It may seem a huge advantage to set down a few thoughts so soon after the Brexit referendum has been decided. We think however there is a growing recognition that it has been a step, albeit an important one, in a process – rather than an event in itself.
Some share no sympathy with those who wanted a revote. They say that a result is just that and seeking to do it again because the outcome was not what you wanted is a strange democratic process. That said, I feel the amount of explanation given by both sides was insubstantial during their campaigns – something which greatly exacerbated the uncertainty once the votes were finally counted.
The Brexit is about national sovereignty but it is also significantly a statement about perceived disenfranchisement – something as much triggered by the EU handling of immigration as any other issues. You can forget racism or half the other “-isms” tossed out as explanations for the outcome.
There is no need to be bewildered by suddenly being unable to travel to Europe and other similar issues. The extent of UK ownership of property in France or Spain (or Portugal or Italy) is too large to suddenly make it sensible for either a mass exodus or for barriers to be needlessly raised.
Two important indicators of where the pain is likely to be felt with the changes are the stock markets, which fell more sharply and with less subsequent correction in continental Europe than the UK; and the barrage of rhetoric from over the channel about lacks of compromise and an urging to have Article 50 immediately applied – moves only triggered because of an awareness that other countries can so easily follow the UK.
The factions emerging in both the major parties in the UK are interesting but probably not of long term significance, unless of course the divisions that have emerged were not to heal.
Practical things you can and should do in response to the Brexit
1. Make sure your financial house is in order. The last thing you want is to have a backlog of filing (tax or otherwise) and thus hamper your ability to move fast, should things change.
2. Make sure you have renewed your passport. And if you are living abroad, that your visa/residency issues are in good order.
3. Determine objectively which is your base currency and, where appropriate, hold some of your assets and/or cash and investments in other locations or currencies.
4. Keep yourself informed on healthcare and pension aspects which are important to anyone living outside of the UK. There may be some changes and you want to be aware of these in good time.
5. Distinguish between what are outcomes of Brexit and longer term trends. Many International companies constantly review their corporate seats and may choose to move from London to continental Europe or elsewhere. Banks are having to consolidate and that is a largely unaddressed issue on the continent. Unemployment is unlikely to be significantly reduced in western economies.
So when all the hype subsides, be of good hope, because everybody has a vested interest in reshaping all aspects of our international – and particularly our European – relationships in the best way possible.
These are the personal views of the author and are not necessarily those of Woodbrook Group Corporate Service, so should not be construed as financial advice.