The injection of neutral particle beams counter to the plasma current direction in the Mega-Ampere Spherical Tokamak (MAST) [A. Sykes, R. J. Akers, L. C. Appel and et al. , Nucl. Fusion, 41 , 1423 (2001)] leads to substantial losses of energetic beam ions and also rapid toroidal rotation. The electrodynamic consequences of energetic ion loss on tokamak plasmas are explored in light of results from the MAST counterinjection experiments and test particle calculations of the current density due to escaping ions. Previous authors have noted that there are two possible consequences of such a current: either a compensating bulk plasma return current is set up, or the plasma behaves as an insulator, with the energetic ion current balanced by a displacement current rather than a conduction current. Radial electric fields and hence toroidal flows occur in both cases, but higher fields are predicted in the insulating case. Such fields are important because they can confine both fast ions and bulk plasma via the suppression of turbulent transport. The return current scenario, which appears to be operative during counterinjection in MAST, is shown to be applicable if there is a sufficiently high level of momentum transport in the bulk ions; electrons cannot carry the return current, although they contribute to an ambipolar particle flux on the plasma confinement time scale. The insulating scenario may be applicable to high confinement regimes in burning tokamak plasmas.