25 Jun 2016

Where is the power right now?

While Brussels and Berlin teemed with reaction, Edinburgh too… London seemed strangely silent.

The man dubbed by one former Cabinet Prime Minister “our zombie Prime Minister” had the humiliation of an official visit to go through. One heckler at the Armed Forces Day commemoration in Cleethorpes (70 per cent support for Leave up round this part of Lincolnshire) shouted “traitor” and it’s a safe bet he wasn’t making a pro-Remain complaint.


David Cameron could have three months of these rituals left. He is in danger of becoming what Bagehot called a “dignified” part of the constitution, a figure head without power.

Where is the power right now?

It appears to have migrated to a building on the south side of the River Thames on Albert Embankment, to the offices of Vote Leave (or more accurately to the people who worked there and who are now chatting on phones or in each other’s homes).

They haven’t won the Tory leadership election, but they expect one of their gang to do so and they think they have the right to shape the new relationship. They say they’ve done their homework with informal approaches to EU member country embassies and Brussels (though one prominent Vote Leave figure told me he thought that was a mighty exaggeration and they were all “trying to write the manifesto after winning the election.”

Vote Leave is hoping that a chief negotiator and some of the lead members of the cross-party team can be announced soon and believes it’s found someone who will be acceptable to all parts of the Tory Party. Some say that could be Michael Gove but a senior official at No. 10 says emphatically that’s not true and would leave other ministers like Theresa May or Philip Hammond furious if it happened. Vote Leave wants informal discussions to start very soon and before Article 50 is invoked later this year or early in 2017.

EU sources say that is unthinkable. David Lidington, the Europe Minister, was told by his counterparts in Brussels yesterday that the timetable announced by David Cameron, invoking Article 50 in October, was too slow. EU countries are also saying that there will be no informal talks before the real thing starts.

This morning I looked in on Jeremy Corbyn’s speech in London to a room of very fervent supporters. He mocked talk of standing down and said Labour would have a re-think on its immigration policy post the referendum. But when I asked him if the Brexit vote meant a deal with Europe that involved freedom of movement of peoples was out of the question he said it wasn’t.

I also asked why he’d said on Friday that Article 50 initiating the time limited 2 years of exit talks with the EU should be started immediately. That statement irritated quite a few Labour MPs who thought it an insane act against Britain’s interests as the moment the Act is triggered the other 27 EU members have the whip hand of the stop clock.

From his answer I got the impression that Jeremy Corbyn had not really studied this too closely when he spoke but maybe, like a lot of people on Friday, he’d just been tired.

The Lib Dems have announced their policy is now to re-join the EU.


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14 reader comments

  1. Mike Edwards says:

    Like to disagree (re I think it’s a safe bet he wasn’t making a pro-Remain protest), unless you interviewed him or he was wearing some relevant slogan. For purely Party-based reasons Cameron gambled with Britain’s future and lost – assuming he genuinely wanted to keep us in. As Prime Minister he should have been above such things. I voted Remain and wouldn’t disagree that “traitor” if a bit extreme is in the right ballpark.

  2. Richard says:

    The article says , the European countries are saying this or that. They are not. It is the politicians of Europe who are saying this and that. As usual they think by opening their mouths they are representing the opinion of all the populace. They are not. They are only expressing their own opinion but want you to believe that whatever they say is indicative of what everyone is thinking. It is not.

  3. Clair says:

    Where is the in-depth coverage of eremy Corbyn’s speech in London today?

  4. Richard French says:

    The JFG Group have led the british public to vote LEAVE, through a serious of lies, lies and more lies –
    The SOLE REASON for Turkey J, Fancy Pants Farage and OVNI Grove was/is PERSONAL POWER –
    They are all MEGOLOMANIACS , but clever enough to know they could enviegle the Middle Class
    Into believing their CONSTANT LIES, thereby voting to leave –
    SHAME, SHAME, SHAME on all of you – you should have the guts to own up and publicly
    apologise to the British people – and particularly to the Scots and the Northern Irish –
    They have wilfully started the destruction of the UNITED KINGDOM -all for personal power –
    Apologise publicly and GET OUT messrs Johnson, Farage and Gove –

    1. Aidrean O'Cearra says:

      You’re absolutely right of course Richard. Here in Northern Ireland there are a lot of worried people who see all to clearly that the English have just torn down the scaffolding of the peace process, which as always here is very finely balanced. It just goes to prove what Nationalists have said for years – the English have absolutely no interest in Northern Ireland and couldn’t care less whether we’re a part of the UK, Ireland, or Outer Mongolia.

      Not only have the English shown that they don’t want to be part of the EU, they don’t really want to be part of the UK either.

  5. calciu says:

    A new referendum is absolutely necessary !!!

    ‘Corbyn office ‘sabotaged’ EU Remain campaign – sources’

    Russia is involved in the dismantling of UK, brits have been manipulated into thinking it will be better out of EU !!!

    Corbyn Farage and Boris are traitors !!!

  6. B Ercole says:

    I’d give the PM full credit for shaking up the ossified EU structures (bravo !) if he undertakes not to dismiss lightly the 3 million e-petitioners and has the courage of his declared conviction to support cross-party the call to veto the outcome of the referendum (not binding)
    I am German.

  7. Tricia says:

    I find it unbelievable as we face the biggest constitutional crisis in generations today,that the architects of the crisis , Johnson and Gove, are nowhere to be seen. Clearly they are now in hiding, their game with Cameron having backfired. They never really wanted nor expected to win the vote and have no plans to offer the people. Why has an emergency session of parliament not been called? Nicola Sturgeon did just that in Scotland and is clearly making plans to lead and protect as best she can her country from the fallout they didn’t vote for.

  8. Tricia says:

    Tories should not campaign against Boris for Prime Minister. He created this mess he should not now be given a get out of jail free card and allowed to sit on back benches. Make him clear up the mess.

  9. Bruce says:

    Agree with Richard French’s comment. Here is my view of future:

    Not so long ago the Greeks voted against austerity – and by implication a Eurozone exit. When faced with the alternative; oblivion, the government had to capitulate. Same will happen with Brexit.

    Problem is, damage is already done. Dublin, Paris, Frankfurt (& Edinburgh?) will happily begin denuding the City before we even get a leadership change. Inward investment will halt and the collapsing pound will see our deficit skyrocket -> recession, unemployment, unrest -> more chaos. Repeat.

    The only way this catastrophe can now be avoided is for Boris/Gove to admit Brexit promises unattainable, ‘mislead’ electorate. A general election must follow with annulled referendum result or new plebiscite. Beneficiaries will be UKIP/far right.

    And all this is now the best case scenario, God help us all.

  10. Alan says:

    I would imagine the power is exactly where it has always been. Mr Cameron is a public figure head, a representative of his party, no more, no less. One would imagine from all the hysteria that individuals dictate policy, isn’t that a dictatorship?

  11. Bruce says:

    Lib Dems no longer relevant
    Coup d’Etat in Labour
    Coup d’Etat in Tories & general election likely when Brexit cabal unable to deliver on promises
    With 17M mandate, most likely next government is looking like a Tory/UKIP coalition – God help us

  12. Evelyn Graham says:

    I think it’s high time to put the blame where it squarely belongs for this mess we find ourselves in at the moment. I voted remain, but I don’t especially blame the people who voted to leave. I understand why they did it. For far too long the msm, especially the likes of the Daily Express, The Sun and the Telegraph etc have been whipping up a frenzy of immigration/refugee scare stories the likes of which Stephen King would have proud to put his name to. They certainly created the same amount of panic in the populace that one of his horror novels would be expected to deliver had it somehow come to life and an axe-murdering circus vampire clown was expected to arrive in the UK any day and take away our jobs, our houses, our tax money in the form of benefits and or blow us to bits with self-made bombs strapped around their waists.
    Instead of putting the blame where it really belongs, on the previous governments for not building enough houses, for selling off our assets, for hefty bonus cheques for the fat cats in various corporations thus creating slave wages and zero hour contracts for the rest of us, they sought the time tried and tested tactic of divide and conquer and it worked. Sadly, it worked too well. Some people clearly still believe what they read. If one lesson can come out of this sorry mess, please let it be that the people open their eyes and actually start thinking for themselves. It may also help to remember that nearly all major newspapers in this country are backers of the Tory Party and having an agenda to sell is much more important than the truth.

  13. Abbey Lane says:

    Love the way the Army Band march by playing a rousing rendition of Britons Never Never will be slaves !

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