David Cameron, the prime minister of Britain, will resign in the wake of a UK vote to leave the European Union in a country-wide referendum.
Speaking in front of Number 10 Downing Street at 8:15 am on Friday (June 24), Cameron said that would step down as leader of the Conservative party and the country in the coming months, making way for a new prime minister in October, after a “period of stability.”
“I’m very proud and very honored to have been prime minister of this country for six years,” he said. “But the British people have made a very clear decision to take a different path, and as such I think the country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction.”
Cameron and his government arranged the referendum, to placate a faction of his party and others demanding a review of the UK’s membership in the European trading bloc, during last year’s general election. But the prime minister was adamant that he did not want to leave the EU, and was the most prominent figure in the “remain” campaign. Finally 52% of the country voted to leave, and 48% to stay.
“I will do everything I can as prime minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months,” he said. “But I do not think it would be right for me to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.”
He assured British people living in the EU, and EU citizens living in Britain, that there “will be no immediate change in your circumstances.”
He also swept away any thought that the government might not implement the results of the referendum, which is not binding. “There can be no doubt about the result,” Cameron said. “The British people have voted to leave the European Union, and their will must be respected,” he said.
“I love this country, and I feel honored to have served it,” Cameron said, his voice breaking. “And I will do everything I can in future to help this great country succeed.”
There has been speculation that George Osborne, the UK chancellor and David Cameron’s closest ally, may also resign.
Contenders for the job of the next leader of Britain include Theresa May, the current home secretary, and Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London, who became a prominent member of the “leave” campaign recently.