britain, uk - eu flag, brexit.jpg
Photograph: Photo by Elionas2, used under CC0

Leaders and politicians in Europe and around the world reacted Friday to a referendum in Britain that saw almost 52 per cent of British voters opt to leave the European Union.

Reactions ranged from concern and disappointment to glee among eurosceptics.

EU President Donald Tusk: "I am fully aware of how serious, or even dramatic, this moment is politically. ... It is a historic moment, but for sure not a moment for hysterical reactions."

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker: "I want it to be clear, evident, necessary for everybody that the process of incertitude in which we have entered must not last too long."

European Parliament President Martin Schulz: "For 40 yrs, [the] UK relation with [the] EU was ambiguous. Now it's clear."

Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem: "Instability is the last thing that we here in Europe and the eurozone need."

Pope Francis: "This places upon all of us a great responsibility to safeguard the well-being of the people of the United Kingdom and also the well-being and coexistence in the entire European continent."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel: "Today marks a watershed moment for Europe."

Beatrix von Storch, deputy chairwoman of the eurosceptic Alternative for Germany party: "The Brits have done a great service to Europe with their sovereign decision."

French President Francois Hollande: "It is a painful choice and I regret it deeply for Britain and for Europe. But this choice is theirs and we have to respect it."

Marine Le Pen, leader of France's far-right National Front party: "Victory of liberty! As I have called for for years, there should now be such a referendum in France and in the countries of the EU."

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi: "We have to change it to make it more human and more just. But Europe is our home, it is our future."

Matteo Salvini, leader of Italy's far-right Northern League party: "Hurrah for the courage of free citizens! Heart, heads and pride beat lies, threats and blackmail. Thanks [Britain], now it is our turn."

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy: "I believe that Spain should continue at the vanguard of European integration."

Pablo Iglesias, leader of Spain's anti-austerity Podemos party: "Nobody would want to leave a Europe that is just and has solidarity. We need to change Europe."

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte: "We are in the process of reforming the EU. This result is an incentive to carry on with that reform and work hard for more prosperity, more jobs and more security."

Geert Wilders, leader of the Netherlands' far-right Party for Freedom: "Britain points Europe the way to the future and to liberation. It is time for a new start, relying on our own strength and sovereignty. Also in the Netherlands."

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny: "We must now begin a period of reflection and debate on how we can renew the union of 27 and equip it for the challenges ahead."

Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn: "It is a sad today. We have lost a lot. ... We have to manage a civilized divorce."

Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila: "To earn the trust of citizens the EU has to focus on essential questions and to be able to carry out reforms."

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite: "Brexit: respect, regret, re-engage."

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov: "The EU will weaken and the consequences will hit us all."

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico: "This vote is not a tragedy, but simply a reality to which the remaining 27 EU countries have to react as quickly as possible."

US President Barack Obama: "The United Kingdom and the EU will remain indispensable partners of the United States even as they begin negotiating their ongoing relationship."

US presidential contender Donald Trump: "Basically, they took back their country. That's a great thing."

US presidential contender Hillary Clinton: "Our first task has to be to make sure that the economic uncertainty created by these events does not hurt working families here in America."

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, head of Russia's ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party: "The rural, provincial, working Great Britain has said No to the union that is run by the finance mafia, globalists and others."

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek: "You don't want to open Pandora's box. ... Oh but it already has."

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying: "I hope through negotiations, the UK can quickly reach an agreement with the EU that can provide a prosperous and stable Europe."

Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso: "[I am] extremely concerned about risks to the world economy and global financial markets."

Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi: "The decision of the British people vindicates the warnings that we first made in 2011 ... about the gradual disconnect between this European Union and the motives, interests and passions of its peoples."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: "We will continue to build relations with both [Britain and the EU] as they forge a new relationship."

Latest news

Trump-style rhetoric is making world more dangerous, Amnesty says

Divisive and "poisonous" language used by politicians such as US President Donald Trump is putting vulnerable populations at risk and making the whole world a more dangerous place, Amnesty International charged on Wednesday.

Canada soon to begin resettling Iraqi refugees, most of them Yezidis

Canada will resettle 1,200 survivors of the Islamic State campaign to target religious minorities in northern Iraq, Canadian officials announced Tuesday. 

Breitbart editor resigns after release of paedophilia comments

Milo Yiannopoulos, a controversial editor at the far-right Breitbart news website, resigned Tuesday after the emergence of recordings in which he appears to defend sexual relationships between young boys and older men.

Trump administration opens door for mass deportations

The US Department of Homeland Security laid the groundwork Tuesday for mass deportations of immigrants living illegally in the United States under an executive order by President Donald Trump last month.

Brexit bill: House of Lords says public can change mind on leaving EU

The British public should be able to change their minds on Brexit - just as Prime Minister Theresa May did, the upper chamber of parliament heard Tuesday during a marathon debate on legislation to kick off EU negotiations.

Italian lawmakers, rights activists clash over gay sex club scandal

Gay rights activists and conservative politicians clashed Tuesday after the chief of Italy's anti-discrimination office quit over allegations that money had been authorized for gay sex clubs.

EU countries agree new rules to avoid tax evasion

European Union finance ministers in Brussels on Tuesday reached a political agreement on new rules to ensure that multinational corporations do not declare profits in the countries where they pay the least tax but in the countries where they generate it.

Trump condemns "horrible, painful" anti-Jewish incidents

US President Donald Trump condemned a recent spate of threats against Jewish community targets across the United States, during a visit Tuesday to the newly opened National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington.

FinMin expects Croatia to exit Excessive Deficit Procedure this spring

Finance Minister Zdravko Maric said on Tuesday Croatia could exit the Excessive Deficit Procedure this spring and that it was showing progress in correcting macroeconomic imbalances.

Austria seeks to create jobs, but new EU immigrants need not apply

Austria plans to create 160,000 jobs in the next three years by subsidizing companies, but the project has raised concerns because it effectively excludes people who recently immigrated from other EU countries.

Juncker: Not good for W. Balkans that some in Washington want to water down EU

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Tuesday it was not good for Western Balkan countries that some people in the new US administration gave the impression of being against the European Union because those countries needed the prospects of EU membership.

Citizens invited to help create Croatian version of Monopoly

A project to create a Croatian edition of Monopoly, in which citizens can participate by submitting proposals and which could become a souvenir for tourists, was presented at a press conference on Tuesday.

German state approves full-face veil ban

Legislation that bans face veils in select public spaces and situations was agreed by the government of the southeastern German state of Bavaria on Tuesday.

Indian restaurant Gaggan in Bangkok named Asia's best for third year

Bangkok's Indian eatery Gaggan on Tuesday was named the best restaurant in Asia for the third consecutive year by Asia's 50 Best Restaurants.

HGK: 16 Croatian companies to exhibit at IDEX defence exhibition

Sixteen Croatian companies will exhibit their products at the 13th IDEX 2017 defence exhibition in Abu Dhabi, to be held on February 19-23.