It’s worth noting here in the aftermath a cunning political play by Cameron. By not invoking article 50 immediately, he has left the choice of when to do it to his successor, who will likely be Boris Johnson. Cameron has said “toodle-oo” and could have invoked A50 on the way out at no real further cost to his own reputation, but he didn’t, knowing full well it’s a minefield for his successor.
At the moment, there’s no countdown. It’s sort of business as usual. We expect the markets to be a bit volatile (in the downwards direction) over the next week or two, then they’ll probably stabilise at a lower value than before. They’ll probably grow very slowly if at all for the foreseeable future afterwards, but basically, there is no meltdown. We’ve shot ourselves in the foot, sure, but not the face. If we press the button on article 50 too early, before the markets are confident in ability to maintain trade without negatively affecting our economy, they will panic. And the resulting shock wave will be under the responsibility of whoever is PM at that time, probably Boris.
On top of this, by the time the button is pressed, people will have calmed down a bit and had chance to reflect on the likely outcomes of brexit. 51.9% of people voted for it, 48.1% against. That’s not a safe majority, that’s a rounding error.
Of the people who voted for it, some will have seen it as an impotent protest vote and didn’t really want it to happen, some will have been completely uneducated and are now surprised that their foreign holidays are going to be more expensive, some will be surprised by the prospect of food prices increasing, many will be dismayed by the recent suggestions that the Tories intend to weasel out of lowering immigration and increasing public spending, many in Cornwall, Wales and Yorkshire will be getting pretty nervous about the EU funding they used to get and whether it’ll be matched by the UK (hint: if our economy worsens, it won’t). Realistically, long term economic damage will be offset by lower public spending, and that will come out of pensions, benefits and healthcare, because combined these form over half of all public spending (after 6 years of Osborne trying to trim spending, there’s not a lot of room left for non-damaging cuts). These are things that will hurt leavers far more than remainers; very few 30 year olds will care when the government announces reductions in the winter fuel allowance or does away with free prescriptions for over 60s.
There are some entertaining comments on the Daily Mail and Sun websites, who were both fully supporting brexit, on the ‘what brexit means’ articles from people angry to find out they’d voted against their own interests at the behest of their newspaper.
Overall, leave’s support is going to drop like a rock once reality hits.
Personally, if I was Boris, I’d be desperately hoping to lose the leadership bid.