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Brexit: no need for haste

24 June 2016

Alexandra Cardenas discusses the outcomes of the EU referendum.


With counting going on throughout the night, it was announced at approximately 06:00 this morning that the British people have voted to leave the European Union after 47 years of membership, representing one of the biggest political shakeups in more than a generation. 

The prime minister, David Cameron, announced his resignation in light of the result, stating that the will of the people must be respected. He did, however, declare his belief that it should be the next prime minister who triggers Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which formally extricated the UK from the EU framework. He said that he will steady the ship but he's "not the captain to steer to the next destination". 

51.9 per cent opted to leave with 48.1 per cent to stay, with a voter turnout of over 70 per cent, higher than in any major election in recent memory. For many, especially in London and those working in the professional services industry, Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, has made a statement to assure that the UK's financial system has the funding, liquidity and resilience to withstand the shock of the referendum result.

Following the outcome of this referendum, it is important to emphasise that no legal rights or obligations are affected immediately, and the UK government will be working closely with the EU institutions over the next two years to decide how Britain's new relationship will look.  

Read our press release 

Monday 20 June

Both houses are in recess. 

Parliament

House of Commons: Justice Select Committee Reports on court fees and tribunals

Major changes are urgently needed to restore an acceptable level of access to the employment tribunals system, say the Justice Committee in its report on recent and proposed changes to fees for court users in the civil and family courts and tribunals. The introduction of issue fees and hearing fees for claimants in employment tribunals in July 2013 has led to a drop of almost 70 per cent in the number of cases brought.

The Committee chair, Bob Neill MP, said "Where there is conflict between the objectives of achieving full cost recovery and preserving access to justice, the latter must prevail." 

Read the full report

Read our response

Parliament recalled to mourn the loss of Jo Cox MP

Parliamentarians, the public and the press came together this week to pay tribute to Labour MP Jo Cox who died after being shot and stabbed in her West Yorkshire constituency last week.

Both houses of parliament were recalled on Monday to allow MPs to mourn her loss.

Leading tributes, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said, "We have lost one of our own, and our society as a whole has lost one of our very best."

Prime Minister David Cameron hailed Ms Cox as a "voice of compassion".

Tuesday 21 June

Both houses are in recess.

Wednesday 22 June

Both houses are in recess.

Thursday 23 June

Both houses are in recess.

Friday 24 June

The UK entered in a new chapter of its history this morning when it voted to leave the European Union after 47 years of membership. The vote came down to a 52-48 per cent split, with an very high 72 per cent voter turnout, reflecting the genuine political engagement of the British public on this highly divisive issue. 

Leadership contest

The result was followed shortly by the announcement by the prime minister that he will stand down. He will remain in his role for the sake of stability in the coming months but believes that there should be a new prime minister in place by start of Conservative party conference in October.

This was followed later in the afternoon by a move by two Labour MPs (Margaret Hodge MP and Ann Coffey MP) to submit a motion of no confidence in Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn MP.

The motion itself does not have any formal constitutional force and does not trigger a leadership contest. The chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) will decide whether the motion should be debated at Monday's PLP meeting. This would be followed by a ballot of the PLP (all Labour MPs and MEPs) and would show a symbolic show of collective criticism of Mr Corbyn. To actually to start a new leadership contest, 51 Labour MPs and MEPs will need to write individual letters to the general secretary of the party. It is thought that a number of letters to the general secretary will be sent over the weekend. 

To note, Mr Corbyn is still very popular with Labour party members and if he were to stay on the ballot for a new leadership contest, it is quite likely he would win again. 

The cabinet will meet on Monday and Mr Cameron will attend the European Council meeting next week. He explained his decision by saying that the country requires fresh leadership and that he is not the captain that steers the country to its next destination. He also wanted to assure investors and markets that Britain's economy is strong, and that there would be no immediate changes in circumstances of free movement of goods, peoples, and services. The Financial Conduct Authority released a statement saying that any EU-sourced financial services regulation will remain applicable until any changes are made, which will be a matter for government and parliament. 

Stakeholder responses

The governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has stated that there will be a period of uncertainty and adjustment, but there is no immediate change in the free movement of goods, services or people. He went on to state that it will take time for the UK to establish new relationships with Europe and rest of the world so some market volatility can be expected as this process unfolds.

Mr Carney made clear that the Bank of England and HM Treasury are well prepared for this and have undertaken extensive contingency planning. Additionally, the Bank of England will not hesitate to take additional measures as markets adjust and the economy moves forward. The capital requirements of largest banks are now 10 times higher than during the financial crisis, and have been stress tested against far more severe crises. The Bank will assess economic conditions over coming weeks and consider any additional policy responses. 

The leaders of the Leave campaign gave public statements later in the morning, with Boris Johnson, one of the key figureheads of the movement, stating that it is right and inevitable that British public had their say on EU membership, and that it is vital to stress there is no need for haste and nothing will change over the short term. He closed by saying that Britain will continue to be a great European power, and that "we have a glorious opportunity to set our own laws, taxes and immigration system."

This was followed by the lord chancellor, Michael Gove, who echoed much of Mr Johnson's sentiments with a sense of humility, saying that the government will work calmly and cooperatively, and that today is the start of a long process of gradual divergence, and it is essential that all parts of the UK contribute to the negotiation.

Tags: Westminster weekly update | European Union | Brexit | court fees

About the author

Alexandra Cardenas is Head of Public Affairs and Campaigns at the Law Society. Public Affairs manages the relationships with parliament and government. She is a dual qualified solicitor in England and Wales (2014), and Colombia (2002). Prior to the Society, she practised as a human rights lawyer and worked at Macmillan Cancer Support and Animal Defenders International.

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