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EU referendum result: Kent reacts

Britain has voted to LEAVE the European Union - prompting David Cameron to resign.

The county's MPs have started to share their thoughts on their leader's decision - with many saying they had signed a letter asking him to stay.

Before the Prime Minister's announcement, Kent's leaders had been reacting to the referendum result.

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The EU referendum was the single most important vote in a generation.
The EU referendum was the single most important vote in a generation.

Referring to Britain's decision to back Brexit, South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay said: "I am ecstatic. This is what I came into politics for.

"The results were not a surprise to me - people in Thanet were overwhelming in wanting out. Now we need to negotiate our exit and we will be able to get trade agreements with the rest of the world."

He added that immigration had been a key factor for many. "In Kent, it has been a particular issue."

But he said there was no question mark over the future of David Cameron.

"There is no plotting as far as I am concerned. We have got to come together as a party and now deliver what we said we would in our manifesto."

Dan Hannan, Conservative MEP for the South East, said he was very proud to be British.

VIDEO: Kent reacts to Brexit

A leading Euro-sceptic, he said: “The vast majority of people I met wanted to bring some control back. They are grown up enough to understand that it [curbing] immigration cannot be done immediately.”

He said he expected a “phased repatriation of power” and it was critical not to rush into things.

“We do not want to act precipitately but with the agreement and support of our allies.”

Helen Grant MP praised David Cameron, and said the aim now was to "preserve the unity of the UK."

She said: "I am disappointed with the result but what is done is done. We must now work together to preserve the unity of the United Kingdom and protect our economy whilst we navigate a new course in an uncertain world.

David Cameron has been courageous and brave in giving the country this choice. He is a man of the utmost integrity and sincerity and he has been an outstanding leader, taking us out of the recession and into a strong economy.

"His resignation announcement today is a sad moment in the career of a person I admire hugely. He will be a very tough act to follow."

Jo James, the chief executive of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, thinks all companies will now expect swift, decisive, and coordinated action from the government and the Bank of England to stabilise markets.

She said: "The health of the economy must be the number one priority – not the Westminster political post-mortem.

"Firms across the UK want an immediate and unambiguous statement from the Prime Minister on next steps, along with a clear timeline for the UK’s exit from the European Union.

"Business will also want to see a detailed plan to support the economy during the coming transition period - as confidence, investment, hiring and growth would all be deeply affected by a prolonged period of uncertainty.

"If ever there were a time to ditch the straight-jacket of fiscal rules for investment in a better business infrastructure, this is it."

In a joint statement, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Archbishop of York John Sentamu said: "The outcome of this referendum has been determined by the people of this country.

"It is now the responsibility of the Government, with the support of Parliament, to take full account of the outcome of the referendum, and, in the light of this, decide upon the next steps.

"The vote to withdraw from the European Union means that now we must all reimagine both what it means to be the United Kingdom in an interdependent world and what values and virtues should shape and guide our relationships with others.

"We must now unite in a common task to build a generous and forward looking country, contributing to human flourishing around the world.

"We must remain hospitable and compassionate, builders of bridges and not barriers.

"Many of those living among us and alongside us as neighbours, friends and work colleagues come from overseas and some will feel a deep sense of insecurity.

"We must respond by offering reassurance, by cherishing our wonderfully diverse society, and by affirming the unique contribution of each and every one."

Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins said he was "very disappointed" with the referendum result.

"My concern has always been the impact on Kent," he said. "We have to respect the view of the British people and what we have to do is roll out sleeves up and get on with it and get the best deal.

"I know a lot of people will be going to work thinking what it means for them.

"We have to make the best of the situation we're in."

"It was a strong vote to leave across east Kent. I spoke to a lot of people across the business community who were concerned about the economy but people have to weigh up a lot of factors. Clearly people weighed it up differently.

"In hindsight I think we should've taken more time to put our views across.

"Over the next few days the treasury and Bank of England need to stabilise the markets, interest rates which affect mortgages, and the pound which affects prices in the shops.

"I think we need a period of reassurance."

Former Gillingham Labour MP Paul Clark said the "in" campaign failed to spell out its messages clearly enough and had not properly addressed the issue of immigration.

“Undoubtedly, immigration was an issue for a lot of people. They clearly believed that coming out of the EU and pulling up the drawbridge will make everything OK. The reality is that it won’t. We failed to get our message across clearly and simply.”

On the message for Labour, he said: “We lost in some of our heartlands and we have to make sure that we are addressing the real issues that affect people in their everyday lives.”

Herne Bay MP Sir Roger Gale campaigned to remain in the European Union.

He said: "I think it is a profoundly sad and probably bad decision, but the British public have made their view known."

Ashford MP Damian Green said the result was "a little bit of a surprise but not a shock".

He continued: "What this has shown is that we are a divided country and we need to heal the wounds and the way to do that is to ensure that we spread the prosperity we are getting from a strong economy.

"People feel that they have not gained from the good economy we have and do not feel any improvements."

Meanwhile, Dartford's Olympic sprinter Adam Gemili has reacted to the news on Twitter.

He said: "Disappointed to wake up to the results that we are leaving the EU. There was no real justifiable reason strong enough for us to leave.

"Simply stating immigration or economics is not justifying anything. Lots of misleading with not enough simply & clear info for us to digest!"

Helen Grant, MP for Maidstone and The Weald, said: "I am disappointed with the result but what is done is done.

"We must now work together to preserve the unity of the United Kingdom and protect our economy whilst we navigate a new course in an uncertain world.

"Personally my focus remains squarely upon serving the people of Maidstone and The Weald and looking after their best interests. There is much to do and I am glad the distraction of the referendum has now passed."

Here's how the count unfolded in Kent, the county's results at a glance, and how Europeans living in Kent have reacted.

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