And now that Brexit camp has won, and the UK prepares to bid farewell to the EU, the parties and the gawkers have begun to gauge the fallout of ending the 43-year-long marriage.
Some are far-reaching: from travel and trade restrictions to immigration policy and even the risk of a domino effect toward a total disintegration of the EU. On the homefront, the British political landscape has been rocked, prompting Prime Minister David Cameron's resignation (hello, Boris?).
But as with every divorce — who gets custody of Mr. Bubbles? — there are unforeseen ramifications, some of them directly impacting people's everyday life in the most surprising ways. Here are five worth noting:
Sets of strict EU guidelines that will no longer apply in the UK include a wide range of basic environment-related rules, such as beach cleanliness. Bournemouth, Brighton, Newquay ... The Guardian points out that the sand of the country's beach is at risk of becoming a whole lot dirtier.
In Newquay — Photo: Kicior99/GFDL
No more Eric Cantona, Cristiano Ronaldo, Dennis Bergkamp or Thierry Henry? According to Sports Illustrated, there are around 200 European soccer players who, thanks to the EU's current freedom of movement policy, were able to freely join English Premier League clubs. Leaving the EU means that soccer stars will need to earn a visa and get a work permit to score goals for the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.
Cristiano Ronaldo playing for Manchester United in 2009 — Photo: Paolo Camera
Take it from now-outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron himself: "Protected status enjoyed across Europe by our unique products, such as Gloucestershire cider, Single Gloucester cheese and traditionally-farmed Gloucester old spot pork, will be lost," he told the Gloucester Citizen.
Cheese, Gromit — Photo: Jon Sullivan
Operating under World Trade Organization regulations instead of those of the EU could mean significantly higher tariffs for local UK producers and farmers. But even more troubling: Stricter import/export rules could mean British cheese lovers will face rising prices on French camembert, German gouda and Italian gorgonzola.
"We could end up in a situation where British citizens have far less protections than their EU counterparts from their own government's intrusions on one hand and on the other, subject to more cyber-crime," cyber-security expert Richard Patterson told International Business Times UK. By pressing "Escape," the UK is stepping out of the EU's comfortable Cybersecurity Strategy for the European Union and Digital Single Market Strategy, potentially making Britain more vulnerable to cyberattacks.
Photo: Ervins Strauhmanis.
The BBC points out that leaving the EU will also allow the UK to bypass burdensome clinical trials regulations, sometimes viewed as counter-productive to the production of new drugs. Still, the world's biggest players in the world of "Big Pharma" had come out in favor of "Bremain," saying that functioning outside of EU regulations would deter manufacturers from selling new drugs in the UK.