Britain has voted to remove itself from the European Union, a move that has already sent shockwaves through world markets.
The exit of a major member of the European Union is expected to inject insecurity into financial markets with some analysts fearing it could impact the U.S. economy.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened nearly 500 points in the first minutes of trading, one of the steepest collapses since the financial crisis. Economic analysts said the trading was “organized disappointment” rather than panic trading and emphasized that the drop could have been worse.
Polling leading up to Thursday’s vote showed a very close race, with the side in favor of remaining in the EU holding a slight edge. The potential for a ‘Brexit’ stirred concerns among policymakers in Europe and the U.S about the financial impacts.
The campaign to leave the EU was driven by growing complaints about Britain’s inability to write and enforce its own laws. The increased number of refugees from the Middle East seeking protection in Europe bolstered the argument for leaving the 28-nation governing body.
Following the outcome of Thursday’s votes, David Cameron announced he would resign as prime minister of Britain. Cameron did not give an exact departure date, but said he intends for a new leader to be in office by October.
“The British people have voted to leave the EU and their will must be respected,” Cameron said in an emotional statement outside 10 Downing Street. “The will of the British people is an instruction which must be delivered.”
“As such, I think the country requires leadership to take it in this direction,” Cameron added.
President Obama on Friday sought to reaffirm the United States’ “special relationship” with the United Kingdom. “The people of the United Kingdom have spoken, and we respect their decisions,” Obama said in a statement.
“The special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is enduring and the United Kingdom’s membership in NATO remains a vital cornerstone of U.S. foreign, security, and economic policy.”
Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton said in a statement, “We respect the choice the people of the United Kingdom have made. 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.”
Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump hailed vote in a tweet saying “Self determination is the sacred right of all free people’s.”
“You just have to embrace it. It’s the will of the people,” Trump said during a half-hour press conference in Scotland, where he was making an appearance at the reopening of his Turnberry golf course.
Trump took a shot at President Obama’s involvement prior to the vote. “The world doesn’t listen to him,” Trump said as he called the vote an embarrassment for the president. Trump suggested that Obama’s push to for Britain to remain in the E.U. “perhaps caused it to fail.”
Voters in Scotland supported remaining in the EU, and political leaders have pushed to split from the U.K., which would allow them to rejoin the EU.
Asked about the U.K. breaking up, Trump said “it looks like it’s on its way and we’ll see what happens.”