You tell us: voters chose to leave the EU. Now what?

Readers respond to the EU referendum vote
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After a long and divisive campaign, voters in the UK’s EU referendum narrowly chose to stand alone. David Cameron has announced his resignation. The debate has been raging in the FT’s comment section for months. Now that the verdict is in, it’s time to reflect and discuss the steps to come.

What was your initial feeling after you heard about the vote? Is this the start of more challenges to come — or the beginning of an exciting new era? What questions do you have now? Share your thoughts here. This story will serve as a hub for your reactions on this historic day in British history. We will be updating it regularly with top comments from around FT.com.


Fed up millennials speak out

“A quick note on the first three tragedies. Firstly, it was the working classes who voted for us to leave because they were economically disregarded, and it is they who will suffer the most in the short term. They have merely swapped one distant and unreachable elite for another. Secondly, the younger generation has lost the right to live and work in 27 other countries. We will never know the full extent of the lost opportunities, friendships, marriages and experiences we will be denied. Freedom of movement was taken away by our parents, uncles, and grandparents in a parting blow to a generation that was already drowning in the debts of our predecessors. Thirdly and perhaps most significantly, we now live in a post-factual democracy. When the facts met the myths they were as useless as bullets bouncing off the bodies of aliens in a HG Wells novel. When Michael Gove said, ‘The British people are sick of experts,’ he was right. But can anybody tell me the last time a prevailing culture of anti-intellectualism has led to anything other than bigotry?” Nicholas(This comment has gone viral on Twitter. The FT has since commissioned its writer, Nicholas Barrett, to expand on his thoughts.)

“I am a millennial who emigrated in 2013. I have worked my rear end off to make the move stick and have been rewarded with a quality of life that my peers in the UK could not dream of. Those who feel disenchanted and wish to blame others for their own shortcomings should take a long look at themselves before blaming Europe for their woes. I flew back to the UK on Friday to gauge opinion, and frankly, the stability I enjoy here in Germany in comparison to the appalling democracy being perpetrated in the UK made me race back to Heathrow to flee the heartlands of a country I can barely recognise. The deflection of blame and the expectation of gaining something for nothing seem to have become the national pastime.” Russ Brown

“So let me get this straight: as a young person, we bailed out the city and the over inflated pensions and savings that were gambled away by governments we didn’t elect (Thatcher, New Labour), and we will have to bail all of these people out while millennials see a decline in earnings and an ageing population (rising pensions, healthcare costs, etc). What do we get in return? We lose the right of freedom to move, study, work, live and be treated as equals in any European country, we face rising debt levels and now even lower incomes as we punch our own economy in the face for some poxy nationalist cause and fake democracy. What about proportional representation? What about the House of Lords? Where were the Brexiters then? As soon as I’ve finished my studies, I’m out of this country.” -g7

“Set to graduate next year with a degree in Maths . . . graduating at a time like this, bloody hell.” — 2Jags

Why UK voters chose Leave

"I think you are missing the bigger point: for those of us living in London and working in the financial sector the benefits of a remain are obvious, but the fact is that we have reaped the biggest gains from Globalization and these gains have not be shared by other parts of the country...All of the time that this inequality has been building, that London has getting richer, enjoying double digit house price inflation and incomes at multiples of the rest of the country, an outcome like this (a vote against the establishment) was getting more likely. The condescending idea that this is due to ignorant voters (over half of the population) is way off."  — Hugh Firmin

“Too many confuse their own assumptions and dreams to be the reality of Main Street. The UK sentiment mirrors that of the USA, Sweden, Netherlands, France, etc. We are deeply divided . . . we can’t ignore our other half.” — Apostle

On-the-ground impacts of Brexit

“I’m an SME residential developer. Since Friday morning it’s come to a grinding halt in London. I’m not building an oligarchs tower or super prime. Just small developments of houses. Funding is being withdrawn, contracts sent back. Even housing associations are withdrawing. Everyone smells blood. This isn’t going to be a small blip” —Pragmatist

“What ‘shackles of Brussels’ exactly? I run a business of which a substantial portion is exports. I have yet to come across a single regulation or directive from Brussels that has had any negative impact on my business whatsoever. Quite the contrary - common standards makes us more competitive while it stops far cheaper suppliers from undercutting us, because they simply cannot achieve the same standards at those prices. Outside the EU - in the brave, new, “glorious” world that apparently awaits us, it is quite different. It is very, very hard to compete successfully against suppliers from low-cost countries such as India and China. Any trade agreement with the old Commonwealth countries would be focused around them selling to us, not us selling to them as their own markets are extremely protectionist.” —Orthus

What this means for the markets

"Yesterday morning, I received an automated email from my broker to say that my Tesco shares had lost 10+% in early trading. By 4pm that loss was down to 1% which is well within their normal daily trading range. Tesco was open this morning for business, the sun is shining and life goes on."  GAC

"I'm a business guy just en route back from Munich. Something became clear to me this morning. Last week, we were looking at bringing a new Manufacturing business to the UK (€250m revenue in the next 12 months). We wanted to access some of the UK Science programmes, the positive tax regime for IP, the export support capabilities of UK government, and the general attractiveness of London as a city to live. We won't be doing that. The UK will have uncertainty over terms of trade for some years with all our key Asian clients; the EU science funding will fall away; taxes will rise to support the rising deficit; and there is too much uncertainty [about] immigration restrictions. It's a hard practical reality. It is not market jitters. Money and wealth and trade has started to flow away from the UK." Magic Nun

 "This is a disaster for the financial sector — there was already talk of moving operations to Europe before this, and Brexit clearly accelerates that. Many British people forget that financial workers don’t come to London because it’s in England or the UK — if the work moves to Paris or Frankfurt they will go too. Although I’m British I only came to London because there was work — if that moves to Paris then I follow.” — BigAl

“For those arguing that the market is going to bounce back due to strong UK economic fundamentals: imagine a fever. In most cases you end up being okay, but what happens to your productivity while you struggle to recover? I’m going to print out the pound-dollar overnight volatility chart to remind myself that financial literacy is not optional if you want a democracy to work.” — mp

The things we have lost

“Pre referendum, it was hard enough to get a job if you had been made redundant (or politicked out of your job) and happened to be over 50. Now it is likely to be impossible. I have worked hard all my life but now I have no future...I do not have the luxury of being able to retrain, refocus my career or wait for a a couple of years before things stabilise. I voted Remain, but appear to be lumped in with wealthy self satisfied little Englanders and comfortable retirees in the demographic anger. I truly feel a forgotten casualty and am seriously considering whether I want to live in England anymore.” toronado

“Never before in my adult life has a democratic decision come close to affecting my and my family’s future income in the way this one will. Decades of focus groups, spin doctors, media training and politicians’ calculated messaging to different portions of the electorate have come home to roost. When the time came, none of our political, business or media elites was able to speak the plain truth to the electorate with the authority and trust that might have made a difference.” trivial economist 

“As a Scot, I’m tired of referendums!” Mimi

The benefits of Brexit

“As someone who was undecided on the referendum even until the last minute, my head and heart were completely aligned by Friday morning: Brexit was a huge mistake. How could I have been so conflicted earlier? Clearly, Britain belongs in the EU. Yet part of me thinks that without the referendum, the Brussels bureaucrats, Merkel, and all would never have taken EU citizens’ demands seriously. Their arrogant attitudes about mass immigration both into the EU and within the EU would never have been challenged were it not for the UK referendum. If Gideon is right (and I hope he is), we could perhaps witness the best outcome possible: the EU bureaucrats *finally* understanding that the populist revolt is real, and yet Britain ultimately remaining in the EU.” rrrahul

“I’m not sad. I’m actually oddly satisfied. The UK has reminded the EU a simple rule: you cannot govern without popular support. Since 2005 and the failed referenda on an EU constitution, the EU has lost all of its popular support. It has offered the same solution (more Europe) to people’s problems for almost 30 years without being effective. That is not the way a democracy works. Even now, the only thing EU officials are talking about is “avoiding contagion”. No one has ever tried to understand why a contagion would happen and why citizens would want to leave the EU. That is arrogance. Arrogance is met with disdain, and anger. Rightly so. You reap what you sow. You cannot expect to earn what you do not deserve. -Kotaro123

“Yes there will be a negative market reaction, but that will be temporary in the UK. In five years’ time it will be forgotten and the country will have regained its democracy! The EU bureaucrats might now start listening to the ordinary people throughout Europe and not just the wealthy. Good luck to the other EU countries getting their independence too. Now Britain can move forward with a positive attitude. Let’s roll our sleeves up and get on with the job. Great Britain again!!” — BetterFuture 

“Rejoice. It will be a bumpy ride for a bit but we have our democracy back. 17m voters refused to be bullied. Makes me proud.”— Highbury Sunshine

Political repercussions

“What’s worse? Embarrassment or destruction. Neither one is a good outcome. I go with embarrassment. Such an English trait after all.” — Nick Grealy

"I declare myself a passionate Remain supporter. So you can imagine that I am not in love with Boris Johnson for his opportunist choice of Leave and for the toxic and mendacious but effective campaign which he led. However, we are now faced with a damage limitation exercise. Most of the other candidates are too wooden, like May, or too tainted by sovereignty, ideology and/or xenophobia to achieve an optimum result. Anything which does not simply send the portcullis slamming down on EU 'migrants' will disappoint a lot of Leavers and be a hard sell, but Boris might just be able to do it." — eboracum

 “I am a staunch Conservative, but if there is a remotely sensible alternative by the next election, they will get my vote. The Labour Party should prepare to capitalise on a growing wave of anger and revulsion for Johnson and his acolytes.”— lescargot

“My feelings are mostly bereavement: my country just died. But I find myself wondering about the corpse. The Leave campaign was an unholy alliance of factions without a shared vision of the future. There is no leader qualified to take both the country and a Parliamentary majority forward. Mr Cameron has carefully kicked the Article 50 can a few months down the road. Scotland and perhaps Northern Ireland are going to agitate. Brits are at their best when their backs are against the wall. A putative further referendum will tend towards Remain as the Leave oldies are replaced by young Remainers. And why is 52% so decisive on such a big question - it is only advisory? Is there a statesman in the House? Part of my gut says it’s just a bit soon to book the funeral.” Ian Slater

“David Cameron stands down. Don’t blame him, if I were him I’d say cheers you ungrateful bunch, I’m invoking the article, then heading off to the Caribbean for a long holiday. Sayonara Boris & Co. Enjoy the next two years . . . ” — FTpsuedo

Personal next steps

“I live in Amsterdam and own property in Spain and the UK. I am seeking a job that would use my skills in multi-national companies that must prosper in a globalised economy. As a UK national, 8 out of the 10 new jobs I have applied for are probably not available to me, and tens of thousands of jobs for my recently graduated children are lost to them. My UK denominated pension and other assets are worth 20% less. And I did not even get a vote in this referendum. I feel let down by a country I love.” -Expat Doug

“My kids have been on the phone and I agree with them it’s time to look for opportunities abroad, which for them should not be too difficult. For my part, living in France with a sterling income, I will return to the UK.” — Humph

Thoughts from outside the UK

“In Switzerland we know this feeling well: a no of the populace. Lessons for the UK? Leave is not a doomsday and remain has not lost in full. A great democratic nation has decided, so everybody in Europe [can] get its act together and reshuffle.” — Eur-View 

“As an outsider, I never for once believed half of British people would be isolationists no matter what the polls were suggesting. I always thought reason and logic would prevail when Brits, known for their amazing sense of humour, entered the polling booths. Being an Indian and a big fan of many things British, this is such a let down.” — I am free Capt. Peacock

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