We are waking to a very different future for politics, finance and governance in the UK.
The pound and FTSE have already shown volatility, and Cameron is to step down by October.
But what does this mean in terms of the procurement and trade rules which have been put in place to implement European law?
There is speculation on the exact route which will be followed to implement the referendum decision and how long this will take. In terms of legal implications, the message at the moment is "Business as usual - until told otherwise" . This is because, for now at least, there is no impact:
- Many of those European obligations have been implemented by way of national legislation or regulations which remain binding unless and until parliament revoke them. The TFEU principles applicable to the free movement of goods (equal treatment, non-discrimination, transparency and proportionality) are embodied in our national Public Contracts Regulations 2015, which were brought into force to implement the European Directive of 2014/24 on public sector contracts. These will remain in force, at least for now, and breaches of them can be challenged in the same way.
- The UK's vote to leave has no automatic consequences: the "eject" button has not yet been pressed. To do this, the U.K. will have to first invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Although there is now reference to this happening sooner rather than later, it is not clear exactly when this will happen. Article 50 itself envisages a 2 year negotiation period (capable of extension if all other states agree). After the end of the negotiation period the treaties cease to apply to the departing member state and instead any new agreed departure terms would apply.
- Existing world level and future European level trade agreements mean public bodies are already subject to and are likely to continue to be subject to broadly equivalent requirements of transparency, non-discrimination and equal treatment in any event.
So for now, contracting authorities should be carrying on as before. The exact future changes to, or impact on, U.K. domestic law will depend on the basis on which the U.K. agrees its future relationship with the E.U. This will be played out in the months (and years) ahead.