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Europe: The Final Countdown

We Talked to Brits Exchanging Currency After Brexit

Are people panicking and exchanging all their pounds? Or just bummed out that they're a little short-changed for their weekend break to Paris?

The pound plummeting this morning after Brexit was announced

It came as literally no surprise whatsoever, but the markets did not take a liking to Brexit. The Leave campaign's victory this morning has left the pound in a state of turmoil, its value dropping more than ten percent (a low not seen since 1985) as investors ditch bonds. If you're from Australia or America, or anywhere with a typically weak currency compared to the GBP, and are planning a trip to the UK, things are looking up. But for the rest of us, it's hardly cause for celebration.


However, is it cause for manically exchanging all of your sterling for a more stable currency until the pound is back on its feet? I went to a Currency Exchange in King's Cross to find out.

Christina, 61

VICE: Where do you hail from?
Christina: I live in London, but I'm from the States originally.

You've just come out of the Currency Exchange—did you plan on exchanging your money today, or did Brexit make you do it?
I had plans to travel today anyway, but I'm obviously concerned by how much the pound has fallen. In terms of the immediate consequence, the drop is really going to affect my holiday. A lot of other things about Brexit are worrying me, too—I think voting Leave was the wrong decision.

What do you think is likely to happen on a social level in the UK, following the vote?
I fear society will become more fragmented. There's always the possibility of the opposite, and that this is an opportunity, because of course there are things wrong with European institutions. This could be an opportunity to campaign against that and austerity, but I think that's fairly unlikely—and that Britain will become poorer and angrier.

Francesca, 25

Where are you traveling to today?
Francesca: I'm off to Bruges, but I'm from London. I didn't think to exchange my money before the referendum, so I've only just got my Euros now, and it's massively affected me. I don't think I ever dreamed of a day I'd go into a Currency Exchange with £100 [$136] and come out with €100 [$111], but there you have it.


How did you vote in the referendum, if you don't mind my asking?

So how do you feel about the result?
Pretty angry, really. I think it's been rushed through, and I also think the campaigning on both sides wasn't done very well. There were a lot of people blaming each other; I don't think enough of us had proper insight into what was going on. And I think a lot of the people who voted to leave—as we've seen on TV today—will have gone back on their votes and said, "Oh, maybe it wasn't a good idea." There's just been a lack of education all around, and now we're literally going to be paying for it.

Oscar, 21

Are you changing any money over today?
Oscar: I am, and the amount I get will probably be affected by Brexit. Luckily it's in my favor today, considering the [Australian] dollar has always been weaker than the pound and needs all the help it can get.

Australians, rejoice! On a more serious note, how do you think this is going to affect the UK?
It's always better to be unified, in my opinion. Going against that will probably turn out to be a mistake. I don't know what sort of implications there will be for financial markets and on a social level, but I don't think it will be great for the UK.

Shannel, 20

You just hopped off the Eurostar—where are you from?
Shannel: I'm from Paris, which is where I've just come from. I planned on changing my money over once I got here, and now I wish I had thought about how the result would impact my money.


Do you think it's bad the UK has left the European Union?
No. I think it's good, personally, because London needs to go its own way. But really, at the end of the day, I don't live here, so I don't care. I really don't [laughs]! If I can still travel back and forth like I want, everything's OK.

What do you think will happen in Europe now that this massive change has happened?
Not much, in my opinion, because you don't have the Euro here, so everything will even out eventually.

Michael, 36

Have you made any currency exchanges today?
Michael: Yeah, I've just changed some dollars over.

How do you feel about the UK's decision to leave the EU? It was a pretty close call for a while there…
The odds worked in my favor today, but I think it's definitely disappointing for the UK. In terms of the long-term ramifications, we're screwed, I think. Exchanging my money today was fine, but who knows what's going to happen in the future—and that's worrying.

Sean, 28

How are you feeling about the referendum results today?
Sean: I voted to remain, so not too good. I'm changing my money over right now because I'm off to a stag do in Paris tonight.

Why did you wait until today to exchange your cash?
I just do things last minute—I should have changed it earlier, but there you have it. I feel ashamed of a lot of the people in this country voting in what I would class as the wrong way, and worried because we're already experiencing the fallout, and the results only came through a few hours ago.

Do you think the result is going to have a huge effect on the UK in the years to come?
I think we're going to go into a recession again, and that we'll lose jobs in the short term, at least. It might take ten, 15 years to recover from this. By then it may prove to have been a good decision—but I don't really want to have to go through all of that to find out. And now I'm going to, whether I like it or not.

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