Saturday, 25 June 2016

UK votes for Brexit

There you have it - the UK has voted in favour of Brexit, after a four-month campaign.

Prime Minister David Cameron announced his intention to resign by early October, to allow a new leader to steer the party and the country through the Conservative Party conference and beyond, to the many months of negotiations to come.

The markets had expected the whole thing to be in the bag for Remain, but by midnight, as results began to come in, that certainty began to diminish. By early morning, panic had set in, and the Pound was down 7% against the Dollar.

Share prices opened sharply lower, as financial institutions took fright. It has been estimated that $2trn has evaporated as a result of the market turbulence of the past day or so. Rating agencies have swooped in, and downgraded their assessments of the UK's creditworthiness, following the vote for Brexit.

As Mr Cameron wrapped up his address outside No10, his voice notably cracked. It was a speech brimming with emotion. Just over 6 years after he walked gleefully into No10, at the helm of a coalition government, Mr Cameron is now facing up to the final days of his stint in office.

Turnout was a respectable 72% up and down the country; turnout of this magnitude hasn't been seen at a general election since the 1990s.

72% turnout equates to about 33m people voting. The Leave option received 17.4m votes, a 51.9% vote share, against Remain, which garnered 16.1m votes or 48.1% of votes.

To put this into perspective, the figures are record-breaking; before June 23rd, the highest number of votes for any one party in UK history had been the shock 14m who voted to keep John Major in No10, during the tumultuous election of 1992.

Fact checking time. Here's a quick run-down of some points:

1.) Claim: the UK has left the EU (FALSE)

The country voted for Brexit, but it's important to remember, the UK is still a member of the EU right at this moment, and will remain so, until the next Prime Minister invokes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, and the UK completes negotiations. The actual Brexit itself could take a minimum of 2 years.

2.) Claim: the referendum was legally binding (FALSE)

The referendum brought millions out to vote, but it's still not actually legally binding. The AV referendum in 2011 was legally binding, but this was because it concerned a massive overhaul of the UK's voting system. The people have had their say, but ultimate sovereignty remains with the UK Parliament that the people elect to represent them. What happens if Parliament votes to reject leaving the EU?

3.) Claim: £350m a year will now be available for the NHS (UNLIKELY)

Vote Leave repeatedly faced criticism for running with a punchline: £50m per day or £350m per week is sent to the EU, and if we leave, the government can keep the cash, and spend it on the NHS. Adjusting for rebates and EU spending on subsidies and so on, the figure is likely half that at best.

Nigel Farage himself has admitted the pledge is a "mistake", despite having claimed on Question Time that the money would be better spent "helping the communities of Britain".

4.) Claim: Brexit could result in the UK breaking apart (TRUE)

Scotland and Northern Ireland voted overwhelmingly in favour of staying, and Nicola Sturgeon has stated that a second independence referendum is "on the table". In the event of one, Scotland is highly likely to be granted its independence, overturning the outcome almost 2 years ago. Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister has called for a border poll, reflecting the fact that NI is the only part of the UK that shares a border with another EU member state.

The story is simple: Brexit isn't quite the sunlit upland people were told it was going to be, and significant numbers of voters are now starting to question whether the Leave campaign's pledges can be upheld. Then there's the question about whether the UK will come out of this whole ordeal intact.

Looking ahead, here are two intrigiuing theories to consider:

Our next PM might just proceed to invoke Article 50, and the Brexit goes ahead, resulting in the break-up of the UK. 300 years of union will go up in a puff of smoke, just like that. England and Wales plod on, and that's that.

The other theory is not immediately apparent, but worth bearing in mind. Our next PM might just reject the idea of Brexit altogether for the sake of keeping the UK intact. In doing so, they would be sacrificing themselves and the Conservatives, going against the wishes of the 52%.

Whether it's Boris Johnson, Theresa May or Francis Urqhart, Mr Cameron's successor will have a massive in-tray on day one.

No comments:

Post a Comment