Wow. Overnight there was an earthquake. Not a physical one of course, but a political one that will have ramifications in this country, in Europe, in the EU and around the world. The status quo is no more and the British public have voted to leave the EU. Or perhaps it’s not quite as clear cut a result as you think.
These are my thoughts and opinions on the events of the last 12 hours which have permanently changed the UK forever.
Overall, 52% of all eligible voters voted to leave the EU, with 48% opting to remain. Turnout was 72.2%, a level not seen since the 1997 General Election. It was an issue that motivated people across all ages and demographics to get out and vote. Something not so easy to achieve. But this was an extremely emotive issue and people who had not voted in decades did get out to vote on this.
But when you look at the results by region and individual countries, it shows deep divisions. England and Wales both voted to leave. Northern Ireland and Scotland both voted to remain. However the larger population in England carried the vote the way of leave. You can see an in-depth breakdown of all kinds of results from the BBC here.
It is by no means a landslide win. But it is a win nonetheless and a result we have to respect as a nation.
As expected, European stock markets and Pound Sterling all dropped in a knee-jerk reaction that really shouldn’t have surprised anyone.
In the hours since however, both Sterling and the FTSE100 have stabilized and recovered some of their losses. The situation at the time of writing this post shows some degree of calm after the initial panic, and I would recommend people go to Bloomberg TV and online for an accurate and up to date picture of the markets. Traditional media appear to be quite a way behind on updating the public with relevant market information.
As the dust settles in the financial world, I fully expect that in the coming weeks the losses that have occurred today will be recovered. And even at the time of writing this, markets are continuing to recover.
So what do we know?
There are many questions now to be asked. But as the dust starts to settle, there are a few things becoming clearer.
- David Cameron has resigned – as many expected, if the Leave campaign won, the PM would have to resign. He announced on Friday morning that he will remain as Prime Minister until a new candidate is chosen, with a target of the Tory Party Conference in October as the deadline.
- Stock market jitters – stocks and currencies dropped as expected, but are now on a slow road to recovery. It isn’t as bad as the 2008 financial crisis.
- The polls were wrong, again – throughout the campaign, the majority of opinion polls had the Remain vote in the lead at various levels. Only a handful nearer the end had Leave ahead, and even then they swung back to a Remain vote.
- The experts were wrong – one theme I had noticed throughout the campaign is that the general public seemed to have had enough of “experts” telling them this and that. In the end, the majority assumed a Remain win and were wrong. Credibility of some experts must now be in question.
- Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain – it is very clear what the intention was in Scotland. The question is now if they will hold a second independence referendum to secure a split from the UK so that they can rejoin the EU.
- Labour vote collapsed – most media outlets report that Labour votes for remain were much lower than expected, which dented the overall chances of a Remain win. Serious questions now surround the Labour party as to how they can get back in touch with their electorate.
As the result sinks in with the public, we’ll begin to know more with time.
Reviews of the campaigns
I can keep this bit short. Both were, in my opinion, appalling. Neither campaign managed to show much evidence or proof to back up the plethora of wild claims and accusations. If this were a school test where they were asked to show their workings, they would both have failed.
At times it got nasty, with some typically unsavory characters pushing things a little too far. There were some cheerier moments, and you cannot ignore the fact that at times, the Leave campaign did paint a brighter picture of a UK that was not a part from the EU. That will be something which will have stood out to a few undecided voters.
Overall though, if there was to ever be another referendum in the near future, we can look back on this one as a template not to copy.
I’ve got my helmet on ready while I’m writing this part!
The result is now the result. There is nothing that can be done about it. What we need to remember is that as a country we were able to carry out this democratic process, in record numbers, to determine our own future. There are places in the world that are literally dying for that right. Perhaps as certain people decide to rubbish the results and the referendum as a whole, they should remember that.
What I am also disappointed to see is a wave of hate, name calling, accusations and smearing of people who voted to Leave and got their wish. I am seeing both on Twitter and on Facebook, some very bitter, angry Remain voters, condemning the country to rack and ruin, declaring those who voted to leave as racists, bigots, right-wing fanatics, thick, stupid, uneducated and so forth.
To label over half of those who voted as such is absolute bulls**t. This is a democracy, it’s not perfect, but every voter has their democratic right to vote and have their say. It also means that there will be others who disagree. However the very worst and frankly classless thing to do is to then tear into the opposition in fits of rage and bitterness because the vote was lost. We as a country have to respect the result, respect that people made their choices based on their own reasons, just as those who voted to remain voted to do so for their own reasons. That is how a vote works.
What is very clear is that the UK right now is a very divided place. What this referendum became was an opportunity to give a kicking to the political class, to Parliament and it’s system, and the current Government. I suspect that years and years of frustration and anger with successive Goverments going back many years has built up to this. For many voters, I believe this was a chance for them to really make a stand and felt like they could be heard. It also means, in my eyes, that the way politics is run in the UK right now is broken and needs reform. The public feels like they are rarely listened to, and all trust in politicians has been truly wiped out.
For me this is clear, we as a country have to put the result behind us, come together for the good of ourselves and the country. There are many things which this country does well, and I see no reason why we can’t make a success of this result. We have the skills, the brains, the technology and the resolve to make a good fist of it. However, if we indulge in pulling each other apart, if the remain half of the UK remain bitter and angry, then the doom and gloom predictions could be forced into reality. We need to respect each others choices then move on together. There is no need to get nasty. The future is what we make it.
To sum up, I want to give my thoughts on what needs to happen as we move towards a time line to leave.
First of all, we have left the EU, not the continent of Europe. Europe won’t disown the UK, moreover, they will hopefully see this result as an opportunity to review the EU as a whole and understand that true and genuine reform is required in order for it to survive. And if it does, you never know, they could prosper.
Moving forward for the UK, Westminster needs to understand that they have truly lost touch with the public. Both sides of the campaign seemed to be ignorant of this. It is only until this momentous decision that they have woken up to this scenario. If politicians in this country are to restore some degree of respect and trust, something needs to change. What that change is is beyond me. It seems like a very uphill task.
It looks likely that Scotland will have a second referendum for independence and I would estimate that this time round they will vote to leave the UK. If so, that has to be done in an orderly process, and with a deal that leaves the rest of the UK and Scotland in relatively positive positions.
As an industry, now is the time to really buckle down and get to work. I don’t see the wheels coming off the industry in any dramatic fashion. Media hype will die down. Daily life will return to normal. People will always need windows and doors. The economy will roll on.
This is my review of the Brexit vote in the 2016 EU Referendum. I welcome all comments on the above and of the situation in general. However, if you are going to comment, please make sure it is civil.