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It is no understatement to categorise the UK’s decision to leave the European Union as one of the biggest geopolitical events in modern European history. On 23 June 2016, a slight majority of 52% of the UK’s voting citizens decided to opt for isolationism and protectionism over globalisation and the free movement of goods, services and people. The European project has never suffered a setback like this, and questions over the very future of the project must be asked in the wake of this reality in which one of the EU’s major powers has decided to opt out. Although history is currently being rewritten with the benefit of hindsight, portraying Brexit as an inescapable inevitability since the UK first entered the EEC in 1973, it is important to remember how much of a shock the result was at the time. While it is too soon to expect detailed studies on the full consequences of Brexit, the situation can be analysed using the data we already have: the economic and legal framework that exists between the UK and the EU. Through this lens, we can look at the possible future relationship between the two actors and perhaps better understand how they grew apart. This Forum examines Brexit from a variety of angles, ranging from London’s status as the financial centre of Europe to intra-EU migration to the very future of the European project.

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DOI: 10.1007/s10272-016-0611-1