The EU referendum results are in and the majority of the vote is to leave.
For me it is rather a sad day. Growing up I believed I’d never really travel abroad and I had rather a blinkered view of the world. I ended up working for a pan-European company and I’ve travelled and met loads of people from different countries and backgrounds. These guys were mostly from the EU but also outside too. I have made many friends in Europe. I met my wife in Prague.
As I’ve got older, I believe that the EU is a good thing generally. I do not necessarily want to have the single currency but that is another matter.
Given the vote, the next action must be swift. We have 2-3 years of negotiation with the EU to work out how to leave. There are many issues to discuss.
1. I have an EU driving license. Will we re-issue them?
2. I have a passport with the EU affiliation on the front. What will we do?
3. There are UK laws based on EU law and EU law that is precedent in the UK (by our choice). All this needs a review. This is going to take time and will cost the country money.
4. What will the EU do about Brits living abroad that have not obtained residency?
5. What will we do about EU residents living in the UK? “Sending them all back” is not the right answer.
6. Will we stay in the EEA? Probably not – because if we do we will need to retain the freedom of movement that the Leave campaign are thoroughly against.
There will be lots of cost for the taxpayer as we wade through it all. And it won’t be the government doing it – it will have to be delegated given the amount of work involved.
There will be much uncertainty over the coming months and it is a time of weakness for Britain. You can already see factions working out how to play on it.
Given that we are a large contributor to Europe, there will be a feeling of uncertainty spreading across Europe as well. The far right in France are already trying to capitalise on our referendum result.
Anyway, here is a picture of me with some of my European colleagues – one of my favourite pictures and one of my favourite memories. When I was running the London Data Centre, I met with all the other DC managers at Oktoberfest, Munich in 2009. Left to right: Dutch, English, German, French, German. Let’s face it – we’ve come along way since 1945. Let’s not ruin it.