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(Futurist comment written 24 June 2016 - you can judge for yourself how accurate it turned out to be)

We are in completely uncharted waters in troubled times globally and across the EU.  The decisive vote to divorce the UK from the complex organisation which we call the EU, will influence the future of an entire generation of business people and touch every European nation.(Over 50,000 reads of this article in first hours after Brexit - comment by Patrick Dixon, Brexit keynote speaker - Brexit strategy advisor - in March 2016 - most of the predictions I made about the impact of Brexit turned out to be correct as of February 2020 ie minimal economic impact for the first 3-4 years).  

Brexit without doubt has increased immediate and short term geopolitical risks.  Our world is facing many urgent and complex challenges, together with multiple risks eg another economic meltdown, a new type of Cold War, uncontrollable migrations on gigantic scale.

But despite the toxic media hype, the truth is that the UK will continue to be very significant part of Europe culturally, geographically, historically and economically for many hundreds of years to come - mainly because of its physical location and population size.

The longer term future of the EU and the future of the UK will both be driven by a single word, more powerful than economics, or innovation, and that word is of course  “emotion”, linked to the most important single human force in the world today which is TRIBALISM. 

* "How AI Will Change Your Life - A Futurist's Guide to a Super-Smart World" - Patrick Dixon's latest book on AI is published in September 2024 by Profile Books.  It contains 38 chapters on the impact of AI across different industries, government and our wider world.

Leaving the EU will be messy, lengthy, complex

There is no official mechanism for leaving the European Union whatever you may have heard: it has never been done before and there are no detailed guidelines or books of procedures defined in law - in either the UK or in Brussels. There are guidelines and different routes to leave but expect all kinds of speculation about mechanism and timings.  

It will be a very lengthy and messy legal process.  And will take maybe until 2025 to fully complete new post-Brexit trade deals. During 2020, almost everything remains as before from the practical and legal point of view, from EU passports, to EU regulations and free trade.

The UK Referendum is not legally binding, and the EU has no right to throw the UK out of the EU - it can only watch and wait at the moment.  Therefore the only mechanism for exit is the British Government starting the process.  That is unlikely to happen until a new Prime Minister is chosen by the Conservative Party.  And even then, giving official notice to the EU may be delayed to give the maximum opportunity to negotiate trade agreements before departure is completed.

There is indeed significant risk of contagion - spread of uncertainty and fear, into chaos, into instabilities in currencies and economies, radical shifts in business strategies...  In a globalised world, such things can spread at the speed of light.

Brexit will have a profound impact on the future direction of the EU and is likely to trigger multiple, complex events.  Just the fact that such a Brexit vote took place was already having an impact elsewhere across the EU before voting began.  For example, on 26th February 2016, an opinion poll in Denmark showed that most Danes want to have a vote of their own.

Expect more referendums - and (just) maybe a second vote in the UK

As I predicted would happen over 15 years ago and many times since (See Futurewise and The Future of Almost Everything etc), the wider EU project is now in deep emotional trouble, with 30% of European MPs belonging to protest parties like UKIP (28% of vote), France’s National Front (25%), Denmark’s People’s Party (27%) and far-left Syriza in Greece (27%).

Meanwhile, most people in Europe distrust EU politicians, few can name their Euro MPs or the president of the European Commission, and voter turnout is low. The malaise in the EU is very profound and has been completely underestimated by the European Commission, and by many prominent European Union Members of Parliament.

Referendums carry huge moral force, and many other EU nations will be under great pressure to permit similar votes.  A second nation voting to leave, either the Euro or the EU or both, with a couple more referendums still to come, would force very radical change to the EU to head off "catastrophe". A second nation (or part of a nation e.g. Catalonia) voting to leave would rapidly undermine confidence in the longer term viability of the entire EU project. 

Greece is a further complication: bankrupt by any common sense measure, but kept afloat for political and economic reasons by the rest of the Eurozone, with more and more lending without any hope whatever of those debts being repaid.  Leaving the Euro, and possibly even the EU itself, may become a far more attractive option to Greek voters, following Brexit and subsequent events in other nations.

Book Brexit keynote speaker Patrick Dixon for your corporate event on Brexit Strategy, author of The Truth about Almost Everything.

What will be the longer term impact of Brexit on Britain?

The truth is that a lot of nonsense was paraded as fact in the heated Brexit referendum campaign.  Here is a common sense view of what next:

- Whatever you may have heard, as I say, the UK will remain geographically, culturally and economically part of the continent of Europe.  We may have voted to leave the EU - which is something entirely different: a recent experiment in regional governance with a trend to federalism, that may or may not survive the next 100 years.  But Europe as a whole will survive.

No one yet knows what the longer-term economic impact will be of leaving the EU.  And groups of economists have turned out to be spectacularly wrong in reading wider trends - as seen several times in the last 15 years.

Markets don’t like change or uncertainty and it will take at least 3 years, maybe 5 years, for a post-divorce settlement with the EU to be concluded, setting out terms for future trade.

- Some major investors will also delay decisions, while tens of thousands of smaller investors will also wait to see what happens.  This is likely to dampen economic growth in the UK over the next couple of years or more.  But many of those same investors will later regret their delays.

- Many other investors will make huge amounts of wealth out of Brexit opportunities. Those who are able to look beyond the short-term risks, investing wisely, with cool heads, trading on damage created by irrational media hype, market stampedes and mad decisions by spooked investors.  So then, many times when you see a spectacular fall in - say - UK stock markets or the pound, you can also expect there may be a rapid correction.  

- The combined impact of all this means that the immediate impact of the Brexit vote will be weaker currency than would otherwise be the case.  As I say, expect some volatility as markets over-react emotionally to what is happening.  The Bank of England will ignore this in setting interest rates, and will focus almost entirely on preventing a recession and promoting economic growth, which means most likely an interest rate cut in the short term, rather than an increase.

- The Bank of England is completely free to do whatever it takes to maintain stability of the banking system and the wider UK economy. UK banks have capital reserves today which are 10 times what they were at the start of the 2008 economic crisis, and are well prepared for most Brexit-type shocks.

- The Bank of England can provide almost unlimited short term support for the economy using many different strategies, including buying up the government's own debt with new money made with a few mouse clicks on an Excell spreadsheet.  During the last global crisis, the Bank of England effectively bought a third of the entire national debt by "printing" electronic pounds, and will not hesitate to do so such things again if needed.  More pounds in the economy would mean further gradual falls in value of currency on global markets, and eventually a higher inflation rate, but neither of those are concerns right now.

- And government can also if it wishes embark on a big national investment programme of various kinds, creating jobs, paid for with more pounds.  And no, such things would not lead to massive hyper-inflation if carried out at a time of economic down-turn in a sensible and well-structured way.  I am just saying that there are many choices open in case of economic emergency, and whatever party is in power will consider all of them.  Fewer options, it is true, than in 2008, because government borrowing rose so high in combating that storm, and we have not yet repaid any of that additional debt.

- Some fear that a lower pound following Brexit will mean higher prices of imported goods, higher inflation and then higher interest rates.  This is not likely in the short term.  We need a bit of inflation right now. The Bank of England will be fairly relaxed. The greater risk in many nations is deflation not inflation. Inflation can also be a helpful way to wipe out government debt.  Recently, the government was paying only 1-2% to many lenders, while inflation was running at up to 5%, wiping out that debt at over 3% a year.

- The Bank of England is likely to tolerate and ignore "short term" higher inflation as in the past.  As I predicted over a decade ago, some Central Banks are now openly discussing the need to target an "ideal" rate of maybe 4-5% rather than 2%. Indeed the Bank of England recently tolerated an inflation rate higher than 5% without taking any action.  A 2% target has turned out, again as I predicted, to be very risky. Inflation rates vary anyway by 1-1.5% for all kinds of complex reasons, including inaccurate measurement.  When global shocks happen, it is then very easy to wobble below zero by mistake.

Deflation is really hazardous - people start hoarding cash and normal economics is turned upside down.  I remember taking a fixed price mortgage at 13.5% for 5 years in the 1990s.  Did the world come to an end?  No.  Ordinary mortgages soared to 15.5% and I was very happy.  Salary inflation was high, and people with houses made good capital gains.  We need a sense of historical perspective here.

- Risks of market chaos and contagion have been made far worse because of "Project Fear": very large numbers of alarmist predictions made by Remain campaigners with the aim of winning the vote. Such scare-mongering easily produces self-fulfilling prophecies, spooking investors, which in turn creates damage.  Irresponsible comments are likely to be toned down.  We are all in this together and need now to re-build confidence in the future of Project UK.

- The truth is that there are many opportunities for economic growth created by leaving the EU, and there would have been many economic disadvantages, longer term, in remaining.  The real arguments for and against were very finely balanced, despite the aggressive and superficial political posturing. One reason why the actual vote was so close.  

- Brexit has created a deep tension between the majority of younger voters across England who feel more strongly European, and the older generation.  All parts of the community will need to work together to make the best of the situation, but longer term resentment may be seen, if the outcome of the EU-UK divorce is widely perceived by young people to be disastrous.

Negotiations and a second referendum?

- Key area of uncertainty for EU leaders and business leaders is who they will be negotiating with and what they will demand?  Who will be Prime Minister, and Party in government, in the lengthy period of negotiations which could take until 2019 or even beyond in some cases? 

- Most Members of UK Parliament voted to remain and we can expect some efforts by some coalitions of MPs to frustrate or delay the divorce process, or neutralise its intended impact by the majority of the electorate.

- Another referendum in the UK is a real possibility - even if it looks unlikely right now. There is a good precedent for repeating EU referendums.  In Ireland, a referendum clearly rejected the EU Lisbon Treaty in June 2008.  An almost identical treaty was put to a re-vote on 23rd October 2009, and the vote was won.  

- Some voted for Brexit who wanted the UK to remain in the EU but on better terms. The narrow margin of Brexit victory makes it more likely that a second referendum will be called. Here is the dilemma for the EU: if the result was that the EU caved into post-vote pressure, it would give huge encouragement for any other disaffected nation to try the same trick.

- How a new referendum might be called: Imagine the following scenario:  

IF the UK is hit by terrible economic consequences in the 2-3 years following the Brexit vote, and these are all blamed by the electorate on the decision to leave; IF the EU likewise begins to recognise what a catastrophe an EU-UK divorce could be, and is desperate to stop rapidly growing calls for copycat votes and divorce proceedings by other EU nations;

IF as a result the EU offers some very attractive proposals to try to persuade the UK to reconsider - ones which are so good that it is obvious the Brexit vote would have gone the other way if those proposals had been made a year earlier; IF the Prime Minister chosen to replace David Cameron and the cabinet, are all keen to find a good excuse to re-present the EU in/out question to the British people;

IF the British people become totally convinced that Scotland will leave the UK soon unless we stay in the EU and become really worried about this.  IF there is a public clamour for the right to re-consider....  

- A further justification for a second Brexit referendum could be that on the day of the Brexit vote,  no voter knew what treaty / trade arrangements would eventually be negotiated to run after formally leaving the EU, and "Now we all know, we can for the first time make an informed choice: leave and adopt the new post-Brexit settlement with the EU which is x, y and z - or decide (on better terms of course) to remain after all."  So yes indeed, we can imagine circumstances in which a second referendum is put to the voters. 

Brexit likely to be followed by Scotland breaking away from UK - but not just yet

Brexit will lead almost inevitably to a break up of the UK itself eventually but NOT right now.  The Scottish Nationalist Party was so strongly in favour of keeping Scotland in the EU, and the Scottish people overwhelmingly voted to stay in the EU.  It will make almost inevitable an earlier second vote on Scotland and make it more likely that Scotland will achieve full independence, leaving England, Wales and Northern Ireland humbled by further loss of collective influence and economic power. The one thing that will affect this is oil prices.  

At the time of the Brexit vote, oil prices were only around 50% of what they were at the height of recent debates about Scottish oil wealth fuelling independence dreams. If oil prices recover to $80-100 a barrel, it will make Scottish independence more likely sooner rather than later (See below for more on this).  At current oil prices, Scotland is subsidised by £15bn of revenues from England - 17% of its GDP.  

To make matters worse, if Scotland joins the EU, it will have to pay around £1.5bn to the EU a year to belong, and will also be required to convert to the Euro because the pound will be outside the EU. Therefore a second vote for independence held in 2017 would be at risk of being lost. That is not a risk the SNP will want to take.  Two lost votes would make a third vote hard to justify for many years.  It would be safest for the SNP to wait a while, and that is what we can expect.

- And Brexit will also have implications for peace in Northern Ireland.  For the last few years, the peace process has been helped by the fact that the north and south parts of the single island of Irish peoples have been united by an almost non-existent border.  Large numbers of agencies and organisations operate across that border, strengthening unity.  A re-imposed border between EU and non-EU will sharpen divisions between north and south.

- Breakup of the UK following Brexit will totally alter the political landscape: without the balance of more socialist-leaning Scottish voters, the remaining UK will be more easily dominated by Conservative voters, so a permanent shift to the right will be likely, leading perhaps to emergence of a new political Party as a more effective opposition than Labour, or perhaps reformation of Labour with a less left-wing agenda.

Brexit impact on people movement

Brexit will lead almost certainly to special Visa waivers or a light Visa regime for those in the EU, to prevent the UK suffering a big penalty in business and tourism.  And no-one in the UK wants a punitive entry regime to face them every time they fly to Paris or Cologne.

Brexit now means total control over things like benefit payments to recent migrants once the EU-UK divorce is settled, and make it easier to pick and chose who enters the UK, but we should not imagine that a widely perceived "migration problem" will just go away.  For example, very large numbers of people who settle in the UK each year do so from nations outside the EU.  And the UK continues to have labour shortages.  

Despite the emotional debates, the fact is that on the day of the Brexit vote, UK unemployment had fallen to 5% - lowest in the EU.  So employers will be demanding the ability to recruit many new workers from the EU.  Take house building - we all agree there is a house shortage, but house building firms I talk to say that even before Brexit they were having severe difficulties building new homes on time because of an absolute shortage across the UK of skilled carpenters, electricians, brick-layers and so on.

Brexit will reduce but cannot prevent further large-scale migrations to the UK.  So we will inevitably end up providing huge numbers of Visas to EU workers.  And the UK is unable (despite what people think) to police its borders.  People can and do enter officially for a week or two, and stay on for years. We have 4000 miles of coastline patrolled by very few small boats.  Or they may enter unofficially hidden in lorries, or cars, or on boats.  So the idea that leaving the EU means the UK can now make a wall of steel around itself is rather naive and stupid.?

What kind of post-Brexit treaty can the UK expect with the EU?

The UK is one of the world's largest economies and a vital trading partner for many EU nations, so a Norwegian type of relationship is likely to be sought by many on both sides if Brexit occurs.  However the major sticking point will be EU insistence (at first) that this has to come with a high price of continued financial contributions to the EU budget AND allowing free movement of people.  The large margin of Brexit victory means there is no democratic mandate for the UK government to agree to free movement of people - it was a primary issue for many in voting to leave.

- Many EU political leaders will want the UK to leave rapidly, to stop contagion, and will be annoyed with many steps taken by the UK government to deliberately slow down the whole process.  The EU fear will be that the longer the process of negotiations, the more likely there will be calls for a referendum in another nation, carried out maybe even before the EU-UK divorce is concluded, creating further uncertainty about the very survival of the EU itself..  

- EU political leaders will be really worried that if they allow generous "unique" concessions to the UK, it will fuel a number of similar votes to leave in other nations, all wanting the same, which really would spell the end of the EU as it is known today.  For that reason we can expect drawn out and tense negotiations.  But in the meantime, trade conditions will largely continue as normal - could be for years.

- EU business leaders will on the whole be campaigning for open trade with the UK - most really don't care much about the movement of people as a condition of free trade: their primary responsibility is to boost profitable sales for their shareholders.  That means no tariffs to sell their goods into the UK.  No tariffs to buy the spare parts or services they need from the UK.  Free trade pure and simple.

Impact on City of London, EU, UK regulation, investment and house prices

The UK financial sector will not be dramatically affected if Brexit occurs - in the medium to long term.  The City functions very well as one of the world’s dominant banking communities despite being outside the Euro, and will remain so for many years to come.  Being outside the EU will have disadvantages, but will also make many things easier, breaking from the shackles imposed by a community of nations with little or no financial sectors to speak of.

The EU is moribund – economically and demographically and will be even more so following Brexit. The economic future of the EU is not in the EU, but in emerging markets - the only part of the world that will grow significantly in consumer demand. 

In a decade, 85% of all humanity will be living in so-called emerging nations.  In contrast, in Germany today you need 8 great-grandparents to produce a single great-grand-child, because fertility rates have fallen so low.  Similar situation in a number of other EU nations, and in some UK communities. Being out of the EU will focus UK growth on exporting to these growing markets, and will make it easier to do so.

Brexit will inevitably lead to an orgy of cancelled directives, dumped rules, and celebrations of new freedoms – reducing business costs, making commerce easier, encouraging entrepreneurs and foreign investment.  However this will all take a very long time and many EU directives will be maintained.

- Brexit will also lead to radical shake-up of human rights legislation - making it easier for example to deport a convicted terrorist without them claiming permanent residency for the sake of family life with their children.  However the fundamental principles of British Justice will be strengthened, not weakened.

Brexit will discourage foreign investors who use the UK as a manufacturing base for the rest of Europe– particularly car makers.  As a result of such investment, the UK manufactures more vehicles each year than at any time in previous history. 

However, before we get too excited about the potential impact of - say - an EU import tariff of 5%, we need to remember that such a cost increase could be more than offset by other factors such as a fall in exchange rate in sterling against the Euro, if the UK economy is hit to any degree.  And that could mean immediately that those same exports to Europe would be significantly cheaper.  Net result: could be zero or even positive in Brexit favour.

Brexit will have very little impact on UK’s service exports – consulting, accounting, management services, games manufacturing, App development, music and films and so on.

- Brexit impact on house prices is likely to  be more modest than some have suggested for the following reasons. Firstly Brexit will dampen economic growth in the UK in the immediate term for reasons above, leading to an even longer period of very low interest rates - indeed Bank of England rate could even fall from 0.5% today.  Secondly, while some foreign investors may think twice about buying in a city like London, until the dust settles, the fact is that if the pound falls, UK property becomes cheaper for those in other nations to buy. So the two effects may well balance out.

- Tribalism will continue to dominate the UK. The vast majority of the UK lives in England, a nation within a nation that will struggle with identity, except during international sporting events. England has no national language (English is global), no well-recognised tribal dress, and has often been defined in the past by being British – which has irritated many who are Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish.

- Tribalism will save the monarchy, albeit on a smaller scale, because otherwise there would be so little left of British or English culture. The fundamental problem with the monarchy is that royalty is based on genetic discrimination and family lines. This genetic elitism will seem increasingly bizarre and morally suspect to a people who have fought for equality of opportunity, fairness, and lack of discrimination. 

- Post-Brexit and Scottish Independence votes, expect to see a rebirth of the English tribe: a fresh energy in a new generation who want to be as English as the Scots are Scottish, or the French are French. National state funerals, the last night of the BBC Prom concerts, international football matches and other events will help focus this new sense of tribal identity.

- UK role on world stage will diminish - but was doing so regardless of Brexit. The UK has long had one of the highest figures for military spending in the world as a percent of GDP, but this level of spending will be almost impossible to maintain over the next decade.  

- The UK will continue to nurse a fading fantasy of being a global power, the second police force of the world after America – but this already looks absurd in the light of dwindling armed forces. In the 1940s, Britain still ruled over 25% of the world’s land area from London. One factor in the Brexit vote was that it was hard for the majority of this independent-minded, island people to cope with the thought of being ruled by the EU from Brussels any longer.

In summary, Brexit will trigger many profound consequences - beyond control of any leader or nation.

However, the truth is that we will never know what the true overall impact of Brexit was, because we will only be able to speculate what would have followed if the other option had been voted for.  Historians will therefore debate these issues for generations.

Book Brexit keynote speaker Patrick Dixon for your corporate event on post-Brexit Strategy, author of The Truth about Almost Everything.

What future for EU and Eurozone following Brexit?

Tribalism will continue to dominate and threaten the future of the European Union, as a Tribe of Tribes. There is no common language or shared culture, and national interests are fiercely defended. The EU has muddled along, avoiding many tough decisions, but struggles to respond rapidly in a crisis, so will continue to be vulnerable to global or regional shocks.  Just one such shock has been recent chaos in Syria and the overwhelming size of refugee movements.

The EU was created to promote European Peace and has carried this role successfully.  Despite the troubles created by Tribalism in Europe, the fact is that the EU was created originally not to promote economic growth, but primarily to prevent war. Ravaged by two catastrophic European-originated wars separated by less than 20 years, national leaders decided to merge economies in such a way that it would be really difficult to go to war against each other again.  And in this, the EU project has been very successful.  We take peace for granted too easily.  By now, on previous trends, we should have seen a 4th World War erupting from within Europe, with agitations towards a 5th.

Post-Brexit, the European Union will remain a cluster of inter-tribal compromises, dominated by Germany, and held back for at least the next 5-10 years by economic malaise in many of its poorest members.  As the UK departs, the influence of France will rise, and Germany’s pro-business, pro-growth agendas will be stifled even further by the collective voices of the rest of the EU, especially Eurozone nations.

The EU will continue to be very good at passing new laws for trivial matters, and very bad at tackling fundamental issues. But hundreds of new laws will make life even more difficult and expensive for factories and retailers, and enforcement will continue to vary widely from country to country. 

More strains in Europe from monetary union

I predicted before the 2008 crisis that tribal and economic strains in Europe were likely to become immense. Post Brexit, it is even harder to see how the eurozone will survive in its current form without even greater pain and unrest. Countries with very different economic problems and business cycles remain locked together by common exchange and interest rates. Expect further steps to closely integrate Euro economies, with more loss of national powers. 

As mentioned above, Greece has been overwhelmed by government debts, greater than 170% of the size of its economy while its economy shrank by 25% during 2008-2014. If there is no agreement to write off much of the debt, Greece is likely to default eventually, and could well end up leaving the euro. Balance sheets of European banks are better prepared than they were, but such an exit could well be destabilising for the Euro project as a whole. Markets will speculate about which nation might be the next to exit, leading to destabilisation of that nation, and self-fulfilling prophecies about economic decline, spiralling towards the same Euro exit door.

America will continue to be a dominant EU partner 

America still invests 3 times more in the EU than in the whole of Asia. And EU investment in America is 8 times that in India and China combined – while a third of all global trade is between the EU and America. The future of the EU will be overly dependent on the American economy for the next two decades, even though the only hope of strong economic growth will come from trade with emerging markets.

Farming subsidies still account for 40% of the entire EU budget. But as we have seen, the future depends on rapid investment in innovation, next-generation manufacturing, precision engineering, aeronautics, biotech, medtech, nanotech, Big Data, Internet of Things, mobile financial services, e-commerce, new venture capital, enterprise zones, joint ventures on emerging markets, and so on. So where is the equivalent-sized EU budget for such things?

The European project may yet be saved by some of 500 million people from emerging nations who would like to live and work in the EU, legally or illegally, several million of whom have already gained access in the last 5 years alone. Many are highly educated, entrepreneurial, and bring investment with them, while others do unpopular jobs for low wages. 

Corruption and control in the European Union

The EU will continue to be a corrupt, monolithic, non-accountable and wasteful institution. For the past 19 years, auditors have refused to sign off the accounts as accurate. In 2013, for example, they reported that €6 billion had been spent ‘in error’ – up 23% on the year before. 

So how on earth do so many ‘errors’ and fraudulent decisions get made? I was asked to give a lecture on ‘Ethics in Leadership’ to some of the most senior leaders in the European Commission. At very short notice, I managed to get hold of an e-voting system, with a handset for each member of the audience, which allowed them to make secret responses to my embarrassing questions. Their answers were very disturbing but hardly surprising. The lecture was recorded and an edited version is on YouTube.1 

Many participants admitted that they had recently been put under pressure to do something that they thought was morally wrong. In many cases this was something so serious, that in their own country it would have been likely to be on the front pages of the newspapers, should it have been revealed. What is more, most felt they had no choice but to obey. The person asking them was usually their own boss, and they had no one to turn to. 

Despite all this, size and inertia will almost certainly enable the eurozone to muddle along for some considerable time, perhaps even for a generation or two, even if there are changes in the list of Euro or EU members, with the UK possibly leading the way. 

Book Brexit keynote speaker Patrick Dixon for your corporate event on post-Brexit Strategy, author of The Truth about Almost Everything.

UK government policy direction post Brexit 

Discussions on public spending are not going to get any easier and whoever is in government will face pressure to cut costs or raise revenues, or both. And the less attractive government debt becomes to the markets, the more borrowing costs will rise.

This is what we can expect in government spending etc:

- further cuts in government spending 

- strict control of public pay awards

- increase in taxes for middle and high earners

- allowing inflation to drift well above 2% targets at times, diminishing the value to lenders of low-interest government bonds

- low corporation tax and other measures to encourage investment into the UK, and headquartering of multinationals

- continued growth in UK strengths such as fashion, film, music, design, pharma, architecture, consulting 

- recovery of banking and financial services – with new revenue streams, related particularly to emerging markets

- expansion of UK automated manufacturing, e.g., car industry

- attracting a new generation of wealthy and highly talented settlers, who see the UK as a refuge 

- encouraging sovereign wealth funds to invest in new infrastructure

- growth in exports to many emerging nations, benefiting from historic trade, cultural and language ties and relatively low UK wage inflation. 

FURTHER POST - my replies to Facebook comments on the above:

1) Ignore 96% of what you are reading and hearing in the media, which is on the whole pompous nonsense.

2) See the vote in wider sweep of future human history which is that tribalism really matters, alongside globalisation.

3) Focus on the facts:

a) We are geographically, culturally, historically, economically European and no vote or political wrangling will change that.

b) The European Union is NOT Europe. Please do not confuse the two. Just as the Eurozone is not the EU. The EU is just a quite recent complex construct to bind nations together. The EU may last 10 years or 400 years but Europe will continue as a group of nations, trading and living together (hopefully without more wars).

c) All large businesses in a European nation will continue to push for easy trade without barriers, tariffs etc.

d) All the same businesses will also continue to push for ability to recruit workers from other nations when they cannot fill jobs locally and for free and easy travel for short term visits. Common sense is likely to prevail (eventually) on these things.

e) Globalisation has already created a number of other trading blocs apart from the EU, where goods and services move fine across borders, without all the additional layers of regional governance or freedom of movement.

f) Market fears and public panics easily become toxic self-fulfilling, destructive prophecies, and political leaders need to calm down and be far more temperate in their language.

g) The UK remains one of the largest and right now one of the fastest growing economies in the world. We are not about to sink without trace.

h) Many I have talked to regret there was even a vote (do we still believe in democracy then??), but votes do carry moral force. which is why so many other nations will be under pressure to allow their own people to vote too.

i) The EU will be hugely affected by Brexit decision and will undergo its own transformation - fast enough is another question.

j) There is a small possibility that as the EU begins to see just how weak it is, and how rapidly it could all unravel as a result of a single country having a single vote, the EU may move to grant some of the changes they should have done in the first place, before the Brexit vote. Changes that would have guaranteed that the UK would have voted to remain. Changes so attractive (when the UK wakes up the real price of leaving) that clamours grow for them to be put to a second vote.

So watch this space.... very early days. Panic not. Let the dust settle, try to understand WHY so many people in your own community voted for the other side, and broadly speaking, carry on as usual for now. If you are about to buy a house. Buy the house. If you are thinking of starting a business, star

Bank of England Brexit Statement - hours after vote:

The people of the United Kingdom have voted to leave the European Union.

Inevitably, there will be a period of uncertainty and adjustment following this result.

There will be no initial change in the way our people can travel, in the way our goods can move or the way our services can be sold.

And it will take some time for the United Kingdom to establish new relationships with Europe and the rest of the world.

Some market and economic volatility can be expected as this process unfolds.

But we are well prepared for this. The Treasury and the Bank of England have engaged in extensive contingency planning and the chancellor and I have been in close contact, including through the night and this morning.

The Bank will not hesitate to take additional measures as required as those markets adjust and the UK economy moves forward.

These adjustments will be supported by a resilient UK financial system - one that the Bank of England has consistently strengthened over the last seven years.

The capital requirements of our largest banks are now ten times higher than before the crisis.

The Bank of England has stress tested them against scenarios more severe than the country currently faces.

As a result of these actions, UK banks have raised over £130bn of capital, and now have more than £600bn of high quality liquid assets.

Why does this matter?

This substantial capital and huge liquidity gives banks the flexibility they need to continue to lend to UK businesses and households, even during challenging times.

Moreover, as a backstop, and to support the functioning of markets, the Bank of England stands ready to provide more than £250bn of additional funds through its normal facilities.

The Bank of England is also able to provide substantial liquidity in foreign currency, if required.

We expect institutions to draw on this funding if and when appropriate, just as we expect them to draw on their own resources as needed in

order to provide credit, to support markets and to supply other financial services to the real economy.

In the coming weeks, the Bank will assess economic conditions and will consider any additional policy responses.


A few months ago, the Bank judged that the risks around the referendum were the most significant, near-term domestic risks to financial stability.

To mitigate them, the Bank of England has put in place extensive contingency plans.

These begin with ensuring that the core of our financial system is well-capitalised, liquid and strong.

This resilience is backed up by the Bank of England's liquidity facilities in sterling and foreign currencies.

All these resources will support orderly market functioning in the face of any short-term volatility.

The Bank will continue to consult and co-operate with all relevant domestic and international authorities to ensure that the UK financial system can absorb any stresses and can concentrate on serving the real economy.

That economy will adjust to new trading relationships that will be put in place over time.

It is these public and private decisions that will determine the UK's long-term economic prospects.

The best contribution of the Bank of England to this process is to continue to pursue relentlessly our responsibilities for monetary and financial stability.

These are unchanged.

We have taken all the necessary steps to prepare for today's events.

In the future we will not hesitate to take any additional measures required to meet our responsibilities as the United Kingdom moves forward.

* What do YOU think about Brexit and issue above?  Post your own views below, and continue a conversation.

Book Brexit keynote speaker Patrick Dixon for your corporate event on strategy after Brexit, author of The Truth about Almost Everything.

Article written on 24/6/2016

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Thanks for promoting with Facebook LIKE or Tweet. Really interested to read your views. Post below.

Peter Azlac
July 06, 2016 - 16:34

You say:
"j) There is a small possibility that as the EU begins to see just how weak it is, and how rapidly it could all unravel as a result of a single country having a single vote, the EU may move to grant some of the changes they should have done in the first place, before the Brexit vote. Changes that would have guaranteed that the UK would have voted to remain. Changes so attractive (when the UK wakes up the real price of leaving) that clamors grow for them to be put to a second vote."

There are a number of points against this view:
a. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, USA, S Korea etc are queuing up to sign free trade deals with the UK, not least as they see it as an opportunity to replace EU products with their own - NZ lamb, butter, wine etc If this is done, and as a result our current trade deficit with the EU declines and our balance with the rest of the World increases, there will be no appetite among the industry and finance side of the Remain side to vote Remain again. Such a switch would also place pressure on the main EU exporters to the UK to agree free trade terms without free movement but they may be stopped by votes from countries, such as Romania, that are not in this class, just as they have held up the free trade deal with Canada.
b. Absent from the Remain side of the debate was any discussion on the impact on the UK economy of Cameron´s opt out for "closer Union". Assuming this was feasible, which I doubt as the "deal" was not done with the EU and the EU Court could well rule against it as being against the Lisbon Treaty , we would be in a minority of one in Federal State of 30+ nations but subject to the laws and fiscal demands of that Federal State. In these circumstances the UK could expect to continue as the EU "cash cow" that would make the claimed economic downturn due to Brexit pale into insignificance. These points could swing a significant part of the Remain camp to Leave in any future referendum.
c. It is difficult to see why Cameron rushed through the referendum when he could have waited until 2017 when we could have seen some results of his negotiation. Either he knew that they would be negative or that the public would become aware of the bad deal he had reached or more likely he wanted to rush it through before the EU went ahead with more Union in the form of an EU army, central taxation and security etc that are not compatible with his claims of opt out on closer union.
d. An analysis of why Remain and Leave voters voted as they did showed that the former voted for economic stability but also in the hope that the EU could be reformed, something that has since become clear will not happen.The same analysis of voter reasons showed that the Leave side voted in terms of sovereignty and retention of the British culture that is threatened by the recent trends in migration rather than immigration from EU and Commonwealth countries. They agreed with the Leave proposal to introduce an Australian style points system such that the country can satisfy its labour needs from the most effective sources. As time goes by the migrant crisis can only get worse giving more support to the Leave side, especially the offer by Turkey to give 3- 5 million Syrian refugees Turkish passports that will allow them to have free movement within the EU. Doubtless many of these are educated persons whom could make a good contribution to the UK economy but many are not and respresent a security threat.
In short I see nothing in your arguments that would cause a reversal of the Brexit vote.

June 30, 2016 - 15:18

About: "most people in Europe distrust EU politicians, few can name their Euro MPs or the president of the European Commission, and voter turnout is low. The malaise in the EU is very profound and has been completely underestimated by the European Commission, and by many prominent European Union Members of Parliament."

People in Europe do not distrust politicians more the people in England should distrust their own politicians...I keep on hearing this nonsense that suggest that somehow politicians in the EU are worse than politicians in the UK... anyone actually paying attention to UK politics? anyone looked at the US politics?

Even if the UK remains in the EU, there will be economic repercussions from this referendum, uncertainty kills investment, and money does not wait, it will chase returns in other parts of the world... This in turn will hurt actual people, and the blame is solely with the UK government!

I wish the UK leaves the EU (I do not believe it will actually happen) mostly so that the world has a good example of what happens when you make stupid decisions...

The display of NAZI behavior that I saw in the UK this year is shameful and disgusting... the biggest danger to the UK is not coming from outside...

June 28, 2016 - 20:47

A much needed calm insight, thank you. The Green Party was in favour of 'remain' - what do you think will be the impact of Brexit on environmental and climate change issues?

Jonathan Cook
June 28, 2016 - 11:02

UK should expand "fracking" for gas fast - and use our natural resources to financially mitigate Brexit shocks :-)

June 28, 2016 - 09:00

Patrick, what is the difference between Tribalism and Diversity? Is Tribalism 'bad' while Diversity is 'good' and if so what kind of Diversity does that mean - the Western middle class approved kind of the global kind?

Great article, by the way.

Reply to Josh
Patrick Dixon
June 28, 2016 - 18:14

Tribalism is about identity, culture, community, team, brand etc - which tends to result in groups which align themselves around a common world view and set of values. Diversity is about celebrating the richness of tribalism, by encouraging members of different tribes to play key roles in the same teams, communities, organisations, businesses and nations.

David Knight
June 28, 2016 - 07:54

Thank you for this interesting article. I agree with much of what was said and obviously there are going to be longstanding major changes some of which may be welcome. I did end up confused, however and want to ask some questions and comments. I hesitate to do this because I am probably uninformed on several of the issues.
You say that the British Government make the decision to leave. Is this correct? Is it not a decision for Parliament as a whole?
You say that some inflation is good. Perhaps, but how is this controlled? How much is good?
You correctly criticise the Remain campaign for Project Fear and some of their claims have already been proven wrong. But the Leave Campaign also made false claims. £350 million a week extra for the NHS? we dream on.
You describe the result as a "Narrow" margin and then as a "Large" margin. Which is it? The figures show that only 37.4% of the total electorate voted to Leave. Is this really an overwhelming margin for Leave? You also question that those who doubted the wisdom of having a Referendum might be anti-democratic. We have a representative democracy who decide things for us. For example polls might suggest that the "people" want capital punishment but Parliament has repeatedly voted against. Referenda are advisory and this was certainly the message given at the time of the last Leave/Remain Referendum in 1975.
Migration was a major factor in informing people's voting intentions. As you point out migration will not now stop. In passing, the problem of the coastline is much greater than you suggest, the UK coastal mainland is more like 12,000 miles long.
The EC is "moribund and corrupt". The former at least if not the later is a matter of opinion. All the major economies since 2008 have suffered major slowdowns and often recession. USA, Japan, China, Brazil, India, etc. It is not by any manner of means confined to the EU. I am sure there is significant corruption in the EU, just like all other large countries and economies. I note that 6 billion Euros was spent in error. I do not know how that compares with other countries, but it is about 5% of the budget. If I only spent 5% of my income in error I would probably be happy. Such errors are not confined to the EU. The UK wasted around £10 billion on a computer system for the NHS that did not work and up to £20 billion in a failed scheme to update the London’s Underground system.
Finally "96% of what is posted in the media is pompous nonsense", almost certainly including this, but how do we select the 4%?
Thanks to anyone who bothers to read this.

Reply to David Knight
Brian Hunt, MBA, FRICS
June 30, 2016 - 10:31

Excellent riposte! And thanks for "referenda!
See my letter to the PM here as an attempt to bring common sense to the whole Brexit nonsense:

The RT Hon David Cameron MP
Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
London, SW1A 2AA
27 June, 2016
Dear Prime Minister,
I write with concern over the difficulties facing you regarding the unfavorable vote to leave the EU, to which I have a suggested resolution of three distinct parts.
However, I should perhaps first state something about my background and reasoning that qualify me to propose what I am about to discuss.
My wife and I have lived in France for the last 22 years and have visited most of the European Union’s 28 countries, thereby gaining some understanding of its national thinking. Also, being born in Bristol in 1928, and having lived in Rhodesia and visited much of the Commonwealth, the Middle and Far East on a number of tours, I have a more worldly approach than the average citizen. I should add that we have lived and worked in the United States for more than 25 years and are American citizens, to round out our understanding from a Continental viewpoint of most of its elements and challenges.

So to the matter of the moment: the so-called Brexit:
Firstly, while the Referendum was a well-meaning and an honest endeavor to satisfy the citizenry from a campaign promise, it was – given the name, Brexit - a disaster from its very inception. This was coined by - the Press perhaps? For the Opposition, the Brexiteers, this was a gift from heaven, but to the experts surrounding your campaign it should have been seen for what it truly was: a fatal flaw, a Trojan Horse that should have been identified as such and rejected from the Referendum’s very beginning. If it had, I firmly believe you would have succeeded in your duty (as you saw it) to the Public, who would have returned at least a 52–48 to remain in the EU.
To understand the logic of this, we must address the issue in terms of Social Psychology. In any election or similar where a box has to be checked by an eligible person, that voter will always look firstly to a “Yes” to the name of the issue on the ballot paper. This is simply human nature, in-bred, and reinforced from earliest childhood that Yes is good and No is bad. I am aware that the ballot paper had Remain as the first option, but the damage had been done, and long implanted in the voters’ minds was that Brexit was the Good choice.
Secondly, it is imperative that the country has a good, experienced leader during the next transitional months up to October – which clearly requires that you return to office as the Prime Minister in every sense of the word. The Nation must have a “strong leader during this difficult time in our history” etc., etc. (meaning, of course, that you rescind your resignation with immediate effect). The mere suggestion of Boris Johnson holding the reins of Leadership fills me with horror!
And times will indeed be difficult – to put it mildly! President Hollande is no friend of Britain in this matter, and with the French Presidential elections due by April/May, 2017, he will be put on his mettle by his leading contester, Marine Le Pen, who undoubtedly sees this Europe crisis as an excellent opportunity to “make hay while the sun shines!” She is a formidable opponent, who stands a good chance of besting Hollande. Even now, the stats are not that much in his favor. I rate her as the French Donald Trump, with good reason, for she will see this as her chance to break into the lead with French voters, who are much like the British in their own dissatisfaction with Paris, and as he does with Congress!
Fortunately, you have the cool head of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in your favor. She will keep France – and any other edgy Europeans - from getting too far out of line. Her vision is razor sharp, and she is clearly aware that the loss of their island neighbor will be almost as painful to Europe as to itself. Accordingly, she will support any sensible plan to bring the EU back to where it was before the Brexit vote, and give you the time your Government needs to do just that.
[As an aside here, your greatest ally is the United States. I see Washington as deeply disturbed by recent events, losing (in their opinion) their most important, indeed, critical partner in Europe and the Eastern hemisphere. You are the only English-speaking country, commanding deep respect in this and other regions. Your Financial Center, the City of London, is without equal anywhere in the World and irreplaceable (notwithstanding Wall Street’s abilities and reach). In short, a truly reliable partner for many decades of war and peace, past and future.
All of that requires a formal visit to President Obama and his top advisors within the next several weeks, to lay out your plan to return to the status quo, accepting unilaterally any and all assistance they are able to provide, which will be substantial. And, as an afterthought, take Angela Merkel with you; she will be delighted!]
Thirdly, the damage must be undone – which means a second vote of some nature, though not a repeat of the last Referendum. There is increasingly strong evidence of a serious change of heart among the Leave voters, who now see – for the first time – the very serious nature of their negative vote, which has laid open deep potential wounds to their very way of living and lifestyle.
Further, it is becoming apparent that the Exit leaders grossly – and falsely – deliberately misled the people for their own devious ends. Actively - even harshly – pursued, that will provide the time for an increasingly-changed attitude of the public at large regarding their future, and especially that of their offspring, to make your plan viable and acceptable to the 3,150,000-and-mounting signatures that it was all a ghastly mistake.
Notwithstanding all of the above, overturning a legal vote of the people would still be difficult, leading to loud cries of foul from the Exit wing, who will still have strong support from certain classes of the voters.
While my solution to this may seem extreme, I believe strongly that it has merit and is valid – indeed honorable, in every sense. Sometime around the end of August/early September, you ask Her Majesty the Queen to dissolve Parliament and declare new elections. That done, you lay out your Platform (all previously and thoroughly fine-tuned by your senior Conservative Party leaders – or heads will roll!!), to the voters, the primary issue being the Annulment of the previous and demonstrably flawed Referendum.
You are not expecting a majority of the vote, of course, that would be an impossibility. But, if the Conservative Party is returned to power, that will be its first and immediate duty. You will, of course, need the implicit understanding of the Labor Party in achieving this goal. It is my belief that they are almost as disturbed as you – though you know far more than I about how this could be achieved.

And that is it. I am sorry to be so apparently long-winded, but I truly believe that it has to be carefully and thoughtfully reviewed and undertaken to right a grievous wrong.

June 27, 2016 - 20:20

Hi there,

I have lived here in London for over 30 years but I am brown skinned and was from abroad. I am really worried about the white tribalism trend. I don't want to spend my retirement years here with people telling me to go home. What is your view on whether the extreme white will gain strength?

Reply to Anna
Patrick Dixon
June 27, 2016 - 20:31

I think the tribalism trends are indeed worrying. However, London is a great city: one of the most cosmopolitan in the world, and Brexit will I hope dampen down the fires of anti-immigration extremism...But we will see.... we are seeing similar things across the whole of Europe.

H.J. Caesar
June 27, 2016 - 11:47

Thanks for the succinct summary of the likely consequences of Brexit. What I fear is the Islamisation of Western Europe and further expansion of the EU into Balkan nations and Turkey. Your views?

June 27, 2016 - 09:36

Can I ask your views on what lies ahead for us as we have seen a large outbreak in very openly racist behaviour, leading up to, & especially since the vote.
(N.B. This is asked with no insinuation that every 'Leave' voter, by any means holds this view. It seems to me a least, a very ugly bi-product)

As you said, the EU project was originally started in order to keep peace. As far-right voices have found metaphorical microphones, not only here, but across Europe, it seems hard to put them back in their box. What are your thoughts for right now & the future on this?

June 27, 2016 - 09:36

Can I ask your views on what lies ahead for us as we have seen a large outbreak in very openly racist behaviour, leading up to, & especially since the vote.
(N.B. This is asked with no insinuation that every 'Leave' voter, by any means holds this view. It seems to me a least, a very ugly bi-product)

As you said, the EU project was originally started in order to keep peace. As far-right voices have found metaphorical microphones, not only here, but across Europe, it seems hard to put them back in their box. What are your thoughts for right now & the future on this?

Mike Pellatt
June 27, 2016 - 06:28

You make no mention of the future protection of human rights in the UK.
Whilst, of course, the vote made no mention of the ECHR, this vote strengthens the hand of those in England who wish to abrogate the convention and replace it with a putative "UK Bill of Rights", with the clear desire that this would offer fewer protections to citizens from the state.

June 27, 2016 - 03:42

What worries me most in the campaign and result is the racism which is now seen as justifiable in some quarters. You hint at this with the comments on "tribalism" but with Britain First having 1.5 million Facebook followers, I think it is a real risk existing migrants may leave (it's already happening) and we may struggle to attract the talent we need. That said though, there were some out and out lies told in the campaign. Blame for economic woes on migration for one. As more people realise this, I think the clamour for a second vote will grow louder very soon. It seems strange that many of the electorate (as famously stated by Gove) were not prepared to listen to experts then but are now?

Have you ever tried your ethics blind vote on politicians, civil servants etc from the UK or any other national government?

Richard Clarke
June 25, 2016 - 23:21

Great article and helpful to provide some understanding to a decision which from a distance (Australia) seems odd.

I'm not sure about the "decisive vote" reference. A 52/48 split seems anything like decisive and is described as "close" further on in the article.

How can a decision of this magnitude be made on such a close voting pattern? Most corporations have a constitution requiring much higher majority to effect significant changes like this. If that makes sense for businesses why is a 50% threshold a sensibile mandate for something of this magnitude?

In my view when you join the facts this decision is not legally binding with the fact there is a weak mandate I think this will slow down or halt decision making.

Thanks for your insights!


Reply to Richard Clarke
Patrick Dixon
June 26, 2016 - 14:49

Yes I agree, and the decision could be unwound by a second vote - if the EU / UK were to negotiate the kind of terms which if agreed 6 months ago would have guaranteed the UK voted to remain.

Reply to Richard Clarke
Patrick Dixon
June 26, 2016 - 14:49

Yes I agree, and the decision could be unwound by a second vote - if the EU / UK were to negotiate the kind of terms which if agreed 6 months ago would have guaranteed the UK voted to remain.

Join the Debate! What are your own views?



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