Britain votes to leave EU: What happens now?

24 June 2016

The term Brexit has been the portmanteau of the year, and now it's a reality as Britain decides to leave the EU.

How is the average person living and working in Britain affected? Are there implications for your industry? What if you own a business? How can you prepare your team going forward in the face of uncertain times?

Joe Nellis, keynote speaker  and Professor of Global Economy at Cranfield School of Management, expounds on the short- and long-term implications of the Leave vote - a decision that marks a truly historical moment.

For advice on how to prepare, we offer a wide selection of  speakers, consultants and industry experts  who are equipped to analyse the impact on your business and help you plan the way forward.

Interview with Joe Nellis - Professor of Global Economy at Cranfield School of Management

Q: Britain has decided to leave the European Union. What needs to be negotiated from here on?

Joe: The UK will have to decide what form of relationship it wants with the EU, and the EU will have to decide whether to accept this or not.

Britain is now free to negotiate trading relationships with any country in the world. We will be free to set our own rules and regulations concerning many aspects of life, covering social welfare, workers’ rights , the fishing industry, agriculture , and so on.

Under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, we will have two years to negotiate our future trading arrangements with the EU . The start of the two-year window commences whenever the Prime Minister says so. Depending on the extent of co-operation from the EU and the other members of parliament going forward, the process is likely to be complex and could take much longer than planned.

Q: How will the UK’s status in the world be affected?

Joe: The UK will remain as the world’s fifth biggest economy for the foreseeable future. However, our status will depend on how we forge and develop our relationships with countries such as the USA, China, and India – and of course the EU itself. Some commentators predict that the status of the UK will diminish in terms of influence while others take the optimistic view that the country will be set free to flourish.

Q: What will the immediate effects be for the average person working and living in Britain?

Joe: There is unlikely to be any immediate effect on individuals – life will go on as normal at least in the short term. Of course, if sterling falls sharply in the coming weeks  then imports and foreign holidays will be more expensive.

Q: How about businesses? Will there be any implications straight away?

Joe: Rising cost of imports will affect small and big businesses . At the same time, UK exporters will be more competitive and will be free of EU rules.

Q: Last year we made a net contribution of £9 billion to the EU budget – where will this money be spent now?

Joe: Some of the ‘savings’ will have to be directed towards those sectors that will lose out as a result of an Exit from the EU – in particular farming and those connected with R&D activities and education.  We can expect some savings to be directed towards the NHS as promised prior to the Referendum by the Leave campaigners.

Can we expect a domino effect?

Q: Britain is the first nation-state to leave the EU. How do you predict they will react in Brussels?

Joe: We cannot sensibly expect the other EU members to react warmly to the Leave vote. Indeed, we may well face a significant backlash with respect to negotiations over the next two years – and even beyond.

Brussels will be particularly concerned about a domino effect – it remains to be seen whether other members of the EU decide to call for their own exit referendum.

A domino effect is not likely to happen in the short-term since other members will be watching with keen interest how the negotiations develop and how the British economy performs. Britain’s departure could signal the break-up of the Eurozone and the EU, but it is also possible that our departure will shake-up the EU and accelerate much-needed reforms – the EU could even become more cohesive and stronger.

Q: Does leaving the EU affect our security and defence?

Joe: The UK is still a member of NATO and we shall retain our own  internal and external security arrangements . However, the sharing of intelligence with other EU countries might be negatively affected. This will depend on how the negotiations develop.

Q: How will this affect inter-party politics in the UK and the general public’s attitude towards the government?

Joe: It will be very difficult for the Conservative Party to reunite given the bitterness that was shown by both sides during the campaign.

The public may well demand a General Election now that they have tasted the power of democracy !

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