DAY 1 - FRIDAY, JUNE 24 - THE THREE R'S -
Polls close at 10 p.m. (2100 GMT).
No mainstream exit polls are planned
but overnight counts should give a result by around the time the
midsummer sun comes up over Brussels.
Aside from the result itself, there are already several big
imponderables. Cameron says he will notify the European
Union "immediately" if Britain is leaving. But he may take some
time. If he has lost he will be under huge pressure from his
divided Conservative party to resign. He might also be, even if
Money markets will be volatile. The Bank of England and European
Central Bank have contingency plans to deal with a "Brexit
shock" to sterling and the euro.
Leaders of the main parties in the European Parliament plan to
meet at 7 a.m. (0500 GMT) in Brussels followed by a broader
meeting of all party chiefs with the speaker at 8 a.m.
Some want British MEPs excluded very
swiftly if Britain votes to leave.
If it is Brexit, European Council President Donald Tusk,
who will chair an EU summit next week and will have spoken to
all the leaders in the days before the vote, may deliver a brief
statement in the name of the Council, the EU's governing body,
possibly soon after Cameron has confirmed the result.
However Britons vote, European Commission President
Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU chief executive, will host Tusk
and European Parliament President Martin Schulz at his
Berlaymont headquarters in Brussels at 10:30 a.m. (0830 GMT).
Also present will be Dutch Prime
Minister Mark Rutte, whose government holds the rotating
EU presidency, to take stock and deliver a message.
If Britain votes to leave, look for a mantra of Three Rs:
Regret - at losing nearly a
fifth of the EU economy and more of its military and
Respect - for the will of
the British people
Resolve - to forge ahead
with European integration
"The show must go on," one
senior EU official said.
There may be a fourth message.
Call it Reprisal, perhaps, though
Britons should not take it personally; warnings of woe for those
leaving will aim to discourage others from following suit.
"Don't try this at home," as a
senior EU diplomat put it.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as
well as other key EU leaders, are expected to make statements
once the result is in.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will meet
counterparts from the other five EU founders - France, Italy,
the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg - ahead of a routine
meeting of EU ministers in Luxembourg.
All 28 ministers will discuss the
result over lunch from 1 p.m. and speak afterwards.
If it is Brexit, Tusk may fly to key capitals, such as Rome,
Berlin and Paris, EU sources say, though it is not confirmed.
DAY 2 - SATURDAY, JUNE 25 - NO,
Foreign ministers from the six founders of the bloc,
... may meet again in Berlin on
Saturday after Friday's talks.
Some euro zone finance ministers have suggested their Eurogroup
might hold an emergency meeting but senior officials call that
unlikely; managing banking and market turbulence will be up to
the ECB and other regulators.
DAY 3 - SUNDAY, JUNE 26 - RALLYING
ROUND THE EU FLAG
Member states' ambassadors and leaders' "sherpa" advisers are
expected to meet in Brussels in the event of a Brexit vote.
DAY 4 - MONDAY, JUNE 27 - KEEP CALM
AND CARRY ON
Commission President Juncker will chair a meeting of the
executive's 28 commissioners.
A meeting could be brought forward
to Sunday, particular if there is turmoil after a Brexit vote.
EU officials insist there is no "Plan B" for Brexit. But,
recalling the same denials during last summer's near departure
of debt-laden Greece, one speaks of a "Room B", where a
fire-fighting team of EU lawyers and experts will be ready.
French President Francois Hollande says he will meet
Merkel in Berlin to discuss EU initiatives "next week". As
they will be in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday, he may go on
The start of a new week on global financial markets will see
investors and voters demanding answers on where Britain and the
EU are heading.
Expect both to offer assurances of
orderly talks, while nothing changes immediately, for firms or
DAY 5 - TUESDAY, JUNE 28 - "DAVID,
ARE YOU LEAVING NOW?"
A 24-hour EU summit is scheduled.
After any Brexit vote, his political
career may be over but Cameron would likely stay on until his
deeply divided party elects a successor. He
would be expected to appear for dinner in Brussels.
Would he notify summit chair
Tusk that he is triggering Article 50 of the EU treaty, the
legal basis for Britain to leave?
In London, pro-Brexit would-be
successors may try to play for time.
EU officials and diplomats say they would want Britain to launch
the process right away and rule out any new negotiations, though
for now they see no legal way to force London's hand.
The EU treaty does not allow for
expulsion but there would be fierce political pressure, urging
London to respect voters' wish to leave, and the other 27 could
start discussions without Britain.
If Cameron secures a referendum win, the summit will discuss
enacting the reform package he won from fellow leaders in March
to give Britain a special deal to stem EU immigration.
The Commission has seven legislative
proposals to enact the deal.
DAY 6 - WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29 - "PLEASE
WAIT OUTSIDE, DAVID"
Day Two of the summit and, if it is to be Brexit, leaders of the
27 other states will confer without Cameron in the room - a
pattern Britons will have to get used to.
Article 50 sets a two-year limit on
The EU must fill a Britain-sized
hole in its budget and reassure millions of EU citizens living
in Britain and Britons on the continent of their future rights.
EU leaders may push for a quick show of unity on more
integration. Divisions between Berlin and Paris on managing the
euro zone probably rule out a big move on that front before both
hold elections in 2017. Closer EU defense cooperation, without
skeptical Britain, may be revived.
A major EU security policy review is
already on the summit agenda.
Other initiatives, aimed at blunting Marine Le Pen's
far-right, euro-skeptic bid for the French presidency in 2017,
could include a push to create more jobs, especially for the
However, others, including Polish chairman Tusk, caution against
alienating voters by moving ahead too fast. Tusk argues British
voters have shown many in Europe are reluctant.
EU leaders should give the Commission a negotiating mandate.
Some in Britain see exit discussions
lasting longer than two years to include talks on new trade
terms. But an extension requires an EU unanimity that few in
Some suggest talks with Britain on its future trade terms can
run in parallel.
Juncker has said the EU's priority
would be a two-year divorce, then talks starting "with a blank
FROM DAY 7 - NOTHING (AND
EVERYTHING) CHANGES; HELLO ESTONIA
After a Brexit vote, all EU laws would apply in Britain until
two years after London starts the process to leave.
Then none would apply. Meanwhile,
British lawmakers sit in the EU parliament and thousands of
Britons would go on working as EU civil servants and British
ministers sit in EU councils. But they will have no real voice.
There would be pressure to exclude
MEPs and Britain's commissioner, Jonathan Hill, might leave
before being stripped by Juncker of his strategic portfolio
overseeing the EU financial sector; Britain would be expected to
renounce its EU presidency in the second half of 2017; Estonia
might come forward to start its first stint in the chair six
Other solutions include new member
Croatia being slotted in or Malta extending its presidency,
which starts in January.
There could be another summit in July if there is Brexit.
Whatever the referendum's outcome, a host of other EU plans,
shelved for fear of alienating British voters, will come out of
cold storage, including energy-saving rules to limit the power
of toasters and kettles.
Dealing with the fallout from a
Swiss referendum on EU migration and a Dutch rejection of the EU
trade deal with Ukraine will get back on track, as will a review
of the EU's seven-year budget, which covers a period out to
If Britain votes to stay in, some, notably in France, fear a new
British-led push to free up EU markets and rein in regulation.
Some British officials see a mandate
to do just that after a referendum win, though others doubt that
Cameron, if he survives at all, would have much appetite for
deeper EU engagement amid post-campaign Conservative
A post-Brexit relationship between Britain and the EU is the
Many EU leaders, wary of
euro-skeptic voters at home, are determined Britain cannot have
access to EU trade and financial markets if it wants to keep out
EU workers and refuse to contribute to the EU budget.
"Out means out," they say.
New trade barriers would hurt both
But the EU fears a political "domino
effect" would cost more long-term.