EU referendum: Berenberg economists predict Brexit could cause recession, a run on sterling, David Cameron's resignation and another Scottish IndyRef

Catherine Neilan
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Enjoy Big Ben before it's entirely submerged by the Thames (Source: Getty)

You wake up on the morning of 24 June, the day after the UK went to the polls for the EU referendum, tentatively draw the curtains and what do you find.

Big Ben submerged as the Thames breaches its barriers? Earthquakes and tornadoes ripping up the Home Counties? Horses eating each other?

A version of that is possible - at least according to Berenberg, which has issued a stark warning of what the UK will face the day after voting for a Brexit.

The short-term impact could be serious, the group's economists have warned, with a "sharp rise in uncertainty" likely to damage both business and household confidence.

But will it really be all fire and brimstone? Here are Berenberg's key predictions.

Recession "possible"

All that uncertainty means businesses stop investing and consumers stop spending. Growth slows, unemployment rises, monetary policy gets looser and fiscal deficits rise.

A run on sterling

Ruh roh. Brexit could lead to a crisis in sterling, Berenberg economists believe. The team admits it is a "low-probability event" but one that cannot be ruled out. "It would probably require the BoE to hike, despite weak demand, in order to support the pound, counter inflation and keep capital in the country."

"We are still alive"

Berenberg really does say this, presumably in case of people wondering about some other doomsday scenarios.

Phew. But still - weaker population growth, lower investment and limits on free trade would reduce the UK's potential growth rate. The size of the shock would depend on the new trade agreements with the EU and other countries.

Cameron bows out

As disasters go, this is probably relatively low-level (unless your surname is Cameron, of course). This would create turmoil in the Conservative Party, although Berenberg says Boris Johnson would be the likely beneficiary.

Scottish independence rears its head

And this time there's a "modest-to-high chance" it could leave the United Kingdom.

The UK goes all Norwegian

Not that we'll be eating more røkt laks or fiskesuppe, though that's entirely up to you, but that we would push for a Norwegian-style "preferential access" deal as we work out how to trade with the EU market. This would be the "least bad" option, says Berenberg, but there are no guarantees it will be an option.

"And, even if it were, the UK might have to accept serious concessions that are far worse than those which Mr Cameron’s new “in” terms avoid," the economists warn. "EEA membership would give the UK autonomy over its external trade policy towards non-European Union countries, which it does not have currently as an EU member. But the UK on its own may lack the clout to strike better deals with Asia and the US than the much bigger EU can."

The UK has "no trade agreements with any country in the world"

Berenberg warns that a trade deal must be struck within two years, or the UK "could be in deep trouble".

"The UK is a big economy, the fifth largest in the world. But the EU-27 is bigger–- more than five times larger than the UK in terms of GDP... The asymmetry in post-Brexit negotiations does not bode well for the UK’s negotiating position.

"Depending on the severity of economic conditions the UK might end up making harsh concessions to strike a deal quickly with the EU and with other trading partners. Otherwise the UK could face a scenario after two years in which it has no trade agreements with any country in the world."

This is, admittedly, unlikely. But afterThe Day After Tomorrow, the impact of Brexit could still be pretty harsh.

So, are we going to do it?

Berenberg puts its money on a 65 per cent vote to stay on 23 June - more emphatically in the remain camp than current polls.

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