What will happen if Europe wakes up on Friday to find Britons have voted to leave the EU? We asked Professor Kevin Featherstone Director of the European Institute at the London School of Economics.
“I think we should be very clear that a Brexit vote will produce much uncertainty immediately.”
“We will be looking at the results in our television screens at a time when the financial markets in Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and then the rest of the world gradually will be opening up.
“Many of the financial institutions are paying for their own exit opinion polls so that they know as quickly as possible what the results might be. So we will have the uncertainty in terms of the financial markets.“
“I think it’s very likely that in the context of the Brexit vote the prime minister David Cameron will feel morally obliged to announce his resignation.
“In the circumstances he cannot immediately walk away, I think it would be much more him saying that he will invite his party to select a successor which will inevitably take weeks adding to the uncertainty.
“I think it will also be very unclear as to who would succeed David Cameron. There are several alternatives and of course there is also the concern as to whether the Conservative party would remain united under some successor leader.
“So the immediate shock is to the financial markets. The second shock is in terms of our politics, is to who will form the government, to what kind of direction they will be taken.”
The rest of the EU
“I think the rest of Europe will wait for any British government to clarify precisely what it will be asking from the rest of the EU, what kind of deal they want and then the following Tuesday, after the referendum, the European Council will have a special meeting to consider the obligations of the referendum vote.
“All of these add to uncertainty, as we think that strategically or tactically the best option for the rest of the EU will be to wait for London to decide exactly what it is asking.
“This is by far not clear. London I think will have a lot of political difficulty coming up with a clear negotiating mandate.”
“And of course the final point: in this context the British government will have to decide when to activate the so-called article 50, when it announces to its European partners its intention to negotiate a withdrawal.
“I think that announcement depending on the exact referendum result, that announcement might be delayed so that the government could indeed decide exactly what the negotiating mandate is and the EU will have additional time to respond and to reflect upon it.
“We are going to be in a situation of complexity, uncertainty, and a number of different scenarios if the Brexit vote is taken. ”