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As the Pavement went to press, the Conservative and the Labour parties were in meltdown. The Tories were still slugging it out as to who will be in charge next – Boris Johnson and Teresa May are two names on the table. But most still looked in shock; one journalist noted Conservative MP Michael Gove from the leave campaign “looked like a man who had just come down off a bad trip to find he had murdered one of his closest friends”.
In Scotland, where 62 per cent voted to remain in the EU, Nicola Sturgeon has emerged as the only one able to “keep the heid”, her manner compared to that of someone’s big cousin who’s arrived to sort out an under-age party that spiralled badly out of control. She’s looking for a way to keep Scotland in the EU regardless. If that fails, a second referendum on Scottish independence looks likely further down the line.
In Northern Ireland, where 55 per cent voted to remain, talks continue about how to enforce a border with the Republic of Ireland, which will remain in the EU. And all the while, others are looking for ways to back out of Brexit altogether; is it really legally binding? Can the Parliament block the decision? Unlikely, but the possibility is being discussed.
So how does it affect you? Will things get worse before they get better, or is this result the spark to ignite radical change that is needed?
1. Nothing will happen quickly
It’s important to remember that nothing, at least in terms of your rights or entitlements, will change until after Britain has left the EU and new laws to replace the relevant European ones have been passed in Parliament. That means all EU migrants will continue to live and work here as before and your human rights – right to vote, right to a fair trial, right to freedom to practice your religion, which are not taken for granted everywhere in the world – are still protected under EU law.
2. It may not change the situation of EU migrants that much
According to legal experts, it is almost certain that EU citizens who are already here and working/have worked with be given the right to stay, though those with a more insecure status (i.e., those who been here for more than three months but less than five years and without having worked) may find themselves in a grey area. However, regardless of leaving the EU, it looks likely that the UK would have to agree to the free movement of EU citizens in order to access to the single market (i.e., trade with EU countries without paying taxes or tariffs).
3. But it seems to be leading to more racism
From graffiti telling Poles to “go home” to racist abuse hurled at BBC news reporter Sima Kotecha, the mood has been ugly. Far Right Watch recorded 90 incidents in just the first few days. And the uncertainty might also mean it’s harder to access services because those in charge aren’t clear about entitlements. Right now, migrants need everyone’s support.
4. Affordable homes
Industry experts claim due to the inevitable economic crash, fewer affordable homes will be built, at least in the short term. The construction industry relies heavily on migrant workers, and any attempt to stem the flow may also affect the industry. It has been suggested that UK apprenticeships are desperately needed. Other commentators say this will ignite the radical type of housing solutions that have been needed for decades.
5. It may affect some homeless charities
Lots of charities are concerned that exit from the EU might lead to less funding. Others point out that the UK never took full advantage of the EU’s benefits in the first place. The €3.8 billion Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) gives member states access to funds to help people escape poverty. But Matt Downie, director of policy at homelessness charity Crisis, explained: “The Germans take €80 million from this fund to help homeless people. But the UK only takes the minimum amount.”