5 thoughts on one of the most momentous days in political history

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June 24, 2016 by Paul Goldsmith

David Cameron did the right thing…this morning – Three and a half years’ ago, with Labour in the ascendancy under Ed Miliband and the infamous 2012 ‘Omnishambles’ budget still looming large in peoples’ memory, David Cameron looked to his right and saw, he thought, UKIP standing ready to spirit a load of voters away from him the 2015 General Election, and about 100 Eurosceptic MPs thinking of joining them. So he stood up at Bloomberg in January 2013 and have a speech in which he promised an IN/OUT referendum by the end of 2017 that I he only believe he never thought he would have to actually hold. We all thought there would be a Coalition government in 2015, right up until that famous exit poll. So the EU Referendum would have been first on Cameron’s list to give away in the Coalition negotiations with, he assumed, the Lib Dems. But then he went a won the whole damned thing and had to stick to his promise. So here we are, out of the European Union. It could be his lasting legacy, and he no longer had the confidence of the country to govern, so resigning in the way he did was the right decision. 

Labour MPs should wait before defenestrating Corbyn – never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity, some Labour MPs, given the opportunity to shut up and stop moaning about their leader and just sit and watch the stories tear themselves apart, couldn’t wait, and have tabled a ‘no confidence’ motion in Jeremy Corbyn, to be debated apparently on Monday at the Parliamentary Labour Party meeting. It would be far better to see who the Conservatives elect and THEN make a move to install someone who could actually win an election against that person. Let’s face it, Jeremy Corbyn wanted us to Leave the EU anyway, he always has, and in a way the Parliamenary Party system put him in a tough situation where an authentic man had to try and be inauthentic, of which he was clearly incapable. He’s got the extra bonus of seeing off Cameron and now seeing the Conservative Party at war. If I were Labour MPs I would sit back and wait. 

We just witnessed one of the worst political campaigns in history – Seriously, the REMAIN campaign was awful. They were up against a highly disciplined, on-message, passionate force. So their plan consisted of trying to tell people with little hope in their lives anyway that voting leave would cause an economic meltdown, making everyone whose position and pay depends on Government patronage warn of disaster too, and presenting a ‘punishment budget’ that promised to raise taxes and cut spending in the teeth of a recession. David Cameron didn’t really believe in what he was saying, he just wanted to win, so there was very little about what is great about being in Europe, and in particular no attempt to explain to those who are losing out from the forces of globalisation why it is good for them. Yes, Remain were stuck with a Labour leader who was happy to lose this, but the whole idea of the Left’s strategy was to say to people that leaving the EU would mean that we might lose social protection, employment protection and  environmental protection. But what that meant they were doing was telling the electorate that the Remain camp thought they would vote for a party in a future election whose manifesto contained a repeal of the minimum wage, an end to maternity rights and a return to the London smog of 1952. It was insulting, and rightly failed. 

Scotland may be gone – it is difficult to argue that a country in which EVERY single counting region voted to stay in the EU should feel mightily aggrieved about being dragged out of it by England and Wales. Nicola Sturgeon had prepare for it by inserting a line in the SNP manifesto saying that the UK voting to leave whilst Scotland voted to remain would be a material change in circumstances that would trigger a second referendum. She will now put through legislation in the Scottish Parliament to enable that to happen when the SNP are ready. They will need to watch the polls and the oil price, and they will need considerable constitutional legal advice as there is no EU Treaty that allows them to for instance vote for  independence soon and this stay in the EU. It may be that the EU might fudge that anyway, but if not Scotland would need to apply for accession, accepting the Euro and the Schengen border less agreement, which would result in a properly policed border with England. This will not be a simple issue to solve. 

A lot of people don’t understand what can actually happen now – I really don’t think many people were prepared for Brexit. They certainly don’t seem to know the rules. For instance, Vote Leave leaders have been dogged all day by people asking when they will give their £350m a week to the NHS. Leaving aside that their battle bus clearly said “priorities, like the NHS), until we have invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty (the clause that deals with withdrawal), and either a new EU Treaty has been ratified by both the EU member states and the U.K. Parliament OR two years are up with no agreement and we have to leave anyway, we have to continue contributing to the EU budget. Journalists seem not to know this, even MPs either don’t know it or are feigning not to (Sarah Woolaston is saying she’s going to get the Health Select Committee to ask Vote Leave leader to commit to when the NHS is getting the money. They can’t.) How many of the public who voted leave know this? Like the Donald Trump voters who may get a surprise when told that Congress has blocked the ban on Muslims, many voters may not quite get that all the things they were promised simply cannot happen today or tomorrow. As for everything else, Parliament has considerable powers that many may not know, such as the power to ratify any treaties agreed. It will not be plain sailing. 

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