Brexit - What happens now?By Jo Southall -
There has been only one topic of discussion on the news this morning and that’s Brexit. With a majority of 51.9% the UK has voted to leave the European Union. During this time of change I've done my best to explore what this means for you and me.
The impacts of the vote were immediately pretty dramatic. First thing this morning PM David Cameron resigned saying "I will do everything I can as Prime Minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months but I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination". The pro-Brexit politicians were a little more excited.
There was outrage following an interview with Nigel Farage on ITV's Good Morning Britain. Farage was one of the main campaigners from the 'Leave' camp and had promised that the £350 Million that was being sent to the EU would be given to the NHS. Just a few hours after the results, Farage said this promise was actually a 'mistake'.
Continuing with the topic of finance and spending, immediately following the results, the value of the Pound plunged to a 30 year low before picking up a little. The stock market is expected to fluctuate as countries around the world wake up to the UK's decision. The financial cost doesn't just affect the UK, with more than £1.5 trillion expected to be wiped off world stocks today as Brexit sends global stock markets down.
Global stocks are now poised for their worst daily loss ever. In the first four hours of trading after the result the FTSE 100 lost 4.4pc, that's around £73 billion wiped off of the value of Britain's biggest companies. Germany, France and Greece have also been hit hard.
Simply put the British Pound is worth much less than it was yesterday, we can literally buy less bang for our buck. As an example, if you convert Pounds to Euros you get a bit of a rough deal, if someone converts Euros to pounds they get a bargain.
As a result of this financial upheaval the UK economy is likely to change. HM Treasury Brexit analysis states that Leaving the EU could push our economy into a recession and lead to an increase in unemployment. Average real wages will probably be lower, inflation higher, and the Pound weaker.
Mortgage rates are expected to rise but with this comes a silver linining for first time buyers, house prices are expected to fall.
Will there be any direct affects on people with disabilities following Brexit? Well, there are some worries for the most vulnerable members of society. For example, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson has been quoted saying that "leaving the EU would prevent British people with disabilities from benefiting from upcoming legislation on accessibility".
What legislation is this? Well, The European Accessibility Act aims to make sure certain products and services across Europe are 'accessible'. These include things like cash points, smart phones and online shopping. The act also aims to make accessibility more unified and to reduce the additional costs faced by impaired people when trying to access disability services and specialist equipment.
Now that the UK is leaving, who knows if we'll benefit from this or not?
Previously, the UK has come up with a number of disability and equality guidelines all by itself, most notably the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act. However, the EU has had a more recent impact on the disability landscape. In 2008 it became unlawful to discriminate against employees due to their carer status or relationship with a disabled person. This is especially good for parents of disabled children.
There was further legislation between 2006 and 2011 to ensure that disabled people are entitled to assistance by trained staff when travelling by plane, train, bus or ship. Similar to a piece of legislation that had already come into practice in the UK in 2000.
There is one massive perk involving disability benefits thanks to the European Court of Justice. The Regulation on the Co-ordination of Social Security Systems 2004, a regulation which means that in certain circumstances, people from the UK can live in other EU countries and still receive some benefits such as Personal Independence Payment.
Brexit removes the UK's membership to the European Court of Justice, a court which ensures equality rights are not interpreted too narrowly. The UK will now not automatically benefit from future developments.
The Papworth Trust compiled a detailed report on the pros and cons of Brexit. They did raise a few interesting points, one being that often the UK's attitude and law on equality is actually more advanced than many EU countries, so perhaps not being part of the EU will mean new equality laws can be passed more quickly.
However, the downside to this is that UK law isn't always in the best interests of disabled people. Remember the bedroom tax debacle a few months ago? The government wanted to tax homes that were 'under occupied'. Well the EU Courts deemed it 'unlawful' after disabled people took the decision to the high courts. The legislation was deemed to discriminate against disabled people who needed the extra space for medical reasons.
There's no doubt that Brexit will change things. But exactly how and by how much will only become clear in time. It's important to remember that the process of leaving the EU can take as long as two years. So whilst tempers fray and emotions run high, it's a waiting game to see just how Brexit will change the UK, Europe, and the rest of the world.