Today Nigel Farage has climbed down as UKIP leader after succeeding in his sole political goal. As divisive a character he is, he must take credit for his role in Britain’s succession from the EU. Farage’s arrival on the political scene catalysed the swing towards the eventual result of the 23 June referendum and he is now withdrawing from his public caricature that has served him so well.
So he has abandoned the very ship that he designed, constructed, steered, and captained. Along with Boris Johnson, the pair have left their dirty mess for a Bremain dominated parliament to mop up.
Today’s news is another symptom of the unintended consequences of Brexit. If you anachoristically presented the current post-referendum political and economic uncertainty to pre-referendum Brexit voters, would they still have voted in a similar way? For the most part, I contend, they would.
Short-term political jostling in the Conservative, Labour and the UKIP ranks would have been considered a price worth paying if it meant Britain would depart from the EU. Passionate antipathy towards the EU has been a potent force in British politics for some time. The current destabilising power vacuum at the top of the major parties, would not have deterred Brexit voters from their decision.
Cameron’s resignation was predictable given the inevitable damage to his credibility that a vote to leave would inflict. With Farage gone, and most likely absent from Brexit negotiations, (to the annoyance of many Brexit voters), and with Labour’s ousting of Jeremy Corbyn, British politics is in a period of tumult.
Combined with market uncertainty, the pound’s decrease in value (although it has begun a minor recovery), and firms flocking from Britain, a number of Leave voters must be questioning the unintended consequences of their decision.
Lawyers today have also come out to suggest that Article 50 can not be invoked unless a further general election is called, given that the mandate of the sovereign parliament must be renewed. The vague terminology of Article 50 frames the terms of departure from the EU in line with the outward nations’ constitutional conventions. And, since the UK has no codified constitution, this could embroil the public system into further debate as to the correct means to negotiate our exit.
I question the motives of Brexit voters given their readiness to sacrifice short-term stability for a mythical long-term prosperity, in which we ‘get our country back’. That statement, I must add, I am still coming to terms with in this post-mortem period.
However, what we must all do is respect the democratic outcome of the referendum. A majority has spoken. From my perspective, there are plenty of Brexit voters quietly wondering if the initial domestic political disturbances are a precursor for things to come.