The UK was left in limbo on Friday after David Cameron announced he will step down as prime minister by October after a 52-48 per cent referendum vote in favour of the UK quitting the European Union.
Amid turmoil in global stock and currency markets, the final results of the vote on Friday morning revealed that the only regions to significantly back remaining in the EU were London, Northern Ireland and Scotland – the 'remain' vote north of the border now likely to spark a second referendum on independence.
Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, moved swiftly to reassure world markets while accepting "inevitably, there will be a period of uncertainty and adjustment" in the wake of the Brexit vote.
"It will take some time for the United Kingdom to establish new relationships with Europe and the rest of the world.
Some market and economic volatility can be expected as this process unfolds. But we are well prepared for this," he said.
Mr Carney said there had been extensive contingency planning and that the bank would "not hesitate to take additional measures as required as those markets adjust and the UK economy moves forward".
He said that banks' capital requirements of the UK's largest banks were now ten times higher than before the financial crisis seven years ago. "This substantial capital and huge liquidity gives banks the flexibility they need to continue to lend to UK businesses and households, even during challenging times.
"Moreover, as a backstop, and to support the functioning of markets, the Bank of England stands ready to provide more than £250 billion of additional funds through its normal facilities. The Bank of England is also able to provide substantial liquidity in foreign currency, if required.
"In the future we will not hesitate to take any additional measures required to meet our responsibilities as the United Kingdom moves forward."
In the run-up to the referendum, many companies, particularly in the financial sector, had talked of moving staff from Britain to other EU countries
in the event of a Brexit vote. In the immediate aftermath of the vote, however, executives said they would bide their time before making any decisions while the UK worked out its new trade relationship with the remaining 27 EU members.
Terry Scuoler, chief executive of the manufacturers' organisation EEF, said, "In the complex task of unpicking the UK from EU regulation and legislation, the government must tread carefully, maintaining a trading relationship with the single market, and not becoming bogged down to the detriment of making long-awaited and much-needed decisions on projects vital to our future economic prosperity.
"We must also ensure that the skilled workers
we need are still encouraged and enabled to live and work in the UK."
Meanwhile, in Brussels and capitals around Europe, political leaders and officials embarked on emergency meetings to discuss the ramifications of the vote. Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, appealed for calm and said there was "no way of predicting all the political consequences of this event, especially for the UK".
He added, "It is a historic moment but for sure not a moment for hysterical reactions," he said.
Mr Cameron will head for a summit in Brussels on Tuesday where he will "explain the decision the British people have taken and my own decision" to leaders of the other EU states.
Announcing his resignation after six years as prime minister, Mr Cameron, who had tirelessly campaigned for a 'remain' vote
, said he would leave it to his successor to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the article that kickstarts the two-year process of negotiating a new trade relationship.
"The country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction," said Mr Cameron. "I will do everything I can as prime minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months, but I don't think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.
"I do believe it is in the national interest to have a period of stability and then the new leadership required. There is no need for a precise timetable today, but in my view we should aim to have a new prime minister in place by the start of the Conservative Party conference in October."
Read analysis of what the vote to leave the EU may mean for for the global mobility industry in Brexit is a reality – a new era for global mobility? by Relocate Global's managing editor, Fiona Murchie.
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