New song - "I got the real lowdown Brexit Blues"
I went to bed early last Thursday thinking that when I got up it would be over. It was.
I took the precaution of asking Pete to check with the bookies on the odds for remain. Remain in the EU was favourite – about 6/4 on. Early on the pound went up in value to about 1.50 against the dollar. When the result became clearer it tanked and ended up about 1.30. How did the bookies get it so wrong again?
Pete explained. Lots of big money went on remain from the “elite”. Big bets in currency terms but small on numbers. Hence the odds and hence the win for leave.
Then the snowball began to roll. Little Dave Cameron (he used to be Big Dave) is toast. Jeremy Corbin is being crucified for a seeming lack of enthusiasm for remain and probably won't last the rest of the week.
How did this happen?
Firstly, and this will become increasingly important as we move forward, it was close. About a million votes swung it. With 33 million voting that qualifies as close where I come from. Secondly, and I was the first that I know of to point this out, it was those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder that voted quite largely for getting out. Or, as I so eloquently put it – the lunatics have taken over the asylum. The Dewsbury Chavs, the Monkey Hangers and the Yarmouth Oicks are now running the country.
Immigration, immigration, immigration. The leave campaign managed to successfully shift the blame for all the country's ills from the Tory government to immigrants. “It was the Sun wot done it!”. They convinced the less than literate masses that if we just get out of the EU things will not only be fine – they will actually be better. There was no evidence for this of course, but in true “Big Lie” fashion they just kept banging on about it and some of it stuck.
It was the old folks who voted in big numbers who won it for leave. The under 30's voted to stay in. It was the disadvantaged, the destitute, the angry and not too sure who to blame, the irrational, the ill-educated, the unemployed or under-employed, the ill-advised, the Little Englanders, the downtrodden, the oldies who wanted to return to the “good old days”, them that harken back to an England of full employment for the masses and “homes fit for heroes”, those that felt that the prosperity which is largely confined to southern England in general and London in particular had passed them by, and those simply looking for a convenient scapegoat.
The Tories should have not been so surprised. They have spent the last decade using the EU as a nice, comfortable whipping boy when things weren't going so well. They have just woken up to what it has cost them. Little Dave for starters. Credibility with the voters for afters. They have now learned, to their cost, that government by referendum is a dangerous beast.
The Tories only crumb of comfort is that the Labour Party is, if it is possible, in even worse shape. Jeremy Corbin is reaping the whirlwind. His support for remain was seen as lukewarm at best and the attack dogs are out to get him. They are likely to succeed. Whether in the short term they can get their act together, unite behind a new leader and force an election they might win is less than certain. We'll see.
Scotland and Northern Ireland are the flies in the ointment. Both these parts of the UK voted to stay in the EU. What to do? The Scottish Nationalists are in Brussels right now seeking ways to remain in the EU even if the rest of the UK leaves. You couldn't make it up! The Irish are likely to have some sort of border with the EU (in the shape of Eire) and this is an anathema to the Ulster Unionists. Great. No comfort there.
Economically, things have stabilised. The stock market has adjusted – lower but adjusted. The pound seems happy at its new level. Will this last? No-one knows.
Meanwhile our erstwhile partners in the EU are cursing their own stupidity for the drafting of Article 50 – that's the one that prescribes how a country can leave the EU. The ball is firmly in the UK’s court. The clock does not begin to tick on leaving until the UK gives formal notice that it is actually leaving. What, I hear you say? The result of the referendum was leave, so leave you must! Well, not exactly!
Many English people – perhaps even most – do not really understand how they are governed. In the USA sovereignty resides with the people. In the UK it lies with the Queen in Parliament. In theory, there is no limit to the powers of Parliament, provided they can get the sovereign to agree. So, despite the fact that the people voted for Brexit, Parliament could take a different view. All political parties and all politicians have been queuing up to swear blind that the referendum must be respected. But, there is probably a majority in Parliament that might vote for a second referendum – especially if the predictions of the “Inners” begin to come true.
This may be already happening as EU leaders maintain that the UK can not get “easy” terms for Brexit – they are scared stiff that their own electorate might want to do the same. The UK is going to have to pay for the privilege of leaving – the only question is – how much?
Down the line we have Donald Trump giving his support to the leavers. We have the EU Parliament saying, “Go, and go now!” We have a leadership election in the Conservative Party. We have the official opposition in free-fall with Jeremy Corbin just holding on by his fingertips.
Where do we go from here? As predicted no-one really knows. That, strangely, is what people voted for. All the big wigs told them not to vote for uncertainty, but they did it anyway. Whatever happens it sure will be interesting!