'Beyond comprehension': Global reactions roll in as UK shocks world with Brexit vote

© Reinhard Krause
The UK has shocked the world with its historic Brexit vote, choosing to leave the EU despite forecasts that the country would opt to remain. From heads of state to US presidential nominee Donald Trump, reactions across the globe are pouring in.

The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, said: “There's no hiding the fact that we wanted a different outcome of yesterday's referendum. I am fully aware of how serious – or even dramatic – this moment is politically...” 

US President Barack Obama said he respects the decision of the British people and reassured them that the UK's special relationship with the US will remain.

“The people of the United Kingdom have spoken, and we respect their decision,” the president said in a statement.

“The special relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States is enduring, and the United Kingdom’s membership in NATO remains a vital cornerstone of US foreign, security and economic policy,” he added.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he was “sad for the United Kingdom. Europe continues, but she must react and rediscover the confidence of the people. It is urgent,” the Telegraph reported.

Germany's Foreign Ministry tweeted that this is a “sad day for Europe,” and that the referendum result was “very sobering.”

In a series of four tweets senior German conservative MEP Manfred Weber – a close ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel – said the UK will receive “no special treatment” and must leave the EU within two years. “Leave means leave,” he said.

Expressing disappointment at the result, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said: “I won't hide the fact that I think it is a very sad result for Europe and for Denmark.” He took the opportunity to stress that there is skepticism towards the EU, and that “we as decision-makers in the EU take this very seriously.”

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg told NRK that she believes the decision “will create a more introverted Europe, which will be concerned with finding solutions to organizational problems, instead of providing solutions to the issues voters really want addressed. How do we secure enough growth? How do we create jobs?”

Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt called the result “beyond comprehension.”

Those thoughts were echoed by the leader of Sweden's Centre Party, Annie Lööv, who called the vote “a day of mourning. A nightmare,” the Telegraph reported.

Meanwhile, the Irish government said in an official statement that the UK's decision “clearly has very significant implications for Ireland, as well as for Britain and for the European Union.”

Similarly, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło said the UK's choice to leave the EU “is bad news for Europe and bad news for Poland.”

US Presidential nominee Donald Trump took a different stance, saying it's a “great thing” that UK voters have “taken back their country.”

Tweeting from Scotland, he said the "place is going wild” over the vote – despite the country voting to remain in the EU.

In Russia, Boris Titov, an adviser to President Vladimir Putin on the rights of business people, said the referendum result “is not independence of Britain from Europe, but independence of Europe from the US.”

“It's not far from there to a united Eurasia – about 10 years,” he said, as quoted by the Telegraph.

Although the Danish prime minister called Brexit a “sad result,” the head of the Danish People's Party, Kristian Thulesen Dahl, congratulated the British in a Facebook post.

"Congratulations to the British. They have made their choice," he wrote. "The conclusion is clear: the EU has completely underestimated people's scepticism. The EU has taken far too much power away from nation states and are now paying the price. And stop the hysteria! Britain is the same place today as it was yesterday. They still want to eat Danish bacon for their breakfast."

Paula Bieber from the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats party also congratulated the UK on Twitter, using the hashtag #SwedenWillFollow.

Bieber isn't the only European politician using the UK's result as a chance to push for similar referendums in their own countries.

Dutch anti-immigration leader Geert Wilders called for a vote on EU membership in the Netherlands.

“We want to be in charge of our own country, our own money, our own borders, and our own immigration policy,” he said in a statement.

The leader of France's far-right National Front party called for a referendum in France, saying that “freedom has won” in Britain.

In Italy, the head of the anti-immigration Northern League, Matteo Salvini, also called on Italy to hold its own referendum.

“Love live the courage of free citizens! Hearts, head, and pride beat lies, threats, and blackmail. THANK YOU UK, now it's our turn," he wrote.

Things began to get territorial in Spain. Referencing Gibraltar – the contentious UK territory which shares its borders with Spain – Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo told local radio: “We are much closer to seeing a Spanish flag on the Rock [of Gibraltar].” He previously stated that the result “opens up a completely new panorama” on the issue.

Meanwhile, others in the Twittersphere seemed to listen to European Council President Donald Tusk when he said there was no need for “hysterical reactions,” adding a sense of humor to the entire situation.

One user cheekily reminded Britain was once on the other side with "one of the greatest" Brexits of all time, referring to the American Revolution.

Cartoonists also released their creativity, with many implying a superior attitude from Britain.

One drawing circulating on Twitter shows a British man jumping out of a plane, stating that he needs only a Union Jack – not a parachute.

Another shows a man responding to the result by asking: “Who are we going to blame for our problems now?”

And one cartoon simply shows the relief expressed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, that it's all over – even if it wasn't the expected result.

But although the referendum is over, the aftermath of the decision remains uncertain.

“There is no way of predicting all of the political consequences of this event, especially for the UK,” Tusk said.