The far-righters are in full cry. Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right Front National party, has welcomed the “leave” result of Britain’s EU referendum and said she wants a similar one in France. Her tweet said: “Victoire de la liberté ! Comme je le demande depuis des années, il faut maintenant le même référendum en France et dans les pays de l’UE MLP”.
Donald Trump, currently in Scotland, will no doubt be crowing as well.
So what happens now?
This is a hard one because no country has voted to leave the EU before.
But here are the bare bones of a process that must be invented as we go along:
** The new British Prime Minister (not David Cameron) has to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the mechanism for a country to leave the European Union
** This would mean that EU member states meet as the European Council and agree on a framework for terms that could be allowed for Britain to leave
** Britain will, as Article 50 says, have two years to reach an agreement on leaving the EU
** Till well after June 24, 2018 at least then, EU treaties and laws (minus the ones Britain had opted-out before) will be in force. However, 27 EU member states could agree on extending the deadline
** Britain will have to negotiate new trade deals with Europe, the US and many other countries
** It will have to strike a new balance in its relationship with the EU. As with a divorced couple, it’s likely to be chilly, possibly unforgiving and angst-ridden
** The Norway or Iceland model of a partnership with the EU – a thoroughly modern 21st live-in relationship – has often been suggested as a possibility for Britain. That would leave Britain a member of the European Economic Area, maintaining its access to the European common market. But there’s uncertainty about whether the EU would agree. Or that Britain would want that.