The Latest: Calls for 2nd referendum crash UK website
The Latest: Calls for 2nd referendum crash UK website
The Latest: Calls for 2nd referendum crash UK website
Jun. 24, 2016
LONDON (AP) — The Latest on Britain's historic vote to leave the European Union (all times local):
Tens of thousands want a do-over.
So many users are signing a petition for a re-run of Britain's referendum on European Union membership that they've crashed the House of Commons website hosting the document.
The petition passed the 200,000 mark on Friday evening, with a map of the voting indicating that most activity was in London - where most boroughs backed the "remain" camp in the referendum.
The House of Commons said it had seen "high volumes of simultaneous users on a single petition, significantly higher than on any previous occasion."
A second referendum isn't in the cards for now, but experts say it isn't out of the question if those who back a British exit begin suffering from buyer's remorse.
Ratings agency Moody's has changed the U.K.'s sovereign rating from "stable" to "negative," reflecting what it said would be a drawn-out period of uncertainty about the future of the country.
Moody's said in a note that the unpredictability of British decision-making factored into its move, as did the likelihood of lower economic growth which it said would outweigh any savings the U.K. might hope to get from savings coming from not having to contribute to the EU budget.
"Over the longer term, should the U.K. not be able to secure a favorable alternative trade arrangement with the EU and other countries, the UK's growth prospects would be materially weaker than currently expected," the note said.
The U.K.'s withdrawal from the European Union threatens to make the country less appealing as a hub for shipping products throughout Europe.
Amazon.com Inc., for instance, currently uses the U.K. as a major distribution hub. Outsell analyst Michael Balsam says Amazon and other tech companies handling physical goods may re-evaluate their distribution channels if it becomes more difficult to ship across borders.
Morningstar analyst R.J. Hottovy believes U.K. merchants who use Amazon as an online sales outlet are more likely than the company to be hurt by any cross-border delays.
Amazon declined to comment. The Seattle company generates nearly one-third of its sales in Europe, where it operates in 16 countries.
Supply chain specialist MWPVL says Amazon has about 10 distribution centers and 20 smaller centers that sort packages in the U.K. before they're sent to local post offices. That's a sliver of Amazon's nearly 300 distribution centers throughout the world.
Beyond distribution hubs, some U.S. companies might move operations out of Britain altogether.
Crawford del Prete, a longtime tech industry analyst with IDC, says banks and financial services companies are expected to make that move, and companies that sell computers and software to them are likely to follow to stay close to their customers.
In recent years, the European Union has been taking a strong stance limiting how much personal information that U.S. internet companies such as Google and Facebook can collect from Europeans.
Stricter rules will take effect in 2018. Outsell analyst Michael Balsam believes the U.K.'s exit from the EU could make the new rules more difficult to enforce, at least among Britons.
But Jules Polonetsky, CEO of the industry-backed think tank Future of Privacy Forum, says the implications at this point are "completely unknowable."
While Polonetsky says the U.K. will lose its moderating influence on online privacy in Europe, it's possible the U.K. would remain in the EU for the purposes of data protection through treaties and deals.
Meanwhile, research firm Fssorrester says, uncertainty will impede companies' quest for insights based on personal data.
Germany's foreign ministry is promising to keep working for a better Europe — but only after it's had a few drinks.
The ministry posted on its Twitter account Friday evening: "We are off now to an Irish pub to get decently drunk. And from tomorrow on we will again work for a better #Europe! Promised! #EURef."
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is to meet five of his European Union counterparts in Berlin on Saturday after Britain voted to leave the 28-nation EU.
The U.K.'s decision to leave the European Union will create more challenges for retailers, with analysts seeing luxury sellers taking the biggest hit.
Hana Ben-Shabat, a partner at A.T. Kearney, says any increased trade barriers could lead to higher costs in Britain. Plus, if large banks move operations elsewhere in Europe, she said that "could impact sales of luxury goods significantly, since many luxury consumers are employed by this industry."
In the U.S., stores like Tiffany and Macy's that draw a lot of British tourists to their flagship New York stores could be among those hurt. Foreign visitors account for 40 percent of Tiffany's flagship business, says Cowen and Co. At the main Macy's store, that figure is 5 percent.
Global retailers like Wal-Mart and Hennes & Mauritz that have a large U.K. presence could be hurt by currency effects and the general uncertainty. Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of the retail group at Douglas Elliman Real Estate, believes Wal-Mart's Asda division will find tougher conditions but will manage because of its size.
Steve Barr at PwC says that overall, any prolonged declines in the stock market could make shoppers wary about spending.
The good news for U.S. shoppers? More European retailers may look to expand in the U.S. Consolo noted many messages from businesses looking to accelerate their growth in the U.S. "They're thinking, 'Where can I land to do the best for the company?"
Restaurant companies with a significant presence in the U.K. and Europe could be hurt by currency effects as well as weakness in consumer confidence after Britain's vote to leave the European Union, according to an RBC Capital Markets analyst.
David Palmer noted that the U.S. restaurant companies with the most exposure to the United Kingdom and Europe are McDonald's Corp., and to a lesser degree Yum Brands Inc. and Starbucks Corp.
The pound plunged to its lowest level in over 30 years on Friday after the vote.
Starbucks has 850 stores in Britain, its largest market in Europe.
Spokeswoman Linda Mills of Starbucks said it's too soon to say how the chain might be affected but Starbucks remains "fully committed to the U.K.," where it's pursuing significant growth plans.
PepsiCo declined to comment. McDonald's and Yum did not respond to messages.
Coca-Cola said in a statement it has a long history of adapting to political landscapes, and that this would be no different. The Atlanta company said its belief in its growth opportunity in Great Britain and the European Union remains unchanged.
Left-wing and anti-racism activists have held rallies to protest Britain's vote to leave the EU and send a message of welcome to migrants.
Several hundred people rallied in a park in Whitechapel in east London, an area that has been home to successive generations of new immigrants to London. They held placards saying "No to racism" and "Refugees welcome here."
A similar demonstration was held in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh.
A group of the London marchers — some wearing masks and waving flares — moved on to protest near the offices of the Sun newspaper, which enthusiastically bashed the EU for years and urged its readers to vote to leave the bloc in Thursday's referendum.
Immigration was a major issue in the referendum because the EU allows citizens of all 28 member states to live and work freely in the others. Some "remain" campaigners said the concerns about pressure on jobs and public services from immigration masked darker xenophobic views.
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has put forth a dramatic proposal to change some of the European Union's basic machinery.
Sarkozy suggested Friday the EU should create a new treaty, a new borderless travel accord and trim the reach of technocrats in the bloc.
Sarkozy, a conservative, said in a declaration that a re-founding of the EU is needed after the British referendum to leave.
"The British message is exploding in the face of all European governments," Sarkozy said.
He said he wants to replace the Treaty of Lisbon that he signed off on and that took effect after years of laborious negotiations in December 2009.
Sarkozy also wants a redo of the borderless Schengen accords with a "Schengen 2" that limits free circulation to European citizens only. He also wants a European monetary fund to "assure the independence of Europe which has no need for the IMF to deal with its internal affairs."
Presenting his map for a reformed EU of 27 member states, he pressed "pillars" he leaned on as French president from 2007-2012 to keep the far right at bay — European civilization, a European identity and culture, and added a reduction in the EU's often dreaded technocracy.
"We no longer want a technocratic Europe. Democracy has rules," said Sarkozy.
Tech-industry officials and analysts are divided over how the U.K.'s withdrawal from the European Union will affect legal battles on personal privacy, corporate tax rates and competition.
The Computer and Communications Industry Association, a trade group that includes Microsoft, Facebook and Google, is worried the withdrawal will deprive the EU of a "leading light" for a free market, potentially making the continent a "more hostile place" to do business.
But Outsell analyst Michael Balsam believes U.S. tech companies will have an easier time lobbying for their causes more directly with U.K. lawmakers.
Google is being accused by the EU's chief antitrust regulator of using its dominant internet search engine to thwart competition by driving traffic to its own digital services. Google and other companies also face allegations they haven't been paying their fair share of taxes in various EU countries, including in Britain. Google declined comment.
Britain's decision to leave the European Union has dampened some spirits at the Glastonbury Festival, the country's leading summer music extravaganza.
Some festivalgoers felt the vote sat awkwardly with an event dedicated to togetherness, which draws 150,000 people from around the world to sylvan but muddy Worthy Farm in southwest England.
Jonnie Bevan, 21, said he was "pretty disappointed — Glastonbury's vision of unity doesn't really seem to fit with this. We've said we are just going to have a good time and not think about it for the moment. We are here to enjoy ourselves so we will deal with the reality on Monday."
Rachel Hawkins said she was "a bit speechless" at the result of the vote. The 25-year-old said it was a blow to people her age, "the generation who are all trying to get jobs post 2008 when we were still in the middle of a recession ... Now our generation is going to go through another recession and the same difficulty again."
The festival runs to Sunday, with headliners including Muse, Adele and Coldplay.
Britain has voted to leave the EU but London wants to stay — and some are suggesting the capital city should go its own way.
While 52 percent of British electors voted to leave the European Union, a majority of voters in London wished to remain.
After the result, Mayor Sadiq Khan issued a statement telling the 1 million EU citizens in London "you are very welcome here."
Some Londoners urged the mayor to declare independence, rallying on social media under the hashtag #londependence.
Columnist Holly Baxter wrote in The Independent that "London didn't vote for this, and Londoners should go it alone." And former Labour government adviser Spencer Livermore tweeted "Independence for London within the EU should now be our goal. We would have a GDP twice as large as Singapore."
Khan didn't go that far, but he said that it was "crucial that London has a voice at the table" during Britain's exit negotiations with the EU.
U.K. technology startups, already hampered by a conservative banking environment, could face a tougher time raising money without access to funds that had been jointly financed by the European Union.
Mark Mulligan, a media analyst at London-based Midia Research, says replacing access to such funds with British alternatives "could take a couple of years, which is a lifetime in the startup world."
One such fund, The North West Fund, has so far invested 150 million pounds in 440 British companies. For example, it helped South Manchester-based digital music startup Beatroot Ltd. launch last year with a 250,000-pound investment.
The fund is financed by the European Regional Development Fund and European Investment Bank under the European Commission's "JEREMIE" program to help small businesses.
French Finance Minister Michel Sapin says that "no one can say that this shock won't have consequences" on European growth, but it surely will have a damaging effect on Britain's economy.
"There will be very grave consequences for Great Britain," Sapin told reporters Friday after the British referendum to leave the 28-member European Union. He urged London to quickly let others know when it wants to exit "to give visibility to economic actors."
"This is not meant to be brutal, but the collective interest is that things move quickly," Sapin said.
For the moment, consequences for the Eurozone are "extremely limited ... but this calm may perhaps not last."
An organization of the world's central banks says it's confident that market uncertainty following Britain's vote to leave the European Union can be contained with good global cooperation.
The Bank for International Settlements said in a statement Friday that "there is likely to be a period of uncertainty and adjustment." It noted that Britain is closely integrated into the global economy and London is one of the world's most important financial centers.
The Basel, Switzerland-based organization said: "With good cooperation at a global level, we are confident that uncertainty can be contained and that adjustments proceed as smoothly as possible."
Talk about procrastinating: Google says a leading question in the U.K. on Friday was, "What is the EU?"
"What is the EU?" was perhaps something to consider — and Google — before Britons voted themselves out of the European Union. Yet it's the second-highest question on the European Union among U.K. Google users since the results of the country's referendum were announced.
"What is the EU?" will certainly mean something different now that one of its most powerful and largest members has decided to leave.
Among other questions U.K. users pondered Friday, at least when it comes to the EU, include "What does it mean to leave the EU?" and "What will happen now (that) we've left the EU?"
The International Air Transport Association said in a preliminary estimate Friday that the number of U.K. air passengers could be down 3 percent to 5 percent by 2020, driven by an economic downturn and fall in the value of the pound.
The British aviation market is dominated by outbound traffic, with such traffic accounting for just over two-thirds of all passengers, according to airline trade group. Last year, there were 53.9 million visits overseas by air by U.K. residents, compared to 26.2 million visits to the UK by overseas residents.
The economic impact would be offset partially by an expected increase in visitors to the U.K. attracted by the cheaper pound. The British currency fell to a 31-year low on Friday.
Britain's ambassador to the United Nations says the United Kingdom will remain "a world power" and "a diplomatic power" despite the vote to leave the European Union.
Matthew Rycroft told several reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York on Friday that "this is a significant moment for the UK, for the British people and for the UK's role in the world."
"The fundamentals of the UK's strength in the world will endure," Rycroft stressed, pointing to "our economy, our world-class diplomacy, armed forces, our commitment to international development, helping the world's poorest, and above all here at the United Nations our permanent seat on the Security Council."
An extreme right political party in Greece has hailed Britain's referendum result to leave the European Union as a victory for nationalism across Europe.
Nikolaos Michaloliakos, leader of the Golden Dawn party, called for a similar vote to be held in Greece.
"Golden Dawn welcomes the victory of the nationalist and patriotic forces in Great Britain against the European Union, which has turned into a brutal instrument of international loan sharks," he said in a statement.
Once a tiny far-right group which openly praised Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, Golden Dawn's popularity surged during the country's severe financial crisis to become the third largest party in Greece's parliament.
Michaloliakos and other senior party officials are currently on trial for allegedly running a criminal organization.
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.
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.
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.