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‘Leap into the unknown’: Swiss press on Brexit

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‘Leap into the unknown’: Swiss press on Brexit
The EU flag won't be hanging from British buildings in future. Photo: AFP
09:05 CEST+02:00
The British people’s historic vote to leave the European Union is a recipe for uncertainty and turbulence on the financial markets, according to the Swiss papers on Friday.

The vote by 52 percent to 48 percent represents “a leap into the unknown”, Le Matin and the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) agreed.

For the NZZ the British people’s verdict came at a critical moment.

“The only certain thing at the moment is the uncertainty this decision prompts,” the paper said in a commentary.

“There is no textbook scenario to say what will happen following this step into the unknown.”

Le Matin described the unprecedented decision to quit the EU as a political “earthquake” as Britain breaks with the European project it has been part of since 1973.

 It said the narrow result also showed how divided the country was, with London, Scotland and Northern Ireland choosing to remain while the north of England and Wales voted to leave.

The Brexit decision also has consequences for Switzerland, as several papers pointed out.

“Switzerland has to get to the back of the queue now,” read the headline in tabloid Blick, in a reference to Bern’s negotiations with Brussels over the free movement of people accord.

“The British people’s yes to leaving the EU is the worst case scenario for Bern as well as for Brussels,” said Blick.

There is now no question of finding an agreement on implementing the mass immigration initiative by February 2017, it said, as negotiations with London over Brexit are expected to occupy all of Brussels’ attention for the next two years.

The Tages-Anzeiger agreed. “Brussels will be blocked for a long time and Switzerland’s political interests will have to wait,” it said.

At the same time the Swiss currency threatened to become a safe haven for risk-adverse investors, the Tages-Anzeiger said.

“The pound and the euro will weaken and that will have negative consequences for Swiss exports.”

On the positive side, it said the headquarters of some international businesses could be relocated to Switzerland from London because of the bilateral agreements Bern has with the EU.

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