Former prime minister says issue of EU membership had been poisoning British politics for years but says cooperation on security should continue

As Britain formally fired the starting gun on its exit from the European Union, David Cameron has defended his decision to call the referendum that ended in the vote to leave.

I thought it right to hold the referendum because this issue had been poisoning British politics for years. The referendum had been promised and not held, the former British prime minister said during a visit to Ukraine on Wednesday, in quotes reported by Agence France-Presse.

Having enshrined the commitment to hold a referendum in the Conservative manifesto for the 2015 general election, Cameron said he had to fulfil the pledge despite campaigning himself for the UK to vote remain: I made a promise to hold a referendum. I think it was the right thing to do.

Within hours of the result in which 17.4 million people voted to leave the EU, a 52%-48% victory for Brexit campaigners Cameron announced his resignation.

Speaking on Wednesday, he conceded that things had not gone to plan: We held the referendum and, of course, the result is not the result that I sought.

But it was a decisive result and thats why today Theresa May quite rightly is taking the next step to ensuring the peoples will is followed through.

What happens now that article 50 has been triggered?

Read more: