A voter opts to leave the European Union on a referendum postal ballot slip © Bloomberg
Experimental feature

Listen to this article

Experimental feature

The day after the referendum is approaching. Britain may continue with the status quo, or it may be about to forge a new path, breaking with much of its postwar history.

But what specifically would come in the hours, days and months ahead? Here is the FT’s calendar of key dates to look out for.

Day of the vote

Voters cast their ballots until the polls close at 10pm, UK time. YouGov will release an on-the-day poll, as it did for the Scottish referendum, which will be released at 10pm on Sky television.

Hedge funds and others have commissioned private polls to try to predict the result so they can take positions regarding the result. Watch out for the late- evening foreign exchange trading in the US and the opening of the markets in Asia.

Friday June 24

In the early hours of the morning, the results will be declared at 382 local centres and then funnelled into 11 regions, each of which will also declare before the final announcement at “around breakfast time” on Friday in Manchester.

If Britain votes to leave, sterling and equities are likely to fall, perhaps sharply. Market interest rates might rise on riskier assets. The Bank of England has said “all options are on the table” for how it responds, whether providing liquidity to banks at cheap rates or swap lines to dollars or euros.

In such a scenario David Cameron will be under pressure. He has pledged to stay on, and Conservative MPs including Boris Johnson have signed a letter of support. But a large number of backbenchers will want him to go. If Mr Cameron does stand down, he will remain as prime minister for several weeks and possibly months while the Conservatives hold a leadership election.

European leaders are likely to make a joint statement to express their disappointment and try to allay concerns about the health of the European project.

Businesses will start making statements to reassure their shareholders that they have made appropriate contingency plans.

If Britain votes to stay, sterling and equities are likely to bounce. The prime minister will be safe, barring a rebellion from angry pro-Brexit MPs.

Weekend after the result

As Mr Cameron and George Osborne, the chancellor, struggle for their political future, ambassadors and “sherpas” for EU leaders will meet on Sunday to discuss the EU response.

If the UK chooses to leave, a meeting of the college of EU commissioners, the equivalent of its cabinet, will also meet over the weekend. The Bank of England and the Treasury will be working over the weekend to ensure liquidity and access to foreign currency.

Week of Monday June 27

On Monday, parliament returns after its recess for the referendum campaign.

If Britain stays, Mr Cameron will have to heal his sorely divided party. Over the coming days, there could be a swift “unity reshuffle”, bringing into his top team some of the big Tory names who tried to take Britain out of the EU. Rebel MPs could trigger a vote of no-confidence in the prime minister before the summer recess.

If Britain goes, the 1922 committee will start to organise a leadership election: it will take roughly two weeks to whittle a shortlist down. But the vote will go to Tory members across the country and could take until the autumn to resolve.

On Tuesday, the BoE’s Financial Policy Committee meets and could choose to ease capital buffers. EU annual budget announcement will start the debate on what the UK’s contributions will be.

Leaders gather for an EU summit in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday to take stock.


Tuesday July 5
A services and composite purchasing managers survey is the first scheduled post-vote survey of business activity, with the data collection period ending on June 28. This should give a flavour of business sentiment in the immediate aftermath. On the same day, there is the first post-vote gilt auction.

Also on Tuesday, new EU rules come into force on asylum, including definitions of asylum and how asylum-seekers should be treated. Although Britain has an opt-out on these rules, its future in the Dublin system, which dictates who is responsible for an asylum application, is in doubt.

Wednesday July 6
The Chilcot report on the 2003 invasion of Iraq is published, putting pressure back on the Labour party.

Thursday July 7
The decision on whether to extend Heathrow or Gatwick airport could be made, the first significant post-vote policy decision. A vote on renewing the Trident nuclear deterrent programme is also due before the summer recess.

Thursday July 14
The BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee holds its decision on interest rates, deciding on whether it needs to cut rates or buy assets.

Wednesday July 20
The UK will either stand on the sidelines, or participate, as the EU debates whether to grant China market economy status.

Thursday July 21
The House of Commons rises for its summer break until September.

August and later

Thursday August 4
BoE presents its inflation report, including its updated forecasts for the next three years and its expectations for interest rates.

The Conservative party conference.

The chancellor presents his Autumn Statement. Armed with a few months of data, whoever is in No. 11 will have to make some big judgment calls about the economic climate if Britain has chosen to leave.

Thursday December 15
In the case of a leave, Britain could now invoke Article 50 at the European Council summit, if the Conservatives have found a new prime minister.

The remaining 27 states will attempt to show renewed common purpose in the face of the biggest challenge to the EU project to date. One possibility, already being discussed, is a push to deepen security and defence co-operation, a less contentious initiative with appeal beyond the 19-member euro area.


The UK’s EU referendum: full coverage

View the FT’s comprehensive guide to the vote on whether Britain should stay in Europe, with all the latest news, analysis and commentary from both sides of the debate. See more


Get alerts on Brexit when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018. All rights reserved.

Follow the topics in this article