UK Votes to Leave EU: The Latest
LONDON (AP) -- The Latest on Britain's historic vote to leave the European Union (all times local):
European Union leaders are warning Britain to leave the EU quickly and avoid prolonging uncertainty.
The presidents of the EU's main institutions said in a statement Friday that they expect London to act on the decision to leave "as soon as possible, however painful that process may be."
The four -- EU Council President Donald Tusk, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Parliament President Martin Schulz and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte -- said that "any delay would unnecessarily prolong uncertainty."
Prime Minister David Cameron has suggested that formal notification of Britain's departure might not come before October.
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen says pro-independence movements in the European Parliament will meet soon to plan their next move after the British vote to leave the European Union.
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."
"The British people have given to Europeans and to all the people of the world a shining lesson in democracy," Le Pen said.
Le Pen, who is a member of the European Parliament, is also positioning herself to run for president of France in elections next year.
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico says the EU will have to react quickly to Britain's decision to leave.
Fico, whose country is taking over the rotating EU presidency in July, says the bloc's key policies have to change.
In a Friday statement Fico says: "Huge numbers of people in the EU reject the EU's immigration policy, there's big disappointment with the economic policy."
Fico says the EU needs to be bold enough to say that those EU policies need "a fundamental change."
Fico is a vocal critic of the EU's approach to the migrant crisis, in particular to the plan to redistribute the refugees in member states.
He says that during the presidency, he is ready to provide room for informal debates on the bloc's future.
Poland's foreign minister says that if the model of a political form of the European Union keeps being pushed, the common European project may end in "catastrophe."
Witold Waszczykowski said Friday that European politicians should think more deeply about whether to continue pushing for a political form of the union.
"If there is a deeper reflection, a pause in the pushing of this French-German model, then the union will survive. But if the eurozone is forced, and the eurozone creates some new institutions, its own budget and treats the whole European Union as a facade, then it may all end in a catastrophe."
He said other countries may now use referendums to "blackmail the EU to win a change in their status."
The leader of the ALDE liberals in the European Parliament says it is necessary for Britain to officially declare its intention to leave the European Union and not wait until October when Prime Minister David Cameron has said he will step down.
Guy Verhofstadt said he found it "unacceptable ... that he is going to wait until October and let it to his successor."
Despite the referendum result, Britain can choose the moment when it officially tells its European partners that it will leave, officially kicking off a process that could take two years or longer.
"It would be possible that in the whole of 2016 there is no notification of the British decision, what is against the will of the British citizens," Verhofstadt said.
He warned that would only extend the market turbulence that started immediately after the results were known.
NATO's chief says the British vote to leave the European Union shouldn't affect its 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."
British voters' decision on Thursday to exit the 28-nation European Union sent shockwaves through Europe and around the world.
"Today, as we face more instability and uncertainty, NATO is more important than ever as a platform for cooperation among European allies, and between Europe and North America," Stoltenberg said. "A strong, united and determined NATO remains an essential pillar of stability in a turbulent world, and a key contributor to international peace and security."
The European Central Bank says it is "closely monitoring financial markets" in the wake of the British vote to leave the European Union.
The chief monetary authority for the 19 countries that use the euro currency says that it "stands ready" to provide additional credit to financial institutions if they need it to do business.
It also said it was staying in close contact with other central banks.
Otherwise the ECB did not immediately announce any new measures. The bank already provides short-term cheap credit to banks in any amount at regular intervals, and has pumped more cash into the system through a bond purchase program aimed at raising inflation.
The British vote shook up financial markets around the globe on Monday, leading to sharp falls in stocks and the British pound.
Switzerland's central bank says it has intervened in currency markets after the Swiss franc came "under upward pressure" following Britain's vote to leave the European Union.
The Swiss National Bank says in a brief statement Friday that it intervened in the foreign exchange market to "stabilize the situation" and will "remain active in that market."
The British referendum vote to leave the European bloc has caused turmoil in financial markets, driving many stock markets lower and currency exchanges reeling.
Joe Rundle, head of trading at ETX Capital, said in a note that the SNB move was aimed to "keep a lid on the franc after a flight to safety following the Brexit vote."
He said many central banks "could be forced into taking drastic action to stem outflows."
Germany's vice chancellor says the Brexit vote is a "chance for a new beginning" but that Europe must not return to business as usual.
Sigmar Gabriel, also Germany's Economy Minister, told Bild newspaper Friday "the exit of the United Kingdom is a shrill wakeup call for European politics. Whoever doesn't listen or takes refuge in the usual rituals drives Europe into a wall."
Gabriel says "we don't need 'more Europe," but a 'different Europe.'"
He says the message of the British voters is that politicians need to deal head-on with the problems facing the EU like high unemployment, the migrant crisis and social security issues.
He says the British "didn't vote against Europe, but against the way it's been configured up to now."
Spain's acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says his country has received Britain's decision to leave the European Union with sadness, adding that "it ought to make all member nations rethink."
Rajoy said he wished to transmit a message of "serenity and tranquility" to Spaniards and to businesses, markets and institutions, saying that now was not the moment to promote uncertainty despite the upset decision.
Madrid's benchmark Ibex 35 index followed the slide of other markets and was down more than 10 percent in early morning trading Friday.
Rajoy also said he wanted to send a message of calm to Spanish citizens in Britain and Britons in Spain, stressing that during the estimated period of two years it will take Britain to fully leave the bloc, their rights would remain unchanged.
He reiterated Spain's commitment to contribute toward greater EU economic and political unity, saying the bloc has provided the greatest period of peace, liberty and prosperity in the region ever.
Poland's Foreign Ministry says that Britain's decision is a "warning signal" of disillusionment that urges the European Union to reform in order to forestall any future divisions.
In a statement Friday after Britain's decision was officially announced, the ministry said that the "disillusionment with European integration and declining trust in the EU" can be seen in some other member nations, but they do not question the European project.
"It is imperative that we reform the EU by cutting red tape, increasing the democratic legitimacy of its decisions, and better adapting it to new challenges," the ministry said.
Poland wants to help forge future EU relations with London that should be "pragmatic and beneficial to all sides" and declares Britain an "important partner" to Poland.
Germany's justice minister says that Britain's exit from the European Union should be implemented quickly.
Heiko Maas said in a statement that "it is a black Friday for Europe." He added that "we respect the decision by a narrow majority of Britons. The Brexit must now be implemented quickly." He didn't give a specific timeframe.
Maas said that "one thing is clear: we will fight for Europe." He said that Europeans must stick together for their "ideas of peace, freedom and justice."
Chancellor Angela Merkel was due to meet the leaders of the parties in the German Parliament and then make a statement on the referendum outcome at 12.30 p.m. (1030 GMT).
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka says the British people's decision to leave the EU "is not the end of the world and above all not the end of the European Union."
Sobotka says Britain has decided to take "a different road than European integration. This decision is serious and irreversible."
In a reaction on Facebook, the Czech leader said Friday the EU has to work to minimize the damage to EU and Czech citizens.
"The EU has to change. Not because Britain left, but because the European project needs much stronger support from citizens."
"The EU is for us, the Czech Republic, the best possible guarantee of stability, peace and prosperity."
Sobotka said Britain will become less important and will be struggling to keep Scotland in the U.K.
Boos --- and a few cheers --- greeted former London Mayor Boris Johnson as he left his London home the morning after a historic vote to leave the European Union.
Johnson is one of the primary candidates to become prime minister after being the most prominent figure in the campaign to have the U.K. leave the single market
Dozens waited outside his north London home in anticipation that Johnson would speak. But he instead got into a cab to drive to Vote Leave headquarters.
Hungary's prime minister says the issue of immigration and how the British "can keep their island" determined the vote on Britain leaving the European Union.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who says the ideal number of migrants entering Hungary is "zero," said Friday on state radio that the biggest lesson of the UK vote is that Brussels "must hear the voice of the people."
Orban said that Hungary is in the EU because "we believe in a strong Europe, but Europe is strong only if it can give solutions which make it stronger ... to significant problems like migration."
Orban earlier this week bought a full-page ad in British newspaper The Daily Mail, saying that "Hungary is proud to stand with you as a member of the European Union."
An estimated 300,000 Hungarians live in Britain.
Romania's president will meet with the prime minister and the governor of the central bank to discuss Britain's decision to leave the European Union.
President Klaus Iohannis is expected to make a statement later Friday, followed by Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos.
There are officially some 150,000 Romanians living in Britain, although the real number is estimated to be double that.
Romanian leaders have said they favor Britain staying in the EU. Romanian joined the bloc in 2007.
Scandinavian euroskeptic parties are rushing to suggest membership votes after British voters decided to leave the European Union.
In Sweden, which joined the European Union in 1995, the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats wrote Friday on Twitter that "now we wait for (hashtag) swexit!"
The Swedish Left Party suggested Sweden renegotiate its deal with the bloc but leader Jonas Sjostedt cautioned he first wants "to know what Britain's new relationship with the EU looks like."
Kristian Thulesen Dahl, head of the Danish People's Party, said a referendum would be "a good democratic custom" while Pernille Skipper of the left-wing Unity List, called it "the only consequence of the British results."
Denmark has opted out of parts of EU treaties for fear of losing sovereignty.
Neither Sweden nor Denmark plans a referendum.
Moldova's prime minister calls Britain's vote to leave the European Union "a sad day for Europe."
However, Prime Minister Pavel Filip said that Moldova would remain committed to joining the EU.
"This is a sad day for Europe and for Britain's European and international friends," said Filip early Friday. "The European project needs now, more than ever, to be reaffirmed and trusted."
"Moldova will remain attached to its EU road, despite the result in the UK, because we trust the European Union as a successful project"
Moldova, a country of 4 million located between Romania and Ukraine, signed an association agreement with the EU in 2014, angering Russia.
Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda says the central bank will work to maintain financial stability following the British vote.
"The Bank of Japan, in close cooperation with relevant domestic and foreign authorities, will continue to carefully monitor how the result would affect global financial markets," he said in a statement.
"The Bank will stand ready to provide sufficient liquidity, including utilizing the swap arrangements among the six central banks, and thereby ensure the stability of financial markets."
The leaders of some of Britain's largest banks have issued statements to their customers underscoring that they will work tirelessly on their behalf in the unsettled times ahead following Britain's decision to leave the European Union.
HSBC chair Douglas Flint says the country is entering a new era and that settling new trade deals with be complex and time-consuming.
But Flint says that "as one of the largest, most stable, liquid and prudent financial institutions in the world, HSBC is well-placed to support our customers and the markets as they deal with the challenges that will arise."
The CEO of Barclays, Jes Staley, said many questions will be asked in the coming days about what happens next.
"We have stood in service of our customers and clients for over 325 years. We have been here for them through equally profound changes before," Staley said.
Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen says "Denmark belongs to the European Union" and the Scandinavian country has "no plans to hold a referendum on this basic matter."
Loekke Rasmussen says being member of the 28-member bloc is "Denmark's best opportunity to influence the world."
He said Friday referendums across the EU "must be food for thought," adding it shows a euroskepticism "that we as decision-makers must take very seriously."
In Norway, which is not an EU member, Prime Minister Erna Solberg told Norwegian broadcaster NRK she was confident that the EU would "find solutions to this."
Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said the bloc now faces "great challenges" when it comes to economy, migration, climate and security
British Prime Minister David Cameron's decision to resign after losing the referendum vote will set off an intense Conservative Party leadership battle.
Cameron said Friday a new prime minister should be in place by the party conference in October.
Among the likely contenders are former London Mayor Boris Johnson and Justice Secretary Michael Gove, who both helped lead the "leave" campaign.
Other Cabinet members are likely to contend as well.
Poland's foreign minister says Britain's deciding to leave the European Union is "bad news" for Europe and for the many Poles --- estimated at about 850,000 --- who now live in Britain.
Witold Waszczykowski was speaking Friday before the official results of the British vote on EU membership were announced.
He says "I can only give a sigh: so it's done. This is bad news for Europe, bad news for Poland. ... The status of Poles living there will not change for now, but we don't really know how much Britain's status will be changed."
He said negotiations on Britain's new ties with the EU can take between two and 15 years but others have urged the Brexit talks be held quickly.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz says the EU assembly will hold an emergency session next week following the U.K.'s decision to leave the bloc.
Schulz told reporters that the parliament would meet on Tuesday morning, ahead of a summit of EU leaders in Brussels where the Brexit vote will top the agenda.
He said the assembly must examine what steps to take next as Britain negotiates its departure, especially in light of British Prime Minister David Cameron's decision to leave office in October.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is calling for a balanced disentanglement between the EU and Britain and said he did not see much interest in having a Dutch national referendum on EU membership as advocated by populist right-wing politician Geert Wilders.
Rutte said it was "important now, also in the interest of the Netherlands, is that we try to find a solution step-by-step and in a stable manner." He then headed off to Brussels to speak with top EU officials on the British referendum results.
Rutte dismissed Wilders' call for a Dutch vote on the EU, saying "I don't think the Dutch are currently interested in having a referendum on that."
The prime minister says the Dutch understand that "cooperation with other countries in a common market ... is vital for our country."
Bank of England Gov. Mark Carney says the institution is prepared to deal with the market volatility that is under way following the Britain's decision to leave the European Union.
Carney says the bank has "engaged in extensive contingency planning" and he is in close contact with Treasury chief George Osborne.
Carney says that capital requirements for Britian's largest banks are 10 times higher than before the start of the 2008 financial crisis.
He says the Bank of England has stress tested the banks "against scenarios more severe than the country currently faces." Carney says UK banks have raised over 130 billion pounds of capital.
Tim Farron, the leader of the Liberal Democrats and a staunch backer of Britain remaining in the EU "was utterly gutted and heartbroken" by the outcome of the referendum.
"I accept the result but by golly I don't agree with it," he told the BBC on Friday.
Farron blamed the outcome on both Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, for having "cheaply derided the European Union for a quick headline," and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, for "his abject failure to take this seriously."
Farron noted that most young voters voted to remain. He says "what a tragedy that other voters have chosen to damage their future."
The president of an influential German economic think tank says Britain's decision to leave the European Union is a "defeat of reason" and that leaders must keep the UK as integrated as possible in European markets.
Ifo Institute President Clemens Fuest says "politicians must now do everything possible to limit the economic damage."
He is pushing for quick action, saying that "it's important to bring about a conclusion of the negotiations as quickly as possible so that the phase of uncertainty over future economic relations is as short as possible."
Switzerland, which is not in the European Union, has set up a helpline for its citizens with questions over the British exit.
The Swiss government on Friday assured its citizens that despite the vote, "currently applicable rules for Swiss citizens and businesses remain valid for the time being."
But the government says it was adding additional staff to help field questions from its citizens. It says it plans to keep the hotline up around the clock, seven-days a week as needed.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz says Britain's exit from the EU must be done quickly.
Schulz tweeted Friday that the "will of voters must be respected. Now need speedy and clear exit negotiation."
He says the U.K.'s relationship with the EU had been ambiguous but that "now it's clear."
Britain has up to two years to negotiate an exit, but EU officials have been insisting on quick and potentially tough negotiations to discourage the 27 other countries in the bloc from wanting to leave.
The heads of the European Greens party say the European Union needs a reset with the vote to leave in Britain showing that the EU is more divided than ever.
Joint chairs Monica Frassoni and Reinhard Buetikofer say Friday that "Europe is more divided and less colorful" and that "we cannot go on with business as usual."
They said: "We need to 'reset' the EU and together make it able to deliver credible solutions, notably to those facing a persistent economic uncertainty and a growing sense of insecurity."
Germany's Foreign Ministry says it will host a meeting of the top diplomats from the original six founding nations of the European Union.
In a statement Friday, the ministry said the foreign ministers of Germany, France, Netherlands, Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg would meet Saturday in Berlin.
The ministry says the meeting is part of a long "tradition of talks between the six European founder nations" and that they will discuss "current European political topics.
Germany's foreign minister says Britain's decision to leave the European Union is "truly sobering" news.
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says Friday that "it looks like a sad day for Europe and for the United Kingdom."
German officials have repeatedly said that they wanted Britain to remain in the EU.
Prime Minister David Cameron says he will resign by the fall and insists the British people's will must be respected after voters chose to leave the 28-nation European Union.
Cameron says there can be no doubt about the result of Thursday's historic vote but that he is not the "captain" that will steer the ship through difficult negotiations with the EU.
He says he will resign by the time of the Conservative party conference in the fall.
British stocks are plunging as the market opens as investors scramble to react to the news. The pound has hit a 31-year low.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told Australians that Britain's decision to leave the European Union was no cause "to be alarmed."
But he said the global uncertainty and instability the decision would cause underscored the need for Australians to re-elect his conservative coalition at elections on July 2.
"This is a momentous and historic decision and we respect the wishes of the British people," Turnbull told reporters in Devonport.
"It is important to remember that the Australian economy is strong and resilient and has weathered global shocks before," he added.
Turnbull said he was "very confident" that Australia, a former British colony which maintains constitutional links, would continue negotiating a free trade agreement with the EU.
British stocks are plunging as the market opens as investors scramble to react to the news that the country has voted to leave the European Union.
The result of Thursday's historic vote has ushered in an era of uncertainty for the country and region.
The main stock index, the FTSE 100, nosedived 8.7 percent to 5,790 points shortly after the open Friday. The British pound, which trades around the clock, has plunged to a 31-year low at $1.3706.
The German DAX index, which tends to be more volatile, dropped as much as 10 percent. If that loss stands for the day, it would be the biggest drop in the index's history.
An exit from the EU is expected to weigh heavily on the British economy in coming months and years, possibly pushing it into recession. The drop in the pound could drive up inflation, and the uncertainty over the country's future trade relations could cause businesses to hold back on investment.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said that beyond "the blow" Britain has dealt the European Union, the referendum result must be seized on to fundamentally rethink the European project.
Michel said he wants a special "conclave" of EU leaders as soon as next month to reassess options, considering discontent is spreading even well beyond Britain.
He says "we need to keep a cool head and need to see what new way of cooperation would be possible.
He proposes a conclave in July to use this tough moment to look at a new perspective."
Germany's vice chancellor says it's a bad day for Europe after British voters chose to leave the European Union.
Sigmar Gabriel, who is also Germany's economy minister, wrote on Twitter: "Damn! A bad day for Europe."
Germany is the most populous country in the 28-nation EU and has its biggest economy.
Leaders in past months have been emphasizing that while it was up to the British people to decide, Germany wanted Britain to remain in the European Union.
European Union President Donald Tusk says the bloc will meet without Britain at summit next week to assess its future after British voters chose to leave the 28-nation bloc.
Tusk says the group is "determined to keep our unity at 27" nations and not have any more defections.
Speaking in Brussels on Friday, Tusk says he is confident in the EU's future, adding that "what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger."
The president of the European Parliament says he expects negotiations on Britain's exit from the European Union to start quickly.
Martin Schulz told Germany's ZDF television Friday that he expects British Prime Minister David Cameron to invoke Article 50 of the EU treaty, which would set in motion the exit process.
Schulz says years of suspense would be "neither in the interests of Great Britain nor in the interests of Germany, France, Italy or the other member states of the EU."
He says: "I assume that the negotiations on the exit will now start quickly."
French President Francois Hollande has convened an emergency government meeting in the wake of the British vote to leave the European Union.
Hollande's office announced the Friday morning meeting, saying only that it would be about Europe's future.
Hollande has not publicly commented on the result of the British vote, which will have consequences for the whole continent.
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who is more popular in polls than Hollande, called Friday for a similar anti-EU referendum in France.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn says British Prime Minister David Cameron must move urgently to stabilize the pound, which was trading around $1.3706 Friday morning after plummeting to a 31-year low.
Corbyn also says Britain's main opposition party will oppose any emergency budget or expansion of Britain's austerity program resulting from the Thursday vote to leave the European Union.
The Bank of England says it's ready to take "all necessary steps" to help keep Britain stable after voters chose to leave the 28-nation bloc.
Corbyn says British manufacturing depends on trade with the EU and called for careful steps to preserve British trade. He and other senior Labour figures had urged voters to remain in the EU.
Japan's Finance Minister Taro Aso said he is "extremely concerned" about the impact and risks of Britain's exit from the European Union on global financial markets.
"I'm extremely concerned about possible risks that the apparent decision would pose on global financial and currency markets, where stability is very important," Aso told reporters in an emergency news conference.
British voters have chosen to leave the EU, shattering the framework for continental unity.
Aso said he is particularly concerned about the nervous movement in the currency markets and hoped to see "firm intervention whenever necessary." The British pound has tanked to $1.3706 after hitting a 31-year low earlier Friday.
UK Independence Leader Nigel Farage says Britain's decision to leave the European Union is "a victory for ordinary people, against the big banks, big business and big politics."
Speaking Friday morning after the shocking British vote to leave the bloc, Farage insists the EU itself is dying. He called for June 23 to be made a new national bank holiday known as Independence Day.
Far-right leaders in France and the Netherlands have already called for a similar anti-EU vote.
Commuters at the main train station in the well-heeled southwest London borough of Richmond, which voted overwhelmingly to remain, expressed anger and frustration at the British vote to leave the EU.
"I'm quite shocked really," said Martin Laidler. "My nine-year-old daughter asked me to vote to remain, so I was voting for her future."
Olivia Sangster-Bullers, 24, said the result was "absolutely disgusting."
"My best friend and his partner, one of them is from Spain. How does he feel now?"
Asked whether it would affect her life, she said: "I've just seen that the pound's crashed, so good luck to all of us I say, especially those trying to build a future with our children."
The Bank of England says it's ready to take "all necessary steps" to help keep Britain stable after voters chose to leave the 28-nation European Union.
The results of the vote Thursday have shaken global markets and caused the pound to tank, which will cause a slide in inflation, a major concern for the central bank. Investors are also poised to dump British stocks as soon as the market opens in London on Friday.
The bank says Friday it had prepared with extensive contingency planning and "is working closely with HM Treasury, other domestic authorities and overseas central banks."
The bank says it will take "all necessary steps" to meet its responsibilities for monetary and fiscal stability.
The United States is reacting cautiously to the decision by Britain's voters to bolt the 28-nation European Union, with a White House official saying only that President Barack Obama is being kept up to date on developments.
The official said Obama was expected to speak with British Prime Minister David Cameron "over the course of the next day."
Obama has encouraged Britain to remain in the EU but has said the decision ultimately was up to British voters.
--- By Kevin Freking.
Analysts are cutting their estimates for Britain's economic growth after the country voted to leave the European Union, ushering in a period of high uncertainty that is likely to shake businesses, consumers and markets for some time.
Howard Archer, the global economist for IHS Global Insight, says his research group is slashing its growth forecast for this year to 1.5 percent from 2.0 percent and, more dramatically, to 0.2 percent for next year from 2.4 percent previously.
Archer expects the Bank of England to switch from hoping to raise interest rates soon to cutting them by a quarter point to 0.25 percent before long.
He says: "Major economic and political uncertainty will be a fact of life for some considerable time, likely weighing down markedly on business and household confidence and behavior, so dampening corporate investment, employment and consumer spending."
Analysts at Capital Economics have the same growth forecasts for 2016 but are more hopeful about 2017, seeing 1.5 percent growth.
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen says there should be a similar referendum about EU membership in France after Britons voted to leave the 28-nation bloc.
"A victory for Freedom," Le Pen tweeted. "We now need the same referendum in France and in EU nations."
In the Netherlands, her ally Geert Wilders of the far-right PVV party also immediately called for a similar plebiscite.
Britons voted 52 percent to 48 percent on Thursday to leave the EU to take greater control of the country's economy and its borders. The decision has shocked global markets and sent the pound plummeting to the lowest level in 31 years.
Top European Union officials are hunkering down in Brussels trying to work out how to navigate uncharted waters after the shocking decision by British voters to leave the 28-nation bloc.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is hosting talks Friday with the leaders of the European Council and Parliament, along with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency.
The four will try to agree a European position on the vote, which could see a member country leave the bloc for the first time ever, ahead of a summit of EU leaders in Brussels starting on Tuesday.
Parliamentary leaders were meeting separately, and European commissioners --- the EU's executive body --- could hold separate talks later.
Shocked investors are ready to dump British stocks as soon as the market opens at 0700 GMT (3 a.m. EDT).
Futures for the benchmark stock index FTSE 100 are down 7.5 percent and the pound, which trades 24 hours a day, has already fallen to its lowest level since 1985 after British voters took the historic decision to pull their country out of the 28-nation European Union.
The British currency was down 7.9 percent against the dollar at $1.3406, the lowest level in 31 years. It was down 5.1 percent against the euro, at 1.2193 euros.
Britain's decision to leave the EU launches what will be years of negotiations over trade, business and political links with the EU.
The head of the biggest political bloc in the European Parliament says the U.K. vote to leave the EU is damaging but that the decision is for Britain, not the European Union.
European People's Party chairman Manfred Weber says Friday that the vote "causes major damage to both sides, but in first line to the U.K."
Weber added that "this was a British vote, not a European vote. People in the other states don't want to leave Europe."
Britons voted 52 percent to 48 percent on Thursday to leave the EU to take greater control of the country's economy and borders.
One of the leaders of the victorious 'leave' campaign has reassured the European Union that Britain will continue to be a good neighbor after its unprecedented vote to leave the bloc.
Labour lawmaker Gisela Stuart, who was born in Germany, spoke in German to say that "Britain is an open society, it is a welcoming society and we will continue to be cooperating with European countries on an international level."
As the British pound and global stock markets fell at the shocking result, Stuart says "it is incumbent on all of us to be very calm, remember that our responsibility is to the future of the United Kingdom, and work together to start a process."
She says "in the long run, I think that both Europe and the United Kingdom will emerge stronger as a result."
Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders is calling for a plebiscite in the Netherlands about leaving the European Union after Britons voted to ditch the 28-nation bloc.
Wilders tweeted: "Hurrah for the British! Now it is our turn. Time for a Dutch referendum!"
EU officials have long suspected that a British decision to leave the bloc would be quickly claimed as a victory among the far left and right in European politics.
The British vote is considered a political earthquake that will shatter the stability of the continental unity forged after World War II.
As dawn broke over London, those who wanted Britain to stay in the European Union woke up to grim news: voters had chosen instead to leave the 28-nation bloc.
Veteran Labour lawmaker Keith Vaz says "this is a crushing, crushing decision. This is a terrible day for Europe."
Green lawmaker Caroline Lucas said she was devastated by the news, blaming "alienation, anger and frustration" for the results of Thursday's vote.
"Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling, a prominent "remain" campaigner, says "I don't think I've ever wanted magic more" in a Twitter message.
Britain has voted to leave the European Union to take greater control of its economy and its borders, shattering the stability of the continental unity forged after World War II.
The decision launches what will be years of negotiations over trade, business and political links with the EU, which will shrink to a 27-nation bloc.
Results released early Friday show the "leave" side prevailed 52 percent to 48 percent in Thursday's vote as tallied by British broadcasters. The vote had a turnout of 72 percent.
The U.K. is the first major country to decide to leave the bloc, which evolved from the ashes of the war as the region's leaders sought to build links and avert future hostility.
Financial authorities around the world have warned that a British exit will reverberate through a delicate global economy.
Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon says her country cast an "unequivocal" vote to remain in the European Union --- a result that raises the specter of a new referendum on Scottish independence.
Sturgeon said "the vote here makes clear that the people of Scotland see their future as part of the European Union."
All 32 voting areas in Scotland voted to stay in the EU, but they were outnumbered by a strong English "leave" vote.
Scotland rejected independence from the UK in its own 2014 referendum, but Friday's result gives new momentum to the cause.
Britain's vote to leave the 28-nation European Union is likely to cost Prime Minister David Cameron his job.
The leader of the ruling Conservative Party had staked his reputation on keeping Britain in the EU.
Former London Mayor Boris Johnson, the most prominent supporter of the "leave" campaign, is now seen as a leading contender to replace Cameron.
Cameron promised the referendum to appease the right wing of his own party and blunt a challenge from the U.K. Independence Party, which pledged to leave the EU. After winning a majority in Parliament in the last election, Cameron negotiated a package of reforms that he said would protect Britain's sovereignty and prevent EU migrants from moving to the U.K. to claim public benefits.
Critics charged that the reforms were hollow, leaving Britain at the mercy of bureaucrats in Brussels and doing nothing to stem the tide of European immigrants coming to the U.K. Those concerns were magnified after more than 1 million people from the Middle East and Africa flooded into the EU last year.
The result of the British referendum has shocked the markets but delighted "leave" campaigners.
"The dawn is breaking on an independent United Kingdom," U.K. Independence Party leader Nigel Farage declared to loud cheers at a "leave" campaign party. "Let June 23 go down in our history as our independence day!"
As results poured in Friday morning, a picture emerged of a sharply divided nation: Strong pro-EU votes in the economic and cultural powerhouse of London and semi-autonomous Scotland were countered by sweeping anti-Establishment sentiment for an exit across the rest of England, from southern seaside towns to rust-belt former industrial powerhouses in the north.
Deputy Labour Party leader John McDonnell says "a lot of people's grievances are coming out and we have got to start listening to them."
Britain has entered uncharted waters after the country voted to leave the European Union, according to a projection by all main U.K. broadcasters. The decision shatters the stability of the continental unity forged after World War II in hopes of making future conflicts impossible.
The decision raises the likelihood of years of negotiations over trade, business and political links with what will become a 27-nation bloc. In essence the vote marks the start --- rather than the end --- of a process that could take decades to unwind.
The "leave" side was ahead by 51.7 percent to 48.3 percent Friday morning with more than three-quarters of votes tallied, making a "remain" win a statistical near-impossibility.
The pound suffered one of its biggest one-day falls in history, plummeting more than 10 percent in six hours, from about $1.50 to below $1.35, on concern that severing ties with the single market will hurt the U.K. economy and undermine London's position as a global financial center.