BREXIT – WHAT NOW, WHAT NEXT?
2 | B R E X I T – W H A T N O W , W H A T N E X T ?
A BRAVE NEW WORLD
News that the UK had voted to leave the European Union set off a domino effect across Westminster, the
devolved nations, Europe and the rest of the world. The political, social and economic implications of the
decision will be far-reaching and long lasting.
The UK’s withdrawal from the European Union will not happen
immediately, with the two-year timetable for Brexit only starting
when Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is formally invoked. This is
unlikely to happen until the Conservatives appoint a new leader. Even
then, the decision to formally begin that process might not be taken
straight away. In the meantime, David Cameron, Boris Johnson, Mark
Carney and others have all stressed the need for a calm, rational and
measured approach to decision making. Any talk of an emergency
budget, for example, has been notably absent (though early
speculation has begun about the possibility of a general election in
November once the Conservatives have a new leader).
and renewed hope of their own referenda. Sweden, Hungary, the
Netherlands, France and Italy, amongst other EU members, are all
now facing calls from a variety of groups within their countries to
look closely at their own membership.
Commission President Jean Claude Juncker, President Tusk, President
Schulz and Prime Minister Rutte (Dutch PM representing the Dutch
Council Presidency) said:
“We now expect the United Kingdom government to give effect to this
decision of the British people as soon as possible, however painful that
process may be.”
Crucially, between now and exit, the UK government will not stop
developing and implementing policy. We should not expect a hiatus
or a political vacuum to develop in Westminster, Holyrood, Cardiff or
Stormont. Understanding the shifting dynamics will be vital in
ensuring business’s voices can be heard in the new political
The business community has called for immediate action to stabilise
markets with concerns over liquidity and currency risks top of the
agenda. On the process for leaving the single market, companies are
looking for a slow and considered approach to ensure all possibilities
are accounted for and the eventual deal retains Britain’s competitive
Westminster Advisers’ has prepared this briefing document to help
guide your thinking in the first hours and days of the postreferendum
The leaders of the EU institutions are very clear that they want
negotiations on the UK’s exit to start ‘as soon as possible’. This runs
contrary to the hopes of most of the UK political class. Language is
already turning to ‘27 Member States’, making it clear that the focus
is on a stable future for the EU without the UK. Nationalist groups
across the continent have expressed jubilation at the UK’s decision
CBI Director-General, Carolyn Fairburn, said:
“The urgent priority now is to reassure the markets. We need strong
and calm leadership from the government, working with the Bank of
England, to shore up confidence and stability in the economy.
“The choices we make over the coming months will affect generations
to come. This is not a time for rushed decisions.”
'IMPLICATIONS FOR LABOUR
The failure to convince traditional Labour voters in post-industrial
regions to vote remain has been blamed on Corbyn’s lacklustre
Nick Charalambides, Account Executive: “Having previously worked in Brussels, I know what a systemic shock this will
have been to the EU. Calls are already coming from the European Parliament to invoke Article 50 immediately. Donald Tusk
and Jean-Claude Juncker have echoed these sentiments. The EU has little incentive to wait until October, when a new UK
Prime Minister is in place, to start formal negotiations.”
Lizzie Wills, Associate Director: “The Athens stock exchange fell 15 per cent immediately this morning after opening,
while bank shares fell 30 per cent – the maximum permitted before trading is suspended. The remaining 27 Member States
will want to stem any contagion which may pave the way for Grexit. A punitive stance could conceivably be taken towards
Britain to discourage any replica membership referenda. The European Council summit next week will give a clearer
indication of where Member States and the Union as a whole stands.”
3 | B R E X I T – W H A T N O W , W H A T N E X T ?
campaign. His position is now in serious doubt. Two MPs have
publicly called for a vote of no confidence, there are reports that at
least 55 MPs will follow next week, and an unnamed shadow cabinet
minister told press “It’s now a choice between the survival of the
Labour Party or Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership”.
The results for each of the UK’s devolved administrations are as follows:
• England: Leave 53.4%, Remain 46.6%
• Wales: Leave 52.5%, Remain 47.5%
• Northern Ireland: Leave 44.2%, Remain 55.8%
• Scotland: Leave 38.0%, Remain 62.0%
His support amongst the membership is also likely to be at least
partially damaged. Recently joined “Corbynites” are unlikely to
abandon their support entirely. Some distrusted the capitalist EU and
many are now more concerned with Blairite attacks. However, for
those on the soft left – members of the party who switched from
Miliband to Corbyn – Britain’s exit from the EU will be a major
Scotland voted decisively to remain in the EU by a margin of 62% to
38% on a turnout of 67%. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has
announced that Scotland being taken out of the EU would be
“democratically unacceptable" and that a “second referendum is on
the table” given the ‘significant material change’ in in the settlement
between Scotland and the rest of the UK.
The biggest problem for the Labour party, though perhaps not the
most dramatic, is the split this referendum has demonstrated
between the leadership and Labour’s traditional base. If Labour is not
able to reconnect with its base, or build a new coalition of support,
this referendum may be seen as the beginning of the party’s long
The main beneficiary of this long-term decline in Labour’s traditional
heartlands is likely to be UKIP.
POTENTIAL CONSTITUTIONAL IMPLICATIONS
Alongside fears that Brexit would tear Europe apart, commentators
correctly predicted that a vote to leave the EU would have lasting
ramifications for the unity of the United Kingdom itself.
Today’s result has revealed a deep divergence between opinion in
England and Wales versus Scotland and Northern Ireland, and
London versus the rest of England. We are already starting to see the
impact of this, with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon quick to
call for a second Scottish Independence referendum, while Sinn Fein
calls for a ‘border poll’ on a united Ireland.
Ms Sturgeon has also made clear the preparation of legislation will
begin now to allow MSPs to vote on the issue within the two year
negotiation period once Article 50 is invoked. The SNP would likely
have the votes at Holyrood to pass a Bill – relying on the support of
the Scottish Green Party, which supports independence.
Despite this, only the UK government can legislate for a second
referendum by convention following such a vote.
The SNP did not have the option of a second referendum in their
manifesto which many would argue means they don’t have the
The SNP will be at the negotiating table with the UK government
once this begins in earnest.
There is no region with more interest in Britain remaininga part of
the EU than Gibraltar so this result will have dramatic implications
for the Rock. Gibraltar's Chief Minister campaigned in support of
Dean Duke, Account Manager: “Looking at the domestic agenda, childcare policies have been a core part of the
Conservatives’ offer to voters under David Cameron’s leadership. Childcare has been used to broaden the Conservatives’
appeal to young families and women voters, and formed a key plank of the party’s “plan for every stage of your life” at the
The government, however, has been struggling to deliver its key pledges in this area. The necessary legislation has been
passed, but nurseries have warned that the 30 free hours of childcare for 3 and 4 year olds is severely underfunded and that
they’re not all in a position to extend beyond the 15 hours already available to parents. Tax-free Childcare, which will
provide a 20% top-up to parents’ childcare contributions, has been delayed and government forecasts estimate that only
half of eligible families will sign up for the scheme.
Both of those schemes are in addition to the childcare element of Universal Credit and the existing childcare vouchers
scheme. The childcare policy landscape is overlapping and complicated. Expect leadership contenders and future ministers
to take a look at how over £6 billion of spending on childcare can be put to best use through a clearer offer.”
4 | B R E X I T – W H A T N O W , W H A T N E X T ?
Remain and in the end 95.9 per cent of the population opted to stay
in the union. Commuters from Spain make up about half of the
territory’s workforce so any delay in border crossings severely harms
the economy. Gibraltar’s existence as a British Territory is also under
threat. Following the leave vote Spanish Foreign Minister José
Manuel has called for co-sovereignty of the island, saying “the
Spanish flag on the Rock is much closer than before”. For Gibraltar’s
denizens this vote may determine not only the region’s relationship
with the EU, but its very existence.
Britain and Ireland operate a Common Travel Area (CTA) that
precedes their membership of the EU. The travel zone, which also
includes the Isle of Man and Channel Islands, enables the free flow of
people, goods and services.
The future of the CTA is now in question. Leave campaigners,
including the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers,
had denied that a ‘hard’ border would be imposed between Ireland
and Northern Ireland. That will now form part of the exit
negotiations, and it is far from clear that the EU is willing to have an
open border with a non-member state.
For its part, the Irish Government has stressed the importance of
minimising disruption, and will advocate for a ‘soft border’ solution
within the EU tent.
Like Scotland, the Remain vote within Northern Ireland has raised
questions about the future composition of the UK. Deputy First
Minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, has called for a referendum
on Irish unity, which could risk inflaming sectarian tensions.
Ireland’s Taoiseach has already rejected that call, stressing that there
is no evidence that the majority of the population in Northern
Ireland want a referendum and that there are more pressing
concerns to address. Theresa Villiers, Secretary of State for Northern
Ireland, has already ruled out the possibility of a referendum.
WHAT THE FINANCIAL MARKETS ARE DOING
With sharp falls in early trading, the pound saw its biggest losses in
30 years and the FTSE 100 dropped over 500 points. Around 10am
we saw a slight recovery despite the resignation announcement
from the PM. Banks were hit particularly hard, some falling by 25%.
This poses big questions for the government’s disposal of their
substantial remaining holdings in Lloyds and RBS – this could have
serious impacts on the fiscal position. Government bond yields
(including the UK) plunged and gold shot up as investors looked for
somewhere to weather the storm of prolonged uncertainty.
Initial concerns about wider contagion were somewhat ameliorated
by the opening bell on Wall Street, with only a small downward shift
in the Dow Jones.
Jessica March, Account Manager: “I specialise in health and social care policy and the economic impact from Brexit could
be huge in terms of available funding for the already fragile NHS. The relatively generous settlement outlined in the
spending review 2015 was dependent on continued economic growth so providers in the sector may have to revise their
financial forecasts. The NHS arms-length bodies offer much-needed stability as they will remain in place and continue to
drive policy at a national level.”
Marc Woolfson, Director of Investor Services: “Whilst this result is clearly something of a political and economic
earthquake, there is need for calm and considered analysis of the implications for the UK investment climate. In the short
term not a great deal will change, once the markets have recovered from their initial shock. But looking longer term the
impact of changes in policy on business’s labour market supply, access to capital from foreign direct investment, and
exposure to cross border supply chains, will be key considerations for any investment thesis.”
Simon Darby, Account Director: “The fallout from the EU referendum will create extensive uncertainty for UK
infrastructure. Large housing-developers have already taken a hit on their share-prices. The decision to leave will likely
impact the willingness of investors to finance infrastructure projects, at least in the short-term.”
5 | B R E X I T – W H A T N O W , W H A T N E X T ?
As a totally unprecedented scenario, it is currently not fully clear
what all of the next steps are. Similarly this is unlikely to be a process
over which the UK government has total control. The reactions of
European institutions, opposition political parties, and overseas and
devolved governments will partially determine what happens next.
However, we currently expect the following to take place over the
• Speculation regarding potential ‘runners and riders’ for the
Conservative Party leadership will escalate throughout the
weekend and sentiment in the party about key contenders will
• Over the weekend business will continue to be pressed for their
reaction and the implications for their investment and staffing
• A timetable for the Conservative party leadership contest will be
set out likely early next week, with a meeting of the Cabinet
taking place on Monday.
• The UK Parliament next sits on Monday and there is likely to be a
statement or Urgent Question at which the Prime Minister may
set out further details on the renegotiation process.
• Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn will face pressure over his
position, and potentially a Vote of no confidence, at the
Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) meeting on Monday evening.
• Nicola Sturgeon will deliver a statement to the Scottish
Parliament on Tuesday on the next steps that she intends to
• There is likely to be an emergency session of the European
Parliament on Tuesday, at which there is likely to be pressure from
across Europe for Article 50 to be enacted immediately.
Beyond these immediate timescales, the following will happen:
• The Conservative party leadership contest continues throughout
the summer with the result announced at the Conservative Party
Conference in October.
• There is the potential for a Labour Party leadership contest to take
place over the summer.
• We will establish whether there is momentum for a general
election to be called following the election of a new Tory party
leader. The Fixed Term Parliaments Act makes it somewhat
complicated to simply call a new election, but not by any means
impossible, should a new Conservative leader either want or feel
forced to have one.
BREXIT TIMETABLE: 2016 - 2018
Today - 24th June
• Votes are in. Leave has won the referendum by 52% to 48%.
• David Cameron announced he will resign as Prime Minister after a “period of stability”.
• Labour MPs Margaret Hodge and Ann Coffey tabled a ‘no confidence’ motion in Jeremy Corbyn, ahead of Monday’s scheduled
meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party.
• The EU’s top leaders have said they expect the UK to act on its momentous vote to leave the union “as soon as possible, however
painful that process may be” and that there will be “no renegotiation”.
• The presidents of the European council, commission and parliament – Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker and Martin Schulz
respectively – and Mark Rutte, the prime minister of the Netherlands which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, said any delay to
Britain’s exit would “unnecessarily prolong uncertainty”.
Saturday 25th June
• The foreign ministers of the founding six member states – France, Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy and Belgium –
will meet to discuss the implications of the British vote.
Monday 27th June
• Meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party where it is decided whether Jeremy Corbyn will be “no-confidence”.
6 | B R E X I T – W H A T N O W , W H A T N E X T ?
28th - 29th June
• European Council summit – EU leaders are due to gather for a summit in Brussels. Cameron will be under intense pressure to
activate Article 50 and commence exit negotiations. Cameron has said he wants to wait until the new Prime Minister comes into
post by October 2016.
8th – 9th July
• Warsaw NATO Summit 2016
• Summer Parliamentary recess begins
• Campaigning begins for a new leader of the Conservative Party (the new Prime Minister) for election by the Conservative Party
Conference at the beginning of October 2016.
• Parliament return after recess
2nd October 2016
• Conservative Party Conference – new Conservative Party leader (and Prime Minister) to be in place.
20th – 21st October 2016
• European Council summit
After October 2016 (TBC)
• David Cameron’s aim is that after the new Prime Minister is in post, negations will begin between the UK and the EU.
• Two teams will be created with the new Prime Minister deciding on who will represent the UK. The EU side is likely to be headed
by one of the current Commissioners.
• Potential UK general election
After October 2016 (TBC)
• Following negotiations, the UK will need to trigger Article 50. This could take months or years. Triggering Article 50 formally
notifies the intension to withdraw and starts a two-year clock running. After that, the Treaties that govern membership no longer
apply to Britain. The terms of exit will be negotiated between Britain’s 27 counterparts, and each will have a veto over the
15th – 16th December 2016
• European Council summit
• United Kingdom presidency of the Council of the EU will only apply if the UK has not triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
Once Article 50 is invoked, the UK loses its EU voting rights.
October-November 2018 (approx.)
• The UK formally leaves the European Union.
7 | B R E X I T – W H A T N O W , W H A T N E X T ?
Initial speculation about who might put themselves forward
for the Conservative leadership
David Cameron’s confirmation during last year’s General Election
that we would not seek re-election in 2020 generated a plethora of
speculation over who could take his place. His resignation this
morning has, unsurprisingly, elevated speculation to fever pitch.
It’s easy to divide potential candidates according to their stance on
Brexit. It’s likely the looming leadership contest will be fought along
these lines as the party membership tries to settle its historical
him whilst in the Treasury. Despite her current energy brief, she’s
recently penned commentary pieces on platforms such as Con
Home about other policy issues. Could this be a sign of early
positioning as a candidate?
• A question mark hovers over Michael Gove. He is widely
recognised within Conservative party as a mighty intellect and is
well liked, even among pro-Remain Tories. However, he has never
expressed appetite for the leadership and is likely viewed as being
most effective in behind the scenes policy deliberation. It may be
that post-October, we know him as Chancellor Gove.
Lists of names on both sides are lengthy. In the leave corner we have
the favourite, Boris Johnson. One of the few certainties in the post-
Brexit world is that he’ll announce his bid in the coming days. Other
• Liam Fox - A long-time Eurosceptic and former Defence Secretary,
Fox is well-liked among backbenchers and party members,
particularly those supportive of leaving the EU.
In the Remain camp, George Osborne was for a time an obvious
choice, but no longer. His ownership over the ‘long term economic
plan’, policy agendas like the Northern Powerhouse and ardent
support for Remain have positioned him as the de facto
Cameroonian continuity candidate. This compromises him, as does
his high-profile U-turn on tax credits and failure to meet his own
economic targets. Accordingly, the bookies have him at 20/1,
compared to Boris’s 5/4. Other remain candidates include:
• Priti Patel - Patel’s ascendance within the government has been a
rapid one, having become an MP in 2010. Her position to the right
of the party may stand her in good stead with some parts of the
• Andrea Leadsom - Leadsom has over 20 years’ City experience
and is a close ally of George Osborne, having worked closely with
• Theresa May – With her record as longest serving Home Secretary
since 1892 and her steely disposition reminiscent of Thatcher,
May is a real contender for the leadership. She has not cultured a
following within the parliamentary party however, which could
hurt her chances when it comes down to selection. This might be
mitigated by her pragmatic Euroscepticism, which endears her to
the Conservative grassroots despite her support for Remain.
Joseph Jones, Account Executive: “I am an active and committed Labour Party member (though not a Corbyn fan). The
poor result in this referendum hints at deep worries for Labour. The Party leadership has once again demonstrated a
disconnect from traditional Labour supporters, with many more voting Leave than expected in post-industrial towns. In order
to survive, the labour party will have to work out how to reconnect with these voters and come to a new settlement on issues
like immigration. While Corbyn coup plots are exciting and good for live news, this is the real challenge for the party.”
Angus Hill, Account Manager: “In my work in the energy sector, the impact from Brexit is largely likely to focus on
investment decisions. With a need for investment in generation in the UK, investors and developers will need to look closely at
changes in emphasis on energy policy. There remain separate questions to be answered as to whether the UK will continue to
participate in the EU Internal Energy Market. With current Secretary of State Amber Rudd being a leading Remain voice there
will be questions as to her future within government, and the impact that this could have on energy policy.”
Fiona Elliott, Senior Account Executive: “In England, what is most striking is London’s isolation. People have grumbled for
a long time about the political and cultural separation between the capital and the rest of the UK, something that today’s
result has thrown into sharp relief. With the City of London facing an uncertain future over its status as Europe’s financial
capital, keep a close eye out for the emergence of a new London-centric political movements that celebrate its distinction
from the rest of the country.”
8 | B R E X I T – W H A T N O W , W H A T N E X T ?
• Nicky Morgan – Morgan’s team has already sprung into action,
with reports today that she is considering making a run. Time will
tell what her ‘pitch’ will be. To date, it’s not been particularly clear.
• Ruth Davidson – After a stirring performance in the BBC’s
referendum debate and her storming success in the recent
Scottish elections, many have pointed to Davidson as a leadership
candidate. She’s been clear, however, that her priorities lie in
Scotland, so we may not see her run this time.
• Stephen Crabb – The recently appointed Work and Pensions
Secretary is seen as a moderniser and has been well received in his
new role. However, questions might be raised over whether he has
the experience to be Prime Minister. It’s worth remembering
though that at 43, Crabb is the same age as Cameron was when
he became Prime Minister.
Rebecca Brake, Senior Account Manager: “Brexit presents a number of potential risks and policy changes. From schools
to HE there is a clear potential impact on staffing, at a time of teaching shortages. This impact also translates to EU student
access to UK universities. The impact on the significant research funding received from the EU will undoubtedly also be a
focus for the HE sector.
For schools there have been concerns that important policy developments, such as the National Schools Funding Formula
will be subject to changes arising from shifts in Conservative thinking. In the skills sector, the main focus is the
apprenticeships levy, following previous comments by Skills Minister Nick Boles that this may need to be postponed should
Brexit lead to a recession, as well as the impact on training funding from the European Social Fund.”
Helen Roberts, Account Director: “My personal reflection is that David Cameron’s resignation as Prime Minister and
Leader of the Conservative Party will not have come as a surprise following his defeat in this referendum – although it will be a
disappointment to many One Nation Conservatives. Cameron’s emotional speech on the steps of Downing Street in part
reflects his disappointment that the result will affect his legacy. As a party activist for over a decade, I hope that in the long
run, he will be remembered for being a progressive Conservative leader who made significant reforms to the party. Under
Cameron, Britain became the fastest-growing western economy, taxes were cut for the poorest workers, many more BME and
female Conservative candidates were elected, gay marriage was pushed through Parliament and the Conservatives won their
first parliamentary majority in two decades.”
9 | B R E X I T – W H A T N O W , W H A T N E X T ?
ABOUT WESTMINSTER ADVISERS
Westminster Advisers is an award-winning team of public affairs and communications specialists. We help organisations
to grow, maximise their competitive advantage, and mitigate business risks through an improved understanding of, and
engagement with, the political and policy environment.
WE ADVISE OUR CLIENTS ON:
How public policy change impacts their organisation and what to do about it.
Communicating with policy-makers, decision-makers and opinion-formers.
Navigating local and national government decision making processes.
How to build their business profile and raise awareness of critical issues with key stakeholders.
We also offer a specialist Policy Risk Analysis (PRA) service – a bespoke research tool that provides
investors with insight into the political, regulatory and reputational risks to companies they are
considering acquiring or investing in.
Follow us on twitter at @WA_Comms or for more information please go to