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'Brexit' Aftermath: Resignations, Financial Fallout And A Petition To Redo

Jun 25, 2016
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RAY SUAREZ, HOST:

The fallout continues from the United Kingdom's vote to withdraw from the European Union. Earlier today, the U.K.'s European Commissioner Lord Hill announced his resignation, and a credit agency has slashed the U.K.'s credit rating.

NPR's Peter Kenyon is covering the story in London. And he talked about a new petition out that's calling for a revote. It already has more than 2 million signatures. I asked him whether it's had much of an impact.

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: Well, it's having an emotional impact. It's a signal of just how many people woke up here on Friday saying some version of, oh, my God, what have we done? But honestly, if the goal is to actually have another referendum right away, I just don't think you can get there from here.

Yeah, the details of it are kind of interesting actually. What it calls for is not just a revote. It says there's got to be some safeguards when we vote on these big deals, like a 60 percent supermajority, for instance, or some kind of turnout threshold. They suggest a pretty high one, 75 percent. Now, if you applied those rules to Thursday's vote, it would have failed.

SUAREZ: There was a lot of speculation in the final week of campaigning about how long it would take to see results from either of the two outcomes. But it seems like there's been very quick action on the financial front - some real backlash.

KENYON: And - exactly - and nothing is completely finalized but a credit rating has taken a hit - that's the U.K.'s. It was Moody's. They bumped it down from stable to negative. And their reasoning was they just calculate the losses from economic growth being slowed as being much greater than any benefits they get from not having to pay into the EU budget.

SUAREZ: When the vote was finally in, a lot of eyes turned toward the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon and what she would do coming so quickly after Scotland decided to stay in the United Kingdom and stay in the EU. What's going on on that front?

KENYON: Well, it is a big deal. That was a huge vote up there in 2014. Staying in the EU and getting those benefits was a big reason they rejected leaving the U.K. And now Nicola Sturgeon, first secretary of Scotland, says a second referendum is definitely on the table. When is another question - probably not right away.

SUAREZ: How seriously should we take the intense reactions - both positive and negative - to what happened Thursday?

KENYON: I think that's a really good point. We're still in the hangover phase. There's a lot of angry, miffed people. The EU is saying, oh, you want to leave? OK. Let's have the negotiations right now. It's like the guy who walks into his boss's office and gives two weeks' notice, and the boss says, what do you mean? Get out of here. It's kind of very emotional. They've got to cool down, think a little bit and then get around the table and try to hash something out.

SUAREZ: There seem to be a lot of different versions of how quickly this will happen. What's at stake? Is business taking a let's-see-where-things-settle attitude?

KENYON: Well, the government started it off. David Cameron in his resignation speech said, oh, and by the way, we're not going to notify the EU until the new leadership's in place sometime in October. And that's why the EU was so miffed today. They say, no, we want to do it right away. But it's not their call. The British government has to notify first. And that's what's holding everything up right now.

SUAREZ: Invoke Article 50 is that?

KENYON: Exactly - of the Lisbon Treaty. And then that triggers the two-year period, which actually could be extended. But this could be years before we see any real change.

SUAREZ: That's NPR's Peter Kenyon in London. Thanks, Peter.

KENYON: You're welcome, Ray. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.