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EU Referendum: Turmoil as Britain's vote to leave Europe greets a stunned UK drinks trade

Published:  24 June, 2016

In a result that has seen the pound and FTSE 100 plummeting and sent shock waves across the European continent, the UK has voted to leave the European Union.

The 23 June remain or leave referendum split the country's vote in two, with pollster predictions that the remain camp had a slender edge proving wrong, with 51.89% voting leave, against 48.11% remain.

The result has raised serious questions over the future of the UK, forcing Prime Minister David Cameron's resignation, with the potential loss of the UKs AAA financial rating and even the possibility of the break up of the United Kingdom itself.

Initial reactions from the UK drinks trade, which has overwhelmingly favoured remaining within the EU, have expressed dissatisfaction at the result, but with a pragmatic view to the future.

Tweeting that "members will be very disappointed with the result", WSTA chief executive Miles Beale released a measured statement focused on the future for the UK drinks trade.

"While our members felt that the wine and spirit industry was stronger in the EU, we will work to assist government in preserving our access to the Single Market, supporting British drinks exports and agreeing the best possible international free trade agreements."

"The WSTA will do everything it can to ensure that the UKs wine and spirit industry has a powerful voice with a view to promoting [...] its huge potential in an increasingly competitive international market place."

With predictions that it will take at least two years to negotiate the departure of the UK, and possibly far longer to settle new trade agreements with the EU, both importers and exporters of alcoholic drinks are now assessing a new reality that many thought could never arrive.

The initial impact, following weeks of currency fluctuation, will most keenly be felt by importers as sterling crashed to a three decade low, dipping below $1.35, in what many economists predict will be a prolonged slump.

Red Squirrel Wine's Nik Darlington responded to the news with a statement that captured the mood for many.

"This is a sombre day, the effects of which we can only begin to understand and it will be an uncertain few months and years to come as Britain amputates itself from the EU," said Darlington.

"This isn't the result that we or indeed many other people in our industry hoped for, but the job starts now to make it work for everyone"

Harpers will continue to bring updates and analysis on the Brexit result as it fully sinks in and both the UK and international trade assess the situation.