When I try and think of what the lasting image of the EU referendum might be, I will hazard a prediction (very dangerous these days – I was convinced Andrea Leadsom was going to be prime minister of the country only yesterday morning) that it could well be the slapped arse faces of Boris Johnson and Michael Gove as they stood on the Vote Leave platform in light of their shared “victory”. They both silently scream “oh my God, what the hell have we just done?” as loudly as possible.
I recalled this yesterday as the latest “holy shit” political moment hit us: Andrea Leadsom dropped out of the race to be prime minister, meaning Theresa May will now be coronated, and tomorrow at that. Leadsom said it was because she felt that the country couldn’t handle a summer of instability, and some whispered in the background that it was because she couldn’t handle the heat, but perhaps there was another reason for the bow out: she is the latest in a long line of Brexiteers to flee the scene of the crime.
The theme cannot be denied: Johnson leaves the race, now Leadsom. Farage says he’s had enough – now Nuttall doesn’t even want the gig. Paul Nuttall was like something you would create in a lab to be the perfect leader of UKIP, and even he wants nothing to do with it now. Why don’t any Brexiteers want to face what a post-Brexit world has to offer?
They would all deny it strongly but I suspect that when the fantasy became reality they couldn’t handle it all. For those who had thought about it the longest, the markets diving, the pound sinking to record lows, all demonstrated the vision of a post-Brexit utopia had perhaps been flawed. Particularly when whomever leads the country next (now, by default, Theresa May) will have to either admit that immigration policy won’t change and face the wrath of the Leavers out there, or wreck the economy for several years at least, possibly creating a recession worse than the one seen in 2008. In every Brexiteer heart, whatever bluster is voiced in public, it is known that this is the unedifying equation.
The Brexiteers threw everything at getting the UK to leave the EU. Once they achieved this, they had to admit they had no idea of what was supposed to happen next. The kids have taken their toys home – for now – and the grownups have to try and clean up the mess as best they can. Thanks for that.
The one last question here is around Arron Banks. Does he have a cunning plan for a post-UKIP party, there to hoover up the disaffected? One perhaps led by Paul Nuttall, thus making sense of the latter’s decision not to stand for the UKIP leadership? I keep telling myself he isn’t that clever; that it will never happen. Then again, that’s what I thought about he country voting for Leave.