I can only hope it doesn’t go as badly from here as it looks like it will from I’m standing right now.
Up until the final moment, the mood in Westminster was very much that Remain were certain to win. You saw it in Farage’s resignation, in Boris’ body language. The polls had bounced back towards Remain; with the status quo lift, it would be enough. Even the most pro-Brexit pundits and politicians thought that was the case.
We know now for sure that it wasn’t. The country has voted to Leave. Now what?
Short term, get through the initial chaos. Business will be panicking. What happens to Cameron is a big question. I don’t see how he can stay in Number 10 for long – it’s not just that he failed with this referendum itself, but his whole project has now failed entirely. His premiership is in ruins.
Nigel Farage is the most successful politician of our age, without question. He has changed the course of British history – if exit contagion spreads to other parts of the EU (as it may well) he will have changed the course of world history. If that isn’t a sobering thought, I don’t know what counts as one.
The right of the Conservative Party and UKIP have won. Liam Fox has said that UKIP should disband now, but he is living in an alternative political reality if he genuinely thinks that’s on the cards.
This is a huge defeat for the Left and for progressive politics in Britain. For many reasons, but mostly because when you look at next steps for the country, there are no left-wing ones immediately available – and even if there were, the government is about to get much more right-wing, not less.
I don’t see how we don’t end up slashing corporation tax to soothe business worries, which means slashing public spending. I hope I’m wrong about this, but that’s the road we seem to be heading down. Even if it doesn’t become strictly necessary to do this from a fiscal policy perspective, a hard right government will be presented with the all time perfect scenario for slashing the size of the state – why wouldn’t it do so?
Scotland voted 62-38 to Remain. It is impossible to see how the Union survives this. And frankly, I’m not really sure that it should. EU membership is a massive thing – it is a country’s very destiny in question. Why the Scots should be forced out of the EU by the English and Welsh is beyond me to possibly try and defend.
Then there is the Northern Ireland angle to consider. The possibilities here are too horrible to contemplate, so I will avoid doing so for the time being.
But now we come to the worst of it. Yesterday’s vote was a rejection of the political establishment. Yet our only hope of getting out of this mess in any way is entirely dependent on the wisdom of that very same political establishment. The tension present there could become unbearable very quickly.
This is a very dark day in British and indeed world politics. My only hope is that the worst things I’m imagining don’t come to fruition. But it is a forlorn hope.