In the last few weeks, Britain has been awash with chaos. The EU referendum on 23rd June revealed a 52% majority for leave, resulting in Cameron stepping down and a flurry of economic instability. But if you still don’t know your Farage from your FTSE or your Brexit from your Boris, then we’ve got your back! With a breakdown of the immediate reactions, the resulting resignations and how this will affect us in the long run, this is the ultimate go-to guide.
The majority of the UK voted to leave the EU – bar Scotland, London and Northern Ireland. The close result lead to outrage and apprehension throughout the country, as no country has ever left the EU before. Naturally, there was (and still is) a lot of uncertainty. The face of the Remain Campaign, the one and only David Cameron, stepped down as Prime Minister soon after the result was announced, and on Wednesday 11th Theresa May will become Britain’s second female Prime Minister. The leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, faced a barrage (no, not the UKIP leader) of abuse for his apparent apathy towards the whole campaign, while many other MPs resigned due to their lack of confidence in their political leaders.
However, before we discuss the resignations, implications and commiserations of the Brexit bandwagon, let’s go back to day one… what were the instant consequences?
Firstly, as mentioned before, Cameron resigned. Many people expected this, as they saw the public voting against his advice as a lack of confidence in his leadership abilities. However, many others saw this as jumping ship, abandoning his country in its time of need. Yet even more surprisingly, the supposedly victorious Brexit campaigners also resigned. Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage both stepped down following their successful campaign, causing scandal across the country.
As leaving the EU was such an unprecedented event, the economy was unstable to say the least in the hours following the result. To make life easier for all of us (as it is the summer after all!) I will summarise the key implications, both ongoing and initially, of the referendum. Firstly, the value of the pound fell dramatically against both the dollar and the euro. The FTSE 100 fell initially but has now mostly recovered, showing that the fear of the result was perhaps more influential than the result itself. Also, investors have been selling shares in UK banks due to uncertainty, resulting in bank shares being down 11% since the referendum. This leads to the risk of falling interest rates, making it harder for UK banks to make a profit. It is still early days for the impact of the Leave decision, yet rumours of a dip in the housing market and increasing unemployment do not bode well for the UK economy.
At this point it seems that Labour were feeling left out of all the chaotic fun all the other politicians were having and decided to shake things up too. With 20 MPs leaving the shadow cabinet and a further 18 junior shadow ministers gone, there was a clear lack of confidence in Corbyn’s leadership abilities. Being elected as a fresh voice of politics, Corbyn’s popularity with his ministers has declined and there is talk of a vote of no confidence within the Labour party. This is partly due to his apathetic attitude towards the Remain campaign. Corbyn put his level of support for the EU at no more than “7 to 7.5 out of 10”, leading many to blame the narrow Leave victory on Corbyn’s half-hearted campaign. However, Corbyn has defended his role as leader of the opposition, saying he will not betray the trust of those who voted for him. The future of the Labour party is looking rocky, with great divisions within, yet the appointment of many young female MPs to the Labour cabinet is perhaps a silver lining to a very cloudy sky.
During this turbulent time the question on everyone’s lips was who will take over the Tory leadership and the role of Prime Minister? With the favourites Gove and Johnson stepping down, it became a race between Home Secretary Theresa May and Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom. However, with Leadsom recently backing out, Theresa May will become our next Prime Minister on the evening of Wednesday 11th! This fast-paced and rocky leadership race will result in our first female Prime Minister since Thatcher. Something we at HCX should be excited about, right? Yet many believe there are risks associated with Theresa May, and some politicians are also worried about the speed of the process. However, in times like these, we can only hope for a calm future and wish Theresa May the best.
Whether you voted to stay or leave, the one certain positive we can take from this unsettled time is that this period is one of the most important in our history, and will be studied for years to come. It is exciting to be a part of that. However, it is also a time of mess, blame and feeling let down by the people who have the most power. If our elected representatives do not stand up and help carry the load of this monumental burden, our country will suffer. My question is whether Article 50 will be enacted at all; Cameron has an air of disengagement, Boris and Nige have washed their hands of the situation, and will Theresa May really start her reign by angering half the country by enacting a process they don’t want? And what will happen if she does? Only time will tell.