Cameron, who tirelessly campaigned to try to keep the U.K. in the EU, said he is not the “captain” that will steer the ship through the upcoming difficult negotiations.
“We should aim to have a new prime minister in place by the start of the Conservative Party conference in October,” he said in a speech outside Downing Street on Friday soon after the vote tally was announced.
Cameron noted that he has already informed Queen Elizabeth II of his decision, adding that the will of the British people “must be respected.”
“The British people have made a very clear decision to take a different path. I think country requires fresh leadership,” Cameron said.
Conspicuously using past tense, Cameron commented that he was “proud and very honored to have been prime minister of this country for six years.”
Although Cameron reassured European citizens in the UK that “there will be no initial change in your circumstances,” his departure adds major uncertainty to the nation’s expanding list of problems following Thursday’s historic vote to leave the 28-member EU.
As USA Today explained, the vote “raises questions about the future of post-World War II European move toward unification, renews the prospect of Scottish independence from the U.K. and casts doubt over years of stability on the border between Northern Ireland (part of the U.K.) and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member.”
Cameron said he will continue as prime minister in the short term to alleviate concern over Britain’s economy and the path forward. The new prime minister will be in charge of invoking Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, the legal clause that will trigger its formal departure from the EU.
Among Cameron’s possible successors is Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London who led the “leave” campaign.
VIDEO: David Cameron announced he will step down following the country’s vote to leave the European Union.