LONDON: The Latest on Britain's referendum on whether to leave the European Union:
Amid the anxiety over Britain's vote to leave the European Union, the Irish are managing some laughter to relieve the tension of a looming break-up.
Ireland's premier drag queen, Panti Bliss, says she observed perfect comic timing when traveling through Dublin Airport arrivals after flying Friday from London.
As passengers neared the immigration checkpoint, she said, a passports official advised the newcomers: "All EU passports this way."
After a long pause, the official clarified to much laughter: "Including the U.K.!"
NATO's chief says Britain's defense secretary has called to reassure him his country remains fully engaged in the alliance the vote to pull out of the European Union.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters: "I spoke with Michael Fallon this morning and he assured me on behalf of the British government that they will continue to be committed, they will continue to contribute."
Britain's commitments to NATO include being a lead nation in 2017 for a new high-readiness joint task force and supplying the core for one of the four multinational battalions being created to help defend the Baltic states and Poland.
Stoltenberg said Britain opting to leave the EU makes for "a more unpredictable situation," and that it is more crucial than ever for NATO to be strong and united.
He added: "But now it is a fact that the U.K. will leave (the EU). So then we have to look forward and find out how we can in the best possible way respond to that."
A member of the Estonia's center-right coalition says Britain has started the breaking up of Europe and Russian President Vladimir "Putin is drinking champagne."
Margus Tsahkna, chairman of the Baltic country's conservative ILR party, says "Europe can be broken by no one else but by Europe itself. You don't need tanks for it."
His comments were seen as a nod to the increased assertiveness by Russian forces around the Baltic Sea. Moscow has yet to comment on the outcome of the British vote.
The ILR party is part of the three-party government that also includes the pro-market Reform Party and the Social Democrats.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says the European Union is in need of serious introspection after Britain's decision to withdraw from the bloc.
Speaking to reporters Friday, he said all EU "policies have been unsuccessful," pointing to integration, expansion, security and economic-related policies as examples.
The EU, the minister added, has failed to address the rise of several negative trends such as extremism, Islamophobia, racism and xenophobia.
He said that Britain's withdrawal hinders the EU's capacity to be a powerful global actor and that Ankara would have preferred it stayed in the bloc.
Cavusoglu said this development underscores Turkey's importance for EU stability and security.
The news of Britain's decision to leave the European Union has become a topic of discussion for players at the European Championship in France.
Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini and his teammates went to bed thinking Britain would vote to remain in the European Union and they were "a bit shocked" to learn the country chose to leave the bloc.
Chiellini was speaking at the team's Euro 2016 base camp in Montpellier, France, on Friday, three days before Italy's match against Spain in the last 16.
He said "the main concern should be about an eventual domino effect caused by this decision. I don't think that a simple U.K. exit can change the equilibrium of the whole European economy, or the world economy, aside from the heartburn everybody's feeling these days."
Chiellini added: "This vote is the symbol of a general discussion that you can feel in Italy and all across Europe, but I think that discontent shouldn't lead to a vote for disintegration."
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has promised to "work closely with both London and Brussels and our international partners to ensure continued economic stability, security, and prosperity in Europe and beyond."
In a statement released Friday following Britain's vote to leave the European Union, Lew said he has been consulting for weeks with finance officials and investment firms in the United Kingdom, Europe and around the world.
He said: "The U.K. and other policymakers have the tools necessary to support financial stability, which is key to economic growth."
Stock markets and the pound have plunged amid investor concerns about the economic repercussions of Britain's departure from the EU, the world's largest economic bloc.
Bosnia's leaders say EU membership will remain their goal despite Britain's vote to leave.
Prime Minister Denis Zvizdic said Friday Bosnia is determined to join the European Union as "nowhere on this planet people live better."
The country's Croat member of the presidency, Dragan Covic, who submitted Bosnia's membership application in February, said the U.K. vote was just another challenge that will make the Union stronger.
The worst war fought on the continent since the Nazi era was in Bosnia after the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Part of the cause was nationalist separatism. Covic says Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats found inspiration in the European Union to overcome their differences and the joint efforts to become an EU member "turned us into better, more responsible" people.
Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak says Britain must quickly inform its European Union partners about when it plans to leave the bloc.
Lajack said Friday after talks with EU counterparts in Luxembourg that "the overwhelming feeling among the member states is that we cannot afford to wait until the Conservative Party will find a new leader."
When asked whether the EU could wait until October for Britain to notify Europe of its intentions, Lajcak said "I simply cannot imagine that," and he added: "We do not have this luxury of waiting."
He said: "We need to know where we stand. We need to be able to communicate with our people."
Turkey's minister for EU affairs, Omer Celik, says Ankara respects the British people's vote to withdraw from the European Union, but is warning that it was a bad decision for Europe.
Noting that European values were humanity's shared values, Celik added that there had been serious problems with the implementation of European ideas in recent years and called for an update to existing mechanisms.
However, he added, "Young people's support for the 'remain' campaign indicates that the idea of Europe has been successful."
Celik also condemned the negative portrayal of Turkey in the lead-up to the referendum, saying UK Prime Minister David Cameron had failed to resist the extreme right's attacks against Turkey.
"When mainstream politicians can't act with common sense, they are drawn into the extreme-right agenda," he said.
This item has been corrected to say Celik is Turkey's minister for EU affairs, not Development Minister.
Malta is offering to help smooth Britain's path out of the EU when the Mediterranean island nation assumes the rotating presidency of the European Union in January.
Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat noted Friday at a news conference that Britain was due to take on the baton in July 2017.
Muscat says Maltese ministries had already made preparations in case Britain voted to leave the union. He says Malta is "in full gear" to take on an important role as part of exit negotiations which will take place under its presidency.
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite says she believes the European Union and Britain "will find a new way to live together."
Grybauskaite says that "in the short term" the EU "will feel the consequences of this decision," adding "it is our duty to restore people's trust in the EU."
Separately Friday, her Estonian counterpart Toomas Hendrik Ilves expressed hope that Britain's decision to leave the bloc will strengthen cooperation between the remaining 27 EU member states.
Ilves said "personally, I hope that it will have a unifying effect on the EU27," according to the Baltic News Service agency.
The three Baltic countries — Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia — joined the European Union after nearly five decades of Soviet occupation.
The president of the European Council says the bloc is ready for quick talks on Britain's exit, but that all EU regulations will apply to the nation until it fully leaves.
Donald Tusk said on Polish TVN24 Friday that "all laws and rules will apply as long as Britain is an EU member, and that will be years from now."
The former Polish prime minister estimated the process will take about two years, after which Britain will be under its own laws and can seek to tighten immigration regulations.
He said he doesn't expect the current or future British government to procrastinate over the opening of talks on a decision made by the nation.
Britain's Treasury Chief George Osborne has briefed Group of Seven finance ministers and central bank governors after Britain voted to leave the European Union.
Osborne told his followers on Twitter that he contacted his counterparts in the world's biggest economies after markets gyrated following the seismic decision. The comments come after a dramatic day in which Bank of England Gov. Mark Carney also promised that the institution would take any necessary steps to maintain fiscal and monetary stability.
Osborne said Friday the vote for a British exit, or Brexit, was "not the outcome I wanted," but that he respects the decision of the British people.
He promised to "do all I can to make it work."
Serbia's prime minister says the Balkan country will continue on its pro-EU path despite the British vote to leave the European Union.
Aleksandar Vucic also expressed hope Friday the British exit will not affect EU plans to accept new members in the future.
Vucic says, "This is the biggest political earthquake since the fall of the Berlin Wall and there is no doubt that it will leave significant consequences."
He concedes that "I cannot tell you what the EU enlargement policies will be (in the future)," But adds, "Serbia will continue on its European path."
Serbia has sought to move closer to the EU following years of instability and war during the 1990s. There are concerns that Britain's exit could strengthen the nationalists seeking closer ties with Russia.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Friday that by opting to leave the European Union, British voters had expressed their disapproval of the negative campaign conducted against Turkey in the lead-up to the referendum.
In his first public statement following the United Kingdom's EU referendum, Yildirim rebuked British Prime Minister David Cameron for speaking out against Turkey's EU membership. "Despite centering his campaign on Turkey, despite making several outlandish comments, British voters dismissed his claims and have informed Mr. Cameron that his views regarding Turkey were wrong."
Italian Premier Matteo Renzi says after the British vote, it's time for "calm and lucidity" so Europe can set to work restructuring.
Renzi said Friday "Europe is our home" and "that of our children and grandchildren." He added that, today more than ever, "the house must be remodeled, maybe freshened up, but it's the house of our tomorrow." He said Europe's young people are asking for "more Europe'" to realize dreams and expectations.
Many Italian college graduates, unable to find jobs at home, head to Britain to pursue research or careers in finance and other fields.
Renzi recalled that "in moments of difficulty, Europe pulls out the best of itself."
Poland's prime minister says she will propose reforms at the European Union summit next week that are necessary to make the bloc stronger.
Beata Szydlo, whose government has been put under the EU's rarely used "rule of law" scrutiny procedure, said Poland will remain a "responsible member" of the EU concerned about the unity and growth of a bloc that is shrinking to 27 members.
At the summit next week Poland will "propose reforms that we consider necessary," Szydlo said
The EU must not pretend that it is not going through a crisis and should not avoid discussing difficult issues, she said.
Croatia's foreign minister says the British vote to leave the European Union presents a blow for the bloc and will likely affect its enlargement plans.
Miro Kovac, however, said Friday that Britain's exit from the EU should not significantly affect Croatia's economy.
Kovac said: "Croatia and Great Britain are not that connected economically like Croatia and some other EU member states." He conceded that "Croatia will have to adapt politically to Great Britain's exit from the EU."
Croatia is the EU's newest member state, having joined in 2013. Several Balkan states are also waiting in line for membership.
Kovac said: "We will advocate that the exit has no effect on the enlargement, but we have to be realistic, there will be consequences."
Pope Francis says the British decision to leave the European Union reflects the will of its people and that Britain and the rest of the continent must now work to live together.
Francis told reporters en route to Armenia on Friday that the decision places "a great responsibility on all of us to guarantee the well-being of the people of the United Kingdom."
He said it also will require all to "take responsibility for the well-being and coexistence of the entire European continent."
The Vatican has supported the European project from its inception, seeing unification as a way to improve social and economic standards and solidarity. While officially taking a neutral position as Britain debated whether to leave, Francis' demands that Europe welcome in more migrants put him squarely at odds with the "Brexit" camp.
Greece's prime minister says the British referendum dealt a severe blow to European unification, and should force a shift toward more "democratic" practices within the European Union.
Alexis Tsipras who, a year ago, nearly presided over debt-crippled Greece's exit from the Eurozone, said Friday that the vote "confirms a deep political crisis, a crisis of identity and strategy for Europe."
He called for a swift change of course in EU thinking, saying politics must retake the lead "from the economy and technocrats.
"The British referendum will either serve as a wake-up call for the sleepwalker heading toward the void, or it will be the beginning of a very dangerous and slippery course for our peoples," Tsipras added in an address televised live.
Athens stocks tumbled 14 percent Friday.
A senior commander of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard has described Britain's vote to leave the European Union as payback for "years of colonialism and crimes against humanity."
Iran's semi-official Fars news agency quoted Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri making the comment Friday after the results of the EU referendum were announced. Jazayeri also serves as the deputy chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces.
Meanwhile, an official in President Hassan Rouhani's office, Hamid Aboutalebi, called the vote a "big earthquake" that's part of the "domino" collapse of the EU.
Iran's government is still suspicious of Britain over its role in backing the 1953 coup that installed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to power. A British-Iranian woman remains held in the country by the Revolutionary Guard.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan wants Europeans living in the British capital to feel welcome in the city despite the result of the EU referendum.
In a statement posted on his Facebook page, Khan praised London's "nearly one million European citizens" as hard-working, tax-paying residents contributing to civic and cultural life.
"You are welcome here. We value the enormous contribution you make to our city and that will not change as a result of this referendum," Khan said.
"We all have a responsibility to now seek to heal the divisions that have emerged throughout this campaign — and to focus on what unites us, rather than that which divides us."
The leader of Poland's ruling party says that Britain's decision to leave the European Union makes it evident that the bloc needs a new treaty that would regulate its operations better.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski said a constructive reaction in the form of new, more precise regulations is needed to the crisis that was exposed by the British vote.
"The conclusion is: we need a new European treaty," Kaczynski told a news conference.
He said EU laws should be made more precise and become the sole basis for the group's operations, as they are now sometimes based on arbitrary decisions. Also the principle of general consensus should be replaced by a strong majority, to avoid delays in decision-making, he said.
He suggested top EU leaders should consider leaving their posts.
The leader of an Italian anti-immigrant party is calling the European Union "a cage of crazies" that is killing jobs and citizen dignity.
Matteo Salvini, who heads the right-wing Northern League, said Friday that the European Union is "the death of our work, our dignity."
He says his party will push for reviewing and overhauling EU treaties dealing with the euro common currency, trade and immigration.
The League used to be a key ally of former Premier Silvio Berlusconi. But it has increasingly become more right-wing as it seeks alliances with far-right parties across Europe.
Spain's acting Foreign Minister says his country should make the most of Britain's decision to leave the European Union to press its claim for sovereignty of the disputed colony of Gibraltar.
Margallo told Onda Cero radio Friday that Spain should again push its offer of a period of co-sovereignty for Gibraltar's 30,000 inhabitants prior to becoming Spanish again.
Margallo, whose conservative Popular Party runs Spain's caretaker government ahead of repeat elections Sunday, said the Brexit vote, while regrettable, completely changes the panorama regarding Gibraltar.
"I hope the joint sovereignty formula, or to put it clearly, the Spanish flag on the Rock - is much closer rather than further away," said Margallo.
Margallo said as soon as the EU-UK divorce is completed, EU treaties would no longer apply and Gibraltar would be considered a third country, outside the single market. He said Spain should then seek for Gibraltar to be excluded from future Britain-EU negotiations and treated as a strictly bilateral issue with Spain.
Gibraltar, which voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, depends heavily on Spain for produce and supplies. English and Spanish are spoken on the Rock and thousands of Spaniards cross over the border each day to work.
Spain ceded Gibraltar's sovereignty to Britain in a 1713 treaty but has persistently sought its return ever since.
Romania's president says the country will look after Romanians living in Britain after it voted to leave the European Union.
Klaus Iohannis said Friday it would take Britain two years of exit negotiations and "we will negotiate so that Romania's interests are protected and we will look after Romanians who live and work in Britain."
There are officially 150,000 Romanians working in Britain, but unofficially there are double that.
Iohannis said he regretted Britain's decision to leave the EU, but urged Romanians to "not to worry excessively," adding the economic impact on the Romanian leu was "small and manageable."
He spoke after meeting Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos, the central bank governor Mugur Isarescu and party leaders.
Polish President Andrzej Duda says Britain's decision to exit the European Union is "sad news" that should spur the bloc to counteract any other nations wishing to leave.
"We must do everything to avoid the domino effect, a situation when other member nations also say that they don't want to be in the European Union any longer," Duda said Friday in his hometown of Krakow.
He said the European leaders should analyze what made Britain vote to leave.
"Maybe (the EU) imposes too much on its members, maybe the citizens believe that it does not operate in a democratic way and they have no right to speak on matters important to them, maybe they believe that too many decisions are taken arbitrarily in Brussels.."
Italy's foreign minister calls the British vote for an EU exit a "wakeup" call to the rest of the bloc.
Minister Paolo Gentiloni says Italy, an EU founding member, will push so that after this "grave decision" Brussels won't react with "ordinary administration" of affairs.
Instead, Gentiloni said Friday, Italy contends the challenge to respond to the British exit, "which is negative for us," must be to relaunch "common policies for growth, for migration and common defense."
For Italy, a staunch proponent of the European Union, the vote result was shocking.
Said SkyTG24 TV, "it's as if Big Ben stopped."
Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg says British voters' decision to leave the EU will be "a boost for extreme forces that want less cooperation in Europe."
Solberg whose country is not an EU member, said Friday they are "anti-establishment, anti-globalization, anti-EU forces (...) that can be pretty extreme."
Oil-rich nation Norway has signed up to the European Economic Area agreement and thereby access to the EU's huge single market.
In neighboring Sweden, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said "we must build a Europe for the people, by the people, with the people."
Germany's foreign minister says the European Union must avoid falling into hysteria or shock after British voters decided to leave.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier said as he arrived Friday at a meeting with EU counterparts: "What matters now is that we keep Europe together."
He said that officials don't yet have answers to all the questions that arise from the British vote, but that people want the EU to respond to the problems they see.
Steinmeier says leaders should focus on finding "common European solutions where they are missing" — for example to the migrant crisis and doing more to boost jobs and growth.
The European Union's Dutch presidency says Europe must pay more attention to people's concerns about jobs, security and migration in the wake of the British vote to leave the EU.
Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said Friday that "what we have to do here is not business as usual, but look at the real concerns of citizens."
Koenders warned of two short-term dangers: "those who want to take Europe apart, and the others saying we have to all at once go to even more Brussels, even more integration."
He expressed hope that the process of negotiating Britain's exit would be "transparent, predictable and as soon as possible."
Austria's chancellor says Britain's decision to leave the EU shows the necessity for reforms, particularly in boosting European economies, stemming unemployment and improving working conditions.
Christian Kern says the EU needs "a reform process with a clear direction" that will be supported by citizens of member countries.
His statement issued Thursday says such themes must be discussed in Brussels but adds national governments must also provide input "because we have now seen how quickly people's trust in the EU can be lost."
Rising disenchantment with the EU in Austria contributed to the strong showing last month of a euroskeptic populist candidate who came within a few percentage points of winning presidential elections.
Slovenia's prime minister says Britain's exit from the European Union will eventually help consolidate the bloc.
Miro Cerar said Friday that the British vote to leave the EU will cause "a short period of relative uncertainty of international markets."
Cerar added that after that it will lead to "further consolidation of the EU and encouragement to its renewal."
"It is time to refocus seriously on our common future, in particular on those concrete elements to the benefit of our citizens which bond us and make us stronger," Cerar says.
He adds that "Slovenia by all means remains strongly committed to the strengthening of the European Union.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the European Union is strong enough to find the "right answers" to Britain's vote to leave the bloc.
Merkel said Friday that Germany has a "special interest" and a "special responsibility" in European unity succeeding. She said she has invited EU President Donald Tusk, French President Francois Hollande and Italian Premier Matteo Renzi to a meeting in Berlin on Monday ahead of a previously scheduled EU summit.
Merkel told reporters in Berlin that Europe shouldn't draw "quick and simple conclusions" from the referendum that would only create further divisions.
She voiced "great regret" at the British decision to leave the EU and said the bloc must aim for a "close" future relationship with Britain. She emphasized that the country remains an EU member with "all rights and obligations" on both sides until negotiations are complete.
Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon says a new Scottish referendum on independence is "highly likely" because of Britain's vote to leave the European Union.
She said Friday legislation will be prepared for a possible new vote. Independence was defeated two years ago in a Scottish referendum.
Sturgeon said she would do everything possible to keep Scotland inside the EU. She said this means another referendum "has to be on the table."
Britain's decision to leave the EU represents a substantial, material change in Scotland's relations and could justify another independence vote, she said.
The Scottish leader also praised British Prime Minister David Cameron, who has said he will resign when a new party leader is chosen before October.
European Union leaders say that Britain will remain a member of the bloc until its exit negotiations are concluded, which probably means at least two years longer.
The leaders of the EU's institutions said Friday that "until this process of negotiations is over, the United Kingdom remains a member of the European Union, with all the rights and obligations that derive from this."
They said in a statement that under the bloc's treaties "EU law continues to apply to the full to and in the United Kingdom until it is no longer a member."
The statement was signed by European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Parliament President Martin Schulz and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose country currently holds the EU's rotating presidency.
French President Francois Hollande said he profoundly regrets the British vote to leave the European Union, but that the union must make changes in order to move forward. In a brief televised statement, Hollande said the vote will put Europe to the test, and he called for bolstering security and industrial policies.
He also called for reinforcement of the zone of countries that use the euro.
He said, "To move forward, Europe cannot act as before."
Boris Johnson says the vote to leave the European Union gives Britons a "glorious opportunity" to take control.
He said Friday there is no need for haste in negotiations.
He said the vote means Britain will be able to set its own taxes and control its own borders.
"It was a noble idea for its time; it is no longer right for this country," Johnson said of the EU.
He praised Prime Minister David Cameron as an "extraordinary politician" and said he is "sad" to see Cameron resign.
The former London mayor did not say Thursday if he plans to contend for the Conservative Party leadership.
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
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.
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.
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 newmomentum 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."
UK broadcasters predict that Britain has voted to leave the 28-nation European Union in a historic referendum.
With 323 of 382 counting centers reporting results, the "leave" side is ahead by over 900,000 votes.
As "leave" votes pour in from Britain's historic vote on European Union membership, post-mortems are already being produced. One expert says the "remain" side had suffered from "a degree of complacency."
Tim Oliver, a fellow at the London School of Economics' IDEAS foreign policy think tank says "the campaign failed to connect to ordinary people, seemed too much of an elite and London-based one."
Oliver says the vote wasn't just about Europe — but also about a popular British backlash against the capital and its elites. He says "the EU was one of the things kicked by this, but there were lots of other things such as a general anti-establishment feeling, anti-London feeling."
U.K. Independence Party leader Nigel Farage now says he thinks the "leave" side will win in Britain's historic referendum on European Union membership.
Farage has pressed British Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative government to hold the referendum — and the vote has deeply split the ruling party.
To the cheers of supporters, Farage says "the dawn is breaking on an independent United Kingdom! If the predictions now are right, this will be a victory for real people, for ordinary people, a victory for decent people!"
Farage says June 23 will go down in history as the nation's new independence day and he hopes the victory will bring down what he considers the failed European Union project.
The "leave" campaign has a lead over the "remain" side with about 70 percent of voting districts reporting early Friday.
British pound tumbles to a 31-year low as EU vote results show the 'leave' side in lead by over 400,000 votes after 244 of 382 counting centers report results.
The British pound is plunging as results come in from the EU referendum, falling to its lowest level since January 2009 hours after hitting its highest level for the year moments after the polls closed.
Uncertainty over the outcome of Britain's vote on European Union membership is keeping world currency markets on edge Friday.
The British currency fell as low as $1.3642 hours after hitting a 2016 peak of $1.50.
British voters seeking to leave the European Union hold the lead as results are being tabulated Friday morning.
With exactly half of U.K. voting districts reporting official results from Thursday's referendum, the "leave" campaign has received 52 percent of support — more than 7.7 million votes — versus 48 percent for the "remain" camp, which has 7.2 million.
Analysts say anti-EU sentiment is running unexpectedly strong in northern English cities hits hard hit by industrial decline and job losses, with broad swathes of England and Wales recording "leave" majorities. But they caution that the "remain" side could regain the lead when more districts are declared in Britain's colossal population center, London.
The close vote in Britain's referendum on EU membership made for stomach-churning twists and turns as the "remain" and "leave" camps traded the lead in the official count.
At a "remain" party in East London, Labour Party councilor Andrew Cregan said he and his guests had been through "a bit of a roller-coaster ride."
He says "it was quite positive to begin with" since financial markets appeared to be pointing to a "remain" victory. But when northeast areas of Sunderland and Newcastle reported a surge in support for "leave," he said the mood at his party soured quickly.
Cregan said the partygoers had mostly gone home but he couldn't sleep until he saw the final result.
"I'm fearful of the result," he said. "This is the most important decision that people are voting on in my lifetime. And I don't think that many people who have cast a vote today understand what they're casting a vote on, or understand what's at stake."
Voters seeking a British exit from the European Union are leading, as one-third of official results have been declared in Britain's historic referendum.
As Friday's vote counting continued overnight, the "leave" side led with 50.9 percent of votes with "remain" trailing on 49.1 percent. The gap between the two sides stood at about 191,000 votes with 144 of the 382 count centers reporting results.
Early results from London are showing strong support for the campaign to keep Britain within the European Union.
A win for the pro-European forces in the cosmopolitan capital was expected, but the high margins of victory in some London areas have given a little confidence to the "remain" camp amid poor results elsewhere.
The key will be turnout in a city that saw massive summer downpours on referendum day Thursday that caused some train and traffic chaos.
The south London boroughs of Wandsworth and Lambeth saw big margins and high turnouts, with 75 percent and 79 percent backing the "remain" side respectively.
A slew of new voting results from England, Wales and London are supporting the campaign to pull Britain out of Europe — and that means warning signs for the "remain" camp.
The first four results from Wales have shown majorities for the "leave" camp, even in Swansea, an urban area where "remain" had been expected to perform well.
The "leave" campaign also appeared to be doing better-than-expected in northeast England, where voters overwhelmingly chose to leave the EU.
Early indications showed high turnout in London, where the "remain" side is expected to dominate, but some commentators said turnout would have to be even higher to counterbalance the "leave" vote elsewhere.
The "leave" side has become the betting favorite for the first time in the British referendum campaign on whether to leave the 28-nation European Union.
The Betfair market predicts a 51 percent chance of Britain leaving the EU, after stronger-than-expected results for the out campaign in several areas of England and Wales.
Bookies' odds on Brexit also shortened to as short as 6-5. They had been 5-1 only hours earlier, as polls pointed to a "remain" win.
The results from the British referendum on European Union membership are still far too incomplete to draw any solid conclusions.
Still, a series of better-than-expected results for the "leave" camp appears to have convinced some people that the drive to pull Britain out of Europe has a real chance of winning.
Google Trends, an arm of the search engine giant, says there has been a 250 percent spike in searches for the phrase "what happens if we leave the EU" in the past hour.
The neck-and-neck nature of the British referendum vote count had politicians and pollsters predicting an all-nighter for a nervous nation.
Senior Labour official John McDonnell is predicting a final result which will put both sides within one or two percentage points of each other.
One pollster described the vote as hanging "on a knife edge."
Former Labour leader Ed Milliband told Sky News that the vote would be very close, saying "I think this is going to be a long night."
The British pound is getting whipsawed by volatile trading as initial results from the vote on whether the U.K. should remain in the European Union showed the race is too close to call.
The currency surged shortly after the polls closed Thursday, climbing to a 2016 peak of $1.50 after a leading proponent of the "leave" vote indicated he thought his side was heading for a loss. But the pound sold off — falling 4 cents in 5 minutes — after counts from cities including Newcastle and Sunderland showed the result was far from certain.
The pound was trading at about $1.453.
The "remain" side has scored only a narrow victory in the large northern English city of Newcastle.
Official figures show that 50.7 percent of voters in Newcastle backed U.K. membership in the European Union and 49.3 percent wanted to leave.
The odds of a "remain" victory fell from almost 90 percent to 72 percent on the Betfair exchange, and the pound — which had soared after polls suggested a "remain" victory — fell by 1.5 cents against the dollar to $1.4830.
University of Strathclyde political scientist John Curtice told the BBC "it may be possible that the experts are going to have egg on their face later on tonight. It may be the first sign that the 'remain' side are not going to do as well as those early polls suggested."
The vote counting in the northern England area of Leeds and neighboring Kirklees was briefly abandoned for a minute's silence in honor of lawmaker Jo Cox, who was stabbed and shot to death in the run-up to the referendum.
The killing of Cox, a parliamentarian with Britain's opposition Labour Party, shocked the country and prompted both the "remain" and the "leave" camps to suspend their campaigning.
Television footage showed ballot papers being set aside as counters stood up and bowed their heads late Thursday before resuming their work. Cox's death has loomed large over the vote, darkening the tone of an already fiercely fought campaign.
UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage says "the euroskeptic genie is now out of the bottle and it will not be put back."
Farage appeared to walk back on his apparent concession after the British polls closed Thursday night on the EU referendum, telling reporters in London that "maybe just under half, maybe just over half of the country" had voted to pull Britain out of the EU.
Still, he struck a downbeat note, saying the government's decision to extend the voter registration deadline before the vote had probably tipped the scales in the "remain" camp's favor.
His comments already seemed to look past Thursday's vote to further fights ahead.
Farage says "win or lose this battle tonight, we will win this war." He says "we will get our independence back. We will get our country back. We will get our borders back."
Gibraltar, the first British territory to announce its EU referendum result, says an overwhelming 95.8 percent of its voters have backed remaining in the bloc.
Gibraltar's leader, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, says a lopsided pro-EU vote was always expected because of the British overseas territory's dependence on maintaining easy cross-border travel and trade with neighboring EU member Spain.
The strategic spot overlooking the western entrance to the Mediterranean was seized by Britain in 1704. Today the territory, barely 3 square miles (7 square kilometers) in size, is home to more than 30,000 British citizens.
Gibraltar electoral officials say of the 20,172 people who voted, 19,322 chose to remain in the EU.
Pollster Ipsos MORI says a survey conducted on Wednesday and Thursday suggests the "remain" side will win Britain's EU referendum by a margin of 54 percent to 46 percent.
Earlier Thursday, the firm released a poll conducted Wednesday that indicated a 52-48 victory for "remain." That phone poll of 1,592 people had a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.
The firm's chief executive, Ben Page, said continued polling on Thursday — referendum day — suggested a bigger swing to "remain" that gave the 54-46 result.
Britons were voting on whether or not to leave the 28-nation European Union.
Early reports suggest a very high turnout in Britain's EU referendum.
The first area to officially declare its turnout was Gibraltar, a British enclave at the southern tip of Spain that is expected to heavily back a "remain" vote. There, almost 84 percent of eligible voters turned out to cast ballots.
Local counting officers in several areas say turnout was higher than in last year's general election, which was 66 percent.
High turnout is expected to boost the "remain" vote, because "leave" supporters are thought to be more motivated. But high turnout in working-class areas that typically have lower tallies could also boost the "leave" vote.
The last time Britain had a referendum on its EU membership, in 1975, turnout was 65 percent.
Dozens of Conservative lawmakers who called for Britain to leave the European Union have signed a letter saying Prime Minister David Cameron should stay in office whichever side wins the membership referendum.
The letter signed by 84 legislators says "whatever the British people, decide you have both a mandate and a duty to continue leading the nation implementing our policies."
That leaves more than 60 Brexit-supporting Tory lawmakers who did not sign.
The referendum on the EU has deeply split Cameron's Conservative party. Cameron led the "remain" campaign, but senior figures including Justice Secretary Michael Gove and former London Mayor Boris Johnson backed a "leave" vote.
Many observers feel Cameron will have to resign if Britons vote to leave the 28-nation bloc.
Reports that the "remain" side could be headed to victory in Britain's referendum on European Union membership have sent the British pound surging more than 1 percent to $1.50.
Polling station workers in Britain were seen rushing ballot boxes to be counted after the polls closed at 10 p.m. Thursday. Results are expected Friday morning.
British Electoral Commission Chair Jenny Watson says the first stages of the vote counting process are now underway in Britain's referendum on membership in the European Union.
Polling station workers were seen rushing ballot boxes to be counted.
The vote is expected to be close in the battle over whether Britain should stay in the European Union or leave the 28-nation bloc. Watson says final results should come in Friday morning.
UK Independent Party leader Nigel Farage, a leader of the "leave" campaign tells Sky news "it looks like 'remain' will edge it" but most British politicians said it was impossible to know at this time.
UK Independent Party leader Nigel Farage tells Sky news "it looks like 'remain' will edge it" in Britain's referendum on whether to stay in the 28-nation European Union.
Polls have closed in the historic vote and counting was beginning immediately Thursday.
Farage was one of the leaders of the 'leave' side in the referendum.
Polls have closed in Britain's historic referendum to decide whether the country remains in the European Union.
The voting Thursday was hampered by torrential rain and some flooding in London and parts of southeast England.
Counting will begin immediately with results expected Friday morning. Final polls suggested a close race.
Prime Minister David Cameron led the campaign to keep Britain inside the 28-nation bloc. He argued that participation strengthens Britain's economy and security.
Former London Mayor Boris Johnson and others on the "leave" side said Britain would be stronger and wealthier on its own.
The divisive campaign saw heated rhetoric on both sides and split the ranks of Cameron's Conservative Party.
Both sides in Britain's referendum campaign are urging supporters to get out and vote, with less than an hour to go until polls close.
Britain Stronger in Europe tweeted that people should vote to remain for "a brighter future for your children and generations to come."
Vote Leave chief executive Matthew Elliott urged people in the "heartlands" outside London and Scotland — expected to be big "remain" strongholds — to make an extra effort.
Former London Mayor Boris Johnson, who leads the "leave" campaign, said polls suggested the outcome would be close. But he says "all the information is that turnout is good in areas where we need it to be."
Polls close at 10 p.m. (2100GMT).
Rain and thunderstorms are causing canceled trains and slow journeys in the London area as people travel home from work.
Southeast England was hammered by up to 1.75 inches (4.6 centimeters) of rain overnight — roughly the average for all of June — and another band of rain swept through on Thursday afternoon.
Signal failures caused by flooding shut down sections of the London Underground subway system and several train lines into the capital. The Rail Delivery Group says train services will be severely disrupted Thursday evening and people should head home early if they can.
The disruption could hit the turnout for Britain's referendum on whether to stay in the 28-nation European Union as many people go to polling booths after work. The polls close at 10 p.m. (2100GMT).
Italy's finance minister says whatever British voters decide, there's already a fracture with the European Union.
Minister Pier Carlo Padoan is being quoted as saying at a forum in Rome on Thursday that no matter what happens, it will be impossible to assert "let's pick up as if nothing" happened.
The Italian news agency ANSA quoted him as saying that as Britons vote to decide whether to exit or stay in the EU, that "the fracture has already happened and in a very clear-cut way." Padoan said the consequences will vary, depending on the outcome, but "there won't be the same path as if there hadn't been the referendum initiative."
The European Union's migration commissioner has described the British people as an "integral part of our European family" as voters decide whether to remain in the bloc.
Dimitris Avramopoulos told a finance conference near Athens that "this ... is one of the most crucial moments of modern European history.
"The citizens of the United Kingdom, an integral part of our European family, are deciding whether they want to remain or exit our common European home."
Europe's migration crisis played a prominent role in the campaigning ahead of Thursday's referendum by those who want Britain to leave the EU.
Avramopoulos said: "Let's be frank: Europe found itself unprepared in the middle of an unprecedented migration and refugee crisis." He added that the number of arrivals by migrants and refugees in the EU this year had been drastically reduced by tougher border policing and a deportation agreement with Turkey.
The founder of anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks plans to host a live, online punditry show about Britain's referendum on whether to stay in the EU.
Julian Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012.
He is wanted for questioning by Swedish police over rape allegations stemming from his visit to the country in 2010. He denies all the accusations against him made by two women.
The Australian recently said he was "pretty much" in favor of Britain leaving the European Union, arguing that its membership was holding the 28-nation bloc back.
Guests billed for Assange's show include Greece's ex-finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, musician Brian Eno and "former CIA officers." It is scheduled to run from 1900 GMT Thursday until early Friday morning, when referendum results are expected.
England soccer captain Wayne Rooney isn't following David Beckham's lead in announcing how he voted in the referendum about whether Britain remains in the European Union. Or even if he voted at all.
Asked Thursday if he voted, Rooney said, "I'd like to keep that private."
Speaking at England's training base north of Paris during the European Championship, Rooney said, "The option has been there for the players (to vote during the tournament) — I don't know which ones have, which ones haven't."
On Tuesday, Beckham, a former England captain, said he would be voting for Britain to remain in the European Union, highlighting how his successes with English club Manchester United owed much to European players and how welcoming he later found playing soccer for continental clubs.
A sense of uncertainty seemed to hang over central Edinburgh in Scotland as voters pondered how a vote for Britain to leave the European Union might affect the Scottish independence movement.
Some believe a British decision to leave the EU bloc in Thursday's referendum might trigger another Scottish vote on independence like the one that fell short in 2014.
Clayton Thomson, a 30-year-old bar manager, said Scottish nationalists might call another referendum if a "leave" vote takes Scotland and the rest of Britain out of the European bloc.
Retiree Robert McCallum, 84, also believes a British exit, or Brexit, would increase calls for Scotland to sever its ties to Britain.
The popular Scottish National Party, which spearheads the Scottish independence movement, advocates keeping Britain inside the EU.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the European Union should respond in a calm and inclusive way to whatever result emerges from the British referendum on EU membership.
Merkel said after meeting her Austrian counterpart in Berlin Thursday that she doesn't favor discussing the consequences in small groups of EU countries. She said: "overall, I think discussions must now be continued with 28 (countries) if possible and otherwise with all countries — that would be 27 — but my hopes are pinned on it possibly being able to remain 28."
She noted that an already-scheduled EU summit starting next Tuesday will give countries "the opportunity to discuss all together and calmly how we continue to implement our agenda."
Denmark's prime minister says "it would be a tough job" to work out what would happen if British voters decide to leave the European Union.
Lars Loekke Rasmussen says work would start Friday, adding he hopes for "a peaceful divorce" should Britain leave the bloc that it joined at the same time as Danes in 1973. The Scandinavian nation has opted out of parts of EU treaties for fear of losing sovereignty but it has no plans for a membership referendum.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Boerge Brende, whose country twice has rejected EU membership, wrote Thursday on Twitter "Fingers crossed for (hashtag) remain."
The oil-rich nation has signed up to the European Economic Area agreement and thereby access to the EU's huge single market.
Hungary's foreign minister says it would be against the interests of his country and of the European Union for Britain to leave the EU.
Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto on Thursday described Britain as a "pragmatic voice" in the debate about the future of the EU, often in line with Hungary's vision of the 28-member bloc, adding that its exit would be "contradictory" from a political and economic perspective.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban earlier this week bought a full-page ad in a British newspaper The Daily Mail, to say that "Hungary is proud to stand with you as a member of the European Union."
An estimated 300,000 Hungarians live in Britain.
An opinion poll conducted on the eve of Britain's referendum shows a narrow lead for those who want Britain to remain a part of the European Union.
Polling firm Ipsos MORI says the "remain" camp enjoyed a four-point lead ahead of the vote. But the polling firm's chief executive, Ben Page, says 13 percent of those polled said they still might change their minds.
The poll of 1,592 people was conducted for the Evening Standard newspaper and was completed Wednesday night.
Page said Thursday that heavy rain in London may affect the vote, because the British capital is seen as a "remain" stronghold.
Recent opinion polls in Britain have been unreliable.
Betfair says momentum has moved to the "remain" camp in a referendum on whether or not Britain will remain in the European Union.
The betting market says the probability that the country will remain now stands at 86 percent, with a British exit or Brexit given just a 14 percent chance. Betfair says some 55 million pounds ($80 million) has now traded on the market, making it their biggest market to date. Their previous high was the 2012 U.S. presidential election at 40 million pounds.
The FTSE 100 gained 1.5 percent in early trading to 6,355.64, buoyed by sentiment that the uncertainty caused by a potential Brexit may be receding.
The British pound and stock markets are rallying in morning trading in Europe, an indication that investors are betting that Britain is more likely to vote to "remain" in the European Union.
The pound was up 1.1 percent on the day, at $1.4874, the highest level so far this year. Britain's benchmark stock index, the FTSE 100, was up 1.6 percent at 6,362. Germany's DAX was up 2.2 percent at 10,297.
Experts say that an exit from the EU would hurt the pound as well as global stock markets, at least in the short term.
While exit polls are not allowed to be published during Thursday's vote, which closes at 10 p.m. (2100 GMT) some financial companies have reportedly commissioned private exit polling services to help guide their trading.
Germany's biggest-selling newspaper has an offer for the British: stay in the European Union and we'll stop making jokes about Prince Charles' ears and reserve you places by the hotel pool in the morning.
The mass-circulation Bild daily dipped into decades of clichés about British-German relations for its front page Thursday, headlined "Dear Britons, if you stay in the EU ..."
Among the offers: "We won't use any sun cream at the beach any more — out of solidarity with your sunburn!" And "we'll push through an EU directive banning foam on beer!"
Topping the list was an offer that would stick in any Germany soccer fan's throat: "Even we will recognize the Wembley goal!" That's a reference to England's third goal in its 1966 World Cup final victory, which Germans maintain didn't cross the goal line.
Voters in parts of Britain are facing floods and torrential downpours as they cast their ballots in a referendum on whether or not to remain in the European Union.
The capital, London, is expecting a month's rainfall in a few hours Thursday. Overnight thunderstorms flooded some streets, homes and businesses. Commuters also suffered disruptions.
London's Fire Brigade says it received hundreds of calls related to the weather, including reports of lightning strikes and rising water that trapped vehicles.
The Environment Agency has issued four flood warnings and 22 flood alerts across the southeastern part of the country.
Sunny weather is predicted for much of the rest of the country.
Pollsters say turnout will be a critical factor in the vote. A large turnout will favor the "remain" campaign as those who waver at the end tend to go for the status quo.
Prime Minister David Cameron has cast his ballot in the referendum on whether or not Britain will remain in the European Union.
The Conservative leader had headed the campaign to have Britain stay in the 28-nation bloc.
The leader of the opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, also cast his ballot in the referendum, which is considered historic because it will have an impact on generations to come.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says there will be a big impact on the global economy if Britain votes to leave the European Union.
"It would be a very big shock, there is no doubt about that. ... There will be obviously be great efforts to ensure that the consequences of that shock are minimized," Turnbull told reporters.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told reporters it is in Australia's "national interest for a strong Britain, an indispensable friend and ally of ours, to remain within the European Union."
Polls have opened in Britain for a referendum on whether the country should quit the European Union bloc it joined 43 years ago.
More than 46 million people are registered to vote in Thursday's plebiscite, which asks: "Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?"
Polls are open until 10 p.m. (2100GMT), with results due early Friday.
The referendum has exposed deep divisions over issues including sovereignty and national identity.
"Leave" campaigners claim that only a British exit can restore power to Parliament and control immigration. The "remain" campaign led by Prime Minister David Cameron argues that Britain is safer and richer inside the 28-nation EU.
Financial markets have been volatile ahead of the vote, as opinion polls suggested a tight race.