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S&P downgrades UK credit rating

Ratings agency Standard & Poor's has removed the UK's coveted top credit rating status because of its vote to leave the European Union. S&P was the last of the big three credit assessment agencies to do so.

US ratings agency Standard & Poor's on Monday stripped the United Kingdom of its last remaining top-notch credit rating, slashing its AAA status by two notches and warning more downgrades could follow after Britons voted to leave the EU.

"In our opinion, this outcome [the pro-Brexit vote] is a seminal event and will lead to a less predictable and less effective policy framework in the UK," the agency said in a statement.

The loss of its triple-A credit rating came as a fresh blow to Britain's economic standing after the June 23 referendum, with sterling plunging to a 31-year low against the greenback and the country's stock market taking another dive.

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Weaker reserve currency

"The negative outlook reflects the risk of economic prospects, fiscal and external performance, and the role of sterling as a reserve currency," Standard & Poor's noted.

It also spoke of "risks to the constitutional and economic integrity of the UK, if there's another referendum on Scottish independence."

S&P had been the only major ratings agency to maintain a triple-A status for Britain, while Fitch and Moody's had stripped the UK of its top rating long before the referendum campaign started.

Protecting Britain's rating was a top priority of Finance Minister George Osborne when he came to power back in 2010.

hg/sri/kl (Reuters, AFP, dpa)