Britain, Post-Brexit

Here’s what we know on Thursday, July 7:

—Theresa May won the second round of voting in the Conservative Party’s leadership race. Andrea Leadsom finished second. Michael Gove was eliminated.

—Bank of England Governor Mark Carney says there is evidence that some risks to the U.K.’s economy from its Brexit vote “have begun to crystallize.”

—Britain voted June 23 to leave the EU by a 52 percent to 48 percent margin. Prime Minister David Cameron said he’d resign by October in the wake of the results.

—We’re live-blogging the major updates, and you can read how it all unfolded below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).


July 7 at 11:34 a.m.

Britain’s next prime minister will be a woman. Either Theresa May or Andrea Leadsom will become the first woman since Margaret Thatcher in 1979 to assume that post.

May, the home secretary who campaigned for the U.K. to remain in the EU, won the Thursday second round of voting in the Conservative leadership race. Leadsom, the energy minister who supported Brexit, finished second; Michael Gove, the justice secretary who also supported leaving, finished last and was eliminated.


3:43 p.m.

Theresa May, the home secretary who campaigned for the U.K. to remain in the EU, won the first round of voting in the Conservative leadership race. Andrea Leadsom, the energy minister who supported Brexit, finished second, followed by Michael Gove, the justice secretary who also supported leaving. Liam Fox, the former defense secretary, finished last, and was eliminated from the race. Stephen Crabb, who got the second-fewest votes, dropped out and backed May. The BBC adds: “Further voting will narrow the field to two. The eventual outcome, decided by party members, is due on 9 September.”

The winner will replace David Cameron as prime minister.


July 5 at 8:52 a.m.

Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, says the U.K. central bank will be unable at this time to counteract the economic instability caused by Britain’s exit from the European Union.

“The U.K. has entered a period of uncertainty and significant economic adjustment,” Carney said at a news conference. “The efforts of the Bank of England will not be able fully and immediately to offset the market and economic volatility that can be expected while this adjustment proceeds.”

But, he said, the Bank of England will help banks infuse another 150 billion pounds (about $196 billion) into the economy in the form of extra lending.

Meanwhile, there are more signs the effects of the vote are adversely affecting the broader U.K. economy. The pound is at its lowest level against the dollar since September 1985: It fell below $1.31 on Tuesday. Separately, two British property funds, Aviva and Standard Life, are refusing to allow their clients to take money out. The Guardian explains why:

Otherwise, they would be forced to sell property assets at firesale prices to fund redemption requests. That would drive down the value of the fund, encouraging more investors to cash out, creating a vicious circle.

Instead, people with money in these funds must now sit and wait.

At the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU Commission president, said: “The Brexit heroes of yesterday are now the sad Brexit heroes of today.”

That’s an apparent reference to Nigel Farage, who announced Monday he was stepping down as UKIP’s leader, and Boris Johnson, who last week said he wouldn’t seek the Conservative Party’s leadership. Both men had championed Brexit.


July 1 at 9:21 a.m.

Michael Gove said he was the best person to “lead Britain out of the European Union” because he “argued to get Britain out of the European Union.” But the man who stunned the British political establishment on Thursday and announced his candidacy for the Conservative Party leadership to succeed David Cameron as prime minister in September. His main rival, Theresa May, had campaigned to keep the U.K. in the EU, but has said she will work, if chosen, to leave the bloc. Gove added he was in no hurry to invoke Article 50 to trigger the exit talks. “I have no expectation that Article 50 would be triggered in this calendar year,” he said.

Meanwhile George Osborne, the chancellor of the exchequer, said uncertainty about the U.K.’s economy after last week’s Brexit results had prompted the government to abandon its goal of a budget surplus by 2020. He said the referendum’s result was “likely to lead to a significant negative shock for the British economy.”


8:42 a.m.

Boris Johnson has stunned the British political establishment by announcing he will not seek the leadership of the Conservative Party to succeed David Cameron as prime minister.

“Well, I must tell you, my friends, you who have waited faithfully for the punchline of this speech, that having consulted colleagues and in view of the circumstances in parliament, I have concluded that person cannot be me,” he said.

Those in the room, including among the media, were stunned. Here’s a typical reaction:

But the announcement apparently became necessary when Michael Gove, the man who was supposed to back Johnson, threw his hat in the ring—in a move that is widely being described as a political betrayal. Gove, like Johnson, was a keen advocate for the “leave” campaign. He has also previously said, over and over  again, that he doesn’t have what it takes to be Britain’s prime minister.

The infighting within the Conservative Party comes as the opposition Labour Party is having its own leadership crisis. Jeremy Corbyn, its leader, overwhelmingly lost a vote of confidence among his fellow Labor MPs this week, but he has refused to resign, citing his support in the party’s grassroots. (Corbyn can seem to do little right this week. At an event Thursday to release a report on anti-Semitism within Labour, he appeared to compare Israel to the Islamic State. His quote: “Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel than our Muslim friends are for the self-styled Islamic State.”)

As to how the British media is viewing all this, here’s a concise summary:


June 30 at 8 a.m.

Boris Johnson, the former London mayor widely tipped to replace David Cameron as the leader of the Conservative Party and, consequently, prime minister, says he will not contest the party’s leadership race. His stunning announcement came after Michael Gove, the justice secretary, who was widely expected to back Johnson’s leadership bid, announced instead that he would run. Theresa May, the home secretary, is the other major candidate. Also in the running are Steven Crabb, Liam Fox, and Andrea Leadsom.


4:16 p.m. ET

President Obama, speaking in Ottawa after a meeting with the leaders of Canada and Mexico, said at a news conference that the U.S. would be the “least of their [the U.K.’s] problems now” as it negotiates its future relationship with the EU. Obama had famously warned that the U.K. would go to the “back of the queue” if it voted to leave the EU. And though he did not repeat those words Wednesday, he said that U.S. was focused on negotiating a trade with the EU and “to suddenly go off on another track will be challenging.”


8:49 a.m.

Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, has said: “Leaders made it crystal clear that access to the single market requires acceptance of all four freedoms—including freedom of movement. There will be no single market a la carte.”

The remarks came after a meeting of the leaders of 27 EU nations (excluding the U.K.), and he was with Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, French President Francois Hollande, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, all of whom agreed with that sentiment.

Merkel reiterated there would be no discussion with the U.K. until Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon was formally invoked by the British government.

“We wish that that would happen as soon as possible,” she said.


June 29 at 8:17 a.m.

The leadership tumult in the opposition Labour Party provided Prime Minister David Cameron with some respite Wednesday in Parliament.

During Prime Minister’s Questions in Parliament, Cameron turned to his beleaguered rival Jeremy Corbyn, who lost a vote of confidence Tuesday among his party’s MPs, and said: “I would say, for heaven’s sake, man, go.”

Corbyn has refused to step down, saying he enjoys support from a vast majority of the party’s base (which he does). But there are growing calls from within Labour’s establishment, which has never been fond of him, for Corbyn to go.

Corbyn is expected to face a leadership challenge in the Labour Party. Meanwhile, more candidates are lining up to succeed Cameron as head of the Conservative Party (and assume the prime ministership). At present, Boris Johnson, the “leave” campaigner and former London mayor, is tipped to be the favorite.

Meanwhile in Brussels, Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, has a day of meetings planned with top EU officials to discuss Scotland’s relationship with the bloc. Scotland voted overwhelmingly to maintain the U.K. ties with the EU.


8:24 p.m.

David Cameron just wrapped up his appearance at a Brussels summit with the other 27 European Union leaders, where he briefed them on the referendum result and the next steps his country would take as it worked through an unprecedented political crisis.

The Guardian has more:

Speaking after the dinner, a pale and tired-looking Cameron expressed regret that this would be his final European Council, and said he and his fellow leaders had discussed their shared values. “Of course it’s a sad night for me, because I didn’t want to be in this position,” he said.

He said he had explained to his counterparts how prominently the issue of freedom of movement had played during the referendum campaign. “I think people recognised the strength of the economic case for staying; but there was a very strong concern about freedom of movement”.

He added that he believed Britain should try to retain the closest possible relationship with the rest of Europe – but “it is impossible to have all the benefits of EU membership without the costs,” something he said “the next British government” would have to think carefully about.

Cameron’s appearance at the summit did not count as the invocation of Article 50, the EU treaty mechanism that formally begins the withdrawal process from the 28-member bloc. That action will be left to future British leaders, Cameron said.


12:07 p.m.

The Labour Party’s internal crisis deepened Tuesday after Jeremy Corbyn, its leader, lost a vote of confidence among party MPs called after last week’s referendum. A total of 172 members cast their ballots to remove him as leader; 40 MPs sided with him.

Shortly after the results became public, Corbyn announced he would not resign.

“I was democratically elected leader of our party for a new kind of politics by 60 percent of Labour members and supporters, and I will not betray them by resigning,” he said in a statement. “Today’s vote by MPs has no constitutional legitimacy.”

A veteran of Britain’s hard left who rode a grassroots wave of support to win the party leadership last September, Corbyn came under fire over the weekend for what critics described as a halfhearted effort to keep the U.K. in the European Union. Some of the opposition came from centrist Labour MPs who have resisted his efforts to move the party leftward.

The leadership crisis came to head late Saturday night after Corbyn fired shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn amid reports Benn was organizing a party coup against him after the referendum. A wave of resignations from Corbyn’s shadow cabinet followed on Sunday and Monday.


9:06 a.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told the Bundestag that there will be no “cherry-picking” during the U.K.’s negotiation with the EU on its exit from the bloc.

“Whoever wants to leave this family cannot expect to have no more obligations but to keep privileges,” she said.

“We will make sure that negotiations will not be carried out as a cherry-picking exercise,” she added. “There must be and will be a noticeable difference between whether a country wants to be a member of the European Union family or not.”

British politicians who championed leaving the EU have since last Thursday’s referendum said they want to remain in the European single market. That would mean the free movement of both goods and people across borders, an arrangement enjoyed at present by Norway, which is not an EU member. But immigration appeared to be one of the main reasons cited for the U.K.’s exit fron the EU, and access to the single market would seem to run counter to that sentiment.  Merkel said:

Those for example, who want free access to the single market will in return have to respect European basic rights and freedoms. … That’s true for Great Britain just as much as for the others.

Speaking on CNN later Tuesday, Matteo Renzi, the Italian prime minister, reiterated those comments.

In Brussels, meanwhile, two British members of the European Parliament received two very different reactions. Nigel Farage, the UKIP leader, seemed to luxuriate in his referendum victory and wasn’t shy about telling his European colleagues what he thought of them and their European project. “You have imposed upon” the British and European people “a political union” by stealth, he said. MEPs turned their backs on him; some jeered. You can watch the scenes here:

Alyn Smith, the Scottish National Party MEP, received a very different reaction. He reminded his fellow lawmakers that Scotland had, in fact, voted to remain, and urged them not to “let Scotland down.”


1:46 p.m.

EU leaders say they won’t hold either formal or informal talks with the U.K. on its exit from the bloc until the government invokes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, formally setting in motion the process to extricate itself from the bloc.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with the leaders of France and Italy in Berlin to discuss the U.K. vote. Here’s Merkel at a news conference after their meeting:

We are in agreement that Article 50 of the European treaties is very clear—a member state that wishes to leave the European Union has to notify the European Council. There can’t be any further steps until that has happened. Only then will the European Council issue guidelines under which an exit will be negotiated. That means that, and we agree on this point, there will be neither informal nor formal talks on a British exit until the European Council has received the request for an exit from the European Union.

Although they did not specify a time frame, Francois Hollande, the French leader, said at the same news conference:  “Our responsibility is not to lose time in dealing with the question of the UK’s exit and the new questions for the 27” other members. “There is nothing worse than uncertainty.”

That uncertainty wiped out £40 billion ($52 billion) from the U.K. markets on Monday. The pound also continued its slide, closing at a more than three-decade low against the dollar. The country’s credit rating was also downgraded:

S&P said: “The downgrade … reflects the risks of a marked deterioration of external financing conditions in light of the U.K.’s extremely elevated level of gross external financing requirements. … The negative outlook reflects the risk to economic prospects, fiscal and external performance, and the role of sterling as a reserve currency, as well as risks to the constitutional and economic integrity of the U.K. if there is another referendum on Scottish independence.”

Meanwhile there have been reports of a 57 percent increase in reported hate crimes since the referendum. The Guardian adds:

A spokesperson for the national police chiefs council said these figures should not be read as showing a 57% increase in hate crime, but an increase in reporting through one mechanism. Other hate crimes are reported directly to police forces, or to community groups like Tell Mama and Community Security.

The turmoil in the Labour Party is continuing, as a no-confidence motion against Jeremy Corbyn is planned for Tuesday. But Corbyn is popular among the party’s rank and file and there was a counter-protest Monday against the attempt to oust him.


June 27 at 7:43 a.m.

The leaders of Germany, France, and Italy will meet Monday in Berlin to discuss Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.

Steffen Seibert, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, said the European Council will only begin looking at an agreement for the U.K. to leave the EU once the British government invokes Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon.

“One thing is clear: Before Britain has sent this request, there will be no informal preliminary talks about the modalities of leaving.” he said, adding the German government would understand if “the U.K. government needs a reasonable amount of time to do that.”

But, he added, the uncertainty cannot be allowed to persist. Indeed, financial markets remain volatile, and George Osborne, Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer, has tried to calm them:

It is inevitable, after Thursday’s vote, that Britain’s economy is going to have to adjust to the new situation we find ourselves in.

In the analysis that the Treasury and other independent organisations produced, three particular challenges were identified – and I want to say how we meet all three.

First, there is the volatility we have seen and are likely to continue to see in financial markets.

Those markets may not have been expecting the referendum result – but the Treasury, the Bank of England, and the Financial Conduct Authority have spent the last few months putting in place robust contingency plans for the immediate financial aftermath in the event of this result.

We and the PRA have worked systematically with each major financial institution in recent weeks to make sure they were ready to deal with the consequences of a vote to leave.

Swap lines were arranged in advance so the Bank of England is now able to lend in foreign currency if needed. As part of those plans, the Bank and we agreed that there would be an immediate statement on Friday morning from the Governor, Mark Carney.

As Mark made clear, the Bank of England stands ready to provide £250 billion of funds, through its normal facilities, to continue to support banks and the smooth functioning of markets.

And we discussed our co-ordinated response with other major economies in calls on Friday with the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors of the G7.

The Governor and I have been in regular touch with each other over the weekend – and I can say this this morning: we have further well-thought-through contingency plans if they are needed.

In the last 72 hours I have been in contact with fellow European finance ministers, central bank governors, the managing director of the IMF, the US Treasury Secretary and the Speaker of Congress, and the CEOs of some of our major financial institutions so that collectively we keep a close eye on developments.

It will not be plain sailing in the days ahead.

But let me be clear. You should not underestimate our resolve.

We were prepared for the unexpected.

We are equipped for whatever happens.

And, he added: “Only the U.K. can trigger Article 50, and in my judgement we should only do that when there is a clear view about what new arrangement we are seeking with our European neighbors.”

Those remarks did little to assuage the financial markets, though. All major European markets were down sharply, as was the pound, which slid further against the dollar.

Boris Johnson, the former London mayor who headed the “leave” campaign and who is seen as a possible successor to Prime Minister David Cameron, said in his newspaper column Monday that those who voted to leave should “build bridges” with those who wanted to stay in the EU. The U.K., he wrote in The Telegraph, would always be “part of Europe” and “there will continue to be free trade, and access to the single market.”

Meanwhile, the Labour Party’s implosion continued Monday with more members of the shadow Cabinet resigning in an attempt to force Jeremy Corbyn, the party’s leader, to step down after the country’s vote to leave the EU. Corbyn had campaigned for Britain to remain, but his critics say his effort was half-hearted.

Maria Eagle, the shadow secretary for culture, media, and sport resigned Monday, as did Angela Eagle, the shadow business secretary, Neil Griffith, the shadow secretary for Wales, Lisa Nandy, the shadow secretary for energy and climate change, and Owen Smith, the work and pensions spokesman.

Here’s a full list of who has left the shadow cabinet—the opposition group that corresponds roughly to the government’s ministers—and those who have been fired.


2:17 p.m.

Could Scotland veto the Brexit vote?

Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland—which voted 62 percent in favor of staying in the European Union—raised the possibility in interviews Sunday morning. On Saturday, the Scottish National Party leader, who two years ago pushed for and lost a referendum on Scottish independence from the United Kingdom, vowed to hold discussions with the European Union aimed at preserving Scotland’s position within it even as the rest of the United Kingdom withdrew.

Speaking to the BBC on Sunday, she said that, “from a logical perspective,” the U.K. should be required to seek the consent of Scottish Parliament to move forward with extricating itself from the EU, though she acknowledged, “I suspect the U.K. government will take a very different view on that.” She said that if such “legislative consent” were requested, she would ask parliament to withhold it. (Sturgeons’ SNP is the largest party in Scotland’s Parliament, with 63 of 129 seats.)

The vote, if held, might have more political consequences than legal ones, however, as the Scottish Conservative MP and constitutional law expert Adam Tomkins pointed out via The Guardian:

[The Scottish Parliament in] Holyrood has no power to block Brexit. It is not clear that a legislative consent motion would be triggered by Brexit, but withholding consent is not the same as having the power to block. The Scottish parliament does not hold the legal power to block [the U.K. exiting the EU].


June 26 at 11:03 a.m.

The turmoil within the opposition Labour Party has intensified. Six Labour cabinet members resigned Sunday, following after Hilary Benn, who was fired by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn Saturday after Benn told Corbyn he had lost confidence in Corbyn’s leadership. According to The New York Times, the following people have quit:

Heidi Alexander, who speaks for the party on health issues, stepped down, with others following: Gloria De Piero, youth affairs; Ian Murray, for Scotland and Labour’s only remaining member of Parliament there; Lilian Greenwood, transport; Lucy Powell, education; and Kerry McCarthy, environment.

Greenwood sharply criticized Corbyn in an interview Sunday that was reported in The Guardian:

Lilian Greenwood, who resigned earlier as shadow transport secretary, has just told Sky News that having sat in the shadow cabinet for nine months she is clear that Jeremy Corbyn is not suited to be leader.

She said she would not be standing herself for the leadership. She did not have the skills set for that, she says. Asked who she would like to see leading the party, she said there were a number of suitable candidates.

Corbyn has no plans to buckle, according to a statement from his office to several news organizations. “There will be no resignation of a democratically elected leader with a strong mandate from the membership,” it said.


June 25 at 9:42 p.m.

The turmoil within Britain’s two largest political parties continues to grow after Thursday’s stunning vote.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn sacked Hilary Benn, the shadow foreign secretary, late Saturday night amid reports Benn was orchestrating an internal coup against Corbyn’s leadership. Two Labour MPs previously said Friday they are pushing for a vote of no confidence against Corbyn, which could come as early as next week.

Corbyn has faced criticism from within his party and from other Remain campaigners for not working hard enough to prevent a Leave victory, a claim he strongly disputes.

Among the Conservatives, Leave figurehead Boris Johnson is the likely frontrunner to replace David Cameron as party leader and prime minister. Fellow Leave campaigner Michael Gove, the British Justice Secretary, backed Johnson Saturday night.

But his road to Downing Street isn’t clear yet. Conservative MPs wary of Johnson’s leadership are reportedly rallying behind Home Secretary Theresa May, who backed Remain but kept a low profile during the campaign. Other top Tories who could seek the post are Energy Secretary Amber Rudd and former Defense Secretary Liam Fox.


Updated on June 25 at 3:34 p.m.

While the world—and certainly its financial markets—are acting as if the sky has fallen on its head, the German Foreign Office provides some perspective on its Twitter feed:


3:11 p.m.

President Obama said he’d spoken to David Cameron and Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, about the results of the referendum.

“I do think that yesterday’s vote speaks to the ongoing changes and challenges raised by globalization, but while the U.K.’s relationship with the EU will change, one thing that will not change is the special relationship that exists between our two nations,” he said. “That will endure.”

You can watch his comments here:

Merkel, speaking in Berlin, said of the results: “There’s no way around it: Today is a watershed for Europe and the European unity process.” She also appealed for patience in Europe, saying its leaders must “calmly and prudently analyze and evaluate the situation.”

Merkel hosts talks Monday with the leaders of France, Italy, and the EC.


12:12 p.m.

Nigel Farage, leader of the anti-EU U.K. Independence Party or UKIP, told Susanna Reid of the morning show Good Morning Britain that a key promise made by the Leave campaign was a mistake.

In its advertisements, the Leave campaign had claimed that the U.K. sent 350 million pounds a week to the European Union, and promised that in the event of an exit the money would come home—specifically to fund the National Health Service. (That figure was an exaggeration). Reid asked Farage whether he could guarantee that outcome now that the vote was over; his response was, “No, I can’t, and I would never have made that claim, and that was one of the mistakes I think that the Leave campaign made.” (Farage campaigned for Brexit but was not part of the official Leave campaign, which he said “ostracized” him.)

Reid followed up incredulously: “That’s why many people have voted. … You’re saying, after 17 million people have voted for Leave, based—I don’t know how many people voted on the basis of that advert but that was a huge part of the propaganda—you’re now saying that’s a mistake?”

Watch the exchange here:


11:39 a.m.

Stocks in London, which at one point were down 7 percent, somewhat recovered to close down 2.7 percent.


11 a.m.

Carl Bildt, the former Swedish prime minister who last night called the result of the Brexit vote “beyond comprehension,” highlights the demographics of the voter preferences. Young voters, particularly 18-24-year-olds, favored remaining in the EU by large margins in a YouGov poll taken before the referendum; older voters tended to feel the opposite. (Though it’s worth noting that YouGov’s final poll before results were announced showed Remain in the lead, which in the end was not to be.) But opinion polls on the actual outcome were in a statistical dead heat before final results were announced; the margins of the age gap in voting preferences are far more convincing. And here’s how Bildt, at any rate, interprets that finding:


10:36 a.m.

Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has also issued a statement on the vote:


9:50 a.m.

It’s going to be a long day on Wall Street. The U.S. stock exchanges just opened, and as expected, they’re taking a shellacking. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is currently down over 450 points, while NASDAQ and the S&P 500 have shed between 2 and 3 percent of their value.


9:26 a.m.

President Obama, who had championed Britain’s continued membership in the EU, has weighed in this morning. Here’s his full statement:

The people of the United Kingdom have spoken, and we respect their decision.  The special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is enduring, and the United Kingdom’s membership in NATO remains a vital cornerstone of U.S. foreign, security, and economic policy.  So too is our relationship with the European Union, which has done so much to promote stability, stimulate economic growth, and foster the spread of democratic values and ideals across the continent and beyond.  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 for Europe, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the world.

Obama had famously said Britain would go to the “back of the queue” on trade negotiations with the U.S. in case of a Brexit.


8:34 a.m.

Global financial markets are reacting exactly as you’d expect them to this morning: They’re plummeting. Here’s a summary:

Gold, a safe haven at times of instability, has soared to a more than two-year high.


6:40 a.m. ET

Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, is saying the possibility of another Scottish referendum on independence from the U.K. is “highly likely.” Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU.

“Its a statement of the obvious that a second referendum is on the table,” she told the BBC in an interview.

Pro-independence Scots narrowly lost a referendum on independence in 2014.


6:17 a.m. ET

Boris Johnson, the man who led the “leave” campaign, said: “We cannot turn our backs on Europe, we are part of Europe.” He also described Cameron as one “of the most extraordinary politicians of our age.”

But, he said of the EU: “It was a noble idea for its time, it is no longer right for this country.”

Johnson is widely tipped to succeed Cameron as British prime minister.

Meanwhile, a joint statement from the EU says: “ We regret this decision but respect it.”  

We now expect the United Kingdom government to give effect to this decision of the British people as soon as possible, however painful that process may be. Any delay would unnecessarily prolong uncertainty.


Updated on June 24 at 6:06 a.m.

Prime Minister David Cameron says “fresh leadership” is needed in the U.K., but he will stay in office until October to “steady the ship.” He said a new prime minister would have to negotiate with the EU on what Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc will look like.

His full speech  

The British decision has had ripple effects, as expected, in the financial markets. Here’s a summary, via Bloomberg:

Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, has weighed in, as well:

Trump had supported Britain’s departure from the EU. Scotland, of course, voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU, and SNP leaders have said a referendum is on the table to split from the U.K.


June 23 at 11:45 p.m.

The BBC and other British news networks are calling it: the United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union.


11:42 p.m.

Northern Ireland, where the 1998 Good Friday Agreement ended the Troubles, voted to remain in the EU, but the vote there reflected the historic divisions between Catholics and Protestants. Indeed, Martin McGuinness, the deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, and a former senior IRA member, said in March if Britain leaves the EU, Northern Ireland should get its own vote on union with the Republic of Ireland.

As you would expect, the Democratic Unionist Party, which mostly represents Protestants, says Northern Ireland’s future is now as “bright as the rest of the U.K.”

Former President Clinton had urged British voters to stay in the EU, saying leaving would imperil the Good Friday agreement.


11:30 p.m.

A victory for the leave campaign also raises questions about Scotland’s future in the U.K. The Scots, who narrowly voted in 2014 to remain in the U.K., have broadly voted to remain in the EU. Nicola Sturgeon, the head of the Scottish National Party, told the Guardian this week that if the U.K. voted to leave, “there will be things I’ll want to do very quickly to assert our ability to have a direct voice both with the U.K. government and with Europe.” The SNP manifesto, she pointed out, says the Scottish Parliament can call for another referendum on independence under such circumstances.


11:23 p.m.

The British pound is cratering right now, dropping to 31-year lows against the U.S. dollar as a departure from the European Union looks increasingly likely. From Bloomberg:

The 8.5 percent plunge on Friday leaves the currency on course for its worst day on record, and compares with the 4.1 percent drop on 1992’s Black Wednesday, when the pound was forced out of Europe’s exchange-rate mechanism—the previous biggest daily drop. The pound’s biggest-ever intraday decline has already been surpassed – with a 9.5 percent drop on Friday beating a 5.9 percent decline on Oct. 24, 2008—when stock markets crashed around the world during the Great Financial Crisis.


11:15 p.m.

With Britain’s exit from the EU looking increasingly likely, politicians and political commentators are speculating about the fate of David Cameron. The Conservative prime minister had strongly backed the U.K.’s continued membership in the EU, but the potential loss in the referendum, as well as the dramatic impact that possibility is having on the British currency and stock futures, is prompting speculation of his resignation and/or fresh elections.


11:13 p.m.

Nigel Farage, the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, told supporters at the leave campaign’s headquarters, “Dare to dream, I think dawn is breaking on an independent United Kingdom.” He added that June 23 will be go down in British history as “our independence day.”

He then repeated his optimism on Twitter:


11:06 p.m.

Many votes are still waiting to be counted, but the Independent‘s 3 AM front page for Friday is inching towards acknowledging a leave victory.


10:54 p.m.

The leave campaign is leading in England and Wales while the remain campaign is winning in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Here’s what that looks like.

It’s worth noting that not all the results from the southeast, home to London, are in yet. That area is expected to vote to remain in the EU, though it’s unclear if there will be enough votes to close the gap.


10:40 p.m.

ITV News is now predicting an 80 percent probability of a victory for the leave campaign. Meanwhile, leave has taken a lead nationwide:


10:35 p.m.

The effect of a possible leave victory is roiling the pound, which is down 6 percent.

Stock futures are showing a similar effect:


10:31 p.m.

The remain camp have suffered a major loss in Sheffield, a city they were expected to win.

This is a huge loss for the remain side, as the city was a bastion of the Labour party.


10:24 p.m.

The Press Association still has the two sides neck and neck, at 3 a.m. GMT (10 p.m. ET):

But the BBC is quoting John Curtice, the polling expert, as saying the leave campaign is the favorite to win.


10:06 p.m.

The remain side was boosted by its performance in Wandsworth, the London borough. It performed much better than expected, winning 75 percent to 25 percent, with a 72 percent turnout.


9:57 p.m.

However tonight ends, the vote is going to be extremely close. That’s possibly why British politicians are making it a point to say they will start listening to the electorate. John Mann, a Labour MP, says the party is “out of touch” on issues like immigration, prompting many of its traditional voters to vote leave. EU membership allows citizens of member states to freely settle and work in any of the bloc’s 28 countries. That can be a boon if you’re a job-seeker, but not so much if you’ve had your wages undercut. Indeed, John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, says he doesn’t think Labour has “been listening enough” to its supporters.

If you’re wondering why we’re focusing on Labour voters, it’s because the party’s members are mostly supportive of EU membership. This isn’t true of the ruling Conservatives, who have a large Euro-skeptic bloc—even if David Cameron, the prime minister, has championed the remain side.


9:45 p.m.

The Press Association reports that the remain side now has a slight lead over leave.

It’s important to point out that this is still early in the counting phase. Indeed, the BBC has lower numbers, and has the leave side leading: 1,292,762 votes versus 1,144,509 votes.


9:35 p.m.

The Remain side appears to be performing better than expected in their stronghold London, but is it too late?

But in Wales, the leave side is performing well. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, the remain side is expected to win.


9:30 p.m.

The bettors giveth, and the bettors taketh away. Labrokes now has remain is favored to win. Here are the odds:


9:23 p.m.

The leave side has reached the 1-million vote mark before the remain side, according to the BBC.


9:08 p.m.

Here are the results so far:

John Curtice, the polling expert, estimates to the BBC that 16.8 million votes are needed to win referendum. At this stage, he says, the leave side has a slight edge—though it’s still early days.


8:54 p.m.

Broadly speaking, so far this evening, England is voting to leave the EU while Scotland is voting to remain.

Also, as in any campaign in which a side is doing worse than expected—in this case the “remain” side—the recriminations have begun: The Guardian quotes Chris Bryant, a Labour leader in the House of Commons, as saying of Ed Miliband, the former party leader: “I might go and punch him because he’s a tosspot and he left the party in the state it’s in.”

Both men support the remain side—as does a broad majority of the Labour party.

Kate Hoey, another party member, said Labour risks losing many of their traditional voters because of its pro-EU position. Hoey, who backs leave, told Sky News:

We will find thousands and thousands of Labour supporters abandoning the Labour view on this because we’ve known for a long time, being out there, that Labour supporters, the Labour Party view on this, is out of step with Labour supporters and ex-Labour supporters, who I’m afraid we’ll probably find will not come back to us after the way the leadership have fought this campaign of staying in.


8:35 p.m.

The betting markets are often a more accurate predictor of election results. Here’s Betfair’s latest:

Separately, the fall in the British pound is the third-biggest on record, after the great recession of 2008 and 1992, when the currency left the European exchange-rate mechanism.


8:27 p.m.

The Press Association has a useful map of results to look for:


8:03 p.m.

Several results have come in, including from Sunderland, where the leave campaign won by a larger-than-expected margin: 61,745 votes to 51,220. And here are the results from Swindon:

In Newcastle, where the remain campaign was expected to perform well, it won by a much smaller margin than expected: 65,404 votes (50.7 percent) to 63,598 votes (49.3 percent).

The results have caused the British pound to plummet:

But the BBC points out, both the leave and remain sides are performing better than expected in their areas—making the overall results hard to predict. Remember, a simple majority will determine the winner.


7:58 p.m.

Turnout in the City of London was  73.58 percent, the returning officer there said, with 4,405 out of 5,987 eligible voters casting their ballots. The area or about 1 square mile roughly corresponds to the British capital’s financial heart.


7:52 p.m.

There were questions about Prime Minister David Cameron’s future if Britain voted to leave the EU. Cameron, who campaigned for the U.K. to remain in the U.K., had first promised a referendum—a move for which he has since been criticized—and had staked his political reputation on its results. But Boris Johnson, a fellow Conservative, and 84 other MPs, in a letter, urged Cameron to remain prime minister regardless of the results.


6:58 p.m.

Counting is under way across the U.K. after millions of people voted in a referendum on the country’s membership in the European Union.

Polls conducted before Thursday’s vote suggested the outcome was too close to call, but an online poll conducted today by YouGov pointed to a slight edge for those who want the U.K. to remain in the EU.

Indeed, Nigel Farage, the head of the U.K. Independence Party, who has championed Britain’s exit from the EU, told the Press Association that his “friends in the financial markets who have done some big polling” say the country has voted to remain.

The first results from Gibraltar, the British overseas territory near Spain, were overwhelmingly in favor of staying.

The result, which is likely to be made final Friday morning local time (overnight in the Eastern time zone), could have far-reaching implications for the EU, the 28-member bloc that is post-war Europe’s most ambitious experiment.

Initial figures from the country’s Electoral Commission said 46.5 million people had registered—a record in Britain for what is only its third referendum ever. Polls opened at 7 a.m. local time (3 a.m. ET) and closed at 10 p.m.

For a guide to Brexit, go here.

Mongolia’s “Unbreakable Flower”

Soronzonboldyn Battsetseg, whose name translates to “unbreakable flower,” is determined to win gold in Rio. The female wrestler won bronze in London in 2012 and is training twice a day—with both men and women—to prepare for next month’s Olympics. “From ancient times we have been a wrestling country,” her coach, Sukhbataar, said to Reuters. “Mongolian women are like warriors.”

The End of Thailand’s Tiger Temple

Wildlife officials in Thailand have seized some of the more than 100 tigers held at a Buddhist temple in response to allegations of mistreatment of the animals.

Six tigers were tranquilized and removed Monday from Wat Pa Luangta Maha Bua Yannasampanno, which is known as “Tiger Temple,” according to animal-welfare advocates. The temple is a popular tourist spot in Kanchanaburi province, where visitors are allowed to play with tigers and cubs and even take selfies with them. Government officials plan to clear the temple of all tigers, and will spend the next week removing the remaining 131 animals. The tigers will be transported to government sanctuaries elsewhere in the country.

For years, former temple workers and animal-welfare groups have alleged that the tigers have been abused—beaten, fed poorly, and housed in small concrete cages with limited time outside. Some conservationists say the monks have illegally bred and trafficked the animals. Temple officials have denied the allegations.

Monday’s raid was led by Thailand’s national parks, wildlife, and plant conservation department, which obtained a warrant from a provincial court to seize the tigers, according to The Nation, an English-language newspaper in Thailand. Officials had previously seized 10 tigers in raids in January and February. The department granted the temple a zoo license in April, but appeared this month to reverse course.

“We have a court warrant this time, unlike previous times, when we only asked for the temple’s cooperation, which did not work,” Adisorn Nuchdamrong, deputy director-general of the national parks department, told Reuters Monday. “International pressure concerning illegal wildlife trafficking is also part of why we’re acting now.”

The Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, an animal-rights group based in Phetchaburi province, located south of Kanchanaburi, documented the interaction between the monks and department officials:

The Nation described “high tension” at the temple as wildlife department staff, local police, Thai armed forces, and members of animal-rights groups descended on the grounds. At first, the temple’s monks denied entry to officials. Later, monks unchained several tigers and allowed them to roam freely, which animal-rights activists said was an attempt to hinder operations to confiscate them.

More than 300 officials remained at the temple overnight to ensure the remaining tigers’ safety, the AP reported.

The New York Times in May reported temple officials say the tiger attraction earns $3 million a year in ticket revenue, while government officials say it brings in $5.7 million.

The Latest Military Offensives Against ISIS

Iraqi security troops, Shiite militias, and other forces have nearly surrounded Fallujah one week after they began a military offensive to recapture the city from Islamic State militants.

The forces were stationed outside Fallujah Sunday, and will eventually advance on the city, Reuters reported, citing state media.

Government forces and militias began their approach in the hours between May 22 and May 23, and are backed by U.S.-led coalition air strikes. They have seized some villages and other rural areas this week in their march toward Fallujah. The city, located east of Baghdad,  was the first of several to fall to ISIS in January 2014, six months before the militant group declared a caliphate in Iraq and Syria and Western nations began considering air strikes. The city’s 50,000 residents have remained trapped since. At least 3,000 people have fled Fallujah to safety in the last few days, and some have been killed trying to escape, according to humanitarian agencies. The coming onslaught is expected to further endanger the remaining residents.

Iraqi forces on Sunday launched other offensives against ISIS elsewhere in Iraq. Government troops and Kurdish peshmerga fighters attacked ISIS militants in village east of the city of Mosul, which has been under ISIS control since June 2014. U.S. and Iraq officials hope to attempt to recapture Mosul if the offensive in Fallujah succeeds.

Reuters reported Sunday service members from the U.S.-led coalition were present on the front line near Mosul. Fighting appeared “heavy,” Reuters said:

Pick up trucks raced back from the frontline with wounded people in the back, and two of the U.S.-led coalition servicemen helped haul one man onto a stretcher.

Gunfire and airstrikes could be heard at a distance, while Apache helicopters flew overhead. One of the villages, Mufti, was captured by mid-day, the Kurdistan Region Security Council said in a statement.

Video footage from reporters on the ground in Saqlawiyah, located north of Fallujah, showed soldiers firing artillery, some wearing long-sleeved camouflage shirts and pants, others in T-shirts.

In Syria, rebels drove ISIS militants out of the the villages of Kafr Shoush and Braghida Sunday, the AP reported. ISIS had swept the villages earlier this week, catching the rebels by surprise.

The U.S. has said ISIS has lost 40 percent of its territory in Iraq and 10 percent in Syria after more than a year of bombing by coalition forces.

No Kurd Will Die to Restore Iraqi Unity

This week marked the start of offensives ultimately aimed at retaking two of ISIS’s last major urban strongholds—Raqqa, the group’s de facto capital in Syria, and Fallujah, the first major Iraqi city to fall to ISIS some two years ago. The final prize, Mosul, seems to remain out of reach for the foreseeable future, despite indications a year ago that a battle to retake the city could come any day. An Iraqi army offensive launched in late March stalled quickly.

Mosul is Iraq’s second-largest city. ISIS wrested it from Iraqi government control in 2014 in its first major show of strength, and it is where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a “caliphate” and demanded the allegiance of the world’s Muslims. Taking it back will be essential to winning the war against ISIS. But as fighters opposed to ISIS try to advance elsewhere on the battlefield, little is being done to promote the reconciliation between Shia and Sunni Arabs that Iraq really needs—both to construct a force capable of beating ISIS, in Mosul and beyond, and to create the political conditions to prevent its return.

ISIS and the ‘Loser Effect’


We—the Kurds in Iraq—believe the road to Mosul begins in Baghdad. My colleagues in the Kurdistan Region Security Council and I are working closely with the global coalition in the war on ISIS and planning for the Mosul offensive. (I’m writing here in a personal capacity.) Our peshmerga remain the most effective ground force against ISIS in Iraq, and have already defeated the group on every major front where we’ve faced them, pushing the jihadists to the edge of Mosul after the group’s attempts to expand north from the city. Joint raids by U.S. and Kurdish special-operations forces in and around the city, as well as in Syria, have netted troves of intelligence on the group’s operations and finances.

And our peshmerga will continue creating the conditions to allow a liberating force to take Mosul back. We have let the Iraqi army to use Kurdish territory as a staging ground. Since doing so, in fact, we’ve seen a sudden increase in ISIS attacks into Kurdish-held territory. But our brave men alone cannot go into Mosul, an Arab city, where they would be seen as an occupying force. Put simply, given that we Kurds aspire to run our own affairs in our own territory in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, no peshmerga will die to restore Iraqi unity. The Kurds cannot force Shia and Sunni Arabs to live together in peace.

At least 40,000 peshmerga continue to hold a 600-mile border against ISIS in northern Iraq. These fighters have relied on mostly aging, Soviet-era equipment to clear over 8,000 miles of territory. We intend to keep it all, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, which the Iraqi army abandoned in June 2014 as ISIS swept across northern Iraq. We are part of the global coalition against ISIS, and Islamic State-occupied territory remains a threat to us, so we have an interest in participating in the Mosul operation. But we expect the Iraqi government to compensate us, both militarily and politically.

Iraqi Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani has announced plans for an independence referendum later this year in territories reclaimed by the peshmerga. I and many of my compatriots in the Kurdistan region believe the Iraqi government in Baghdad is deliberately pushing us away: It has suspended of our share of the country’s oil revenues for the last two years, withheld payments to the peshmerga, and lobbied against our attempts to purchase arms for the war on ISIS. In 2015, for instance, we received only one weapons shipment from Baghdad. It was mostly ammunition. For the rest, we had to rely on other countries.

took back from ISIS last December in its first major victory against the group. In that case, the government could rely on a small but cohesive Sunni front to help. This meant that the operation did not require Shia militias to occupy the Sunni city. Given the brutality some of those militias have displayed elsewhere, many locals might not prefer that state of affairs to ISIS rule.

Mosul, on the other hand, is a much larger city, with a mosaic of ethnic and religious groups. It’s the political and tribal center of anti-government sentiment. The Kurdish government and the international anti-ISIS coalition have estimated that there are nearly 9,000 die-hard ISIS fighters in the city, and that dislodging them will require at least two divisions, or 30,000 men, engaged in house-to-house fighting for up to six months. As of now, however, nearly two years since Mosul fell, just 5,400 men from the Iraqi army are in place in Makhmour, south of the Kurdish capital of Erbil, 50 miles from Mosul.

The U.S. is devoting painstaking efforts to keeping Shia militias out of Mosul, where their involvement could begin an endless cycle of score-settling and diminish hopes that the Sunnis will turn against ISIS and revolt. But it was this same kind of Sunni revolt that was required to defeat the Islamic State’s predecessor, al-Qaeda in Iraq, and the effort against ISIS cannot succeed without a similar mobilization in the Sunni areas where the group predominates. The volunteers in the current fight, however, are riven by ethnic differences and mistrust. Each group is competing for influence in a post-ISIS Mosul; some, backed by Turkey, antagonize the Iranian-backed Shia militias. Iran and Turkey, in turn, are filling the vacuum left by the government in Baghdad.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi government, whose policies created the current crisis, has left those same policies largely in place. Officials have done little to offer Mosul’s people an alternative between domination by Shia militias on the one hand or ISIS control on the other.

But the right policies can increase the operation’s chances of success. Baghdad can do more to encourage a Sunni-led revolt. There are over a million mostly Sunni Arabs living in displacement in the Kurdistan region, and in our conversations with them they’ve expressed that they’re not interested in fighting for Mosul unless political and security guarantees come from Baghdad. Further devolution of power to Sunni provinces can give the community a stake in the country’s future and buy-in to the political process.

And if Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi wants to encourage more peshmerga participation in the fight for Mosul—including help organizing Sunni groups—he can restore federal payments to Kurdistan and provide equipment. These are rights, not privileges, enshrined in the Iraqi Constitution. The peshmerga have not been paid for five months. His government’s practice of providing arms to Kurdish groups that refuse to come under the authority of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs undermines our region and should stop.

These gestures would lesson tensions and give the Kurds incentives to fight a battle that’s fundamentally not theirs. Beyond the Mosul operation, Abadi can accept he cannot hold back the Kurds, and offer political recognition of our national goals. We will not return to a united Iraq if Mosul is liberated. The gulf between our government in Erbil and the Iraqi government in Baghdad is unbridgeable.

We can provide the means for a swift victory. But the ability to hold Mosul in the long term will depend on the Shia-led government reaching an inclusive political agreement with its Sunni community. The Sunnis, too, need their autonomy in the areas they dominate, including the parts of northern and western Iraq where ISIS currently holds sway. The right to create federal regions is stipulated in the Iraqi constitution, and many Sunni officials believe doing so holds the key to a secure future. In the past, however, calls for a regional government in Sunni areas, similar to what the Kurds have, were met with the arrival of the Iraqi army and a declaration of martial law by former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The Kurds believe long-term stability can only be achieved by recognizing the new, de facto segregated Iraq. No amount of firepower will deliver peace.