Why Brexit Might Not Happen at All
As someone who has watched Johnson’s rise, with amusement, since he was a journalist living in Brussels and writing scare stories about the European Union for the Telegraph, I wouldn’t necessarily take anything he says at face value. In this instance, though, he may have inadvertently told the truth. Four days after the British public voted, narrowly, to leave the European Union, there are reasons to doubt that the referendum result will ever be implemented.
If Cameron had invoked Article 50 on Friday morning, Britain would now be on its way out: the exit process is irreversible. But thanks to the Prime Minister’s clever maneuver—which is surely what it was—the country has some time to reflect on the consequences of Brexit, which are already turning out to be far more serious than many of the people who voted Leave realized. In addition to plunging the country’s political system into chaos, the referendum result has prompted a big fall in the stock market and the value of the pound sterling, and it has raised questions about Britain’s creditworthiness. On Monday night, news came out that Standard & Poor’s had stripped Britain of its triple-A credit rating, another blow to investors. Ordinary people may be more concerned that, with the school holidays coming up, the cost of taking a European vacation, which many Brits of all social classes do every year, has jumped by about twelve per cent.
So far, then, the Leave vote has made people poorer, confirming some of the warnings that the British Treasury and other supporters of the Remain side had issued. Going through with Brexit would also have more lasting implications for British businesses, particularly those in the country’s enormous financial sector. Talk of big European and American banks quitting the City of London, which by many measures is the world’s largest financial hub, are exaggerated. But there is no doubt that some jobs would be relocated to places like Dublin, Frankfurt, and Paris. “The financial center won’t die, but it will get weaker,” John Cryan, the chief executive of Deutsche Bank, which employs about eleven thousand people in London, said on Monday.