The "in-out" Referendum on the question of the UK's membership of the European Union (EU) which has dominated the political and business agenda in the UK for the last six months, has resulted in a majority of voters (on a turnout of approximately 72%) preferring the UK to leave the EU. The vote was 51.9% in favour of leaving, with 48.1% voting to remain.
Businesses need to consider how to deal with the immediate effects, what analysis and planning they should undertake as a result and what communication they may need or wish to make to investors, staff, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders.
A key point to note from the outset is that the implications depend very much on what EU membership would be replaced with. For example, would the UK have no formal link with the EU, or would we join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and (like most EFTA countries) the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement with the EU, or would we enter into some other form of free trade agreement with the EU? Given the uncertainty, business planning has to take into account the risks of the less favourable outcomes.
Under the terms of the Treaties, the UK will have to give two years' notice of its intention to exit, during which negotiation on the terms of leaving will be held.
What we do know is that much of the UK's law is comprised of directly effective EU law, or UK law implementing EU Directives or supplementing directly effective EU law. If these laws are discontinued, it will leave huge gaps in our legislative framework and, at least initially, transitional arrangements will be needed.
For a more in depth analysis of the possible impact on various sectors in the UK see the links below.