Thursday saw a small rally in financial markets, as final polling on the Brexit referendum had many confident that Britain would choose to remain in the European Union. When the votes were counted, however, the British were squarely on the “leave” side of things, a fact which quickly stirred shock around the world.
Financial markets around the world plummeted on Friday, with the price of gold and silver rising on a flight to safety, as everything else, particularly global banks, took a beating over feats of what the Brexit will actually mean to the future of Europe. $2 trillion were lost over the course of the first day.
There’s a lot of uncertainty as to what comes next, with British Prime Minister David Cameron announcing his planned resignation, his presumptive successor Boris Johnson saying he sees no rush, but EU officials suggesting they want the break to be as quick as possible.
The withdrawal of Britain from the European Union is particularly important on two fronts, as it potentially dramatically changes the future of the rest of the EU, with several nations now expected to hold similar referenda. Similarly, the future of the United Kingdom is itself unclear, with Scotland and Northern Ireland potentially withdrawing from the UK to retain ties with the EU.
EU President Donald Tusk had warned ahead of the vote that a Brexit could mean “the end of Western civilization,” and while that seems to be ridiculously overstating the matter, it’s clear no one really knows the direction Europe is taking now, and that scares a lot of people.
Now, whether it’s the future of military ties across the continent, or something as simple as how it might change international banking, there are no clear answers, and a lot of speculation, which is likely to loom large over the foreseeable future.