On June 23, the seemingly unthinkable happened, the majority of non-urban England (and Wales) rose up and with 52% of the national vote, caused two parties to lose their leaders, the British pound to drop to an unprecedented low, and mass chaos and confusion throughout the world, and in major cities in England, as well as the majority of Scotland and Northern Ireland. Stunning the predictions of admittedly elite experts, the UK voted to Leave the EU.
It’s not quite as simple as that, however. While there are many remaining uncertainties, here are some things to remember beyond the financial headlines:
- The referendum has no legal weight.
- The Conservative, Labour, and UKIP parties now have to find new leadership…and a general election is not entirely out of the question. The new prime minister will be Theresa May, with a cabinet including Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary…which is only one of the many challenges she faces.
- How exactly Britain would leave the EU is not entirely clear, some want a quick exit, some want the full procedure of EU’s Article 50 to kick in, which would probably lead to a long transition and less-than-ideal post-Leave trade relations for the UK
- Political parties in both Scotland and Northern Ireland have called for independence from the UK, along with other areas, like Gibraltar. Regardless of whether that happens, the Leave vote poses not insignificant security problems for Northern Ireland, and economic problems for Scotland.
- The EU’s internal relations are even more fraught, and more referendums on immigration are scheduled for later in the year.
- What this means for the rest of the world is not yet clear, but the initial news is bad.