Brexit, Stage Right
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because this could be déjà vù all over again.
By Tracy Moran
Keeping calm and carrying on? Not quite. Brexiters have won the day, with a vote split 51.9 percent for to 48.1 percent. The Prime Minister has resigned, the pound has plummeted and nationalists are championing change — even as they’re now counseling a slow break.
Gobsmacked: Prime Minister David Cameron, who promised the referendum to save his own political hide, has called the movers — he’ll be leaving 10 Downing Street. Former London Mayor Boris Johnson is champing at the bit for the job, but having championed Brexit to raise his profile could be a liability (he was greeted this morning by pro-EU hecklers). Chancellor George Osborne, traditionally next in line for the premiership, is promising to do what he can to make Brexit work. There will be a tussle.
Other faces to watch: Nigel Farage, the UKIP leader who became the face of the Leave movement, has scant chance of becoming PM — but you’ll be seeing a lot more of him. On the left, there’s Jeremy Corbyn, who has thus far been a rather uninspired party leader. Oh, and get used to Nicola Sturgeon, chief of the Scotland National Party, who will likely lead Scotland out of the U.K.
A conscious de-coupling? It will take time, at least: Whoever takes the helm has two years to find a constitutional route out of the EU once Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is triggered. The next leader must also begin negotiations for new trade deals – and there’s no reason for the EU to play nice – while trying to unite a country that’s clearly divided over European relations, trade and immigration. Foreigners living in Britain will be left wondering for months, if not years, whether they’re welcome to stay; expats living in Europe will be doing the same.
Déja vù all over again: You’ll recall that a European Union was meant, in part, to ward off the threat of another world war. (Read about one of the dreamers behind a federated Europe here.) But now the federation seems to be falling apart — just as populism takes off around the world.