When the public voted on June 23rd they were urged to “take back control”. Four days later, I’m not convinced anyone is in control. Whether that’s in the Labour Party, the Conservatives, the Leave camp, or the Government.
It was my dad who posed the question “why is it whenever the Tories go into meltdown the Labour Party follows them?”. He has a point, this should have been Labour’s chance to shine, a chance to show they are ready to take over the government, but instead of understanding what happened last week they’ve made it all about themselves.
Meanwhile, politicians of all sides seem to have gone into hibernation. George Osborne only resurfaced today to give a quick speech after three days of hiding. Nigel Farage, after his initial lap of glory, is presumably sleeping off the cigarettes and alcohol. Boris Johnson stepped outside briefly to play a game of cricket, spending the rest of the weekend on his £250,000 newspaper column. As for Michael Gove? I can’t pretend that I care where he is. The main point is no one seems to be in a rush to take back control.
After talking about last Thursday being “Independence Day”, no one is in any mood to actually start the process to leave the EU.
The fired up Boris Johnson we saw last week, now looks a bit like he can’t be arsed. There was an interesting theory circling on the internet that David Cameron has messed it all up for Johnson by delaying the process until a successor is elected in October, which is why he has suddenly clammed up, and disappeared into an underground bunker.
The fact that the PM won’t start the process in the coming weeks means it will be down to his successor to try and figure out what the hell we’re going to do. They will preside over the break up the European Union, will have to deal with the shocks in the economy, and will be the one to deal with the threat of Scotland and even Northern Ireland looking to leave us. Therefore rather than picking up the pieces, if Boris succeeded Cameron he would become very unpopular, very quickly.
There is also a lot of unpredictability with leaving this process until October. Will parties in an Autumn General Election stand on a ticket to keep Britain in Europe? Could David Cameron’s successor win the leadership ballot on the promise to keep Britain in the EU? Could they propose a second referendum? It is little surprise the Leave camp are sounding less confident the more they talk.
Labour’s Shadow Cabinet meltdown seems to have protected the Leave camp from any forensic questioning about their plans for Britain. The fact that they don’t have a plan, and assumed Number 10 would have one, is very telling. In fact that was the main charge levied at the leave campaigners during campaigning, that they couldn’t tell us how their plans for immigration, the economy, or law-making would work. I am assured to see tweets that work has now “started” on one, but as I said over the weekend, I cannot see it pleasing everyone. It may not even please anyone.
Boris has already started to backtrack, more focused on trying to winning the votes of 150,000 Tory members rather than pleasing the 16 million leave voters. In his newspaper column last night he told the country that Thursday’s result was “not entirely overwhelming”, reiterating change “will not come in any great rush”.
Some have told me I sound far too pessimistic in my blogs, but I would argue I’m simply a realist. None of this is rocket science – but with the political sideshows taking place this week it means no one who runs the country is in a position to say any of it.