Britain’s vote to leave the European Union last week shocked the global economy and roiled markets. No one truly knows what will happen next, but everyone is focused on how the change could have a profound impact on everything from currencies to retail to travel. A note from Credit Suisse calls the vote, “the most significant pullback to-date from the post WWII consensus of closer integration and open trade.”
But it’s still possible that even after all the hue and cry, the UK could stay in the EU. The same Credit Suisse note contains a chart that illustrates the (admittedly circuitous) potential paths to this ending.
The timeline on exactly when the UK has to officially leave the EU is unclear. After the vote, EU leaders have said they’d like the exit process to begin immediately. But German chancellor Angela Merkel has said there’s no hurry, and her comment suggests that she hopes, as many do, the choice could still be reversed. “Great Britain has not put into motion this proposal, and also the agreement isn't finished," she said over the weekend. “Great Britain continues to be a full member of the EU with all rights and responsibilities.”
As the chart demonstrates, the end result here may hinge on the next prime minister. After the resignation of prime minister David Cameron, the conservative party will choose a candidate (former London mayor Boris Johnson is thought to be a top choice) and it may be pretty straightforward, ending in the UK leaving the EU.
But the process may split the party, leading to a general election in which a pro-Remain candidate triumphs. Or a pro-Brexit candidate could triumph and still, in the EU negotiation process, the UK could end up remaining. Or, there is the possibility, at all times, of a “swing in public opinion due to uncertainty” that ends with the UK remaining.
In everything about to come after the Brexit vote, “uncertainty” is the only consensus.
Daniel Roberts is a writer at Yahoo Finance, covering sports business and technology. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.
Read more of Yahoo Finance’s Brexit coverage: