Britain Just Voted To Leave The European Union. Now What?

Holy crap.

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Despite the polls predicting the UK would vote to remain the European Union (EU), it looks like our pale and whinging friends from the cold, wet, foggy rocks that make up the British Isles have, in fact, decided to jump ship.

How is everyone handling the news of Brexit? Turns out not well. The Brits who voted to remain in the EU are losing their minds, the global sharemarket is tanking, there are rumours that Prime Minister David Cameron will resign and call an election, and nationalist parties in Scotland and Ireland are agitating for independence.

What The Hell Just Happened?

When the polls closed it looked like the Remain camp was home and hosed. The betting markets were predicting a comfortable win for Remain and one of the leaders of the Leave campaign, Boris Johnson, had even conceded defeat to some random guy on the Tube.

But when the results started coming in we started to see a very different story. The early figures showed that turnout was lower than expected (the UK has voluntary voting) and cities like Newcastle had a stronger Leave vote than predicted.

Scotland and London have voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU but most of England voted to leave. The results haven’t been finalised yet but the BBC has called the referendum in favour of Leave. It looks pretty certain that the UK is bailing out of the EU.

The Economy Is Tanking

The uncertainty around Brexit and what it could actually mean have sent global share markets into a freefall. The British pound has fallen to its lowest level in 30 years. Even the Australian economy is taking a hit, with billions of dollars being wiped off our share market.

No one is quite sure what this means in the long term, but the lack of certainty is seeing pretty much everyone sell off stocks. There’s a concern that the UK could take a big economic hit following Brexit, given most of its trade occurs within the EU, but it’s too early to predict the specific nature of the fallout.

What’s Next For The UK?

The actual process of withdrawing from the EU will take about two years. Over that period the UK will have to renegotiate trade agreements, develop a new immigration system and restructure its economic framework.

In the short term it probably means the end of David Cameron’s Prime Ministership. There’s been speculation that he might resign as early as Friday, UK time, and call a general election. Even if he holds on a bit longer, it’s likely his political career is over. He was the most high profile politician involved in the Remain campaign and the referendum result will be seen as a repudiation of his approach. He’s likely to be replaced by the former Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

There’s also been speculation that the Brexit result could lead to a massive, internal shakeup of the UK. Scottish independence could be back on the agenda. Despite Scotland narrowly voting against independence in the 2014 referendum, the Scottish National Party is expected to agitate for a fresh vote given today’s results show that Scottish voters overwhelmingly back EU membership. The Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein has also been hinting that a Brexit vote could be the catalyst for a renewed debate on Irish unification.

Whether it’s on the economy or the actual physical makeup of the UK, there’s a whole lot of uncertainty in the air. If the UK continues to tank and the English freak out about the consequences of Brexit, we could see a fresh wave of Poms heading to Australia. For some reason I doubt we’ll see much fearmongering from our politicians on this particular influx of economic migrants.