Brexit: What next?


UK residents voted in a general referendum for the country's withdrawal from the European Union. 52% of participants voted in favour of this decision. Staying in the EU got 48% of the population’s vote. Thus, the process of the country's exit from the European Union has started. The results of the referendum will have a direct impact on the future of not only the UK but also the entire EU.

The legal side of the issue

From a legal point of view, the referendum is non-binding, but gives the British authorities a political imperative, which is difficult to ignore. The EU’s exit procedure is defined in Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty of 2007. According to it, the United Kingdom shall notify the EU of adopting a formal decision of withdrawal. Then talks with all members of the EU on the country's exit conditions will be held. If an agreement is reached, a special agreement on the withdrawal, approved by the EU Council and the European Parliament, must be concluded. It will identify also terms of future relations with the EU. From the date of entry into force of this agreement, the state is deemed to have withdrawn from the EU. However, the delay of leaving the EU can be extended by mutual agreement at whatever time.
However, in order for an agreement on the withdrawal to be concluded, the UK also needs to:
1. Conclude a separate agreement on relations with each EU country.
2. Conclude separate agreements with all 134 WTO member countries.
3. To achieve the signing of a new agreement between the other members of the EU and remove references to the United Kingdom from all EU documents.
If within two years from the date of notification to the European Council negotiations have not succeeded, the state is considered to have left the EU.

Unclear procedure

The procedure of drawing up an application for withdrawal from the EU and its approval in the UK legislation is not elaborate. This question will delay the procedure of the UK leaving the EU. Since the majority of MPs are opposed to leaving the EU, if the issue put to the vote of the Parliament, the application of the withdrawal will be rejected.
However, in order to apply it should be the government's decision. David Cameron, who campaigned for the UK to stay in the EU, stated that he was going to resign. Accordingly, the application may be filed only after a new government is formed.
Thus, in the hands of supporters of the UK’s continued membership in the EU are quite powerful tools. It is not unusual for the EU to ignore the will of its citizens. In 2016, the inhabitants of the Netherlands voted in a referendum against the signing of the Agreement on the association of Ukraine with the EU, but Parliament ignored the opinion of the people. Ireland had voted twice in a referendum until the EU did not achieve the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty by the country. Denmark held a second referendum on the Maastricht agreement.
A decision of the UK authorities to ignore the opinion of the citizens is fraught with political crisis and strengthens the positions of non-system parties, especially UKIP.

Chain Reaction on the continent

The referendum in the UK will have a major impact on the growth of euroscepticism in other European countries. These forces may require similar referendums in other countries. Thus, the European Union can really begin to collapse. However, this will be the result of the combined effect of processes that cannot be reduced to a single vote only in the United Kingdom.

Echoes in America

The referendum in the UK may affect the other side of the Atlantic. Donald Trump is currently visiting the country that voted for Brexit. Previously, he supported leaving the EU. The rhetoric of Trump - anti-globalization and anti-system rhetoric - is also reminiscent of eurosceptics. Trump will take advantage of the results of voting in the UK in order to encourage his supporters.

The collapse of the UK?

The results of voting at the referendum could strengthen the internal contradictions in the United Kingdom. According to recent reports in England, 53.2% of voters voted for a way out of the EU (with most of the votes for the EU coming from London, rather than remote English places). In Wales – 51.7%; in Scotland - 38%; In Northern Ireland 44.3%. In fact, provincial England, where the number of supporters of Brexit in some counties accounted for more than 70%, made a decisive contribution to the vote.

British politicians, notably former Prime Minister Tony Blair, warned that if countries exit from the EU, Scotland could initiate secession from the UK. Also, the situation in Northern Ireland will be complicated, and separatist sentiments intensify.