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Brexit: Dregs of Victory?

Fri 24 Jun 2016 In: Comment View at Wayback View at NDHA

I should confess that I prepared two alternative articles on this subject, given that the result was likely to be close. If you're reading this one, it is because the Brexit side has narrowly won the British European Union membership referendum against its Remain opponents. What went wrong? Part of the problem may have been the British Labour Party. While Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was supposed to be backing Remain, he did so without motivation or enthusiasm, and that may have led to sluggishness within the Labour Remain vote. As for the Conservatives, there must now be questions about David Cameron's leadership, and given the narrow Remain loss, a Tory leadership contest may be imminent. However, the result's closeness has polarised the party, with a majority of members backing Cameron against the insurgency from his Eurosceptic rival, Boris Johnson. Whether Corbyn can survive either, given his failure to mobilise Labour's youthful contingent of activists, is a moot point. The financial markets have not responded well to the possibility of a Leave victory and the pound's value has plummeted as the referendum outcome has seesawed through the counting period. It seems that Scotland and Northern Ireland voted heavily for Remain, as did London, but Wales and much of England voted for Leave. Whether this might also trigger the dissolution of the United Kingdom is another possibility. Given the destruction that the Thatcher era wrought in the eighties, Brussels is viewed as a safer bet than London, which may explain the popularity of Remain north of Hadrian's wall. It raises the possibility that if there is another Scottish independence referendum, this time the Scottish Nationalist Party may end up securing its long-awaited dream of secession from the United Kingdom and Scottish national and economic sovereignty. Northern Ireland's Remain vote is a surprise, although European venture capital and financial assistance may have swung the vote there as well. The other menacing aspect of the outcome is the United Kingdom Independence Party, full of right-wing extremists and pathological fundamentalist Christian homophobes. It wants a referendum against marriage equality. There is also the question of whether the proposed British Bill of Rights that will replace access to the European Court of Human Rights will be satisfactory when it comes to LGBT rights and needs. Fortunately, the United Kingdom already has marriage equality and trans-inclusive antidiscrimination laws, but comprehensive antibullying laws may become a problem. And for that matter, how secure is this victory? What happens if there is a Liberal Democrat electoral resurgence, as there was during the council and local authority elections earlier this year? What happens if Labour dumps Corbyn and replaces him with more desirable leader, Boris Johnson proves incapable of successfully leading the Tories and dissatisfied Europhiles take their revenge on the Conservatives at the next British general election in 2020? As I noted in my companion piece to this article, which was written in the event of a Remain victory, this isn't over. Particularly if, as has been predicted by the Remain camp, the Brexit victory leads to trade and financial industry disruption, given that the European Union is Britain's largest trading partner. Already, it seems to have led to a sharp decline in the value of the pound on currency markets. Recommended: "Leave campaign ahead in UK referendum vote" BBC News: 24.06.2016: com/news/uk-politics-eu- referendum-36612368 Craig Young - 24th June 2016    

Credit: Craig Young

First published: Friday, 24th June 2016 - 5:06pm

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