EU referendum: Now you’re leaving us, just get on with it, Britain is told

EU leaders want Britain to move swiftly to negotiate leaving the bloc, saying any delay would prolong uncertainty. European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker, European parliament president Martin Schulz, president of the European Council Donald Tusk and Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte demanded decisive action after crisis talks on Friday morning. Afterwards, they called for Britain “to give effect to this decision of the British people as soon as possible, however painful that process may be. Any delay would unnecessarily prolong uncertainty”. Their views were echoed by other leaders in Brussels, including the leader of the ALDE liberals, Guy Verhofstadt, who said he found it “unacceptable … that (Mr Cameron) is going to wait until October and leave it to his successor”.

The British referendum will either serve as a wake-up call for the sleepwalker heading toward the void, or it will be the beginning of a very dangerous and slippery course for our peoples

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras

There are fears that the British vote could spark a domino effect across Europe where right-wing antagonists are calling for referendums. Mr Juncker insisted the union of the remaining 27 members would continue and remain strong. He said Britain would remain part of the union - and have to obey its laws - until it has withdrawn in two years’ time. Asked directly whether Brexit was the beginning of the end of the EU, he replied “No” before walking out of a press conference to applause. German chancellor Angela Merkel expressed “great regret” at the British decision while French president Francois Hollande said the vote “seriously puts Europe to the test”.

If there is a deeper reflection, a pause in the pushing of this French-German model, then the union will survive. But if the eurozone is forced, and the eurozone creates some new institutions, its own budget and treats the whole European Union as a facade, then it may all end in a catastrophe

Polish foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski