Sunday, 26 June 2016

Some thoughts after the EU Referendum

I've already posted 'Some thoughts on the eve of the EU Referendum' and my closing sentiments were: "Let's hope it's a good turnout and a decisive result to stay in. Surely it can't go the other way? Can it?". Obviously it could and, unfortunately did. The past couple of days have been fascinating and it's clear that, in the aftermath of the referendum, it is going to be impossible to reseal Pandora’s box. Dark forces and furies have been unleashed into the body politic and we shall be living with the consequences for years to come. I can't be the only person to think of this quote from Julius Caesar: 

Cry 'Havoc,' and let slip the dogs of war.
Well, dogs from every direction are certainly barking and, if it's possible to put the cause of it all to one side, political nerds like me are going to have the time of our lives. OK, it may be in the same category as cracking jokes at a funeral but, in these troubled times, let's take whatever crumbs of enjoyment we can.

What is going to keep us entertained? Here's just a few off the top of my head:

1.  The contest for the leadership of the Tory party? BJ or not BJ that is the question. A second rate politician with a first rate ambition. Or someone else? But who? Is there anyone in their ranks who can say, with authority, "this is where we are and this is where we need to go"? Who has the credibility to promote a strategy for the mess they have created for themselves?

2.  The contest for the leadership of the Labour party. JC has manifestly shown that he is not someone who leads from the front and that is what is going to be required in the days/weeks/months ahead as the Brexit strategy is debated. Who will replace him? Mmm, difficult but Hilary Benn has got to be a front-runner. And all at the time the Labour Party is discovering just how disaffected many of its traditional voters are.

3.  Whither Nigel Farrage? One certainty amongst the sea of uncertainty is that he is not going to go quietly. What malign influence will he have on the negotiations?

4. The status of Scotland and Northern Ireland. There are already rumblings to the north and west of us as the natives show their unrest. Will we see an independent Scotland and a united Ireland eventually? The Great British Public have single-handedly given new life to Irish Unification and reinvigorated the Scottish Independence movement.

5. Following on from the above point, what are the long term implications for the British constitution? Are we seeing the first moves towards a more federal arrangement? Is now the time to press for a written British constitution? Is now the time to start questioning the place of a constitutional monarchy? After all, the Brexiteers made much capital of wanting to take back control and returning to democracy. It's a logical step to add all this into the melting pot. 

6. The actual strategy of disentangling us from the myriads of threads that connects us with the EU. Our European partners have been watching the unfolding events in Britain with bewilderment. Why should they make it easy for our negotiators? We can't expect to be treated in the same way as before last Thursday's vote.

7. There's also our relationship with the world outside of the EU to consider as well. Some talk about resurrecting our links with the Commonwealth. How will they respond to our begging bowl?

8. It's clear that exit negotiations will take up a lot of parliamentary time: how will the governance of the country be handled throughout this process?

9. What platform will our exit negotiators be working from? The Brexiteers ensured that immigration became the central issue of a dispiriting campaign. Their gambit was calculated and born of desperation, because they knew that the economic case for Brexit was feeble and had been discredited by any number of independent bodies, from the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Bank of England to the International Monetary Fund. Now is the time for them to declare their strategy. But I'm not holding my breath for anything soon.

And there will be more as I've bound to left a few things out. Lots and lots to look out for and I'll sign off with another Shakespearean quote, this one from Edgar at the end of King Lear:

The weight of this sad time we must obey.
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
As far as I am concerned this photograph tells me all I need to know about Boris Johnson. Is he really PM material? Not in a million years.

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