On Friday June 24, the morning after the British
electorate voted to leave the EU, we began to call people for
reaction to the news and its impact on London's banks. The
contacts were of a type: highly-educated, white, metropolitan
– mostly male; exactly the demographic that voted to
remain in the EU the previous day.
They had their patch to protect, of course: London's banks
have benefitted from the EU's single market more than most.
Their vociferous lobbying during the campaign made it plain
that they were set on remaining in Europe.
The first call was with an urbane director at a financial
markets industry body who spends his working hours in the ears
of regulators, arguing the case for his member firms'
He sounded tired. He said he didn't really have anything
quotable. "I'm part of the London elite," he said. "I
understand how people view me and my reaction to this news as
being one of transnational sour grapes. But I just feel very
sad – not about the effect on my job, or my industry.
I feel sad that I'm not really European anymore." He hung
My next call was with a senior partner at a law firm. "I
don't know what to say," she mumbled. "My 16-year-old daughter
has been screaming at me all morning. She says my generation
[that voted to leave] has ruined her chances; she now hates
everyone over 55."
And on and on it went: an in-house counsel who said he was
trying to be positive for his team, but was finding it hard
holding it together; a regulatory lawyer who was too
embarrassed to talk to his Spanish senior associate following
There's usually a time during seismic financial crises or
major downturns when someone raises an eyebrow and reminds us
that it's all good news for certain lawyers. Those billable
hours on the Lehman Brothers liquidation; those CDS contracts
to unwind; the raft of post-crisis regulation to first shape,
and then comply with. It's all business
And there will certainly be winners. But this crisis seems
to be different. While the legal lacunae that will emerge in
the UK from the likely invocation of article 50 and subsequent
divorce proceedings will keep counsel busy for anything between
five and ten years, many regulatory lawyers in London haven't
given this is a second thought. The UK and its citizens have
lost something tangible with this vote.
Hand-wringing aside, we have of course covered the legal
implications of Britain's vote inside this month's issue. Our
cover story is essential reading for analysis on equivalence,
passporting, tips for what financial institutions should do
next, the UK's place in the euroclearing ecosystem and much
The issue also features exclusive interviews with Esma's
chairman, Steven Maijoor and the EC's director of financial
markets, Ugo Bassi. Both reveal policy views on everything from
the Capital Markets Union, Mifid II to a harmonised EU
insolvency regime. They were, however, less forthcoming about
Brexit. Perhaps they're not too pleased about it either.