Updated 6/29 5:13 a.m. PDT: Boris Johnson, the Tory head of the Leave campaign, was expected to announce his bid for Prime Minister Thursday morning—that is until his closest ally decided to break away and announce his own run. Scottish actor Ewan McGregor was one of several Brits to weigh in on Johnson’s decision, while others tried to make sense of why his friend Michael Gove decided “stabbed Johnson in the front.”
@BorisJohnson You spineless c$&t You lead this ludicrous campaign to leave EU. Win, and now fuc& off to let someone else clear up your mess.
Updated 6/29 7:13 a.m. PDT: British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn sent a clear message to his opponents in both the Labour and Tory parties on Wednesday, saying, “Our country is divided and the country will thank neither the benches in front of me nor those behind for indulging in internal factional maneuvering at this time.”
Updated 6/28 9:01 a.m. PDT: Here is Jeremy Corbyn’s statement on losing Tuesday’s no-confidence vote, from The Guardian:
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In the aftermath of last week’s referendum, our country faces major challenges. Risks to the economy and living standards are growing. The public is divided.
The government is in disarray. Ministers have made it clear they have no exit plan, but are determined to make working people pay with a new round of cuts and tax rises.
Labour has the responsibility to give a lead where the government will not. We need to bring people together, hold the government to account, oppose austerity and set out a path to exit that will protect jobs and incomes.
To do that we need to stand together. Since I was elected leader of our party nine months ago, we have repeatedly defeated the government over its attacks on living standards.
Last month, Labour become the largest party in the local elections. In Thursday’s referendum, a narrow majority voted to leave, but two thirds of Labour supporters backed our call for a remain vote.
I was democratically elected leader of our party for a new kind of politics by 60% of Labour members and supporters, and I will not betray them by resigning. Today’s vote by MPs has no constitutional legitimacy.
We are a democratic party, with a clear constitution. Our people need Labour party members, trade unionists and MPs to unite behind my leadership at a critical time for our country.
Update 8:50 a.m. PDT: Angela Eagle, one of the MPs most likely to run against Corbyn in a leadership contest, is being called upon by her own constituents to support the current Labour leader. From the Liverpool Echo:
The Mersey MP is one of those being tipped to take on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who is facing a vote of no confidence from his own MPs Tuesday afternoon.
But Ms Eagle, who was tearful yesterday as she explained why she had joined the majority of her shadow cabinet colleagues in quitting the Labour front bench, is coming under pressure from Labour members in her own constituency.
A letter from the secretary and chair of the Wallasey Constituency Labour Party (CLP) says delegates want the MP to “reject the motion of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn”.
They wrote that a meeting of the CLP was “overwhelmingly behind Jeremy continuing as Labour leader” in the email sent at 11.36pm on Sunday, June 26, after the first day of shadow cabinet resignations.
The letter said: “The idea that the Labour party would rather miss the chance to capitalise on the splits in the Tory party by in fighting was not acceptable to members.
“On behalf of the constituency I would ask you to make a clear public statement of support for him.”
Update 6/28 8:38 a.m. PDT: Corbyn has lost a no-confidence vote in the parliamentary Labour Party, but the leader insists he won’t resign. Meanwhile, several Tories have thrown their hats into the leadership ring as they scramble to replace David Cameron:
The leadership contest, which closes for nominations on Thursday, has triggered a frantic atmosphere, with MPs rushing around trying to secure the support of colleagues for their preferred candidate. [Theresa] May supporters are each trying to speak to a number of designated MPs in a satellite operation.
Rumours swirling around Westminster suggest Andrea Leadsom, the energy minister who campaigned to leave the EU, could be a key figure who might herself run, but is also being courted by various candidates including May.
One list appeared to suggest the home secretary had the edge with numbers, followed by Johnson, but also revealed support for both Nicky Morgan, the education secretary, who is considering her position, and Stephen Crabb, the work and pensions secretary who plans to run with the support of his business counterpart, Sajid Javid.
Former defence secretary Liam Fox has already come out as a candidate, while Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, is also canvassing support. Hunt, who was involved in a long-running contract dispute with junior doctors that triggered five strikes, said he wanted the UK to secure continued access to the European single market. Asked on ITV’s Good Morning Britain if he would pit himself against potential rivals such as [Boris] Johnson and [Theresa] May, he said: “I am seriously considering it.”
Hunt’s declaration of a possible run came after the chancellor, George Osborne, ruled himself out, saying it was clear he could not provide the unity the party needed. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday, Osborne said “the country is going to be poorer” in the wake of last week’s referendum vote to leave the EU. “We need a plan as a country to get ourselves out of this, while respecting the decision of the British people,” he said.
Update 6/27 8:08 a.m. PDT: Here’s more from Paul Mason on Brexit and the coup attempt against Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn:
Update 6/27 7:49 a.m. PDT: Both Corbyn and David Cameron, who resigned as U.K. prime minister after the Brexit vote, are addressing Parliament in a heated discussion about what the next steps in the Brexit plan will be. Cameron didn’t miss the opportunity to ridicule the Labour leader with a joke about how he thought he was “having a bad day,” which just continues to show how far from the Tory failure the conversation has shifted because of the Labour coup. Coup aside, here are some highlights from what each has said, according to The Guardian.
Cameron says the result is not the one he wanted. But he and the cabinet have agreed it must be respected.
He says hate crimes and attacks on foreigners must be stamped out. These people have come here and made a wonderful contribution, he says.
He says there will be no immediate changes to people’s rights.
The withdrawal negotiations will start under a new prime minister, he says.
He says the economy is well placed to face the challenges ahead.
He says half-truths and untruths during the campaign. Leave campaigners have now been distancing themselves from those, he says. For example, they have retreated from the claim that £350m per week will be available for the NHS>
He says there has been an increase in racist attacks. He urges the government to do all they can to stop them. ... He says neither wing of the Tory party has an exit plan. So Labour must be fully involved. It wants to protect social and employment rights, he says.
He says we cannot be in a state of paralysis for the next three months.
He says Cameron should begin negotiations when he goes to Brussels. ... He asks Cameron to confirm that taxes will not go up.
Update 6/27 3:49 a.m. PDT: Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is showing his resilience in the face of a spate of shadow cabinet resignations, some of which are still rolling in. The lack of support for Corbyn’s leadership by members of Parliament further highlights the divide between the politicians and the party members who still widely support him. This disconnect has been occurring in the U.S., too, where politicians seem increasingly out of touch with their constituents. The question that remains is why Labour Party MPs thought it wise to depose their leader at a time when they could be uniting to take back power from the crumbling Tory Party.
Paul Mason writes for The Guardian:
We’re living through a massive, complex and historic moment. Brexit signals, at the very least, the high watermark of globalisation. I didn’t vote for it and I don’t relish dealing with it.
But this is not Labour’s defeat. We did not call the referendum; even those who chose to take part in the government-led campaign were not its leaders. This is the Tories’ catastrophe.
Analysis of the polling shows that Labour persuaded two-thirds of its supporters to vote remain. I think that is an achievement. And in part it is an achievement for Jeremy Corbyn and the shadow chancellor John McDonnell. Without the “remain and reform” demand they put forward, I think even more of our own people would have voted out.
The Tories are in turmoil. There is a swing of former no voters in Scotland towards independence. The constitutional crisis means Labour MPs will be required to act as parliamentarians first, party members second in the next days. ... Is Corbyn the ideal leader? It’s impossible to tell what an ideal leader is. For the historic period that’s opened up, with populist politics and nationalist rhetoric corroding the power of reason I really don’t know what kind of leadership we will need. He will be tested, for sure, and in any case we have to find a new generation prepared to redefine Labour politics for an era of uncertainty.
But one thing I do know: Corbyn is incapable of lying to the British people; he is inured to elite politics; he didn’t spend his entire life in a Machiavellian project to gain power and an invitation to Oleg Deripaska’s yacht. That’s why I voted for him and will do so again if you trigger a leadership vote. ... As I write some shadow cabinet members are resigning, claiming Corbyn is ineffective. Yet he delivered what David Cameron could not – two-thirds of his voters, against the combined might of Fleet Street.
They are saying we can’t win an election with Corbyn. We’re on 32% – neck and neck with the Tories. I’m certain we cannot win with yet another establishment technocrat. If a single member of the right of Labour had an analysis of what went wrong that went beyond “we don’t like Corbyn’s style” I’d listen. It’s not there.
Meanwhile, Tory Chancellor George Osborne is trying to reassure the markets and keep the pound from plummeting further:
Update: 6:49 a.m. PDT: Laurie Penny’s brilliant piece on Brexit, published Friday in the New Statesman, is worth a read:
So, here’s the thing. This was never a referendum on the EU. It was a referendum on the modern world, and [Thursday] the frightened, parochial lizard-brain of Britain voted out, out, out, and today we’ve all woken up still strapped onto this ghost-train as it hurtles off the tracks. Leave voters are finding they care less about immigration now that their pension pots are under threat. Maybe one of the gurning pundits promising them pride and sovereignty should have mentioned that, but they were too busy lying about the NHS. The curtain has been torn away and now we all have to look at the men behind it. They are not good men. ... I want to wake up tomorrow in a country where people are kind, and tolerant, and decent to one another. A country where people – all people – can feel at least a little bit safe. I want to rub the sleep of neofascist nightmares from my eyes and find myself in a country where we do not respond to the killing of a politician by voting against everything she stood for. A country where we are polite to our neighbors. A country where we have dealt like adults with the embarrassing fact that we once conquered half the world, instead of yearning for a time when our glory was stolen from enslaved people a convenient ocean away and large parts of the map were the gentle pink of blood in the water. I want to go back to a Britain where hope conquers hate; where crabbed, cowed racism and xenophobia don’t win the day; where people feel they have options and choices in life and are less likely to press the big red button to bring the house down on top of us. I want my country back.
That country, of course, is fictional. But it’s no less so than the biscuit-tin, curtain-twitching, tea-on-the-lawn-with-your-white-friends-from-the-Rotary-Club fantasy Britain the other side have been plugging for years, editing out all the ugly parts of the past and photoshopping it into the backdrop for an image smeared indelibly across the back of all our sickened eyeballs this morning, an image of fists raised and boots marching in step. If they’re allowed their fantasy, can I have mine, too? ... This was a working-class revolt, but it is not a working-class victory. That’s the tragedy here. The collective howl of rage from depressed, deindustrialised parts of the country bled white and reckless by Thatcher, Blair and Cameron has turned into a triumph for another set of elites. Another banking crisis, another old Etonian in power – that’s what we’ve got to look forward to as Scotland decides when to let go of the rope and the union splinters into jagged shards and we all realise we’re stuck on a rainy rock with Michael Gove, forever.
I wish I could tell you that we’re about to turn this around. I wish I could tell you that we’re about to collectively realise, even at this late hour, the magnitude of our mistake – that we will discover a new capacity for tolerance, a new resilience, a way to recover ourselves and remember our common humanity. I wish I could tell you that the cannibalistic, scattered Left will rally. Today, I don’t want to make any promises. All I see is a lot of racist crowing on the internet and campaigners being told to go back where they came from. I’ve already had people telling me it won’t be long before a new Kristallnacht, and people like me had better go back – where? I was born in London. Perhaps the city can secede. That’ll do wonders for house prices.
This Britain is not my Britain. I want my country back. I want my scrappy, tolerant, forward-thinking, creative country, the country of David Bowie, not Paul Daniels; the country of Sadiq Khan, not Boris Johnson; the country of J K Rowling, not Enid Blyton; the country not of Nigel Farage, but Jo Cox. That country never existed, not on its own, no more than the country the Leave campaign promised to take us to in their tin-foil time machine. Britain, like everywhere else, has always had its cringing, fearful side, its cruel delusions, its racist fringe movements, its demagogues preying on the dispossessed. Those things are part of us as much as beef wellington and bad dentistry. But in happier times, those things do not overwhelm us. We do not let bad actors reading bad lines in bad faith walk us across the stage to the scaffold. We are better than this.
I believe we can still be better than this. I want my country back, and it’s a country I’ve never known, and getting there will take more strength, more kindness, more resilience than this divided nation has mustered in living memory.
Update: 5:39 a.m. PDT: The tally of shadow cabinet members who have defected and been fired has risen to seven. Meanwhile, the grass-roots movement that helped get Jeremy Corbyn elected head of the Labour Party is now back in motion to keep him in his leadership position. More than a few people are saying that the decision by Labour ministers of Parliament to move against Corbyn during the chaos of the Brexit aftermath is opportunistic and wrongheaded.
At an uncertain time like this for our country, I cannot see how it makes sense for the Opposition to plunge itself into a civil war. 1/3
Update: 4:20 a.m. PDT: Gloria De Piero and Ian Murray are the latest of Corbyn’s shadow cabinet members to resign, bringing the count to four. Meanwhile, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said her nation could block the U.K. from leaving the European Union. Sturgeon is already trying to negotiate with Brussels to ensure that if Scotland were to become independent, it could remain in the EU without first having to leave. A new referendum on Scottish independence is already on the table, according to Sturgeon, because the leave outcome has greatly changed the U.K.‘s political circumstances. A majority of Scots voted to remain in the EU; and now that they are being denied their democratic desires because of decisions made in England, many notable Scots, including “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling, are reconsidering their stance on an independent Scotland.
From The Guardian:
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, has told the BBC that the Scottish parliament could try to block the UK leaving the EU.
It would do this by withholding “legislative consent”. Some UK laws require the consent of the Scottish parliament and it is arguable that a bill to take the UK out of the EU would come into this category. Sturgeon said:
“The issue you are talking about is would there have to be a legislative consent motion or motions for the legislation that extricates the UK from the European Union?
Looking at it from a logical perspective, I find it hard to believe that there wouldn’t be that requirement - I suspect that the UK government will take a very different view on that and we’ll have to see where that discussion ends up.”
And she told the Sunday Politics that that vetoing withdrawal would be an option, because it would be in Scotland’s interests.
“If the Scottish Parliament was judging this on the basis of what’s right for Scotland then the option of saying look we’re not to vote for something that’s against Scotland’s interest, of course that’s got to be on the table.”
Earlier the SNP MP Pete Wishart pointed out that the House of Lords European Union committee suggested that withdrawal from the EU would require Scottish legislative consent.
Update: 2:40 a.m. PDT: Dianne Abbott, Corbyn’s shadow international development secretary, says the plot to dump Corbyn as Labour leader has been in the making for months, regardless of the Brexit results:
She called the challenge to his leadership “a recipe for unhappiness” and called for the party to fall in to line, saying they could not challenge either the unions who back Corbyn or the membership who overwhelmingly support him.
This has been planned for a long time. There has been a plan to challenge Jeremy for a long time, because many have failed to reconcile themselves with his victory last year. ... She warned that they would not be able to overcome Corbyn’s support in the party’s members who voted overwhelmingly for him in last year’s leadership election.
“They are the ones who are picking a fight with the membership and we will have to see how that goes. That doesn’t exist in the Labour party rule back. If they want a new leader, they have to find a candidate and run for election.
But this idea that it is all to do with the Euro referendum, is not true.”
She criticised Hilary’s Benn’s decision to resign, saying he is wrong to blame Corbyn for failings in the referendum campaign.
“Some of these people challenging Jeremy have themselves have big vote to Leave in their own constituency.
If you look at Hilary Benn’s constituency, there is a big majority for leave. So if they had a magic answer on how to get disaffected Labour voters to come out for Labour voters, I am surprised that they didn’t actually exercise that solution in their own constituencies.
As it happens, 60% of the Labour vote have come out to vote for remain. If Cameron had got a similar proportion of Tory voters, we would have won the referendum.
I think party members are going to be baffled and upset. What they want is for the party to unite at a difficult time for the country.”
Update: 2:25 a.m. PDT: Hilary Benn, the shadow cabinet member fired by Corbyn last night, and John McDonnell, who is still in the Cabinet, appeared on television this morning to offer two very different depictions of Corbyn and the Labour Party. While Benn said he’s lost faith in Corbyn as a leader and insists he should step down, here is McDonnell’s take, according to The Guardian:
John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor and Jeremy Corbyn’s closest ally, is being interviewed on the Sunday Politics. He says Jeremy Corbyn is not going anywhere. He says he was elected with a huge mandate less than a year ago.
He says if shadow cabinet ministers resign, they will be replaced.
He says Labour is on course to win the general election. Every electoral test Corbyn has faced since he was elected, he has won.
Q: Except for the EU referendum.
That was not just Corbyn’s challenge, McDonnell says.
He says Corbyn was expected to deliver Labour supporters and young people. And both those groups backed Remain.
Update 2:17 a.m. PDT: As developments in the Corbyn story continue, take a look at this thoughtful post on Brexit, written by Los Angeles Times’ reporter Vincent Bevins:
Update 1:27 a.m. PDT: In an attempt to prove that Corbyn is losing traction with voters, many British media outlets, including The Guardian, have pointed to a single heckler who shouted at the Labour leader during a speech Saturday. Here’s writer Craig Murray’s take on the coverage and the heckler:
David Cameron gets heckled every day of his life. The media never bother to report the names of the hecklers or the gist of what they say.
Yet a single heckler shouts at Jeremy Corbyn at Gay Pride, and not only is that front page news in the Guardian, it is on BBC, ITN and Sky News.
What makes a single individual heckling a politician newsworthy? There are dozens such examples every single day that are not newsworthy.
The answer is simple. Normally the hecklers are promoting an anti-establishment view, so it does not get reported. Whereas this heckler was promoting the number one priority of the establishment and mainstream media, to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn. So this heckler, uniquely, is front page news and his words are repeated at great length in the Guardian and throughout the broadcast media.
The impression is deliberately given that he reflects general disgust from young people, and particularly gay young people, at Corbyn over the EU referendum. The very enthusiastic reception for Corbyn at Gay Pride is not reported.
Update: 6/26 12:39 a.m. PDT: As if there wasn’t enough infighting going on in Westminster since the EU referendum triggered the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron, Labour Party MPs have seized the opportunity to oust their leader. Jeremy Corbyn, who is still widely popular among Labour Party members, is being accused by his peers of failing to demonstrate leadership during the referendum campaign. While Corbyn’s reluctance to remain in the EU was actually more in line with his party members’ leanings, Labour MPs were overwhelmingly in favor of remaining. This has led several prominent MPs to attempt to push Corbyn out, including a member of his shadow cabinet, Hilary Benn, who was fired by Corbyn last night for his plans to force Corbyn’s resignation. On Sunday morning, another shadow cabinet member resigned and several more are expected to follow suit. We’ll keep you posted on what occurs throughout the day on this. While Corbyn has put out yet another statement (his second in three days) saying he is not resigning, the speculation is that he may resign by the end of the day.
Meanwhile, Tories are scrambling to replace Cameron with anyone but Boris Johnson. The former London mayor was the main figurehead at the front of the “Leave” camp and is now widely unpopular within his party for what is being seen as a betrayal. The Eton-educated elite politician took the anti-establishment stance against his party and has become wildly popular in the past year. Many describe Johnson as the British Trump and are worried that he would be a more hard-right leader than Cameron was, to satisfy increasingly right-leaning party members.
From The Guardian:
In the meantime, there’s also the vexing question of who the prime minister will be. Cameron has said he’ll be out of Downing Street by October, which has sent Tory MPs skittling.
The “Stop Boris” camp could be grouping around home secretary Theresa May. Or education secretary Nicky Morgan, writing in the Sunday Times today about the need to “heal divided communities and to build a truly United Kingdom”. Or work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb, who writes in the Sunday Telegraph about the need to “mend our divided society”. Or even George Osborne, who’s presumably hoping colleagues will have forgotten about the “punishment budget” falling-out.
The Sunday Times political editor Tim Shipman thinks these could be the runners and riders. (Let me save you a trip to google: Freeman is George Freeman, minister for life sciences. Yeah, that guy. No, me neither.)
Update: 12:25 p.m. PDT: More about what young Britons think about the so-called Brexit:
Update: 12:15 p.m. PDT: The Washington Post reports that “some British voters … now regret casting a ballot in favor of Brexit” and suggests that “many Britons may not even know what they had actually voted for.”
“Even though I voted to leave, this morning I woke up and I just—the reality did actually hit me,” one woman told the news channel ITV News. “If I’d had the opportunity to vote again, it would be to stay.”
That confusion over what Brexit might mean for the country’s economy appears to have been reflected across the United Kingdom on Thursday. Google reported sharp upticks in searches not only related to the ballot measure but also about basic questions concerning the implications of the vote. At about 1 a.m. Eastern time, about eight hours after the polls closed, Google reported that searches for “what happens if we leave the EU” had more than tripled.
Update: 12:09 p.m. PDT: At The Intercept, Robert Mackey observed that “the decision to withdraw from one union could trigger the imminent collapse of another”—the U.K. itself.
To start with, as many observers in Scotland noted, their nation, which rejected independence in another referendum just two years ago, partly out of a desire to remain in the EU, voted overwhelmingly against the decision to leave. That led to widespread speculation that the Scottish National Party, which rules the local government, could now demand a second referendum on independence soon.
Hours later, Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, told reporters that she would do everything she could to make sure that her nation’s vote to be part of the EU was honored, and “an independence referendum is now highly likely.”
Sturgeon also mentioned that she had spoken with the leader of another part of the U.K. that voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, Sadiq Kahn, the mayor of London, and they promised to work together. …
Meanwhile in Northern Ireland, which also voted against leaving the EU by a clear majority, the nationalist Sinn Fein party called for an immediate referendum on unification with the Republic of Ireland, which will remain in the economic union.
“This outcome tonight dramatically changes the political landscape here in the north of Ireland and we will be intensifying our case for the calling of a border poll” on a united Ireland, the party’s chairman, Declan Kearney, said on Friday morning.
Update: 9:49 a.m. PDT: A senior European Union leader confirmed that the EU wants Britain out as soon as possible, saying Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to delay the start of the exit will not do, The Guardian reports.
Martin Schulz, the president of the European parliament, told the Guardian that EU lawyers were studying whether it was possible to speed up the triggering of article 50 of the Lisbon treaty – the untested procedure for leaving the union.
As the EU’s institutions scrambled to respond to the bodyblow of Britain’s exit, Schulz said uncertainty was “the opposite of what we need”, adding that it was difficult to accept that “a whole continent is taken hostage because of an internal fight in the Tory party”.
“I doubt it is only in the hands of the government of the United Kingdom,” he said. “We have to take note of this unilateral declaration that they want to wait until October, but that must not be the last word.”
With anti-European sentiment on the rise across the continent, national governments outside Europe’s capital sought urgently to prevent any contagion from the UK vote, urging swift reforms to the 60-year-old bloc. Calls for similar referendums were made in France, the Netherlands and Sweden.
Update: 9:20 a.m. PDT: Expressing the “sense of furious betrayal” by their elders that many of the 75 percent of 18-24 year old Britons who voted to remain in the European Union feel, The Guardian’s Rhiannon Lucy Cosslet writes:
If you are young, and especially if you voted, I hope that the outcome of this referendum doesn’t put you off voting again. Yes, as a demographic, we have lost, but at the same time we have made a powerful statement about the kind of country we want to live in. That we are to be deprived of it is a crying shame, but at least we know that we are part of a collective of people who want a better world.
Don’t let that feeling dissipate; mobilise, organise, strategise, and above all hope. Take heart in the fact that you’re more than likely part of this optimistic, open-minded gang, that there is a potential there simmering beneath the surface. By all means feel bitter, and miserable, and worried about what is going to happen next, but after that, please take heart: you are the 75%, and what you voted for was noble, and one day will be again.
Cosslet cites two other voices. One, a Twitter user, said: “I’m so angry […] A generation given everything: free education, golden pensions, social mobility, have voted to strip my generation’s future.” Another, a commenter on the Financial Times website, wrote:
The younger generation has lost the right to live and work in 27 other countries. We will never know the full extent of lost opportunities, friendships, marriages and experiences we will be denied. Freedom of movement was taken away by our parents, uncles and grandparents in a parting blow to a generation that was already drowning in the debts of its predecessors.
Update: 8:25 a.m. PDT: Senior executives at the Swiss-European investment firm Lombard Odier Jan Straatman and Salman Ahmed said Britain is almost sure to fall into recession even if central banks act to contain the uncertainty the exit vote has sown in financial markets.
A recession is a near certainty and we expect inflation to rise sharply on the back of the weaker currency.
British currency, the sterling, “is at the centre of the storm,” they added, “with a nearly 10% hit against the US dollar since Thursday’s close.”
Not surprisingly, traditional safe havens such as government bonds in advanced economies, the Japanese yen and gold are rallying as investors take flight to safety.
In terms of pure politics, the turmoil for the UK and the European Union has just started. David Cameron announced his resignation but we expect the coming weeks and the upcoming Conservative leadership election to be tumultuous for markets and sterling.
Wall Street appeared to agree, responding with a “global selloff” as the Dow Jones industrial averaged tumbled at the start of the day by 505 points or 2.8 percent, the biggest fall in a given day since January. Investment bank Morgan Stanley began the process of moving 2,000 staff out of London to Ireland and Germany, reported the BBC’s Ben Thompson, citing sources.
Update: 8:01 a.m. PDT: Shortly after the vote, “Democracy Now!” hosted a debate between leftists who supported opposing sides of the ticket: Joseph Choonara, member of the Socialist Workers Party and spokesperson for Lexit, the Left Leave campaign, and Alex Scrivener, policy officer at Global Justice Now who campaigned with Another Europe is Possible, the left campaign to remain.
Update: 7:10 a.m. PDT: Four days before the vote, University of London professor of economics emeritus John Weeks told The Real News Network that leaving the European Union would sacrifice workers’ rights in the UK and strengthen the rise of the far right in Britain and across Europe.
“Basically we would have the strengthening of the most right-wing and repugnant parts of the British political system and within the British within the Conservative Party,” Weeks said. “The current prime minister, who is no prince himself, who is quite reactionary, would be replaced by someone even more reactionary, Boris Johnson, who might be seen as sort of Britain’s answer to Donald Trump, though he’s even a bit more of a buffoon that Donald Trump.”
Weeks acknowledged both Britain and the EU as “capitalist clubs,” but said in the EU, British workers are protected under The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which guarantees the right of labor to strike and organize. Absent those protections, the corporatist right will dominate the working class even more.
“Those rights that are enshrined in the European Constitution are of use to workers and help protect people in—gay and gender rights, for example, the guarantees on gay and gender rights,” Weeks said. “Gay, lesbian, and gender rights in general are much stronger in the European constitution than in Britain.”
Update: 2:32 a.m. PDT: David Cameron has resigned as Prime Minister of the U.K. as his countrymen and the world scramble to understand what “Brexit” will mean.
From The Guardian:
We have woken up in a different country. The Britain that existed until 23 June 2016 will not exist any more.
For those who ran the leave campaign – and for the clear majority who voted to leave the European Union – that is a cause for celebration. This, they insist, will be remembered as our “independence day”. From now, they say, Britain will be a proud, self-governing nation unshackled by the edicts of Brussels.
But for the 48% who voted the other way, and for most of the watching world, Britain is changed in a way that makes the heart sink rather than soar.
For one thing, there is now a genuine question over the shape of this kingdom. Scotland (like London) voted to remain inside the European Union. Every one of its political parties (bar Ukip) urged a remain vote. Yet now Scotland is set to be dragged out of the EU, against its collective will. ...
The risk is that Britain becomes a kind of offshore oddity, quirky but irrelevant – shut out of the action of its neighbouring continent. That shift will be felt first by the City of London: perhaps few will shed any tears for them, even if financial services are – or used to be – one of this country’s biggest employers. But eventually that new view of Britain could percolate through, affecting our creative industries, our tourism and eventually our place in the world.
All of this will take some time. Who knows, perhaps the worst effects can be avoided altogether. But we should not be under any illusions. This is not the country it was yesterday. That place has gone for ever.
Update: 6/23 9:25 p.m. PDT: The BBC, The Guardian and other news sources pronounced the “Leave” contingent to be the winner in the breathtakingly close Brexit contest.
From the BBC:
London and Scotland voted strongly to stay in the EU but the remain vote has been undermined by poor results in the north of England.
Voters in Wales and the English shires have backed Brexit in large numbers.
The pound fell to its lowest level against the dollar since 1985 as the markets reacted to the results.
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s fate also hangs in the balance, with some political influencers calling for his resignation and others, like former London Mayor Boris Johnson, urging him to stay put.
Thursday is finally the day that Britons decide whether to stay in or get out of the European Union—and the outcome is being deemed too close to call, as poll after poll shows that the country is about evenly split on the issue. Truthdig Assistant Editor Natasha Hakimi Zapata will be going across London, collecting images and clips in an Evrybit embed that will be updated as the day goes on. Meanwhile, below the Evrybit story, read up on what’s been going on across the pond.
It’s been a long, confusing and controversial campaign by British standards, with two well-known conservatives heading each side. Former London Mayor Boris Johnson, finding himself with a lot of time on his hands since leaving public office, decided to put his political energies into convincing Brits to leave the EU, most notably riding around in a bus emblazoned with an overinflated number as the amount of British currency the U.K. gives to the EU every week. The figure has since been debunked by several experts, but that hasn’t stopped Johnson from using his preferred form of transportation. The campaign to leave also put out a film called “Brexit: The Movie,” which you can watch below:
Also on the “leave” side, by the way, is UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who was a member of the European Parliament and is best known for publicly insulting the head of that institution. He has pulled equally uninformed stunts to convince Britons that immigration is evil, most memorably putting up a poster with an image of refugees that read “Breaking Point.” According to the BBC, Farage also “led a flotilla of fishing boats up the Thames to urge Parliament take back control of British waters,” a plan that backfired when singer Bob Geldof joined him on the river and engaged him in a bizarre verbal battle in which Geldof was the only one with a megaphone:
The biggest controversy on the leave side has been the murder of Jo Cox, a member of the British Parliament whose killer shouted “Britain First” as he repeatedly stabbed and shot the “remain” supporter. Read more about Jo Cox, who was our Truthdigger of the Week, here.
At the head of the other side of the argument is Prime Minister David Cameron, who essentially blackmailed the EU with the threat of exit to negotiate a “better” deal for the U.K. Once German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European leaders agreed to his conditions, Cameron spent his time trying to keep his country in the EU.
The BBC has published a long explanation of common questions surrounding the referendum, for example: Who can vote? (Answer: All British citizens living in the U.K. and those living abroad who have voted in the past five years.) Here are some of the Q’s and A’s:
Why is a referendum being held?
Prime Minister David Cameron promised to hold one if he won the 2015 general election, in response to growing calls from his own Conservative MPs and the UK Independence Party (UKIP), who argued that Britain had not had a say since 1975, when it voted to stay in the EU in a referendum. The EU has changed a lot since then, gaining more control over our daily lives, they argued. Mr Cameron said: “It is time for the British people to have their say. It is time to settle this European question in British politics.” ...
Didn’t David Cameron try and change the rules of the UK’s EU membership?
Yes. This was the big news back in January and February as David Cameron sought an agreement with other European Union leaders to change the terms of Britain’s membership. He says the deal, which will take effect immediately if the UK votes to remain in the EU, gives Britain “special” status within the 28 nation club, and will help sort out some of the things British people say they don’t like about the EU, such as high levels of immigration and giving up the ability to run our own affairs.
Critics say his deal will make little difference and falls well short of what he had promised when he announced his plan for a referendum.
The main points of the deal are:
Child benefit - Migrant workers will still be able to send child benefit payments back to their home country - Mr Cameron had wanted to end this practice - but the payments will be set at a level reflecting the cost of living in their home country rather than the full UK rate.
Migrant welfare payments - Mr Cameron says cutting the amount of benefits low paid workers from other EU nations can claim when they take a job in the UK will remove one of the reasons people come to Britain in such large numbers (critics say it will make little difference). He did not get the blanket ban he wanted. New arrivals will not be able to claim tax credits and other welfare payments straight away - but will gradually gain the right to more benefits the longer they stay, at a rate yet to be decided.
Keeping the pound - Mr Cameron has said Britain will never join the euro. He secured assurances that the eurozone countries will not discriminate against Britain for having a different currency. Any British money spent on bailing out eurozone nations that get into trouble will also be reimbursed.
Protection for the City of London - Safeguards for Britain’s large financial services industry to prevent eurozone regulations being imposed on it
Running its own affairs - For the first time, there will be a clear commitment that Britain is not part of a move towards “ever closer union” with other EU member states - one of the core principles of the EU. This will be incorporated in an EU treaty change. Mr Cameron also secured a “red card” system for national parliaments making it easier for governments to band together to block unwanted legislation. If 55% of national EU parliaments object to a piece of EU legislation it will be rethought. Critics say it is not clear if this would ever be used in practice.
The Independent put out a list of 40 facts about Brexit in an attempt to debunk myths circulating on both sides. Here are some:
1 Britain’s net financial contribution to the EU is £9.8 billion – or £188 million a week – which is the amount we pay in after the rebate is deducted along with the money we get back in grants. It is not £350 million a week that the Leave campaign claims it is.
2 Every family would not necessarily be £4,300 worse off if we left the EU. This figure was based on a Treasury projection suggesting that the economy would be 6.2 per cent smaller than it would have been if we stayed in the EU - this figure was then divided by the number of households in the UK. ...
8 Since 1999 the British Government has voted against laws passed in Brussels 56 times – which have been imposed upon us. But that represents two per cent of the total EU votes during that time and we’ve been on the winning side 2,466 times. ...
16 In 2015, an estimated 270,000 citizens from other EU countries immigrated to the UK, and 85,000 emigrated abroad. So EU ‘net migration’ was around 185,000. That is the highest recorded level.
17 Britain still lets in more non-EU citizens every year – where there are immigration restrictions – than EU citizens. Last year 277,000 non-EU citizens came to live in Britain.
Here’s a montage of British celebrities who support staying in:
And host John Oliver made this hilarious plea to his countrymen to vote “Remain” on Sunday’s “Last Week Tonight”:
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has been billed as a “reluctant remain campaigner,” is seen voting in the clip below:
Countries throughout the EU have been honoring the British flag in various ways to show their hope that the U.K. will stay: