One week after the referendum and the Brexit decision had all the impact that was predicted! The entire UK and parts of the EU are in turmoil: chaos, discord and uncertainty reign. David Cameron did not waste time resigning, with European Commissioner Jonathan Hill hot on his heels. Boris Johnson turned down the top job while the ‘leave’ camp took the foreground and numerous UK leaders are teetering. The nation seems to not know the way forward, and calls have even been made to not recognise the referendum and to hold a fresh ballot, which were immediately slammed down. Citizens have been quoted saying that they voted for Brexit but now that they realise what the consequences are they regret that decision, that they were mistaken or (from those who have shouted loudest) that they were at the very least misinformed. Scotland has spoken openly of leaving the United Kingdom so that it can retain EU membership. And for a number of days the stock markets were haemorrhaging.
The European leaders are just as lost. Echoing the calls of some in the UK, a number of them feel that the withdrawal must start immediately and that the by now famous article 50 procedure must be launched as soon as possible. But others are dragging their heels and arguing for calm, reflection and the need to avoid overhasty decisions.
Nobody had ever thought that the man on the Clapham omnibus would have voted the United Kingdom out of the EU. And there is no plan B… there isn’t even a plan A! And then we look at all the possible consequences of Brexit on daily life. There are the usual suspects – income tax, VAT and customs, the trade agreements and so on – but then there are also the cross-border mergers, acquisitions and demergers, the financial markets and competition and trademark laws. How will ‘relationships’ between the Single Market and an independent UK be seen to? Labour and social security law, the free movement of workers and access to the labour market for foreign workers, the free movement of services and self-employed persons, the list goes on. Which law is or will be applicable to contracts and agreements, and how will we deal with existing and new agency and distribution agreements? Even gifts and inheritances that involve both Belgian and British issues can be affected by Brexit.
We haven’t even started on the extensive political and economic results. London is on shaky ground (although this is refuted across the Channel) because there is a risk that many major companies and financial institutions are set to leave the Square Mile. Thousands of jobs (many of them very well-paid) are on the line, while in Brussels, Paris and Frankfurt the knives are being sharpened and the gates opened in anticipation.
Whatever happens, it is evident that panic is a poor advisor, and the focus must now be on calm and concentrated observation, taking stock, advising and preparing.
We will continue to update you in latter newsletters and communication, and Moore Stephens together with Kluwer Opleidingen will also be hosting seminars over the next few weeks that will provide answers to all your questions.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.