‘Massive vacuum’ in British politics after EU referendum
There is now a massive political vacuum at the top of British politics where the government and longstanding strategic commitment to the EU used to be.
If you’d hoped the Vote Leave team would begin to fill that vacuum in their 11am addresses to a room of journalists, they didn’t really do that. The central message was meant to be one of reassurance and pace. There’s no rush to decide what should happen next in the UK, “no need for haste” was how Boris Johnson put it.
It was sombre, almost funereal in tone. One Vote Leave staffer said there was plenty of time for the UK to start exploratory work. The leadership contest would be a beauty pageant of different post-Brexit templates for the country. The winner would take it forward and then would invoke Article 50 commencing the two-year, time-limited negotiations with the EU but not until 2017.
I then bumped into one of Vote Leave’s ex-cabinet minister supporters who said much more haste was needed. He said there was no way the PM could hang around until October and likewise George Osborne and several others. “Osborne, Hammond, Cameron – it’s a zombie government. It can’t go on,” he said. He said he was in discussion with senior figures in the Vote Leave campaign about just that.
On the substance of what sort of post-Brexit relationship the UK has with the EU, one senior figure in Vote Leave said anything that required freedom of movement per se was out of the question but the only fundamental was that the British parliament and courts must decide immigration. “That doesn’t mean a cap, it could go down for a bit, it would have to go down for a bit, but the fundamental is consent, as long as there’s consent it can be anything.”
The same source was very dismissive of pro-Brexit MEP Dan Hannan’s remarks this morning about how “frankly, if people watching think that they have voted and there is now going to be zero immigration from the EU, they are going to be disappointed”.
But I can’t see that my source was telling me anything that would be any more acceptable to millions of voters who put an “X” next to “Leave” yesterday.
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