World reactions to Britain's decision to leave the European Union

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."

Last update: Fri, 24/06/2016 - 20:02

More from Europe

Poll: 'no' vote at 54 per cent in Italian constitutional referendum

Support for a 'no' vote on Italy's upcoming constitutional referendum has taken a 54-46 per cent lead, according to...

German minister hopeful shunned after "liking" right-wing party

A German prosecutor tapped for a cabinet position in an east German state is out of the running after "liking" the...

EU parliament chief raises hopes of salvaging Canada trade deal

An embattled trade EU-Canada trade deal should be signed as planned next week, European Parliament President Martin...

Police suspect tear gas in London City airport "chemical incident"

Police said they suspected CS gas could have caused a "chemical incident" that led to a three-hour evacuation of ...

EU summit fails to break Belgian impasse over Canada trade deal

EU leaders ended two days of talks Friday with a failure to break a regional blockade to a landmark deal the bloc is...