French President Francois Hollande said preparations for the UK’s exit from the European Union should get started so the bloc’s remaining members can work on reforms to tackle the rise of populism.
“The British people have decided to leave the EU. This is a painful choice and I deeply regret it,” Hollande said in Paris. “The UK will no longer be a member of the EU and the procedures written in the treaties should be implemented quickly.”
Hollande is trying to shore up the European project in the wake of the British vote as the National Front leads calls for France to follow the UK in offering its citizens a ballot on whether to stay in the EU.
“The UK vote is severely testing the European Union,” Hollande said. It forces us “to take a clear look at the ineffectiveness of the EU and people’s loss of confidence in the European project. The danger of populism and extremism is huge.”
France will continue to cooperate with Britain, notably on defense issues, Hollande added.
“France, for its own sake and for the UK’s, will continue to work with this great country, which is our friend,” he said. “History and geography unite us in so many ways, economically, humanly, culturally and I don’t forget our close defence alliance, which will be preserved.”
Scotland wants immediate talks with the EU on protecting its place in the bloc, after Britain’s vote to leave the EU, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Saturday.
Speaking after an emergency meeting of her cabinet, Sturgeon said it had agreed to seek “immediate discussions with the EU institutions and other EU member states to explore all possible options to protect Scotland’s place in the EU.”
The UK as a whole voted by 52% to 48% to leave the EU in Thursday’s historic referendum. But Scotland voted strongly for Britain to remain — by 62% to 38%. On Friday, Sturgeon said the results put a fresh referendum on Scottish independence “on the table”, adding that it was “highly likely” within two years.
BLOOMBERG AND AFP