The UK must focus on the future in the wake of the EU referendum vote and concentrate on maintaining its position as a global leader…
This morning the nation—and indeed the world—is coming to terms with the fact the public voted to leave the European Union. The UK is now set to join the only other nation to leave the EU, Greenland, who left in 1985 when it was still called the European Economic Community.
Unsurprisingly, the result of the referendum was as divisive as the campaigns had been in the run up to the 23 June. Final figures show 51.9 per cent in favour of out and 48.1 per cent in favour of in. It was a race closer than the Scottish Independence referendum, which saw 44.7 per cent in favour and 55.3 per cent against leaving the UK, and it was also closer than last year’s general election which saw the Conservative party snatch a 36.9 per cent win over Labour (30.4 per cent).
While there will undoubtedly be concerns and uncertainty in the aftermath of the referendum vote it is important the nation focuses on the next steps: rebuilding and strengthening its position on the global scene.
In the aftermath of the vote, David Cameron decided to step down as Prime Minster—a decision that was both surprising but not altogether unexpected. For weeks the PM has asserted he would lead the nation through the aftermath of the vote, no matter the outcome, but in reality leaving office was always going to be on the cards for Cameron. He had, after all, been stoutly in support of remaining. Cameron will at least stay in charge until the Conservative party conference in October, after which time he hopes to hand over the reins to someone else.
As predicted there was uncertainly in the financial markets following the vote. This morning saw a significant drop in the value of the pound, falling more than 10 per cent—reaching a new low not seen since 1985. Additionally, the FTSE 100 index fell by more than 500 points, wiping £100bn from the board before regaining ground. Banks saw a fall of around 30 per cent in some cases.
However, head of the Bank of England Mark Carney said while there would be a period of uncertainty and adjustment, the bank is “well prepared” to tackle the outcome of the vote. His speech given shortly after the PM announced his resignation was reassuring and will undoubtedly alleviate concerns of the finance sector. In fact, following his speech there was the markets seemed to gain a little ground.
Carney added it would take time to establish relationships with Europe and the global community, and said he would not hesitate to implement necessary measures to keep the economy on track. What form this will take is unclear at the present, but what is certain is Carney’s commitment to maintaining and keeping the UK’s economy on track has given the market some confidence.
For 48 per cent of the country there will be disappointment regarding the vote, but it is important that we, as a nation, take a positive view going forward. Whoever takes control of the government must be focused on ensuring the UK’s position as a major player in the global community. It is also important to remember we are a nation that excels in a number of areas—areas we must now continue to push. We must continue to develop our relationships with our European counterparts in academia and research, we must continue to push to become a digital global leader, and we must negotiate our place in the global trading market.
Lines of communication between the UK and our European neighbours must continue to be supported. A vote to leave the EU does not signal the end of these relationships; it simply means amending the way in which we deal with our friends.
There is no doubt the UK has a difficult few years ahead. Trying to unpick and untangle the country from EU laws and regulations will be a difficult task—there can be no denying that—but it is not an impossible one. Additionally, issues surrounding Northern Ireland and Scotland’s overwhelming votes in favour of remaining in the EU will also have to be examined, but the UK will undoubtedly survive as it forges ahead with its new path. For now, the UK must now focus on the future, and that future lies outside the European Union.