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.
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.”
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