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Germany: Brexit vote is a 'sad day for Europe'

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Germany: Brexit vote is a 'sad day for Europe'
A British flag along with other flags of European Union member countries flies in front of the European Council building in Strasbourg, France. Photo: EPA.
07:56 CEST+02:00
Top German leaders declared that it was a "sad day for Europe" after British voters opted to leave the European Union.

Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Friday morning said he regretted Britain's decision to leave the EU, calling it a "sad day for Europe".

German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel was very succinct in his response on social media: "Damn!"

Gabriel called it a "bad day for Europe".

The Leave campaign won the referendum on Thursday with a vote of 52 percent to 48 percent, according to the BBC.

Voter turnout reached 72 percent with over 30 million people casting their ballots.

Steinmeier's ministry said later on Friday that he will host talks on Saturday with his counterparts from the European Union's founding nations, following the vote.

France's Jean-Marc Ayrault, the Netherlands' Bert Koenders, Italy's Paolo Gentiloni, Belgium's Didier Reynders and Luxemburg's Jean Asselborn will meet in Berlin for the six-way talks on "current European political issues", Germany's foreign ministry said in a statement.

Germany had been pushing for Britain to stay with Steinmeier previously saying that Britain leaving could lead to the "disintegration" of the European project.

EU Parliament President Martin Schulz said after the results came in that he would speak with German Chancellor Angela Merkel "on how we can avoid a chain reaction" of other EU states following.

"The chain reaction that is being celebrated everywhere now by euro-sceptics won't happen," he said.

The EU was the biggest single market in the world and "Great Britain has just cut its ties with that market," Schulz said.

"That'll have consequences and I don't believe other countries will be encouraged to follow that dangerous path."

"I am not shocked," he said of the results of the British referendum, adding: "We were prepared."

Earlier this month, Merkel also expressed her personal wishes for Britain to remain, warning that otherwise they could lose their influence.

“I personally hope and wish that Britain will stay part and parcel of the European Union,” Merkel said at the time.

“You can have much better influence on the debate when you sit at the bargaining table and you can give input,” she added.

“It would not only be in our interest, but also in the interests of Britain, if it can bring its whole political weight to the negotiating table.”

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble also previously warned that a Brexit would lead to the UK being shut out of the single market.

Schäuble said that a Brexit would hurt all sides, saying that "it would be a miracle if a British withdrawal would not have economic disadvantages".

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