Published on 24 Jun 2016

‘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.

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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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4 reader comments

  1. Graham Allard says:

    Just a comment and theory on this whole process. This plan was hatched 30 years ago by the conservatives / Mrs Thatcher. She knew that by making cuts to apprenticeships. Getting shot of all the skilled and high paid jobs. Making cuts to children’s education so that they cannot read or write or do maths on leaving school. Making the masses a poorer. (All this make the rich richer)

    Would result in a larger population of people within the country. Less intelligent, less knowledgeable. Unable to make objective analysis and decisions. From this they could unleash the forces of nationalism which in turn releases racism.

    With these forces released they could then easily manipulate these masses to vote on leaving the EU. Something that many of the elite have wanted for a long time.

    They have now achieved this. However, they may of forgotten to allow for the unintended consequences. Break up of the U.K plus much much more. This iin my opinion is a sad day. Graham

  2. Bruce says:

    The optimum outcome from here, now that the voters have called Cameron’s bluff is something along the following lines. tl;dr: Leave admit ‘exaggerations’, more fall on swords, new UnBrexit referendum:

    1) Cameron sets a timetable for his departure far sooner than October, forces a leadership contest to start immediately. Boris/whoever forced to confront reality of leading country in near future.

    2) EU goes into fudge solution mode overdrive to save itself and privately acknowledges saving a Brexit with some concessions is in self interest

    3) EU plays hardball publicly (incl. messaging that Scotland can Remain) & privately indicates willingness to gives way on key movement of people issue if UnBrexit achieved.

    4) Boris/whoever realises leading country through Brexit Max would be akin to Chamberlain remaining in power to lead country in war. *If* they are a statesman & not just a politician, penny drops that sword must be drawn..

    5) Leave leadership admit ‘exaggerations’ re migration, £350m etc.

    6) Regrexit campaign gains momentum, cites *real* facts of Brexit including likely breakup of Union. Pollsters publish data on regrexiters showing they are numerous.

    7) Boris/whoever falls on sword, preferably together with other ringleaders. General election called.

    8) Cross-party support for UnBrexit referendum & concessions to SNP in lieu of 2nd Indy ref.

    9) Magnanimous EU publicly indicates they would respect positive result of UnBrexit referendum

    10) New gov. pulls referendum trigger again – this time the chamber is empty..

  3. david woolard says:

    Here’s a suggestion…. In the Scottish independence referendum Scotland would have been ejected if it left the UK. If England and wales leave the UK they will also be ejected from Europe (as they wish) but crucially leaving Scotland, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar’s status unchanged. Everyone happy…

  4. stuart says:

    I think it’s clear neither side in the referendum voted to for the mess we have therefore we can assume that the referendum did not work. For instance people who voted Leave did not intend to be associated with the politics of hatred and as such they also have been let down by a referendum that was not able to deliver a settled perspective on the future but instead divided an incredibly complex modern population into a pair of stereotypes. I would say that the whole problem, and it is a problem, should go The Lords, moderate the Will of the people as they moderate The Commons. What is missing from this situation is the understanding that we are not living now in a decision by a population we are dealing with the form of the referendum and that it has failed to clarify anything, which referendums are intended to do.

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