The UK’s decision to leave the EU has raised so many questions and with definitive answers still to be given, Matthew Cameron considers the possible outcomes
Hardly had the result of the UK’s referendum set in among the electorate before the political fall-out began. We have previously looked at what might happen if the UK were to express a desire to leave the EU; the task now is more tangible, given the result. Yet it is by no means any easier to predict just what the new European landscape will look like, not least given the volatile state of UK politics at the moment.
David Cameron’s resignation may have been anticipated in the light of a vote to leave the EU, however narrow the margin, but he has been replaced by pro-EU Theresa May who has been charged with imposing a choice expressed by the people she did not support herself. At the time of writing, a new cabinet position has been created – Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, a so-called ‘Brexit secretary’ – which has been filled by veteran Eurosceptic David Davis. Theresa May has also appointed other pro-Leave MPs to cabinet positions including Andrea Leadsom and Liam Fox.
The swell of the Left talking against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, given his far from enthusiastic support of a ‘Remain’ campaign could have been foreseen: he was not a popular choice among the parliamentary Labour Party after all. Corbyn now faces a leadership challenge, with Angela Eagle now supporting Owen Smith as a replacement.
CHALLENGE AND CHANGE
But amid all of this political farce, we must now look to see what the future will bring, and more importantly for Francophiles, what impact the result will have on our ability to live, work and own property in France. What will happen to those who already own property on the other side of the English Channel; those who already work there or have already retired to France? Inevitably, this article will have an incredibly short lifespan – events have already moved on so quickly in such a short space of time, and any views expressed now may well be out of date within a few months, if not weeks or days. At the time of writing, there are even a number of challenges to the status of the referendum result: whether there should be a second referendum on the grounds that the first was fuelled by untrue assertions; whether the will of the people is sufficient to allow the Prime Minister to use her constitutional prerogative to serve notice in accordance with the terms of the notorious Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty; or whether in fact only new legislation could authorise the notice being served. If it transpires that the last of these is the only real option for serving notice to quit the EU, there could be great difficulty in passing the necessary law through the Houses of Parliament, given that the House of Commons is substantially in favour of remaining in Europe.
Since Prime Minister Theresa May was not in favour of the Leave campaign, then we can realistically expect the passage to leaving the EU to continue to be just as rocky from here, despite some of her recent assertions.
A WAITING GAME
None of this, though, answers the main question of what is going to happen. Or perhaps it does. There is so much that remains to be understood at the present time, so much conjecture as to where we will be heading, that we cannot with any certainty explain the consequences. We can, though, consider some of the current views, and see what could happen under these. We do know that nothing will happen in practice for at least two years, and quite possibly longer.