So, the day has arrived.
The United Kingdom is set to leave the European Union.
"If the predictions are right, this will be a victory for real people, a victory for ordinary people, a victory for decent people. ... Let June 23 go down in our history as our independence day," announced an ecstatic Nigel Farage, leader of the euroskeptic U.K. Independence Party.
Let’s get one thing out of the way — it’s not an overnight breaking away from the bloc.
Here’s how it works:
Legally, the British government is not even bound by the result of the referendum. However, in all likelihood, the government will not go against the wishes of the majority of people.
According to Article 50, describing the bloc’s governing treaty’s withdrawal process, the United Kingdom has a two-year deadline for a negotiated departure.
It is up to the British government when to invoke Article 50.
But, once invoked, British and European leaders will begin negotiating the terms of Britain's departure.
They will negotiate a new trade deal and rules and regulations ironing out the major and minor details of the move.
Once the two-year Article 50 term expires, Britain would be outside the EU and the terms agreed upon during the two-year period will apply.
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The Current Government
Thank you everyone who voted to keep Britain stronger, safer & better off in Europe - and thousands of @StrongerIn campaigners around the UK— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) June 23, 2016
In the wake of the results, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced he'll resign by October. He said the country requires "fresh leadership" to "steer the country" out of the EU.
However, he promised to "steady the ship" over the coming months.
Nigel Farage had already called for him to stand down and be replaced by a “Brexit” prime minister.
"David Cameron's not going to last the day. His position is totally and utterly untenable," Labour MP John Mann told LBC, "To call a referendum with two choices and say one of those choices is armageddon, which is what he said, and then lose."
Recession is on the horizon. Market watchers predict an "explosion of volatility" as the markets process the implications of Britain’s exit.
Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne even hinted that he could suspend stock market trading if Britons voted to exit the EU.
The EU may decide to strike a hard bargain to discourage other countries from leaving the EU. Or the U.K.’s new leader might not be willing to accept the new terms.
Free trade deals that the EU negotiated with 53 countries, including Canada, Singapore and South Korea, will no longer apply to the U.K. If the U.K. wants the benefits of them, it will have to renegotiate with those countries.
As voting results poured in, the British pound started plunging. The pound reached decades-low levels against the dollar and the results sent worldwide markets tumbling as well.
People are generally not feeling very confident about the economical situation in an isolated Britain:
When your idiot xenophobia is so powerful you gut your own economy based on words that make you feel nice #Brexit— Molly Crabapple (@mollycrabapple) June 24, 2016
So sorry for the 48% of smart UK citizens who understand that the economy is global and that isolation is a bygone era #Brexit— Chase Jarvis (@chasejarvis) June 24, 2016
This is great way to deter potential migrants btw - shove your economy into a ditch #Brexit— Nikhil Kumar (@nkreports) June 24, 2016
What Happens To The U.K.’s EU Budget?
The U.K. will stop paying into the EU budget once it formally leaves the bloc. So the U.K.'s current net contribution of about £8.5 billion ($12.5 billion) annually will stay at home. However, on the other hand, U.K. farmers will no longer get direct payments from the EU, which were worth about £2.4 billion in 2015. The U.K.'s poorest regions will no longer qualify for EU regional funding.
There isn’t any way of knowing right now how, when and where the budget money will be utilized, even though many are wondering about it.
Many hoped at least some of that money would find its way to the National Health Services’ dwindling coffers. However, Nigel Farage quickly walked back on claims from the "Leave" campaign that the extra funds would go toward the NHS:
The U.K. will try to reduce immigration from the EU giving priority to high-skilled workers and blocking entry to low-skilled ones. Many jobseekers from the EU may be told to leave.
What the U.K. can start doing immediately, however, is tighten the rules for migrant benefits.
The European Union ensures free movement among EU countries. A citizen of one EU country has a right to live and work anywhere in the EU without the hassle of passports and residency rules.
Also, there currently are about 1.2 million British people living in other EU countries, while about 3 million non-British EU nationals live in Britain.
Needless to say at the moment, the fate of millions of such people is hanging in mid-air. Britain will have to negotiate a new treaty with the EU that continues to allow free movement between the U.K. and the EU.
However, there is to be no immediate change in immigration status of people. During the two years of Brexit negotiations, free movement of EU workers would still apply.
According to polls, people in Scotland largely support remaining in the EU. For the 44 percent of Scots who voted to make Scotland an independent country in 2014, having the U.K. be part of the EU means a counterbalance to English power within the country.
According to Rory Scothorne, director of the Electoral Reform Society in Scotland, the U.K. was "clearly in uncharted political waters.”
“This vote poses big questions about the constitution of the U.K. as a political entity going forward, with the U.K.'s nations divided. Without action now we risk descending into constitutional chaos, and it's vital that the public are involved in the discussions that lie ahead about the ramifications of this split vote,” he said.