Is the Brexit Vote Final? There's Another Step, But This Decision Is Hard To Take Back

Early Wednesday morning, the world watched as the United Kingdom decided whether or not to leave the European Union. With most precincts reporting, the results are in: The Brexit referendum is a go, and UK voters have chosen to leave the EU. For those alarmed by the decision, the question arises: Is the Brexit vote final?

Technically, the June 23 "Brexit" vote is not totally final. The referendum, in which U.K. voters decided if they wanted to "remain" in or "leave" the EU, is not the final step in the process of withdrawing from the 28-nation union. The next step is for Parliament to invoke Article 50, which begins the withdrawal process, and Prime Minister David Cameron said he'll do it speedily. But even if Parliament declined to invoke the article, French President Francois Hollande said just a "yes" vote on Brexit would have dire consequences.

"If the choice is to leave the EU ... that would be irreversible," Hollande said. "No is no, there is no middle ground and we'll have to draw all the consequences."

Market analysts from across the world warned ahead of the affirmative Brexit vote that the economic consequences for British withdrawal from the EU will be dire, and could result in recession for the island nation. Washington Post writer Lawrence H. Summers didn't mince words in his appraisal of the situation:

In the current context, Brexit would unsettle the global economy and possibly tip it into recession.

While the immediate impact of Brexit will take a few days to be revealed, but speculation about the larger impacts has been stirring for weeks. This landmark decision could affect everything from the way British bankers do business to making energy infrastructure in the U.K. more expensive. For Americans, Brexit is likely to affect our economy as well, making the value of the dollar go up and causing strained diplomatic relations with the rest of Europe, as the U.K. was one of the United States' foremost allies in the region.

Janet Yellen, the Chairwoman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, said in an address to Congress earlier this week that Brexit could "usher in a period of uncertainty" and make global markets unstable. Her sentiments echo the my own uncertainty of the Brexit vote, as spectators on both sides of the pond watch on and think "what now?"