The United Kingdom voted Thursday, 23 June to leave the European Union (EU). A referendum asking British voters whether the U.K. should remain in or leave the EU resulted in 52% choosing leave.
The result takes both the U.K. and the EU into wholly uncharted territory. The U.K. becomes the first country in the EU ever to exit the Union. A high degree of stock and foreign exchange volatility predicted in the event of a vote in favour of exiting the EU has already been triggered. Over the four-month-long referendum campaign, many points of view have been articulated about the likely or possible implications and consequences for both the U.K. and Europe of a decision by the U.K. to exit. The truth is there are very few certainties at this time. What is certain is:
- The U.K. is entering a period of political and economic volatility
- It will take at least two years for the U.K. to negotiate its disengagement fully from the EU
- Until such time as the U.K.’s disengagement has been negotiated, EU citizens will not lose the right to live and work in the U.K.
- Similarly, U.K. citizens living and working in EU countries will not lose the right to live or work there
Informed opinion has it that EU citizens already living and working in the U.K. prior to the referendum date (June 23, 2016) will not be affected and will be allowed to stay in the U.K. after full U.K. disengagement from the EU is completed.
Similarly, it is possible that EU citizens who commence work in the U.K. between now and the completion of full U.K. disengagement from EU might well acquire similar rights to remain in the U.K. after disengagement is completed.
It is clear that in the immediate aftermath of the U.K.’s decision, there are a great many more questions than there are answers about the consequences of the U.K.’s withdrawal from the EU at every level: political, economic and indeed in terms of employee mobility. It is important to keep in mind that while sweeping changes are undoubtedly coming, nothing regarding the rights of EU citizens already residing in the U.K. or coming to the U.K. will change in the short term. And it will take time for the full detail relating to measures and consequences of the U.K.’s decision to take shape.
Lexicon will continue to monitor events from our on-the-ground presence in the U.K. as they unfold and will share practical updates, analysis and insights regarding the vote for "Brexit" and its aftermath.