Countdown to the Brexit Vote

With less than a month away from the EU referendum, market watchers are paying extra close attention to any updates related to the Brexit. The British pound has been particularly volatile in the past few weeks, as early opinion polls are showing a slight lead in favor of staying in the EU, although the actual results might still be too close to call. Meanwhile, UK bond yields and stock indices have also been extra sensitive to any reports relevant to the referendum. Here are the dates to watch ahead of the actual vote and what might happen next.

June 7: Voter registration deadline

UK citizens have to be registered to vote in the Brexit referendum and the deadline for registration is around the first week of June. Those who are on the electoral roll for the past 15 years can register as an overseas voter. Online registration is also possible for citizens who have resided in England, Scotland, or Wales by filling in their passport details, National Insurance Number, and date of birth.

June 13: Queen’s Official Birthday

The official celebrations for the reigning monarch, which happens to be Queen Elizabeth II, is scheduled on the second Monday of June. Both the “stay” and “leave” camps are widely expected to take advantage of this event to campaign strongly ahead of the referendum. Speeches from the royals during this event could contain their sentiments about leaving or staying in the EU.

News reports have shown that the Royal Family is staunchly against a Brexit, as they are said to be willing to risk a potential constitutional crisis to intervene with the campaigns. Some sources noted that the royals are displeased about how pro-Brexit publications have been twisting their statements to suggest that they favor leaving the EU.

June 21: BBC TV debate

A couple of days before the EU referendum, television news channel BBC will air a live debate at the Wembley Arena to help voters decide. So far, Prime Minister David Cameron has refused to participate in this debate since he doesn’t want to go head-to-head with Tory Eurosceptics. The event will be hosted by David Dimbleby, Mishal Husain, and Emily Maitlis.

June 23: Actual referendum date

On June 23, UK voters will decide whether or not they want to stay in the European Union. Early opinion polls are expected to have a strong impact on sentiment and financial market action leading up to the referendum, as the UK government will need to iron out its exit plan if the leave votes win.

Voters who are away during the actual referendum date can send a postal vote or vote by proxy, but these need to be indicated in their registration. The United Kingdom has 12 regional counts and 382 local voting areas, England has 9 regional counts and 326 local voting areas, Northern Ireland has a national count and a single voting area, Scotland also has a national count and 32 local voting areas, Wales has a national count and 22 local voting areas, while British Overseas Territory Gibraltar has a single voting area included in South West England.

June 23 8PM onwards

Polls are scheduled to close on 8PM of June 23, after which local results will be tabulated and declared while the counts are being completed. These are then collated in the twelve regional centers which will announce the totals for each side. A chief counting officer is expected to announce the overall result at Manchester Town Hall once the process is completed, although the local results are likely to be publicly available to give everyone an idea of how the final tally might turn out.

Post-Brexit 2016 to 2018: Year-long Recession?

If the UK Treasury statements earlier this week are to be believed, a Brexit could put the UK economy in a year-long recession, resulting to job losses of as much as 820,000. UK Chancellor George Osborne noted that a “leave” vote could cause an immediate and profound economic shock, taking growth 3-6% lower. Prime Minister David Cameron acknowledged that this would be a “self-destruct” option for the nation.

French and German elections are scheduled to take place in 2017, which suggests that EU politics could also complicate a potential Brexit transition. Candidates in these top economies are expected to maintain a hardline stance against the UK in order to secure domestic victory, with new leadership still likely to challenge UK membership even if the referendum results in a “stay” vote.

June 2018: Actual Brexit date

Contrary to what many are expecting, voting to exit the EU will not result in an instant cessation. Instead, officials will have a two-year period to arrange the transition, as dictated in EU laws. Economic and financial repercussions aren’t likely to take effect immediately but the fate of the economies can still be discussed by leaders. Throughout that two-year period, the UK will continue to abide by EU laws but not take part in any decision-making.

2020: UK Prime Minister Cameron to step down

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has resolved to step down as the Conservative Party leader before the next general election in 2020 so the years leading up to this could also be overshadowed by his successors’ campaigns. Should the referendum result in a “leave” vote, this period could be more complex especially if the new leadership struggles to adjust in a post-Brexit world. A “stay” vote, on the other hand, could preserve the status quo for the UK economy.

Post-Brexit 2030

Think-tank Open Europe projected that the worst-case Brexit scenario could shave off around 2.2% of the UK GDP by 2030. However, the firm also noted that the UK can boost its GDP by 1.6% if it is able to negotiate a free trade deal with Europe that maintains the current setup and pursued deregulation in other aspects. According to the UK Treasury paper released on Monday, the average British household would be worse off by 4,300 GBP in 2030 under a Brexit.

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