BRUSSELS, Belgium – The UK’s most senior diplomat in the European Union, Jonathan Hill, has announced that he will step down, following the referendum to leave the union after 43 years.
“As we move to a new phase, I don’t believe it is right that I should carry on as the British Commissioner as though nothing had happened,” Hill said in a statement on Saturday.
Britain voted to leave the EU by a margin of 52 to 48 percent on Thursday.
The commissioner for financial services said he was “very disappointed” by his country’s decision to leave the EU, but added, “What is done cannot be undone.”
Since the UK retains the rights and duties of membership until it formally leaves the union, it has to send a new commissioner to Brussels.
Each EU member state has a commissioner in Brussels. The commission said it was ready “to discuss swiftly” a replacement with Prime Minister David Cameron.
“The prime minister is sorry that Lord Hill has decided to step down,” said a Downing Street spokesman. “He has done an excellent job as a commissioner.”
Cameron also announced his resignation hours after the result of the vote came out on Friday.
He said it would be up to his successor, who is expected to be appointed before the Conservative Party conference in October, to trigger negotiations for exit from the union.
Senior EU diplomats, however, called on the UK on Saturday to start the exit process as soon as possible.