I'm wrote this originally this after #Leave had crossed the 50% finishing line, but before David Cameron had spoken. Given the resignation in his speech, I can now add to those thoughts a little. But my basic initial reaction still stands:
(1) Leaving the EU would be disastrous for the UK. Sterling has already plummeted from 1.50 to the US dollar to 1.34 overnight, lower than any time for 30 years. The FTSE has dropped £200billion, with substantial losses in other foreign stock exchanges. No doubt there will be some recovery, but let's not underestimate the significance of this event. Brexit has not just become a UK problem, or a EU problem. The genie has been let out the bottle on a global scale. Substantial economic damage could follow, far beyond the level of "Project Fear"..
(2) Fortunately the referendum is only advisory for the Government who now need to calmly reflect on the vote, and stabilise the markets. Cameron's resignation has bought time for the Government. The "Article 50" button that sets the definite exit after a further 2 years will not be pressed until at least the end of 2016, when there will be a new Prime Minister. And then probably not until after the French and German elections in 2017. If ever. My gut feel is that every attempt will be made to make major changes to the EU so the UK can stay, and stop similar moves being made by other EU countries such as Holland. Time will tell.
(3) So why did people vote Leave? The Government needs to understand.
- Was it a misunderstanding about immigration control if UK were to leave?
- Was it actually a vote against the government and austerity, with the EU vote only as a proxy? Who voted leave? What's their social background (apparently graduates tended to vote Remain). Which party did they vote for in GE2015? Or given the high turnout, did they not vote in GE2015 and what made them vote now?
- Was it due to voters believing the widely spread lie from the official Leave campaign about the EU costing £350 million per day? The BBC's Nick Robinson amongst others debunked that claim. If so the marginal Referendum win should be considered invalid.
(5) But there is a silver lining. Almost everyone has agreed that the European Union needs to change. This thought is not just in the UK, but throughout Europe. Maybe this result will kick-start the change that's needed. Then the UK can Remain, with or without another referendum. Let's just hope the price of economic misery will be contained!
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