European leaders sound off on Brexit vote

British Prime Minister David Cameron addresses the media after an EU summit in Brussels on Friday, Dec. 18, 2015. European Union leaders are reconvening in Brussels for the final day of their year-end summit with a wide-ranging agenda including how to build greater economic unity among their 28 countries and stepping up the fight against extremism. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

(MEDIA GENERAL) – On the tails of Britain’s historic referendum to leave the European Union, leaders of several EU countries are working to maintain the union and plan a future for the EU without the United Kingdom.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced “great regret” over Great Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, but continues to hold confidence in the EU.

In an address to media, Merkel said: “We have to remain calm and composed. We need to make composed analysis and decisions. … Time and time again we are confronted with people that have doubts over the direction that the EU has taken. We have to make sure that people feel that the EU can make a contribution to people’s lives.”

After all regions in Scotland voted to remain in the EU, Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Brexit results likely will lead to another vote for Scottish independence. Sturgeon has emphasized Scots want a role in the Brexit negotiations.

“I have made it clear to (Prime Minister David Cameron) this morning that the Scottish government must be fully and directly involved in any and all decisions about the next steps that the UK government intends to take,” Sturgeon said Friday morning.

Sturgeon said she spoke with all EU member states to communicate Scotland’s desire to remain in the EU and even has discussed working to secure a form of opt-out for Scotland and London, two regions where voters strongly voiced to remain in the EU.

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, penned an editorial for the Evening Standard to voice his confidence in his city and the Brexit vote.

“Britain is clearly a divided nation today,” Khan said. “As Londoners we have voted dramatically differently from the rest of the country – with 60 percent of Londoners choosing to remain in the European Union. We all have a responsibility now to seek to heal those divisions and focus on what unites us, rather than that which divides us.”

Like other leaders, Khan also emphasized the importance of Britain maintaining a place in the EU marketplace.

“Even though we will be outside the EU, Britain must remain part of the European single market. Leaving the single market of 500 million people – with its free-trade benefits – would be a mistake,” Khan said.

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