The United Kingdom is on course to leave the European Union after 43 years of membership. The economy has reacted to the news, with the pound plummeting to its lowest level since 1985 and triggering a wave of reaction from politicians and media around the world.

David Cameron announced that he will step down as prime minister after six years of leadership. He said the "will of the British people'' must be respected and that a new leader should be in place by the start of the Tory party's conference in October.

A statement issued by the White House on the outcome of the vote said: " The President has been briefed on the incoming returns in the UK referendum, and he will continue to be updated by his team as the situation warrants. We expect the President will have an opportunity to speak to Prime Minister Cameron over the course of the next day, and we will release further comment as soon as appropriate."

The view from Europe

Spanish leader Mariano Rajoy has also reacted, saying: "I want to transmit a message of quietness and serenity. The legal situation between the EU and the UK will not change for at least two years, the time expected until the UK to achieve the separation. "

He insisted that the "rights and legal status of British citizens and Spaniards in the UK are not changing" for at least two years. Rajoy added that he will call European leaders to "discuss the next steps".

Brexit Mariano Rajoy
Spain's acting prime minister Mariano Rajoy looks down in this still image taken from video while making a statement after Britain voted to leave the European Union Reuters

Germany's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said the UK's decision to leave the EU marks "a sad day for Europe and for Great Britain".

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said the will of the British people must be respected and he sent a tweet which said: "We have to define our priorities and set out a new future for Europe."

In another tweet, the Belgian leader said: "We are going to have to find the path to make the European project bounce back very quickly."

Brexit Charles Michel
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel gives a press conference on the results of Britain's referendum on EU membership in Brussels Thierry Roge/ AFP

President of the European Council Donald Tusk tweeted it was "a serious, even dramatic moment for the UK", and added that there will be no legal vacuum. He also insisted the group is "determined to keep our unity at 27".

Brexit Donald Tusk
EU Council President Donald Tusk leaves after a statement on Brexit at the EU Headquarters in Brussels John Thys/ AFP

The Chief Minister of Gibraltar, which was also able to vote in the referendum said: "This result demonstrates that the will of the people of Gibraltar is overwhelming to remain a part of the European Union."

Fabian Picardo added: "Gibraltar and the Gibraltarians, perhaps more so than many others have 'skin in the game' of staying a part of Europe. Europe matters to us and we demonstrate that tonight."

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said a Brexit would create "a more introverted Europe" and bring "political challenges".

Danish leader Lars Lokke Rasmussen said that while the will of the British people must be respected, "it is a very sad result for Europe and for Denmark." In a statement, Rasmussen said: "It is now up to the British government to determine the next steps for Britain. I hope that Britain still wants to maintain close relations with the EU.

"The last three referendums in the UK, the Netherlands and Denmark should give pause for thought and action. In the population, there is a scepticism towards the EU. We must as decision-makers in the EU take this very seriously."

Brexit Lars Loekke Rasmussen
Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen speaks to the media after Britain's vote to leave the European Union, in Copenhagen, Denmark Uffe Weng/ Reuters

But the feeling is quite the opposite amongst Eurosceptic politicians across the continent, who are capitalising on the outcome of Britain's historic decision to leave the EU.

The leader of France's Front National, Marine Le Pen, has heralded a Brexit and called for "the same referendum in France and in EU countries".

The founder and leader of the Dutch Party for Freedom, Geert Wilders, has called for an EU referendum to be held in the Netherlands. "The United Kingdom is leading the way to the future and liberation. The time is now for a new start, trusting in its own strength and sovereignty. Also in the Netherlands," Wilders said in a statement.

"The Dutch population deserves a referendum as well. The Party for Freedom (PVV) demands therefore a referendum on Nexit, a Dutch EU exit. Dutch people should have the opportunity as soon as possible to decide on the Dutch membership of the European Union," he added.

Despite the apparent clamour for other countries to follow suit and hold a referendum on EU membership, Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern dismissed the idea of a "domino effect."

Christian Kern
Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern addresses the media in Vienna, Austria on 24 June Leonhard Foeger/Reuters

"I do not fear a domino effect," Kern said in a statement to reporters on Friday. "Europe will lose status and significance in the world because of Britain's step. The long-term economic effects will also be felt for some time."