to leave the European Union, European Parliament leaders say the country must launch the process of leaving the union immediately and allow the rest of the bloc to forge ahead with a greater union.

French far right touts 'Frexit,' Austrian chancellor downplays talk of domino effect after referendum

Comments from EU, Germany, France and Donald Trump 1:24

Amid the reactions pouring in Friday morning after Britain's vote to leave the European Union, European Parliament leaders said the country must launch the process of leaving the union immediately and allow the rest of the bloc to forge ahead with a greater union.

Manfred Weber, head of the largest political group in the assembly, the centre-right European People's Party, called on British Prime Minister David Cameron to trigger Britain's exit at an EU summit on Tuesday, and to start leave negotiations immediately.

"We have the will of the British people on the table," Weber told reporters, saying it now had to be implemented "and the most important thing is that we do this very quickly."

Reactions from other countries, organizations and political figures around the world included:

France

There is now more talk of a "Frexit."

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen said pro-independence movements in the European Parliament will meet soon to plan their next move.

France's National Front Leader Marine Le Pen said other pro-independence movements in the European Parliament will meet soon to plan their next move. (Reuters)

With a broad smile on her face, Le Pen said her National Front was the only political party in France to take the possibility of a British exit seriously, and she reiterated her call for a similar referendum in France, calling it "a democratic necessity."

French President François Hollande said Britain's vote seriously challenged the EU, and that the union must focus on key priorities like security and defence, border protection and job creation.

"The British vote is a tough test for Europe," Hollande said in a televised address.

Hollande says EU remains strong 0:23

Scotland

The Brexit vote has reignited talk of Scottish independence. The country is now "highly likely" to hold a second independence referendum, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Friday, adding she would do what was necessary to secure a place in the EU.

"It is a statement of the obvious that the option of a second referendum must be on the table, and it is on the table," she told reporters.

"I think an independence referendum is now highly likely," she added.

Scotland, which held its previous independence referendum in 2014, voted 62 per cent to 38 per cent to remain in the EU in Thursday's referendum, putting it at odds with Britain as a whole, which voted 52-48 per cent in favour of Leave.

Nicola Sturgeon threatens new independence referendum 0:38

Northern Ireland 

Sinn Fein also wants Northern Ireland to vote on leaving Britain. After 56 per cent of Northern Irish voters sought to remain in the EU, the region's largest nationalist party called on Friday for another referendum — to unite the six counties of the north with the Irish Republic in the south, which is part of the EU.

London "now has no democratic mandate to represent the views of the north," Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness told national Irish broadcaster RTE.

The call was rebuffed by pro-British First Minister Arlene Foster and Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, who said there were much more serious issues to deal with.

Sinn Fein calls for Irish unification following Brexit 0:48

NATO

NATO's chief says a Brexit shouldn't affect Britain's status as a reliable and key member of the U.S.-led military alliance.

"As it defines the next chapter in its relationship with the EU, I know that the United Kingdom's position in NATO will remain unchanged," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday in a statement. "The U.K. will remain a strong and committed NATO ally, and will continue to play its leading role in our alliance."

Russia

Vladimir Putin said the result is "understandable" in light of the economic and security issues. 

"No one wants to feed and subsidize weaker economies," the Russian president said, adding people are "apparently dissatisfied with the resolution of security issues, which has become more acute against the background of powerful migration processes."

Russia's President Vladimir Putin said Britain's vote to leave the EU is 'understandable.' (Alexander Zemlianichenko/Reuters)

Austria

Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern downplayed talk of other countries leaving the EU. Kern said he does not expect a "domino effect" of similar referendums, adding that his country would not hold a similar vote of its own.

"I do not fear a domino effect," Kern said in a statement to reporters on Friday. "Europe will lose status and significance in the world because of Britain's step. The long-term economic effects will also be felt for some time."

Canada 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada will continue to work with both Britain and the EU "as they forge a new relationship." 

"We are well positioned to weather global market uncertainty as we have done in the past," Trudeau said in a statement.

U.S.

Remarks made to Global Entrepreneurship Summit at Stanford University 1:32

President Barack Obama said the "special relationship" between the U.S. and Britain will endure, as will Washington's ties with the EU.

"The United Kingdom and the European Union will remain indispensable partners of the United States, even as they begin negotiating their ongoing relationship to ensure continued stability, security, and prosperity," Obama said in a statement. 

During a speech at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., Obama said he had spoken with Prime Minister David Cameron, who told Obama the U.K. wants "an orderly transition out of the EU."

In his address to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, Obama said Britain leaving the EU is one example of the "dramatic shifts" in world economies and a reminder that "businesses don't stop at borders."

Obama's would-be successor Hillary Clinton also stressed the importance of U.S.-British relations, while her Republican rival Donald Trump said the vote reflects anxieties about immigration that are felt in both countries. 

"People are angry, all over the world," Trump said during a news conference at one of his golf courses in Scotland. "They're angry over borders, they're angry over people coming into the country and taking over. Nobody even knows who they are."

Trump voices support for Brexit 0:23

Germany

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the European Union is strong enough to find the "right answers" to Britain's vote to leave the bloc.

Merkel said Friday that Germany has a "special interest" and a "special responsibility" in European unity succeeding. She said she has invited EU president Donald Tusk, Hollande and Italian Premier Matteo Renzi to a meeting in Berlin on Monday ahead of a previously scheduled EU summit.

Merkel told reporters in Berlin that Europe shouldn't draw "quick and simple conclusions" from the referendum that would only create further divisions.

She voiced "great regret" at the British decision to leave the EU and said the bloc must aim for a "close" future relationship with Britain. She emphasized that the country remains an EU member with "all rights and obligations" on both sides until negotiations are complete.

Merkel says decision is of historical importance 0:23

With files from The Associated Press and CBC News