Friday

14th May 2021

UK in political turmoil after Brexit vote

  • Corbyn at climate change rally in London last year (Photo: Matthew Kirby)

The UK's political establishment has engulfed in a crisis following the referendum vote last week to leave the European Union with both the Conservative and the Labour party lacking clear leadership and beaming confusion.

As the UK should begin the legal process to leave the EU, it has become clear that neither the Leave camp, nor prime minister David Cameron has prepared for a Brexit scenario.

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One EU official described the UK as being in a "very significant political crisis".

The official also added that other EU countries understand that they cannot expect the UK to start the exit procedure amidst a political crisis, so the pressure for the UK to do so has reduced to some extent.

Cameron has not said anything since last Friday when he signalled that he would resign in the fall and let his successor guide the UK out of the EU.

One of the likely contestors for the prime minister's job, former London mayor Boris Johnson and lead campaigner for leaving the EU seemed confused about the UK's future role in the union in an article published in The Telegraph on Sunday.

"I cannot stress too much that Britain is part of Europe, and always will be. There will still be intense and intensifying European cooperation and partnership in a huge number of fields," Johnson wrote.

He did not lay out a concrete plan on how to guide the UK throught the painful process of leaving the EU, or how much freedom of movement would he accept for access to the bloc's single market, a key issue for UK politics in the upcoming weeks and months.

On the possiblity of the UK breaking up, following Scotland overwhelmingly voting for Remain, Johnson added: "We had one Scotland referendum in 2014, and I do not detect any real appetite to have another one soon."

Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon however, has said over the weekend that another referendum is "highly likely" and that Scotland would do whatever it takes to remain in the EU, including potentially blocking the legal process behind Britain's exit.

Another contender for the job at Downing Street 10 could be Theresa May. The home secretary kept a low profile during the referendum campaign, and could now emerge as a unifying figure in the party, and could win support of those who dislike Boris Johnson.

Labour in pain

The opposition Labour party is also caught up in internal disputes as the UK faces its biggest chellange in decades.

Over the weekend twelve shadow secretaries have withdrawn their support for party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who on Sunday vowed to stay on.

"I regret there have been resignations today from my shadow cabinet. But I am not going to betray the trust of those who voted for me, or the millions of supporters across the country who need Labour to represent them," Corbyn said in a statement.

Corbyn, elected last year with the overwhelming support from grassroots Labour members, is also facing criticism from Labour lawmakers that he had not done enough to convince the voters to back Remain, with one MP accusing him of "sabotaging" the campaign to stay in the EU.

Corbyn has come under huge pressure from the resignations, and will likely be facing a no-confindence vote from Labour lawmakers on Monday.

With general elections being a possiblity in the coming months, there is once again a battle emerging for Labour's core between Westminster politicians and Labour party members who elected Corbyn.

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EU will not press UK for immediate exit talks

EU leaders say there is a "very significant crisis" in the UK. At a summit on Tuesday, they will not press the British prime minister to trigger the procedure to leave the EU.

Opinion

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National leaders need to bring tangible proof of the benefits of the EU to their citizens, and remind them why they joined in the first place.

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