24 June 2016

Life after Brexit: What happens now?

So it looks like we’re officially leaving the EU! The big question now is…what happens next?
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More than 32 million people turned out to vote in the EU referendum last week, and it was a really close call – 52% voted to leave the European Union and 48% to stay. 

However, in our student poll which took place before the official vote, you told us that 71% of you wanted to remain in the EU, whilst 17% said you wanted to leave, so this was quite a different result!

Now that the vote is done and dusted, how do you feel about Brexit?

What happens now?

Trees with question mark graffitiWell, this is the biggest question on the nation’s lips, but unfortunately it’s the toughest one to answer. The problem is that, since no country has ever left the EU before, no one can say for certain what is now going to happen.

Even the guys who lead the Leave campaign are confessing “there is no plan” post-Brexit. Sorry…what?!

What we do know, however, is that things won’t magically change overnight. We have to negotiate with the EU regarding which ties will remain between the UK and the European Union, and which will be severed.

The legal process involved in leaving the EU (otherwise known as ‘Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty’ in case you’ve been wondering why everyone keeps saying that) will take around two years to complete, so we have a fair while of uncertainty lying ahead of us.

Why did people vote to Leave?

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As with any election, every voter has their own personal reasons for voting in the way the choose to.

However, one of the main reasons many people in the UK voted Leave was because they want Britain to make their own laws and regulations without interference from the European Union.

As well as this, people have been unhappy about the EU membership fee and think that this money could be better spent elsewhere (although the Leave campaign were quick to backtrack just hours after the results were in, admitting that the £350 million per week figure was a lie and a “mistake”watch it unfold here).

Immigration was also a strong point for Brexiters – being in the EU, we must accept free movement of people which means that you don’t need a visa to move to another EU country.

The key questions:

Finger with a question mark Credit: Tsahi Levent-Levi – Flickr

Can I still go to an EU university?

At the moment, citizens of EU countries can study at a university in any other EU country as a ‘home student’, meaning you’ll pay the same rate as a citizen of that country (and it’s often a lot cheaper than our ridiculously high tuition fees, or even free!).

For the moment, you can still go to an EU university paying the home rate, but there’s a strong possibility that this will all change once article 50 has been settled.

This morning, University Minister Jo Johnson announced that any EU students currently studying in the UK or who are about to begin their studies in the UK this autumn, will be able to pay fees under the current terms (and so won’t have to pay the higher international fees that non-EU students pay).

His message was “UK welcomes EU students” – whether this feeling will be mutual for UK students studying at EU universities, however, is another question.

Can we still trade with the EU?

Yes, we can negotiate a deal with the EU and trade with them, but as part of the deal when we chose to leave the EU, we’ll no longer have access to the single market (so will have to pay to trade with EU countries).

Currently, the government is keen to work out a way that the UK can keep trading with the EU tariff-free, but the EU has essentially told us we “can’t have our cake and eat it”.

Also, if we were to negotiate free trade, it’s likely we’d have to accept free movement from EU countries  (just like Norway and Switzerland do, who are not in the EU) but for many Leave voters, this defeats the purpose of a Leave vote in the first place.

Will UK citizens need a permit to live/work in the EU?

This depends on the deal that the UK makes with the EU, but it does look likely – unless, as mentioned above, we accept free movement in order to gain access to the single market.

If we want to continue trading with the EU, we will have to accept free movement and as a result this would mean that UK residents can move to another EU country, and they can move here.

If the government decides to restrict work permits for people wanting to move to the UK, EU countries are likely to impose the same for UK residents.

Do EU citizens have to leave the UK?

As you may have noticed, the running theme here is “we just don’t know”. For the next two years, whilst negotiations between the UK and the European Union are settled, nothing will change.

However, depending on the deal that is struck, we could see non-UK citizens having their working permits revoked (although this seems very unlikely). The most likely scenario seems that those EU citizens who already have the right to work here will be able to continue life in the UK as normal, but new working permits will stop being handed out to EU citizens without a visa.

Why is there so much uncertainty?

As we mentioned earlier, no country has ever left the EU before, so it makes it really difficult to speculate on… well, anything really! We can’t predict what will happen to the economy long term or how we will work alongside EU countries because everything counts on negotiation and collaboration between the EU and the UK.

What we do need is a great leader who will be able to negotiate the terms of this deal well now that the PM David Cameron has announced he is resigning and won’t have anything to do with the leaving process. For now, it’s pretty much a ‘time will tell’ situation.

Can we still enter Eurovision?

Yes! Will we win? Probably not.

Are we going to be better off?

Pink piggy bank on pile of bank notes

The UK voted to Leave the EU in the hope of making Britain more prosperous. Before the referendum, we asked 2,000 Save the Student readers if they thought they would be financially better or worse off outside the EU. 60% said they thought they would be worse off, whilst 27% thought they’d be better off.

Since the day of the vote, the pound has dropped to a level that hasn’t been seen since before most Save the Student readers were even born! $2 trillion has disappeared from the global market as the world panics about the UK’s unstable position, and Britain’s credit rating has been downgraded, which could massively affect investment.

However, markets do naturally rise and fall so it’s true that things could very well pick up again.

It’s just too early to know how things are going to pan out – but in the mean time, cross your fingers, try to stay positive and be kind to each other!

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