15 questions that need to be answered after leave vote in EU referendum
- Credit: AP
We try to answer some of the questions raised by the EU referendum.
• 1 What happens now?
Theoretically, the referendum is not legally binding, because Parliament is sovereign. However, David Cameron said he would respect the result. Although the great majority of MPs campaigned against Brexit, it is almost unthinkable they would try to block the will of the people.
However, it is likely they will try to influence Britain's post-Brexit deal with the EU, and could press for the UK to remain part of the single market, and therefore remain bound by its rules and regulations. Until the UK ceases being a member, EU law still stands in the UK.
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• 2 When will we leave?
The result does not automatically trigger the UK's exit. To do that, the prime minister has to trigger Article 50 of the 2007 Lisbon Treaty, which starts two years of negotiations that would culminate in exit – although the timescale could be extended if all other 27 member states agree.
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During the referendum campaign, David Cameron said he would trigger Article 50 immediately after a Brexit vote, but yesterday he said he will leave it to his successor to start this process, leaving it to the autumn at the earliest.
• 3 What will happen to my holiday in Europe and do I need a new passport?
If the pound's poor performance since the result was announced continues, foreign holidays will become more expensive. However, Mr Cameron said there would be 'no initial change in the way our people can travel', and, as long as we remain EU members, your passport is valid, you do not need a visa to visit EU countries, and the European Health Insurance Card still works.
In the longer term, the effect on all these things depends on any EU-UK Brexit deal.
• 4 I'm going abroad this weekend – will my travel insurance still be valid?
Travel insurance products will continue to offer all of the cover that they do at the moment. There will be no immediate change to any existing policies you currently have. The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will continue to apply.
• 5 I am planning to drive in Europe next month – will there be an impact on my motor insurance?
UK policies will continue to automatically cover you for the minimum legal requirement in EU countries. You should check your policy or talk to your insurer about more comprehensive cover if you want it, as has always been the case.
• 6 I buy my home or car insurance from a company which is not British. Will it still be valid?
Existing contracts with insurance companies and pension providers will be unchanged, wherever the company is based.
• 7 What about EU citizens living in Britain, and those Brits who are living in Europe?
Immigration was perhaps the most salient issue in the campaign, focusing on missing targets and perceived pressure on schools, hospitals and other public services.
The result does not mean the millions of EU citizens living in the UK will have to leave, and yesterday, Mr Cameron said: 'I would reassure Britons living in European countries and European citizens living here, there will be no immediate changes in your circumstances.'
That means that, until Brexit at least, access to benefits, pensions and health treatment, and employment rights, will remain the same for Brits abroad, and EU citizens in the UK.
What happens in the longer term will depend on any post-Brexit deal.
• 8 Will house prices fall?
Experts believe the housing market is set for a rapid cooldown in price growth and fewer sales as buyers adopt a 'wait and see' stance towards the economy.
Richard Donnell, insight director at property analysts Hometrack, said: 'House price growth is already weak and running in low single digits in central London areas. Modest price falls now appear likely in higher value markets as prices adjust in the face of lower sales activity.'
A report from property agent Knight Frank said that as well as buyers being affected, the uncertainty could also make sellers more reluctant to put their property on the market, 'and this lack of supply will provide a floor under prices'.
• 9 Will it become more difficult to get a mortgage?
If lenders decide to put tighter controls on their lending levels, amid the uncertainty, mortgages could become harder to come by and less affordable.
Property agent Knight Frank said there is a chance that mortgage rates may become 'detached' from the Bank of England base rate, currently 0.5%.
But it suggested that while the base rate could be cut further, lenders may actually start raising their mortgage rates as a technique to control their lending level.
Borrowers on fixed-term, fixed-rate deals will not be affected over those time frames.
• 10 Should I be concerned about my pension fund?
Pension experts said the message should be 'don't panic' amid the uncertain economy, and savers should consider taking advice if they are planning to take money out in the near future.
Tom McPhail, head of retirement policy at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: 'For long-term pension investors who may be seeing the value of their retirement savings falling, the key message is to do nothing unless you have to.'
He added: 'If you are close to retirement, then try to avoid selling funds and shares right now. Annuity rates may move in response to changing interest rates; however, this is not certain.'
Huw Evans, director of the Association of British Insurers (ABI), added: 'The UK insurance and long-term savings industry is strong and built to protect customers from market uncertainty and shocks.'
• 11 Will the result lead to the break-up of the UK?
The vote has pushed Scottish independence back up the agenda, because the country voted strongly in favour of Remain.
The Scottish National Party won last month's election to the Scottish Parliament on a promise it could hold another independence ballot if Scotland was 'being taken out of the EU against our will'. However, because the SNP fell short of a majority in the election, they would need support from other parties to call another ballot. First minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday said a second referendum was 'on the table'.
Northern Ireland also voted to stay in the EU, and Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness called for a ballot on a united Ireland. That idea would be strongly opposed by Unionist parties.
• 12 Who will become our next prime minister?
The first casualty of the Brexit vote was David Cameron, who will step down by the autumn. Tory MPs will have to select just two names to go on the ballot papers sent out to party members.
Many Conservatives will demand a Brexiter as their next leader, with Boris Johnson expected to be a leading contender, while home secretary Theresa May, a sceptical Remain campaigner, could be a compromise candidate. Chancellor George Osborne so angered backbenchers during the campaign that he is unlikely to stand, and Michael Gove has categorically ruled himself out. Other contenders could include former defence minister Liam Fox, who supported Leave, and education secretary Nicky Morgan, who backed Remain.
• 13 What about Jeremy Corbyn's future?
Millions of voters in Labour's heartlands voted to leave, despite the party's official pro-Remain stance, and Jeremy Corbyn has come under attack for what Lord Mandelson called his 'weak' performance.
A formal motion of no confidence in his leadership was tabled within hours of the official result being announced. But even if he were challenged, there is no guarantee ordinary party members would turn their backs on him.
• 14 How will this affect Britain's role in the world?
Britain has one of the world's largest economies and will retain its military and its seat as one of only five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
However, there are questions about how Brexit will affect Britain's influence in the world. US president Barack Obama said the country would have less influence globally if it left the EU, but Leave campaigners said exiting the EU would give the UK its own voice in international trade deals, instead of being one of 28 countries represented by the EU. As with so much else, time will tell.
• 15 Will I still be able to study and work in EU countries as easily as I can now?
Until the UK leaves the EU, the answer is 'yes'. In a message to staff and students yesterday, UEA vice-chancellor David Richardson (pictured) said: 'There is no change to the immigration status of current and prospective EU students and staff or to our participation in EU programmes such as Erasmus and Horizon 2020.'
As with much else, the post-Brexit situation depends entirely on what agreement is reached between the UK and the EU.