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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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What the Brexit next?

July 26 2016
We loo at what the recent referendum result means for you and for the charities that support you.

So the majority of UK citizens – 51.9 per cent – voted on June 23 for the country to leave the European Union. The result has left the country – even those who led the Leave campaign – reeling. But what next?

With Prime Minister David Cameron washing his hands of it all, it’s up to his successor to enact Article 50, the clause in the Lisbon treaty that will allow the UK officially to leave the EU.

As the Pavement went to press, the Conservatives and the Labour Party were in meltdown. The Tories were slugging it out as to who would be in charge next – Boris Johnson and Theresa May are two names on the table. But most still looked in shock; one journalist noted Conservative MP Michael Gove, a key members of the Leave campaign, “looked like a man who had just come down off a bad trip to find he had murdered one of his closest friends”. Current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was still toughing it out... but for how long?

In Scotland, where 62 per cent voted to remain in the EU, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s manner has been compared to that of someone’s big cousin who has arrived to sort out an under-age party that spiralled badly out of control. She’s looking for a way to keep Scotland in the EU regardless. If that fails, a second referendum on Scottish independence looks likely further down the line.

In Northern Ireland, where 55 per cent voted to remain, talks continue about how to enforce a border with the Republic of Ireland, which will remain in the EU.

And all the while, others are looking for ways to back out of Brexit altogether. Is it really legally binding? Can Parliament block the decision? The possibilities are still being discussed.

So how does it affect you? Will things get worse before they get better, or is this the spark to ignite radical change that is needed?

1. Nothing looks set to happen quickly; It’s important to remember that nothing, at least in terms of your rights or entitlements, will change until after Britain has left the EU and new laws to replace the relevant European ones have been passed in Parliament. That means all EU migrants will continue to live and work here as before and your human rights (the right to vote, the right to a fair trial, right to freedom to practice your religion), which are not taken for granted everywhere in the world, are still protected under EU law.

2. It may not change the situation of EU migrants that much. According to legal experts, it is almost certain that EU citizens who are already here and are working or have worked will be given the right to stay. However, it looks likely that even after leaving the European Union, the UK would have to agree to the free movement of EU citizens to access to the single market (i.e., to trade with EU countries without paying taxes or tariffs).

3. But it seems to be leading to more racism. From graffiti telling Poles to “go home” to racist abuse hurled at BBC news reporter Sima Kotecha, the mood has been ugly. Far Right Watch recorded 90 incidents in just the first few days. And the uncertainty might also mean it’s harder for migrants to access services because those in charge are unclear about what they are entitled to.

4. What about affordable homes? Industry experts claim that due to the inevitable economic crash, fewer affordable homes will be built, at least in the short term. The construction industry relies heavily on migrant workers, and any attempt to stem the flow may hurt the industry. It has been suggested that UK apprenticeships are desperately needed. Other commentators say this will ignite the radical type of housing solutions that have been needed for decades.

5. It may affect some homeless charities. Lots of charities are concerned that exit from the EU may lead to less funding. Others point out that the UK never took full advantage of the EU’s benefits in the first place. The €3.8 billion Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) gives member states access to funds to help people escape poverty. But Matt Downie, director of policy at homelessness charity Crisis, explained: “The UK only takes the minimum amount.”