Brexit Stage Left
Britain votes to leave the EU.
Dramatic. Momentous. Revolutionary. Earth-shattering. Such peacockery has typically been confined to Hollywood puff pieces and high-tech product launches, until now. Now there’s another acceptable usage: articles about Brexit, Britain’s recent referendum decision to say goodbye to the European Union.
The vote—a 52 per cent to 48 per cent win for the Leave side—was as dramatic as an episode of EastEnders; the weeks leading up to the vote saw a wave of shouting and name calling in the press and in Parliament, the right and the left trading accusations of racism and treason, and the murder of a politician. Since the vote—termed Brexit as a portmanteau of “Britain” and “exit”—there has been more drama: protests, hate speech, assaults, along with a petition for a do-over referendum that gathered over four million signatures in the space of a week. And the numbers don’t stop there.
Kingdom-shattering—yes, it may yet come to that.
For investors, the vote was certainly momentous, albeit not in a good way. The following day, $2-trillion (U.S.) was shaved off world stock markets. Many of those stocks that had significant losses have since recovered. British banks, however, may now lose the ability to do business on the Continent without additional licensing. That means banks may pack their bags (and their well-paying jobs) and move to Frankfurt or Paris.
The vote stirred up revolution within the country’s ruling class; in the wake of the unexpected defeat of the Remain side, Conservative Party leader David Cameron is looking for a new job. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn may soon join him if he can’t head off a caucus revolt over his lacklustre contribution to the Remain effort.
As for earth-shattering, that may be a bit of a stretch. But Kingdom-shattering—yes, it may yet come to that. Scotland, whose citizens voted overwhelmingly to remain part of Europe, may soon hold a second independence vote in an effort to stay within the EU rather than be dragged from it. Northern Ireland may do the same, perhaps even voting to join the Republic to the south instead.
Where things go from here, what the consequences and implications are, no one knows. Except for this: what you’re reading now won’t be the last thing you hear about Brexit. Which means we might need a few more adjectives.
Photo by gacabo via Flickr.