What happens if Britain leaves the EU? It’s hard to say, because no big nation has done so before – the Danish region of Greenland voted to leave the EEC when it gained self-rule in 1979, but that’s hardly comparable.
Yes, technically the referendum is only indicative, but there is no way the government would go against the clearly expressed wishes of its citizens.
In terms of the procedure, the obvious route is triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which sets a two-year timetable for withdrawal. The Leave campaign has been at pains to paint Brexit as a “process”, but it’s one that will happen with limited input from Britain.
Stephen Bush has set out a timetable for what might happen next, although his predictions were based on a universally low turnout. That’s not what’s happened in the EU vote. Click through to read his view on what might happen to David Cameron, Boris Johnson, the City of London, the housing crisis and the financial markets.
For David Cameron, the worse the immediate contagion, the better his chances of delaying his departure. He would be hoping to stay at least long enough to try to put a more positive gloss on his legacy than having taken the UK out of the EU by accident. Regardless of his notice period, however, Cameron would attend an emergency meeting of European leaders that weekend to discuss Britain’s exit.