If the UK votes to leave the EU, the most likely procedure will be to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which states that a leaving country must abide by European Union rules for two years but will no longer have a say in what those conditions are.
Negotiations – especially concerning trade – will be numerous and complex and will go on for years, perhaps even a decade or more. They always do. It took Norway, Switzerland, and even Canada over nine years to hammer out trade treaties with the EU. In the meantime trade with all EU countries fall under WTO rules with tariffs and conditions that are far from as advantageous as they are for Britain at the moment.
In the two year period, companies that have invested in the UK to gain free access to the European market will have to decide whether or not they will want to move into the much bigger trading bloc instead. Many undoubtedly will, including some in the City banking sector that have already said they would move.
Even Brexiteer Boris Johnson admits that years of instability and uncertainty will follow Brexit. In November 2014, Boris said, “Most of our problems are not caused by Brussels, but by British short-termism, inadequate management, sloth, low skills and a culture of easy gratification and under investment.”
Earlier this year (Feb 7, 2016) Boris wrote in the Daily Telegraph: “Leaving would mean embroiling the Government for several years in a fiddly process of negotiating new arrangements, so diverting energy from the real problems of this country.”
He was right in both statements.
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