So that went well.
From “Great Britain” to “Great, Britain” overnight: we lost all our friends, the pound went retro by 30 years, and 8% of the stock market ran away with the spoon. Meanwhile, as Jean-Claude Juncker rehearsed his Most Seriously Unimpressed Statement, various fireworks crackled in UK government:
David Cameron resigned, of course, but not before ruining Johnson’s life by refusing to invoke Article 50.
Johnson celebrated his #Brexit success by trying desperately not to look either moribund or porcine, instead managing utterly miserable, probably due to the gigantic, torpedo-shaped Article 50 directed at his arse. Anyone with any sense would have run in zigzags at this point but if he wants to be PM, that’s not an option. He can either put on his best cheesy grin, bend over, and become The Brexit Prime Minister Who ****ed The UK Economy, or he can turn around, open his mouth (wider, Boris, wider), and be The U-turn Prime Minister Who Refused To Swallow His Own Referendum Victory. Which end, Boris? He has until October to decide.
Corbyn took a hammering, with calls for a vote of no confidence and a cat fight with Hilary Benn, resulting in Benn’s sacking. Previously pilloried for being “lacklustre”, now he’s really split the party; half the shadow cabinet are expected to stand down in protest and the Labour Party hangs on the brink of existence. (Ed. Gotta say, I feel for him — he looks like a decent bloke.) Tony Blair is now appearing in the news again.
Farage extended his night of verbal diarrhoea by making crass comments about bullets, celebrating his success with champagne (enjoy it while it’s cheap), a champagne bottle-shaped cake (enough already), and tears of joy, after which he reneged, with the help of IDS and Daniel Hannan MEP, on the two key Leave Campaign promises (no, the NHS will not be receiving £350m per week from EU-exit savings, despite what he accidentally painted on the side of his campaign bus, and no, migration will not be restricted because we need to barter it for trade access) before finally being dumped by his co-Leave campaigners and excluded from the Brexit working party. Outraged, he threatened to take his rejection to the European Parliament, where no doubt he’ll be welcomed with open somethings.
Gove wanted to stand up and speak volumes, but slipped on his own sliminess. Somewhere deep down he knows that Johnson plans to use him as a lubricant.
Nicola Sturgeon, leading a country that voted to remain in the EU 62:38, alternates between leaving the UK and asking MSPs to refuse to give legislative consent to the UK leaving the EU, if legislative consent is required because, you know, London…
Oh, and there’s Clegg. Ah, no, it’s OK, there isn’t; it’s Farron now. (Farron, right?)
So far so predictable, but what happened to the public?
The Remain voters cried buckets, the financiers all grabbed their surfboards and EU member state passports, and the Leave Campaigners split into two groups: those who celebrated their win with huge, frothing gobfuls of Stella Artois, and a surprising number who shouted, ‘Oh shit, I didn’t realise it would actually happen, can we have a second chance, please?’
Over three and a half million people signed a petition to have a second referendum.
Everybody still sober enough to have actual thoughts has, by now, produced their own theories on what just happened. Mine is this: the EU Referendum result was a message about how our own government policies have failed to protect or impress the vulnerable, the marginalised, and the poor, over the last few years; a protest vote. These issues need desperately to be addressed, but I don’t believe that we are best served by pulling out of the EU; I believe it means we should look at our own internal policies first — to address poverty from within the UK, and address the EU from within the EU, and importantly, to make enough information clearly available so that the public can readily understand and define the two. That should have happened before any referendum.
Either way, the leaders who touted austerity are in ribbons, the ineffectual (yes, Clegg has been on Twitter saying, ‘I told you so’) will sink into obscurity, with or without the decimation of their parties, and a new leader, who will have no obligation to honour this ill-advised clusterfuck, can rise and do what they want anyway.
Meanwhile… limber up, Boris.
30 June 2016 update — zigzags it is: