In Depth

The biggest consequences of Brexit so far

The 2016 EU referendum has triggered widespread change in the UK

The Brexit saga took another dramatic twist on Tuesday night when MPs voted to seize control of Parliament in an attempt to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

The “unprecedented parliamentary coup”, as The Telegraph puts it, saw Boris Johnson defeated in his first Commons vote as prime minister and paves the way for MPs to put forward a bill seeking to delay the date of the UK's from the EU. Johnson subsequently announced that he would be seeking a snap general election and the removal of the whip from 21 rebel Tory MPs.

“Let there be no doubt about the consequences of this vote tonight,” the PM told the House. “It means that Parliament is on the brink of wrecking any deal we might be able to strike in Brussels because tomorrow’s bill would hand control of the negotiations to the EU, and that would mean more dither, more delay, more confusion.”

Events in Parliament so far this week have undeniably thrown the Brexit process into doubt and prompted a wave of speculation over what could happen once the EU leaves on 31 October - if it even does so.

Many changes already being implemented in the wake of the 2016 EU referendum may be put on hold, while the economy is being rocked by “nightmarish new headlines from the business world”, says The Independent.

Here’s a look at how the UK has already changed as a result of the Leave vote:

UK politics

The political fallout from the vote result has caused schisms within both Labour and the Conservative Party. Jeremy Corbyn saw MPs from his party break ranks in early 2019 to form the Independent Group, while Theresa May’s reign as PM coincided with the rise of the European Research Group - a party within a party that instigated a no-confidence vote in her in December 2018, which she survived.

However, May was eventually forced to step down as PM after a trio of failed attempts to pass her deeply unpopular EU Withdrawal Bill, resulting in the rise of Johnson to the top job and the Brexit chaos that has followed. 

Across the chamber, Labour leader Corbyn’s decision in February to back a second referendum “was a belated and cynical act designed to appease party members and voters (who overwhelmingly favour a new vote) and to counter the new Independent Group of rebel MPs”, according to the New Statesman

Now, Labour has pledged to vote for Johnson’s snap election only if a no-deal Brexit is taken off the table.

Business

Fears about Brexit have caused serious problems for companies in the UK. Even Somerset Capital Management, an investment firm co-founded by Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, has warned that the Britain’s departure from the EU could cause “considerable uncertainty”.

Over the past three years, concerns over a potential no-deal Brexit have led firms including Airbus to consider moving their UK operations to mainland Europe, putting thousands of UK jobs at risk. In February, Honda announced that it would close its manufacturing plant in Swindon in 2021, cutting 3,500 jobs - a decision that then business secretary Greg Clark described as “a bitter blow”.

British inventor James Dyson is also planning to relocate his company’s headquarters from Wiltshire to Singapore, a decision that has been denounced as hypocritical given his vocal support for Brexit.

And the situation took another turn for the worse in August, when Britain’s private sector entered contraction territory, fuelling fears that the UK could be “lurching into a Brexit-induced recession”, The Guardian says.

“Service sector companies, which make up the bulk of the economy, have reported that new business growth slowed sharply in August,” the newspaper adds. “Many blamed Brexit-related uncertainty, which led to subdued corporate spending.”

Economy

Until mid-2019, the UK’s economy had not been as sharply hit as some experts had forecast before the referendum. The rate of inflation has more than doubled from 0.8% in June 2016 to 1.8% in January 2019, but this is down from a high of 2.8% in autumn 2017.

However, the pound has suffered dramatic losses against the dollar in the past week, dropping to a three-year low of $1.1959 on Tuesday morning.

However, the pound made gains on currency markets the following day after Johnson lost his majority in the Commons, lifting sterling to above $1.20 and €1.10.

Since 2016, the UK has experienced the sharpest slowdown in income growth of any comparable economy, according to a study published in February by the Resolution Foundation think tank. Household incomes are around £1,500 a year lower than they were expected to be before the Brexit referendum.

Although “no one can say definitely how much of that lost income is exclusively down to the Brexit effect ... it’s hard not to conclude that Brexit must be the single biggest factor”, says the study.

Immigration

Figures published earlier this year showed that the net migration of EU nationals to the UK had fallen by 70% since the 2016 vote to leave the bloc, while arrivals from outside Europe had increased markedly.

“Britain is not as attractive to EU migrants as it was a couple of years ago,” Madeleine Sumption, director of the Oxford-based Migration Observatory, told the Financial Times. “That may be because of Brexit-related political uncertainty, the falling value of the pound making UK wages less attractive, or simply the fact that job opportunities have improved in other EU countries.”

This downward trend will worry many people.

Almost half of the UK population believe immigration has been positive for the country, a poll for the BBC has found. The findings “are in line with other surveys suggesting Britain has changed from being generally negative about immigration before the Brexit vote”, says the broadcaster.

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