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The sky is not falling: World leaders look to calm the Brexit jitters

British Prime Minister David Cameron tried Monday to assure the world that Brexit isn’t the calamity it’s being made out to be. Despite Germany’s warning against long-term uncertainty, he said the UK is taking a go-slow approach to the divorce. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also got into the act, saying it is important that “nobody loses their head.” Hari Sreenivasan reports from London.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    We turn now to Britain, and the hangover from last week's historic vote.

    Hari Sreenivasan is in London.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    There is confusion with a touch of remorse here in England as the reality of their vote to leave the E.U. settles in. Key promises that were made are being walked back, and Parliament is met with the task of picking a new prime minister.

  • DAVID CAMERON, Prime Minister, United Kingdom:

    The decision must be accepted, and the process of implementing the decision in the best possible way must now begin.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    It was his first appearance in the House of Commons since the fateful vote, and Prime Minister David Cameron sought to reassure a jittery country.

  • DAVID CAMERON:

    We know that this is going to be far from plain sailing. However, we should take confidence from the fact that Britain is ready to confront what the future holds for us from a position of strength.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Cameron himself will not be a part of that effort. He opposed leaving the E.U., and plans to step down by fall. His Labor Party counterpart, Jeremy Corbyn, also opposed Brexit and is also under pressure to quit. Nearly 30 members of his inner circle have resigned since Sunday to protest Corbyn's leadership.

    Those who championed taking Britain out of the E.U. face criticism as well amid claims they have no concrete plans for what to do next. One urgent question, exactly when and how the United Kingdom will formally depart the E.U. First, London must invoke Article 50 of the E.U. treaty, which governs exiting the union. That, in turn, will start negotiations that could take two years.

    Prime Minister Cameron said today the government is in no rush to take that step.

  • DAVID CAMERON:

    The British government will not be triggering Article 50 at this stage. Before we do that, we need to determine the kind of relationship we want with the E.U., and that is rightly something for the next prime minister and their Cabinet to decide.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    European leaders also met today in Berlin and agreed no formal or informal exit talks will begin before Britain officially invokes Article 50. German Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledged they don't expect that to happen overnight.

  • ANGELA MERKEL, Chancellor, Germany (through translator):

    We can't afford long-term uncertainty. It wouldn't be in either side's economic interest. But I have a certain understanding that Great Britain needs a certain amount of time to analyze things.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Meanwhile, efforts are under way to calm other members of the E.U.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was in Brussels today, meeting with the E.U.'s federal policy chief, Federica Mogherini.

    JOHN KERRY, U.S. Secretary of State: Oh, I think it is absolutely essential that we stay focused on how, in this transitional period, nobody loses their head, nobody goes off half-cocked, people don't start ginning up scatterbrained or revengeful premises, but we look for ways to maintain the strength that will serve the interests and The values that brought us together in the first place.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Kerry traveled on to London to meet with his British counterpart, Philip Hammond, and said the U.S. relationship with the U.K. will stay strong.

    But global markets are another matter, and they fell again today, despite attempts at reassurance by the British treasury chief, George Osborne.

    GEORGE OSBORNE, Chancellor of the Exchequer, United Kingdom: We were prepared for the unexpected, and we are equipped for whatever happens. And we are determined that, unlike eight years ago, Britain's financial system will help our country deal with any shocks and dampen them, not contribute to those shocks or make them worse.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Former London Mayor Boris Johnson, one of the most prominent leave campaigners, welcomed Osborne's efforts to allay concerns.

    BORIS JOHNSON, Former Mayor of London: It's clear now that project fear is over. There is not going to be an emergency budget, people's pensions are safe, the pound is stable, the markets are stable, and I think that's all very good news.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Still, a leading British business group said 20 percent of its 1,000 members now plan to move some of their operations outside the U.K.

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