We woke up this morning to the news: The British had voted to leave the EU. Although I am not a Brit, I have been married to one for 41 years and I lived there for a few years, way back in the 70s. I feel a great connection to this country, its culture, history and people. I can’t help thinking that they have made a short-sighted and fatal decision.
After listening to David Cameron’s statement this morning, I initially felt sorry for him. He presented himself as professional and unemotional about the results, reflecting the consummate politician that he is. He announced his resignation, which seems right when losing such a vote.
My sympathy has been draining away in the hours since, as I reminded myself how unnecessary this entire circus was, that it was the product of Cameron’s wooing the EU sceptics in the ranks of the Tory party to ensure his election in 2010. So in fact, that promise has come back to deprive him of that very job.
Then there’s Boris Johnson, another talented politician, former mayor of the great city of London, who campaigned to leave with the full force of his personality. (I will refrain from making unjustified comparisons with a certain US presidential candidate – that would be wholly unfair.) As a contender for leadership of the Tory party, and thus prime ministerial candidate, he has everything to gain from the leave vote. But I wouldn’t dare suggest that his enthusiasm for Brexit stemmed from his own ambitions to higher rank.
While waiting for Boris to arrive at the venue for his statement, BBC World News showed briefly his departure in a taxi from his north London home. Surrounded by a retinue of police, a pack of news people and a crowd of London’s citizens, the sound of booing could not be overheard. After all, London was carried by the remain vote and it is London that will bear the brunt of the changes. So greetings to all those Londoners who once loved their eccentric Mayor!
To give his statement, Boris put on his most statesman-like air – not that he’d combed his trademark blond mane from his face. He does, after all, have the most to gain from the success of the leave campaign and his buddy David’s fall. He sees Britain’s exit from the EU as the opportunity to return to the country power over its own fate, to return to the democratic principles that made it into Great Britain.
I see no point in discussing all the consequences of this monumental decision. You probably are already aware of a lot of them. And there is also no doubt that the EU system is not perfect, but it must be improved for all members – not just for Britain – from within, for seen within the context of Europe’s history, it is the best thing that has ever happened to the continent.
My $ 64,000 question for Boris is: If you want Britain to rule itself democratically, how about initiating a referendum on abolishing the House of Lords? Create in its place a legislative body, elected according to proportional representation, that truly acts as a check and balance to the House of Commons. And of course, the people must be allowed to decide this. For neither House could be relied on to question the legitimacy of the present, albeit traditional, division of power, evolved over centuries. To me, it seems the next logical step.
Then there is, of course, the question of David Cameron’s successor. Today he is reckoning that the Tory Party Conference in October will choose a new leader, and consequently, a new prime minister.
NO, MR CAMERON! That may well turn into wishful thinking. An early election will have to be called! Just a shame that the Labour Party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn are not in a position to take advantage of these developments.
This vote is also a game-changer on the issue of Scottish devolution. The Scots have voted with a huge majority to stay in the EU. Who could blame them for re-initiating their referendum to leave Britain? And this time round, I would be on their side. And the EU would probably look favourably on their application to join the club. It sounds like the Northern Irish may also get the hang of this referendum thing and start their very own movement for an independent north to either join the Republic of Ireland or join the EU as an independent country.
Is the great United Kingdom set to unravel in the next few years and become the dis-United Kingdom? How exactly will the divorce proceeding between GB and the EU go? I for one am curious as to whether Britain will really benefit from this move. It may turn into a Pyrrhic victory.