An alphabetical guide to post-referendum Britain:
America, United States of:
With which Britain now must refashion – or if you prefer, rescue – the ‘special relationship’, now compromised by the Brexit vote. President Obama has said we must ‘go to the back of the line’. What happens next only time will tell, especially as America itself goes to the polls in November. The saints preserve us from Donald Trump.
A neologism given to the act of Britain leaving the European Union, presumably to make it sound more like a breakfast cereal than a political act of historical significance.
The unswervingly incompetent leader of the Labour Party, he hopes to reform into a radical left-wing alternative to the Tories. To do this he needs to be re-elected, but this he is likely to achieve handily, since the poll will pit (unelected) thousands of party members against hundreds of (elected) parliamentary colleagues. No contest, and after that no Labour Party – at least not a force capable of challenging for office.
Democracy emerged from the Referendum campaign either as a triumph of The People over an out-of-touch Establishment, or as a casualty of The Mob. Take your pick, according to taste. You know my view.
Either a staunch defender of the peace, or a bloated bureaucracy with a sinister agenda which either way has outlived its usefulness. Again, take your pick. Either way, the EU and the euro-zone, will soon come under the same threat from forces of the right as Britain has already.
Leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party: a saloon-bar bore to some, and a political hero to others. If for nothing else he takes credit for getting the Brexit ball rolling. And there is nothing else. He has since resigned as UKIP leader, presumably to foment mischief in some other gadfly role. The message on his ‘battle bus’ (look it up) was a stain on British democracy and an affront to decency.
The government minister who hoped to succeed David Cameron as prime minister after first stabbing his former mentor and then his closest rival in the back is now out of the running. Good riddance seems to be the prevailing view, even in Tory circles. “He who wields the knife …. &etc.”
House of Commons:
The so-called Mother of Parliaments was a big loser in the Referendum, which by definition overrode the authority of an elected body whose members favoured remaining in the EU by a margin of four-to-one. The next government must restore its status, even if half the members are fools and horses.
Political commentators during the referendum campaign called it the ‘elephant in the room’, and so it proved to be in certain parts of the country. The status of EU nationals already in the UK remains unclear, but they will almost certainly be used as a bargaining chip in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations. The next government will no doubt feel it has to do something to assuage voter anger or face the consequences. Another option would be to provide what we used to call, without giggling, moral leadership.
Led the Brexit campaign, and might – but only might – have used the result as a stepping-stone to 10 Downing Street – until his friend and fellow-traveller Gove, dagger in hand, forced him from the race. Many Tories, while publicly affecting to despise Gove for his betrayal, secretly heaved a sigh of relief, convinced that Boris himself was every bit as unprincipled as his assassin. In other words, Brutus did not slay Caesar, he slew Cassius.
Still a kingdom but no longer very united. The divisions cut across an infinite variety of party, class and national lines, pitting north against south, young against old and Scotland against England. One might add native-born against foreign-born. The new government, committed to negotiating Brexit, will have its hands full sorting England out, not to mention keeping Scotland in.
“Who is she?” was a question asked during the referendum campaign, in which she performed creditably for Brexit on television. The question is still being asked, even as Angela, a former investment banker, contests the Tory leadership. Leadsom’s advisors are painting her as a new Thatcher, which, all other considerations aside, hardly augurs well for uniting the country. My view: not exactly my idea of prime ministerial promise.
Ditto, I suppose, but she remains the clear front-runner, at least among Tory MPs. She now has a fight on her hands, but no blood. She professed to be in the Remain camp but failed to demonstrate much commitment during the campaign, suggesting either that she was luke-warm or was cleverly hedging her bets. Another would-be Thatcherite, May is probably too ‘wet’ to wear the title comfortably. And who can trust a woman who wears leopard-skin shoes? At least she likes cricket.
Britain’s supposedly deprived industrial heartlands voted heavily for Brexit, while the affluent south went the other way. This raised the old spectre of the North-South Divide. The Big D always lies dormant, but the referendum provided the perfect forum for The North to exercise its simmering resentments. What it is that they resent is unclear, and may be unpalatable. Either way, UKIP may well make hay in the region come the next general election.
The Remain campaign was at best lack-lustre and at times almost self-destructive. Cameron seemed to throw in the towel half-way through it. He has now, anyway. Commentators blamed hubris, and a complacent reliance on opinion polls that failed to show Brexit closing the gap until the final days of the campaign. The Remain managers may have some explaining to do, but who will now ask the questions?
The pound has taken a battering in the foreign exchange market of late, and Brexit is cited as the cause. There may, of course, be other reasons. Ironically, a weaker pound will only help British exporters, which will make the trade figures look better for a while. Other markets, like stocks and property, remain jittery, and will stay that way until the Brexit settlement terms are clearer. But who cares about markets. Not, apparently, the brave Brexiteers.
As befits a constitutional monarch, she stayed silent during the referendum campaign, despite valiant media efforts to extract from Buckingham Palace ‘sources’ a clue to her thinking. Some newspapers hinted that she is an enthusiastic Brexiteer, but failed to come up with any evidence for it. Actually, who cares?
What else? Remainers have dismissed the whole exercise as little more than a party political manoeuvre, approved by a prime minister seeking re-election and overly anxious to placate the Tory right-wing and UKIP. If true, then it all went horribly wrong, for which Cameron has much to answer. The first books on the subject, perhaps even his own, may reveal what really went on in 10 Downing Street.
Scottish National Party:
The SNP campaigned for Remain and secured about 60 per cent of the Scottish vote. The party will bide its time, for various tactical reasons, but there seems little doubt that demands for a new referendum on independence will be tabled at some point. Whether it will be won this time is less clear, especially if Spain, worried about Catalonian secession, is still able by then to veto Scottish membership of the EU. I have heard triumphal Brexiteers snarl, “Well, let the ungrateful bastards go”. Both sides may get their wish.
Britain must now negotiate trade treaties with the EU and scores of other countries and trading blocs. How many, exactly, I have no idea. Nor do I venture to predict the outcome. Remainers are nervous about it, Brexiteers sanguine. I count myself among the former. Especially when I hear Brexiteers spouting about the World needing Britain more than the other way round. Talk about hubris.
UKIP, the party of malcontents, mainly Little Englanders of the wogs-begin-at Calais ilk. UKIP will now be laughing all the way to the next election, in which it can only hope to do better than at the last one, which resulted in one UKIP seat in parliament. I fear that it probably will do better – and shame on those who help it along.
Stands for Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Vladimir Putin. Our Vlad must be chortling into his vodka smoothies over the discomfort being suffered by his western neighbours, in particular the EU apparatchiks in Brussels. Will he try to exploit the rifts with action in the Baltic? Who knows? As Churchill said, Russia is an enigma …. &etc.
Wales, decent football team, daft electors. They voted Leave. Maybe their football idol Gareth Bale can explain why.
For xenophobia, now looming as a potent electoral force in parts of England. It would be unfair to label all, or even most, Brexit people as xenophobic, but not to observe that all xenophobes voted Leave. Curiously, many did so in those areas where EU nationals are relied upon to do all the dirty work, such as the eastern Europeans in East Anglia who pick the crops that keep the region in business. But there is no explaining the ultra-nationalist phenomenon that seems to be sweeping England (and other countries) except in terms of mindless prejudice against Johnny Foreigner.
Y is the symbol for ‘unknown’. What is unknown, post-referendum, is what kind if place Britain seeks to become and how the economy, domestic and global, will adapt to the new paradigm. Beats me, is all I can say. The Brexiteers got us here, ask them.
There is no Z category, because I failed to come up with one. Zany might suffice as an end-piece.