David Cameron faces EU leaders amid Brexit fallout
Police in Britain investigate spate of racist incidents since referendum decision
British prime minister David Cameron will on Tuesday face European Union leaders for the first time since his country voted to leave the bloc, at a summit in Brussels, as the ramifications of Brexit continue to reverberate around the globe.
Speaking in the House of Commons in his first appearance since announcing he would step down by the autumn, Mr Cameron said he stood by all he had said in the campaign.
He ruled out holding a second referendum to reverse the decision, and announced that a special unit in government had been set up to prepare for negotiations to exit the EU.
Mr Cameron said it would be for his successor to invoke article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – the EU’s exit clause – and to determine Britain’s negotiating position.
As the financial ramifications of Brexit continued to emerge – ratings agency Standard & Poor’s and Fitch downgraded Britain’s credit rating – intense diplomatic activity took place throughout the day in Berlin ahead of today’s summit.
Clarity and unity
German chancellor Angela Merkel, flanked by France’s president, François Hollande, and Italy’s prime minister, Matteo Renzi, said they would push for clarity, speed and unity among EU leaders meeting today with fresh reform endeavours to boost common security, economic investment and youth employment.
Ahead of a working dinner in Berlin, Dr Merkel said all three agreed that article 50 was very clear. “The country that wishes to leave must submit its request to the European Council, ” she said. “There can be no formal or informal talks [with Britain] until an application to leave the EU has been lodged.”
Diplomats representing member states across the EU expressed a similar sentiment on Monday in Brussels, with the result that serious negotiations on Britain’s exit are not expected until the autumn at the earliest.
On Wednesday, 27 member states, without Britain, will discuss the impact of Brexit on the European project more generally, while Britain is widely expected to forfeit its presidency of the EU which had been scheduled to begin in July 2017.
Though the summit will be overshadowed by Brexit, EU leaders are also expected to endorse enhanced co-operation between the EU and Nato – a highly sensitive issue for Ireland given Ireland’s policy of neutrality. Ireland is one of six EU member states that are not members of the transatlantic defence alliance.
Racist and xenophobic
Meanwhile, police in Britain were investigating a spate of racist and xenophobic incidents since the referendum, including the daubing of graffiti on the walls of a Polish cultural centre in London. The National Police Chiefs’ Council said reports to a police online hate crime reporting site had increased by 57 per cent between Thursday and Sunday, compared with previous weeks.
As markets continued to digest the referendum result, British chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne issued a statement in the hopes of reassuring investors. But his attempt was fruitless.
Sterling fell to a 31-year low against the dollar, yields on 10-year government bonds fell below 1 per cent for the first time and some share trading was temporarily halted.
Irish shares plummeted again on Monday as investors continued to baulk at the impact of Brexit on our closest trading partner – and analysts downgraded their recommendations on a number of stocks, from Ryanair to Kingspan.
Announcing its decision to strip Britain of its AAA status, Standard & Poor’s said Brexit had weakened the “predictability, stability and effectiveness” of policymaking in the UK.