So Britain has decided to leave the EU: What happens next?

Boris Johnson could be a candidate to take over from David Cameron as Prime Minister. Pic: PA.
Boris Johnson could be a candidate to take over from David Cameron as Prime Minister. Pic: PA.

The Leave campaign has emerged victorious in the EU referendum. What happens next as Britain opts for divorce with Brussels?

1. All change at the top. David Cameron has quit as Prime Minister although he will remain in place with his Cabinet in the short term. A new PM is expected to be in place by the time of the Conservative Party conference in October. Contenders for the role of Tory leader include prominent Vote Leave campaigner Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Theresa May - who is popular among grassroots members and maintained a low profile during the campaign. The final decision will be taken by party members, who will choose from two candidates nominated by Conservative MPs.

2. The markets are expected to remain volatile. Soon after they opened more than £100 billion was wiped off the FTSE 100 Index and the pound crashed against the dollar. The Bank of England stands ready to offer £250 billion to support the markets with contingency plans in place, according to governor Mark Carney. Chancellor George Osborne has discussed with Mr Carney the radical step of suspending trading on the London Stock Exchange in the event that Brexit triggers a "Black Friday" crash.

3. An emergency EU summit? Leaders are scheduled to gather on Tuesday but the meeting could be brought forward to deal with the fallout of the dramatic change, which could have huge ramifications for the future of the entire project. The presidents of the European Commission, Council and Parliament will set out their initial response to the demand for Brexit. There will also be an emergency meeting of the French government chaired by President Francois Hollande.

4. Negotiations over the terms of the UK's exit. Article 50 of the 2007 Lisbon Treaty envisages a two-year negotiation to draw up a withdrawal agreement. If no deal is reached - and any of the other 27 states block an extension of talks - the EU treaties simply cease to apply to the state in question at the end of the period, leaving it to operate under international rules set by bodies such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Mr Cameron previously said he would kick off the withdrawal process immediately but he is now leaving this decision to his successor. Tory minister and leading Leave campaigner Andrea Leadsom said Britain could negotiate a bilateral agreement with a "presumption of continuity" of free trade.

5. Another independence referendum in Scotland? Every area north of the border voted in favour of remaining in the EU, prompting former SNP leader Alex Salmond to state it was "almost certain" that the country would be asked to reconsider its place in the United Kingdom. Voters rejected a breakaway in 2014 but in the manifesto on which it won a fresh term in power at Holyrood last month, the party left open the option of reopening the question in the event of a "significant and material" change in circumstances such as being forced out of the EU against the will of a majority of its people.

6. Uncertainty for Britain's overseas territories? There will be questions about the future of other areas, whether Britain wants to hear them or not. The Spanish government has already called for shared sovereignty over Gibraltar - the territory voted 95.9% in favour of Remain. Gibraltar's chief minister Fabian Picardo noted in May that Brexit supporters should reflect on the fact that a leave vote would see joint sovereignty "back on the table".