Saturday, 25 June 2016

Grimly Counting the Dead

An Elite Disembodied

One of the most interesting aspects of the Brexit vote was the way the "working stiffs" deserted the Labour Party and voted to leave the EU.  This went against the collective wisdom of the vast majority of Labour politicians.  It turns out that the working classes in the Midlands had some grievances that their political masters were paternalistically ignoring.  Until the Brexit vote.

Here is the view of one Guardian columnist.

They listened to experts tell them that Brexit meant disaster … and their answer was: get stuffed

Matthew D'Ancona
The Guardian

Before analysis, let us admit to awe: the sheer scale of the moment requires it. The word “historic” is deployed too lazily in political discourse. But it is entirely appropriate this morning. This is a hugely significant day in British (and European) history.  When a party loses an election, its soon-to-be-ex-leader rallies the troops and promises a different result next time. But no such option is open to the crushed chieftains of remain today. There is no “next time”.

This was a unique opportunity to seal Britain’s relationship with the European Union, or to end it. And the voters – at a high level of turnout – decided that it was time to go. They heard the warnings, listened to experts of every kind tell them that Brexit meant disaster, watched the prime minister as he urged them not to take a terrible risk. And their answer was: get stuffed.

The ramifications leave one giddy. Yes, this will have immense consequences for the Westminster drama: not only for David Cameron, who bet the farm and lost; but also for Jeremy Corbyn who conspicuously failed to deliver the Labour heartlands.

But the high political soap opera is belittled by the constitutional and economic implications. Britain must now extract itself from the world’s largest single market, draw up dozens of new trade deals, amend its legal system and its statute book root-and-branch, and build new systems of cooperation with EU countries in police work and justice. The work begins today.

We must get used to the word “tariff” all over again. We must also accept that Scotland will seek independence once more: and reasonably so, given the importance of the EU to modern Scottish identity. It will be a time of flux and instability, whoever is at the helm in No 10. This was never going to be the easy option, though it was often sold as such.

In 1962, Dean Acheson famously remarked that Britain “has lost an empire and has not yet found a role.” Yesterday’s vote finally answered the question implicit in that aphorism – in a moment of sudden clarity that will resonate for decades.

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