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June 24, 2016 7:19 pm

Senior Iranian Official Says Brexit Vote Presents ‘Historical Opportunity’ for Tehran and Country Must Capitalize on EU’s Downfall

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Senior Iranian Official Hamid Abutalebi called on Tehran to capitalize on the EU's downfall following the Brexit vote. Photo: Twitter.

Senior Iranian Official Hamid Abutalebi called on Tehran to capitalize on the EU’s downfall following the Brexit vote. Photo: Twitter.

The United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union presents a “historical opportunity” for Iran, a senior Iranian official said on Friday according to semi-official state news agency Tasnim.

On Twitter, Political Deputy of Iran’s Presidential Office Hamid Abutalebi said the UK’s decision will trigger a domino effect leading to the EU’s downfall and the Iranian government must be ready to capitalize on it.

“A great earthquake has shaken Europe and the UK has quit the European Union,” he wrote. “The stars of Europe’s union are falling down. Economic changes in south European countries, terrorism and the refugee crisis is showed that the union is about to fall. But the domino was ticked off with Brexit.”

Abutalebi claimed that Europeans long ago lost their trust in the EU and that the breakup of the remainder of the European bloc is only a matter of time.

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Echoing Abutalebi’s assertion that the EU is facing imminent collapse, Deputy Chief of Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces Brigadier General Massoud Jazzayeri said the only way the EU — which he called a puppet of the US — can save itself is by cutting off its ties with Washington.

“The European Union is a tool in the hands of the US, and the only way for the EU survival is by declaring its independence,” he said according to Farsanother semi-official state news agency.

On Thursday, British voters headed to the polls in a national referendum to decide whether the UK should split or remain a member state of the EU. The vote, dubbed Brexit, was preceded by months of intense debate and campaigning.

Supporters of the Stronger In campaign — such as Prime Minister David Cameron — argued that the country would be safer and stronger as part of a larger European bloc. Proponents of the Vote Leave campaign — such as former London mayor Boris Johnson — presented a departure from the EU as an opportunity “to take back control and…spend our money on our priorities.”

In the end, 52 percent of voters were in favor of leaving and 48 percent against. Thursday’s referendum had the highest turnout of a UK-wide vote since the 1992 general election. More than 30 million people — or 71.8 percent of registered  voters — cast their ballots.   

Following the results of the referendum, Cameron announced early Friday morning that he would be stepping down as prime minister. In his resignation speech, Cameron said the UK needs a new leader who will be better suited to negotiate the transition. “I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination,” he said.

“The country has just taken part in a giant democratic exercise — perhaps the biggest in our history. Over 33 million people — from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar — have all had their say,” he said outside 10 Downing Street. “Now the decision has been made to leave, we need to find the best way, and I will do everything I can to help. I love this country — and I feel honored to have served it. And I will do everything I can in future to help this great country succeed.”

The prime minister said a new leader — widely expected to be Johnson — will likely be in place by October. Upon initiating formal proceedings to leave the EU, the British government will have a two year negotiating period to exit the bloc.

Global financial markets were sent into a tailspin on Friday upon news of the split, with world stocks seeing more than $2 billion wiped off their value. The British pound dropped to its lowest levels since 1985, falling as much as 10 percent against the dollar. The euro fell three percent. British banks saw a $100 billion loss, with Lloyds, Barclays and RBS falling as much as 30 percent.

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