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This content is taken from the The University of Edinburgh's online course, Towards Brexit? The UK's EU Referendum. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 5 seconds The result of the EU referendum will have implications for the United Kingdom. On one level, it will completely redefine British politics. The UK’s EU membership has been an intrinsic part of the governance of the UK for many years. The EU and its legal system are, at present, thoroughly integrated into the UK, and the major political parties that exist have developed around this environment. Parties and leaders will have to adapt to the new reality in the period of uncertainty which will follow the referendum. This result also raises profound questions about the future of the United Kingdom as a state. Put simply, the different parts of the UK have voted different ways. Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU.

Skip to 0 minutes and 45 seconds England and Wales voted to leave the EU. In terms of the poll count, these geographic variations had no impact on the result. Politically, however, these differences could bring major constitutional change to the UK. In Scotland, the question will be raised of whether there will be another referendum on independence. This centres on the fact that, although Scotland voted to stay in the EU, it will be removed upon the UK’s exit. The reasoning runs that, if a second independence referendum were held, and it resulted in a vote to leave the UK, then Scotland would be able to keep itself in the EU as a member.

Skip to 1 minute and 20 seconds In Northern Ireland, the question has been raised, namely by the nationalist community, of whether to hold a referendum on unity with the Republic of Ireland. Such a referendum would be possible under the terms of the Belfast Agreement. Regardless of the likelihood of this, the result could still pose challenges for Northern Ireland. The peace process is in part connected to the European institutions, and it’s currently unclear what will become of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. In either the case of Scotland or Northern Ireland, there could be the potential to redefine what is the UK. The result also raises questions for devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Skip to 1 minute and 59 seconds From their inception, these settlements were developed within the frame of the UK within the EU. Consequently, devolution will likely need to be adapted, depending on what kind of relationship the UK has with the EU. By convention, such changes would mandate the support of the devolved institutions concerned, although the power to do so does rests with the UK Parliament. More broadly, the impact of the result on the governance of the UK will remain to be seen. The UK has been a member of the European Union for over 40 years. Countless EU laws are part of the UK legal system. It will be a question of what happens to these parts of UK law, in the medium-term and in the long-term.

Skip to 2 minutes and 38 seconds This will be influenced by the UK’s future EU relationship. Depending on the degree of the UK’s connection to the Single Market, for instance, it may keep many of those EU laws. Overall, it would appear that constitutional uncertainty is likely to be a feature of UK public life for some time.

Basics: Referendum aftermath

Anthony Salamone explores the impact of the EU referendum on the politics of the UK.

(Videographer: Kara Johnston)

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This video is from the free online course:

Towards Brexit? The UK's EU Referendum

The University of Edinburgh