Time to sum up what has happened in the last 24 hours.
The Leave campaign proved victorious with a difference of less than 4% across the whole of the UK. However both Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain. Scotland’s First Minister has stated categorically that this result means that a second referendum regarding Scotland becoming independent from the UK is highly likely to give voters the opportunity to prevent Scotland being dragged out of the EU against their will. A similar discussion may now also occur in Northern Ireland regarding a potential reunification with the Republic, who are members of the EU. In Wales the majority of the public voted to leave but that has caused a mad scramble from the First Minister to try and secure formal assurances that a financial black hole will not emerge when EU funding is withdrawn, specifically in the deprived areas which need the support the most.
The closeness of the result also highlights the huge divide that now exists across the population, with many commentators describing the vote as a rebellion against the establishment. A split has also developed between younger voters, who generally backed remain, and the older generation, who voted to leave despite not having to see the aftershocks in a few decades time. If this split could become nasty, it is nothing to the potentially explosive reaction to immigrants. Whilst politicians are saying the right things that no EU nationals will be booted out of the country, the bitter immigration debates during the campaign have stirred up passionate emotions. A vote to leave and taking control of our borders has therefore made some people from outside the UK feel unwelcome in our country and fearing violent repercussions.
This UK referendum has also triggered debates in other EU nations regarding their membership, destabilising the continent at a time of serious threats of terrorism, with countries such as Holland possibly next in line to withdraw.
The impact on the UK was instantaneous with the value of the British pound dropping like a stone in the markets, with the FTSE 100 and 250 also falling. Shares in Barclays and RBS banks took a significant tumble as the decision reverberated across the world. The markets had been confident of a remain victory and this reaction addressed the balance from that miscalculation. Scenes of celebration from Leave supporters seem grossly inappropriate in this context.
This referendum was promised by David Cameron in the Conservative manifesto to appeal to UKIP voters and appease Euro-skeptics in his own party. However this gamble has cost him the position he coveted the most, Prime Minister. Realistically his position was untenable given his support for the Remain campaign and it is only logical that supporters of Brexit take the lead in negotiating the divorce settlement. Leave campaigners Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are early front runners to take over as Prime Minister but their appointment may trigger another General Election to see if they would have the support of the nation and that could be another tricky vote to predict.
The Government’s opposition, the Labour Party, are also questioning the suitability of their leader Jeremy Corbyn with a motion of no confidence being tabled. Corbyn was largely absent from the campaign and unwilling to share a platform with David Cameron because, although both backing the Remain campaign, their reasonings for this position were different. Labour’s failure to get the party’s Remain message out to their traditional strongholds is where a sizeable proportion of blame is being directed and as Leader he is ultimately accountable. As a result both the Government and the opposition could be in need of new Leadership in the next few months.
The aftermath of a Leave victory in the early hours of this morning will be felt for months and decades to come, not least as it will take two years for the departure process to be completed. However the impact is being felt right now and I fear we have only seen the start of a Britain now divided and close to tearing itself apart on the streets and in it’s political parties, resulting in a Kingdom no longer United.