UK quits EU in historical 'Leave' vote

Britain voted on Thursday to leave the European Union in a historic referendum that saw national independence prevail over European unity.

More than 51% of voters in the United Kingdom chose to end the country’s 43-year membership with the EU, compared with 48% who voted ‘Remain’ to retain it.

The 4% majority support for 'Leave' is a defeat for David Cameron, who has emotionally announced his resignation as prime minister having failed to convince the UK to stay in the EU.

UKIP leader Nigel Farrage was among those who called for Mr Cameron to step aside, which he promised to do on Friday morning, fighting back tears in a statement outside No 10. He will depart in October.

Across the country, voter turnout at the polls was high – over 70%, equating to more than 30million people voting, representing the highest turnout since the 1992 general election.

But 2008 is on the lips of commentators too: the last time that global markets experienced the type of financial turmoil that some now predict, as the UK faces at least two years of negotiations.

“The weeks and months ahead are going to be a nervy time for business leaders,” said Simon Walker, director-general of the Institute of Directors.

“They need to know that the government is focussed on maintaining stability while a new relationship with the EU is established.”

Freelance workers have been told that such nervousness may benefit them, as hirers will likely favour temporary hires who can be taken on more quickly and let go more easily than permies.

Yet Walker believes that the onus is now on politicians to negotiate a deal with European leaders which preserves the ability of UK businesses to trade easily with the EU member states.

“Even once we have left, the EU will continue to be our biggest trading partner,” he said.

“One thing the government must do immediately is to guarantee the right to remain of EU citizens currently in the UK. [Firms] don’t want to have to worry about losing valued staff.”

Companies with only one member of staff and other micro businesses might be expected to be more upbeat, for not having to worry about losing members of their team.

But whereas a pre-referendum poll by the IoD shows that 50% of members (typically employers) are positive about a future without EU membership, one-man bands aren’t so sure.

In fact, a pre-vote poll of such tiny traders shows that a majority think Brexit will hurt their businesses, and a further third said it would have no impact; rather than a positive impact.

“Many web-based small businesses who are increasingly selling products and services worldwide…think a Brexit will create an uncertain future,” said FreeAgent, which ran the poll.

“For tech companies, in particular, the EU also opens up the opportunity to hire world-class developers from Europe who can work alongside the best talent from the UK”.

Speaking on Friday morning, EU Council President Donald Tusk offered some reassurance, saying that the UK’s two-year withdrawal period from the EU would not see it lose its EU rights.

While Mr Tusk’s statement also implies the UK will have to keep its responsibilities during the period, it also means freedom of movement will be unrestricted until the UK’s divorce completes.

The reverse applies too, so until a Brexit is achieved EU nationals will continue to be able to work in the UK without visas, just as Brits can keep working in EU countries without visas.

Also since Friday’s historic ‘Leave’ result, it emerged over the weekend that:

· A ‘Blue Card’ is what highly skilled UK workers will likely apply for to work in any of the EU member states post-Brexit. This EU-wide-permit was mooted by Essex University Professor Steve Peers, a specialist in EU law, before the referendum, but is still regarded as the soundest alternative to UK workers qualifying as intra-company transferees.

· NatWest and RBS stopped selling Euros and Thomas Cook suspended its Click & Collect currency service. Fears about unfavourable exchange rates have also been expressed as potential problem for eBay traders, whose operations often rely on buying cheap goods from China.

· Ratings agency Moody’s downgraded the UK from “stable” to “negative” owing to an incoming and “prolonged period of uncertainty.” And economists at Pantheon Econmics predict that the UK is now set to enter a recession.

· Freelancers’ trade group IPSE wants the government to abandon the April 2017 plan to reform IR35 in the public sector, on the basis that “now is not the time” to shackle freelancers with new rules on how they must execute business.

· Staffing body ARC wants the government to change the recently introduced April 2016 rules on home-to-work travel expenses, with the effect that tax relief would be permitted for all workers, regardless of status such as a limited company, PAYE umbrella worker or self-employed.

 

 

26th June 2016

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