Confusion, Political Instability

Confusion, Political Instability
Confusion, Political Instability

After Britain’s historic vote to leave the European Union, there is no indication that a so-called Brexit will happen soon. It maybe never will.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who is resigning, has said he will not take the formal step to an EU divorce on the grounds that his successor should. Because the referendum is not legally-binding, some politicians are suggesting a parliament vote before formally triggering Brexit.

A petition on the UK government’s website on holding a second referendum has gained more than 3 million signatories in just two days. David Lammy, a lawmaker for the opposition Labor Party, said it was within parliament’s powers to call a second referendum and urged that it be done, Reuters reported.

European leaders, facing the biggest threat to European unity since World War Two, are divided over how swiftly divorce talks should start. Paris wants haste and German Chancellor Angela Merkel is urging patience. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he wanted to “start immediately”.

And on Sunday, Scotland’s leader said Scotland may veto Brexit altogether. Under devolution rules, the parliaments of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are required to consent to any EU divorce, according to a report by the House of Lords.

  Labor in Serious Trouble

The Brexit vote has also put Britain’s opposition Labor Party in turmoil.

The leader of the party, Jeremy Corbyn, has vowed not to step down amid challenges to his leadership as the fallout from the UK’s momentous vote to leave the EU continues.

Eleven senior MPs resigned from Corbyn’s shadow cabinet on Sunday, according to the UK media, after shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn was sacked by Corbyn for reportedly plotting against his leadership in the wake of Thursday’s referendum.

“I regret there have been resignations today [Sunday] from my shadow cabinet,” Corbyn said in a statement. “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 Labor to represent them.”

Corbyn said there would be a new shadow cabinet within 24 hours and, if there was a new vote for the Labor leadership, he would stand as a candidate.

Under Britain’s parliamentary system, the shadow cabinet is a senior group of opposition members of parliament tasked with criticizing the government’s policies; each is given a specific portfolio on which to act as spokesperson.

  Slap in the Face

Most British politicians agree such a decisive 52-48 win for Leave in the referendum means a divorce must happen. Anything less would be a slap in the face of democracy.

“The will of the British people is an instruction that must be delivered,” a choking Cameron said in his resignation speech, which marked the most tumultuous end to a British premiership since Anthony Eden resigned in 1957 after the Suez crisis.

Still, the upswell of chatter - #regrexit is trending big on twitter - over whether Britain might be able to reconsider speaks to the disbelief gripping this continent in the wake of a vote that has unleashed financial and political mayhem.

Sterling has plunged, and Britain’s political parties are both crippled. Cameron is a lameduck leader, and the main opposition Labor party on Sunday attempted a coup against its leader, with nine top officials resigning.

“The kaleidoscope has been shaken up not just in terms of our relationship with the EU but in terms of who runs our parties, who governs the country and what the country is made up of,” said Anand Menon, Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs at King’s College London.

“It is very hard to see where the pieces are.”

  Article 50

The law provisioning an EU member country’s exit from the union is Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty that is effectively the EU’s constitution. It has never been invoked before.

Before the vote, Cameron had said Article 50 would be triggered straight away if Britain voted to leave. Over the weekend, several EU officials also said the UK needed to formally split right away - possibly at a Tuesday EU meeting.