Sun | Sep 24, 2017

German Chancellor: EU should respond calmly whenever British referendum results emerge

Published:Thursday | June 23, 2016 | 6:47 AM
A woman on a bicycle leaves a polling station near to the Royal Chelsea Hospital, London today.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the European Union EU 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 today 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."

PHOTO: British Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha leave after casting their votes in the EU referendum at a polling station in London.

Earlier Prime Minister David Cameron had cast his ballot in the referendum on whether or not Britain will remain in the EU.

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.

Meanwhile, 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 minimised," 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."

PHOTO: Flags fly outside Europe House, the European Parliament's British offices, in central London, with European flag, right, and Britain's Union flag, Tuesday.  

The polls opened in Britain this morning for a referendum on whether the country should quit the EU bloc it joined 43 years ago.

More than 46 million people are registered to vote in today'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.