United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron announced his resignation on Friday morning, just hours after the results of a dramatic referendum showed that the British people had voted to leave the European Union.
“The country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction,” Cameron said in a short public statement he delivered outside his Downing Street office in London.
“I will do everything I can as prime minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months. But I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination,” Cameron said. “This is not a decision I have taken lightly,” he added.
Cameron, who has been prime minister since 2010, was a vocal opponent of the exiting the EU, a process nicknamed Brexit.
He did not give a specific date for when he would leave office, but said he would stay in place for another three months with an eye to the country having a new prime minister by October.
“A negotiation with the EU will need to begin under a new prime minister,” Cameron said. That new prime minister should be the one to start the formal process of leaving the EU, which involves triggering Article 50, he added.
“I will attend the EU Council next week to explain the decision that the British people have taken and my own decision,” Cameron said.
He urged the British public to respect the results of the referendum, which now must be formalized with a parliamentary vote.
“The British people have made a choice that not only needs to be respected but those on the losing side of the argument, myself included, should help to make it work. Although leaving Europe was not path that I recommended, I am the first to praise our incredible strength,” Cameron said.
“I said before that Britain can survive outside the EU and that indeed we could find a way. Now that the decision has been made to leave, we need to find the best way.”