The Latest: Italian official: EU must deal with unhappiness

LONDON (AP) — The Latest on Britain’s historic vote to leave the European Union (all times local):

3:45 p.m.

Italy’s finance minister is urging the European Union to do more than “concern itself only about banks. In an interview with Milan newspaper Corriere della Sera Saturday, Pier Carlo Padoan says it’s time to think the “unthinkable.”

He says “deep dissatisfaction” over immigration, security and slow economic growth could combine for a further push toward disintegration of the EU bloc. Italy has been pushing for more EU action to encourage economic growth.

Padoan says it’s possible Britain’s EU exit could cause smaller growth in Italy.


3:40 p.m.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry says in a statement that the British people’s decision to leave the European Union will have no effect on Tehran’s approach toward the U.K.

The statement, carried by Iran’s English language Press TV on Saturday, said “Iran respects the British people’s vote to leave the European Union.”

An official in President Hassan Rouhani’s office, Hamid Aboutalebi, had called it a “big earthquake” and part of the “domino” collapse of the EU.

Iran’s government is still suspicious of Britain over its role in backing a 1953 coup. A British-Iranian woman held by the Revolutionary Guard faces allegations of working toward the “soft toppling” of the government.


Associated Press writer Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran contributed.


3:15 p.m.

French President Francois Hollande is holding exceptional meetings with the leaders of France’s political parties, as EU leaders try to keep the union together after Britain’s vote to leave.

Far right leader Marine Le Pen called for a referendum on France’s EU membership following Thursday’s British vote. Hollande’s administration dismissed the call, but Le Pen is currently more popular in opinion polls and hopes to replace Hollande in presidential elections next year.

Hollande convened a string of meetings Saturday with his own Socialist Party, former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservative opposition party The Republicans, the far right National Front, the Greens and parties on the far left and center.

France is a founding member of what is now the EU, but French voters rejected an EU constitution in 2005 that would have enshrined closer unity, and France’s heartland has a lot of the same frustration at economic stagnation and migration that drove the British vote to quit the EU.


2:25 p.m.

Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen says Britain’s exit “will echo for years to come and change the Europe as we know it.”

He says “the EU must stay away from areas where countries do it best themselves” and pay attention to popular skepticism across the continent.

After a government meeting Saturday to discuss the British vote, he wrote on Facebook that the government’s priority was “to defend Danish interests in the upcoming divorce.”

Loekke Rasmussen said Friday the Scandinavian country that joined the European Union in 1973 at the same time as Britain, has “no plans to hold a referendum on this basic matter.”


2:15 p.m.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says he regrets the resignation of Britain’s EU commissioner, Jonathan Hill.

Hill was responsible for the EU’s oversight of financial services — a hugely important industry to London.

Juncker said that “I wanted the British commissioner to be in charge of financial services, as a sign of my confidence in the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union. To my great regret, this situation is now changing.”

He said he would transfer Hill’s responsibilities to Valdis Dombrovskis, European commissioner from Latvia.


2:10 p.m.

The European Union’s six founding nations are urging a quick British departure from the bloc and are pledging to address divergent attitudes toward the EU from its 27 remaining member nations.

Foreign ministers of Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg met in Berlin on Saturday and said in a statement that they want Britain to quickly invoke the article in the EU charter allowing it to start negotiations on departure.

Regarding the other members, they said “We have to find better ways of dealing with these different levels” of commitment to closer European unity. Founding nations want to increase political and economic cooperation but some newer nations are wary of giving up more sovereignty.

“We are aware that discontent with the functioning of the EU as it is today is manifest in parts of our societies. We take this very seriously and are determined to make the EU work better for all our citizens,” it said.


2:00 p.m.

France’s foreign minister is hoping Britain can name a new prime minister in the coming days to speed up its departure from the European Union.

That timeframe is highly unrealistic given the political turmoil in Britain. Instead it is likely to take months to name a replacement to Prime Minister David Cameron, who is resigning and wants his successor to handle the departure negotiations.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Saturday “they must designate a new prime minister, which would certainly require several days.” He was speaking in Berlin alongside counterparts from the five other founding members of the European Union, as EU leaders try to keep the project from falling apart after British voters chose Thursday to leave.


2:00 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says it “shouldn’t take forever” for Britain to deliver formal notification that it wants to leave the European Union but is making clear that the matter is in London’s hands.

Merkel said Saturday at a news conference in Potsdam, outside Berlin: “To be honest, it shouldn’t take forever, that’s right — but I would not fight over a short period of time.”

The German leader said she is seeking a “objective, good” climate in talks on Britain’s exit from the EU and that there’s no need to make deterrence a priority.

Merkel said that there is “no need to be particularly nasty in any way in the negotiations; they must be conducted properly.”


1:55 p.m.

An online petition seeking a second referendum on a British exit from the Europe Union has drawn more than 1 million names, a measure of the extraordinary divisiveness of Thursday’s vote to leave the 28-nation bloc.

The online petition site hosted by the House of Commons website crashed Friday under the weight of the activity as officials said they’d seen unprecedented interest in the measure.

Online petitions — which take little effort and are easy to game — are poor measures of popular opinion, but any petition which draws more than 100,000 names must be considered for debate in Parliament.

In the short term, demands for a rerun are likely to go nowhere given that Britain’s “leave” camp won by more than 1 million votes in a high-turnout vote.


1:50 p.m.

Britain’s representative on the EU’s executive body says he is resigning because it would not be right to carry on after the U.K. vote to leave the bloc.

Jonathan Hill, Britain’s EU commissioner, says he’s very disappointed by the referendum result, but “what is done cannot be undone.”

Hill says in a statement that he will work with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to ensure there is an “orderly handover.”

Hill says he started his job skeptical of the EU but leaves it “certain that, despite its frustrations, our membership was good for our place in the world and good for our economy.”


1:00 p.m.

British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn says Britain must react “calmly and rationally” to the divisive EU referendum campaign.

Corbyn, whose Labour Party backed a vote to stay in the bloc, says the areas that voted most strongly to leave are “communities that have effectively been abandoned” by economic change and the austerity policies of Britain’s Conservative government.

He told a meeting in London Saturday that politicians needed to take seriously voters’ concerns about immigration, which led many to back a British exit from the 28-nation EU.

Many Labour lawmakers strongly backed “remain” and accuse the socialist Corbyn, a longtime critic of the EU, of failing to rally party supporters behind staying in the bloc. Several are trying to rally support behind a bid to unseat Corbyn.


12:55 p.m.

Luxembourg’s foreign minister says Britain needs to quickly start negotiations with the European Union on its exit from the trade bloc.

Speaking Saturday in Berlin after meeting with other top European diplomats, Jean Asselborn said he hoped there would be no “cat and mouse” game now and that Britain would invoke Article 50 of the EU charter, which allows for a country to leave.

“There must be clarity,” Asselborn told reporters. “The people have spoken and we need to implement this decision.”

He added that once outside the bloc, Britain would be a “third country” — the EU term for non-members — in terms of trade agreements but emphasized that was “not meant negatively.”


12:50 p.m.

Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon says Scotland will launch immediate talks with European Union nations and institutions to find a way to remain in the bloc despite Britain’s vote to leave.

Sturgeon says voters in Scotland gave “emphatic” backing to remaining in the bloc. A majority of voters in more-populous England opted to leave.

After meeting with her Cabinet she said “we will seek to enter into immediate discussion” with the rest of the EU.

She says a new referendum on Scottish independence from the United Kingdom is “very much on the table.”


12:40 p.m.

European foreign ministers are urging quick negotiations on Britain’s departure from the EU to avoid prolonged financial and political insecurity for the continent.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said “there is a certain urgency … so that we don’t have a period of uncertainty, with financial consequences, political consequences.”

He spoke in Berlin on Saturday alongside counterparts from the other five founding members of what has become the EU — Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. They also spoke of the need for a speedy renegotiation.

He also urged the remaining 27 EU countries to return to “the spirit of the founders” of European unity, forged to prevent conflict via trade after World War II. “It is up to us to recreate this spirit,” he said, noting all the European countries that subsequently joined after overthrowing dictatorships and embracing democracy.


12:20 p.m.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says negotiations on British exit should begin “as soon as possible” but adds that “intensive European discussions” are needed.

Speaking after a meeting in Berlin with foreign ministers of the other five founding members of the EU, Steinmeier there is a need to “show the people of Europe that Europe is important, and not only important but able to carry out its work.”

He also called for Britain to engage in talks sooner rather than later. He says: “We understand and respect the result and understand that Great Britain will now concentrate on Great Britain,” but adds that Britain as a responsibility to work with the EU on exit terms.


10:05 a.m.

French President Francois Hollande says the British vote to leave the European Union poses questions “for the whole planet.”

Hollande vowed Saturday to maintain relations with Britain, notably concerning migrants crossing between the two countries and military and economic cooperation.

Speaking after a meeting in Paris with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Hollande said: “For the entire planet there is a question, what will happen?”

He called for an orderly separation between Britain and the EU after Thursday’s historic vote to exit the bloc, formed after two world wars to prevent new conflict via trade cooperation.

Hollande, whose country was a founding pillar of European unity, is holding emergency meetings Saturday with leaders of France’s political parties as EU leaders try to keep the bloc from unravelling after the British vote.


08:30 a.m.

Top diplomats from the European Union’s original six founding nations are meeting in Berlin for hastily arranged talks following Britain’s stunning vote to leave the bloc.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says it is critical to see the vote as a wakeup call. He was heading into meetings Saturday with his counterparts from France, Netherlands, Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Steinmeier says EU politicians must listen “to the expectations of the European governments but also to the expectations of the people.”

He cautioned against rash decisions, saying that “it’s totally clear that in times like these one should neither be hysterical nor fall into paralysis.”

Steinmeier’s office says the meeting is one of many conversations now taking place, and shouldn’t be seen as “an exclusive format.”

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