Well, it happened!
Those of us who did not sit up through the night of 23rd June woke in the morning to a country that is new to most of us: an independent nation no longer huffing obediently at the heels of the ‘burgers’ of Brussels. The UK has voted to leave the European Union.
And the question that engages me is – what happens now?
I have no doubt that the creature emerging from its chrysalis is a shadow of the voracious caterpillar it once was, in those days before a grocer’s elitist son glued it to an over-tenanted portion of the northern hemisphere known as the Common Market, more than sixty years ago. Small, damp and rather blousy, it must spend time drying its wings before it can become what? A glorious and beautiful butterfly, or a trundling, zeppelin of a moth? Does the Britain that now looks so crippled soar brilliantly into the sun, or sacrifice itself to the naked flame?
What comes next will depend upon who leads. Prime Minister David Cameron’s rather pathetic attempt today to persuade his nation that he would fall on his sword was tempered by his intention to wait three months before doing it. He will, in his own words, ‘steady the ship’, thinly disguised rhetoric for ‘I will delay this as much as possible’. And those of us watching got the uncomfortable feeling he has not given up, though we may rest assured that, even if he succeeds in his tactic, the Tory Conference in October will have a finely honed blade ready. So who?
Boris Johnson seems the obvious candidate, Theresa May is also in the running, as is Michael Gove, despite his insistence he seeks no high office. Exciting enough, but there is an odd further possibility, which I will explore, if only because I like odd possibilities.
There is no doubt the referendum on Britain’s EU membership was the result of discontent within the Conservative Party. Nonetheless it would not have happened had not Nigel Farage’s UKIP party given it voice.
What occurred on June 23rd was a rare example of true democracy. For a large proportion of UK population government is an irrelevance, something to amuse the ‘educated’ which costs them money, but about which they can do nothing. They are unrepresented, principally because the British Labour Party is a grotesque, stuck in a quagmire of trade union megalomania and neo-communist dogma that was rejected by a thinking working class (there – I’ve used that damned word ‘class’) thirty years ago. The referendum gave everybody a simple, straightforward access to a political process: ‘yes’ or ‘no’. It brought The Unrepresented from their houses, many of them for the first time in thirty years. It gave them an influence otherwise lost to them, and it raised a political map of the United Kingdom which showed starkly how little Unity there really is.
In all of England only London really came out strongly in favour of the EU. The Superdome, the Bankers’ Bubble stood tall amidst a seething sea of doubt and dissent. Atom City against the real world.
It is futile to even imagine the Conservative Party, or any leader arising from it, will do more than quantify the risk that carpet of inconvenient intelligence outside the dome represents. And then dismiss it. But they’ve been wrong before! Suppose they decide to reinforce their post-EU mandate by calling a General Election, and suppose Farage’s UKIP steps into the breach the Labour Party have left unguarded? Could UKIP manage to draw those same Unrepresented from their houses – is it possible UKIP could form a government?
It is intriguing, and I admit very unlikely, but what a proposition a Nigel Farage-led government presents! A commodities trader turned Prime Minister is a very Trump-like prospect for a future independent UK, and I relish the thought because the pot needs stirring, and I can think of no better man than Farage to hold the spoon.
So there we are. Newly independent of Brussels, free of EU federalism. Brushing fantasy (and Farage) aside, I honestly don’t know what the future holds, but I am experiencing the optimism of youth once more, and I love it!