The United Kingdom voted Thursday for a British exit — or "Brexit" — from the European Union. What happens now is "a leap into the unknown," according to a report on "Life After Brexit" by the London School of Economics.
Here’s what is most likely to happen next:
They'll talk about it
Leaders of the European Union leaders will hold a summit in Brussels next week “to start a wider reflection on the future of our Union,” EU Council President Donald Tusk told reporters on Friday. “We are determined to keep our unity at 27,” one less than when the U.K. is included.Tusk said EU leaders will meet without British Prime Minister David Cameron, who led the campaign to remain in the EU and said after the vote that he will resign.
Two years of negotiations
Once the U.K. formally notifies the EU that it wants to get out of the bloc, it will have two years to officially negotiate its departure. To do so, it needs to invoke Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty. The U.K. could be granted an extension beyond two years, but only if all 27 EU member states agree. Cameron said he wants his successor to lead these negotiations. If he sticks around until October, which he said he might do to provide an orderly transition, then nothing much happens until the fall.
Who wants to be the new U.K. leader?
Cameron's ruling Conservative Party will now set about the process of figuring out who will replace him. One name consistently floated as a successor is former London mayor Boris Johnson, the flamboyant leader of the winning "leave" campaign. Johnson made no mention of possibly replacing Cameron when he and leave campaign leaders held a victorious news conference on Friday.
Market mayhem — and possible recession
Global markets fell off a cliff, oil prices tumbled and the pound fell to a 31-year low after the vote tally showed Brexit had prevailed. Dozens of leading economic think tanks and heavyweight financial institutions, including the International Monetary Fund and British finance ministry, warned ahead of the referendum that the U.K. would probably fall into a recession in the event of Brexit.
Independence! For Scotland
After the vote, Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National Party, said she will push for another referendum to decide whether Scotland — which voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU — should remain part of the U.K. Scotland failed to win independence in a 2014 vote among Scots.
The Scottish National Party had said in May that it would likely hold another independence referendum if Scotland were "taken out of the EU against our will." Sturgeon said Friday that she was preparing legislation for a second referendum.
Non-EU me too
The vote could embolden other nationalist and populist movements across the bloc to call for similar exit referendums. Right-wing euro-skeptic parties in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy may seize upon the British result as a reason to talk a lot more forcibly about loosening their own ties to the EU bureaucrats based in Brussels. Many people in those countries are likely to listen to them.
Re-Troubles in Ireland
Peace in Northern Ireland has been supported in part by an open border between the Republic Ireland and Northern Ireland (part of the U.K.). that stems from EU membership. On Friday, Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness called for a vote on a united Ireland.
‘No mass deportations’
About 3 million people from other EU nations reside in the U.K., and around 1.2 million Brits live elsewhere in the alliance. One of the fundamental principles of the bloc is allowing the free movement of people and workers within member countries. Cameron said there would be no immediate move to alter that arrangement, but look for changes over time.
“It’s not hard to imagine that EU countries will impose more onerous bureaucratic requirements for maintaining residency, but that will likely be the extent of the impact,” said David Bartram, an international immigration expert at the University of Leicester. “We’re not going to see mass deportations.”