Bitesized Blighty: Brexit Edition
In a somewhat surprising turn of events, it has been confirmed that the UK has voted by 52% to 48% to leave the European Union. The polls gave the Remain camp the edge last night, however as the vote counts trickled in, it slowly became clear that the Leave campaign had sealed their win, pulling ahead at around 4:30am when it was revealed the Remain camp would not be able to regain any ground.
This is a historic decision and comes after 43 years of EU membership. It also makes Britain the first nation to exit the group since its formation.
So what happens next?
Whichever way you look at it, it’s an outcome that will hugely impact upon the political, economic, and financial landscape for Britain and the EU. Expect huge volatility in the markets - the British pound dropped to levels not seen since 1985 this morning - and financial services institutions across the City will be seriously considering how to minimize their operational risk. Ultimately, London's status as Europe's financial centre is at stake. Many large banks choose to base themselves out of the city, making uses of its timezone (perfectly in between Asia and US) and lifestyle perks (Frankfurt will never be cool), whilst making use of 'passporting' rights that allow them to market to Europe. Will we now see an exodus of operations or corporations to the continent and UK jobs with it?
With the campaign now over, the media will begin to focus on the fallout of the decision and begin untangling the giant web of questions and unknowns as we begin to learn what this decision means for the future. There are questions over how and when we invoke article 50, the formal withdrawal process that allows us to leave the EU. Some have suggested that more nations will follow, and hold their own referendums on leaving the EU. Which moniker will next take the headlines - Quitaly? Outstria? Beljump? (you're welcome)
In short, its been a turbulent past few months with little else dominating the conversation. We've seen comedy (Boris kissed a fish as he pledged to regain control of the UK fisheries) and tragedy (our thoughts go out to the family of Jo Cox, MP – a wonderful woman and avid EU and Human Rights advocate), but now all that remains is a process of wait and see.
As PM David Cameron announces that he will step down in October, stating that ‘fresh leadership’ will be needed to steer the nation in this new landscape, we look ahead to what this new UK will look like. Who will be our new Prime Minister? Will Scotland call for another independence referendum in order to remain in the EU? Do we now need a visa for a weekend away in Paris?
Lots of questions and not many answers.