What just happened?
The U.K. voted 52% to 48% to leave the European Union in a referendum that revealed deep divisions within political parties, across generations and between geographic regions of the Commonwealth.
What are the immediate effects?
Markets felt the first real impact of the results. The pound plunged as much as 11% to $1.37, the weakest level since 1985, before recovering a bit. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index sank 6.6% as of 9:50 a.m. in London, heading for its biggest decline since 2008.
Oil prices fell more than 6%, while gold, considered a safe haven in uncertain times, jumped as much as 8%. The FTSE 100 fell 8% and the DAX was off 6%.
European bank shares took a dive, which along with insurers bore the brunt of the market turmoil. Every industry group declined.
Politically, what's next?
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said he will resign, effective within three months. Many see Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London, as the favorite to take over after Cameron.
The U.K. is leaving the EU, but will the U.K. itself survive?
Possibly, but there are calls within Northern Ireland and Scotland to seek their own political paths forward. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said her parliament should have the right to hold another vote "if Scotland faces the prospect of being taken out of Europe, effectively against our will." Sinn Fein called for a referendum to reunify Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
What about the rest of Europe?
Nationalist politicians in France, Italy and The Netherlands are calling for their countries to leave the EU, emboldened by the British people's rejection of their political leaders' calls to remain.
But I thought Cameron was against leaving the EU. Why did he call the referendum?
Cameron pledged to hold the referendum during his campaign for re-election in an effort to please anti-EU Conservatives within his own party, as well as hold off a challenge from the U.K. Independence Party, or UKIP, which threatened to fracture his majority in Parliament.
What Happens Next?
The next prime minister will have two years to negotiate secession under Article 50 of the EU treaty. Analysts say it will take much longer than that for the U.K. to put the diplomatic and economic pieces back together.