We have all woken up on June 24th to the surprising news that the UK has voted to leave the European Union following a contentious referendum. The vote was very close, with 52% voting to leave and 48% voting to remain. Markets are reacting with volatility, as might be expected, and British Pound Sterling values have sunk overnight to a historic 30 year low against the dollar. To add to the turmoil, David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, has announced that he will be stepping down with his successor to be in place by the October Conservative Party conference.
That said, nothing is going to happen immediately. There is a very specific legal process for Brexit and the timeline is hardly swift. As the first step, the UK has to give notice to leave under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Based on the Prime Minister’s announcement this morning and questions surrounding who might lead the negotiations on the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU, that notice may not be given for many weeks, if not months. That notice is also just the commencement of the process. Once notice has been given, there is then a two year period in which to negotiate the terms of an exit Treaty.
Our colleagues have posted more details on the Brexit process on Bryan Cave’s EU & Competition blog.