David Cameron today paid the price for his failure to secure Britain’s future in the European Union announcing his resignation and admitting the country now needed “fresh leadership”.
Flanked by his wife and at one stage close to tears Mr Cameron said it would be wrong for him “to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination".
He announced that he would stay on in a caretaker capacity but expected a new leader to be in place by the time of the Conservative Party conference.
His decision fires the starting gun on a Tory Party leadership contest with Boris Johnson and the Home Secretary Theresa May as the early front runners to succeed him.
However it is likely to lead for calls for fresh general election to give voters a direct say on the team that will lead the Brexit negotiations.
6 ways Britain leaving the EU will affect you
6 ways Britain leaving the EU will affect you
1/6 More expensive foreign holidays
The first practical effect of a vote to Leave is that the pound will be worth less abroad, meaning foreign holidays will cost us more
2/6 No immediate change in immigration status
The Prime Minister will have to address other immediate concerns. He is likely to reassure nationals of other EU countries living in the UK that their status is unchanged. That is what the Leave campaign has said, so, even after the Brexit negotiations are complete, those who are already in the UK would be allowed to stay
3/6 Higher inflation
A lower pound means that imports would become more expensive. This is likely to mean the return of inflation – a phenomenon with which many of us are unfamiliar because prices have been stable for so long, rising at no more than about 2 per cent a year. The effect may probably not be particularly noticeable in the first few months. At first price rises would be confined to imported goods – food and clothes being the most obvious – but inflation has a tendency to spread and to gain its own momentum
4/6 Interest rates might rise
The trouble with inflation is that the Bank of England has a legal obligation to keep it as close to 2 per cent a year as possible. If a fall in the pound threatens to push prices up faster than this, the Bank will raise interest rates. This acts against inflation in three ways. First, it makes the pound more attractive, because deposits in pounds will earn higher interest. Second, it reduces demand by putting up the cost of borrowing, and especially by taking larger mortgage payments out of the economy. Third, it makes it more expensive for businesses to borrow to expand output
5/6 Did somebody say recession?
Mr Carney, the Treasury and a range of international economists have warned about this. Many Leave voters appear not to have believed them, or to think that they are exaggerating small, long-term effects. But there is no doubt that the Leave vote is a negative shock to the economy. This is because it changes expectations about the economy’s future performance. Even though Britain is not actually be leaving the EU for at least two years, companies and investors will start to move money out of Britain, or to scale back plans for expansion, because they are less confident about what would happen after 2018
6/6 And we wouldn’t even get our money back
All this will be happening while the Prime Minister, whoever he or she is, is negotiating the terms of our future access to the EU single market. In the meantime, our trade with the EU would be unaffected, except that companies elsewhere in the EU may be less interested in buying from us or selling to us, expecting tariff barriers to go up in two years’ time. Whoever the Chancellor is, he or she may feel the need to bring in a new Budget
Importantly Mr Cameron said he would not invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty that will start the process of Brexit – leaving that decision to his successor.
Speaking outside Downing Street Mr Cameron praised the remain supporters but said he respected the will of the British people.
“We should be proud of the fact that in these islands we trust the people for these big decisions,”
“We not only have a parliamentary democracy, but on questions about the arrangements for how we've governed there are times when it is right to ask the people themselves and that is what we have done.”
He added: “The will of the British people is an instruction that must be delivered.”
Addressing his own future Mr Cameron said he did not believe he was the right person to lead Britain exit negotiations with the European Union.
“We must now prepare for a negotiation with the European Union. Above all this will require strong, determined and committed leadership,” he said.
“I think the country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction.
“I will do everything I can as Prime Minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months but I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.”
Hinting at his deep disappointment with the result Mr Cameron insisted he had no regrets about the campaign he had led.
“I fought this campaign in the only way I know how, which is to say directly and passionately what I think and feel - head, heart and soul,” he said.
“I held nothing back, I was absolutely clear about my belief that Britain is stronger, safer and better off inside the European Union and I made clear the referendum was about this and this alone - not the future of any single politician including myself.
“But the British people have made a very clear decision to take a different path.”