When I picture the word storm I think of dark cumulonimbus clouds, crackling with lightning, howling winds and driving rain. A storm unleashes so much energy and material. A storm is not a static entity though, it is dynamic in structure and location, it has a beginning and it has an end.
Storms are also used metaphorically. Is the UK leaving the European Union the start of a storm that could fracture and collapse the EU as is known at the moment? The referendum showed that there was a build-up of energy in the people of the UK, energy generated by years of austerity measures that hit the poorest the hardest, energy generated by perceived lost of control of the country to unelected people in a distant land, energy generated by the perceived impact of immigration, and energy generated by the unheard voices of the poor and uneducated by the rich privileged elite. This energy demanded change and the unexpected result of the referendum certainly drove a dramatic change in the geo-political landscape of the UK, the effects of which are still being felt.
The UK vote to leave the EU was a shock to everyone, including to those that wanted it (or at least campaigned for it). The storm hit parliament in full force. The Prime Minister resigned and stated he would leave it to the next candidate to sort out the mess. Boris Johnson after stating that he wanted all the benefits of the EU without giving anything in return, decided he didn’t want to be PM anymore. Michael Farage of UKIP after insulting every member of the European parliament (who apparently don’t know what an honest day’s work is) decided his job was done and stepped down. The Labour party blamed their leader Jeremy Corbyn for the shambles and decided he should step down because he wasn’t a good leader. Unfortunately for the Labour MPs, the party members voted for Corbyn with an overwhelming majority so he is staying. After some shambling about Labour has found somebody to stand against Corbyn for the leadership but it isn’t clear if Angela Eagle has much backing.
The only person to stand a chance of taking any responsibility for the referendum result was Michael Gove, who stood for Leader of the Conservative Party. Unfortunately for him, his treatment of Boris Johnson was seen as treacherous by many of his party members and so he was deliberately shunned. This left Andrea Leedsom and Theresa May vying to be the PM but after a gaff about May’s motivation due to lack of children, Leedsom dropped out too. May’s Cabinet consists of 16 Remain and 7 Leave campaigners but importantly I think, Johnson took the post of Foreign Secretary and David Davis the new post of “Brexit” Secretary. Both are Leave voters. One can only hope that Johnson’s buffoon image is completely on the surface and underneath is an intelligent man. As one of my friend’s commented, “with Johnson in charge of foreign policy we will be at war with Luxembourg in no time.” I wonder if Boris is being set up for a fall. Gove got his Brexit reward by being sacked from the Cabinet.
Whilst the storm was being felt in the Westminster Parliament, Scotland had its own issues to sort out. Scotland, along with Northern Ireland and London voted to stay in the EU. The disappointment with the result was so keenly felt in Scotland, that if an “Independence from the UK” Referendum had been called the next day, there is no doubt that Scotland would have broke away from the rest of the UK in the hope that it could remain in Europe. The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, went to Brussels to seek assurances that this might be the case, but it was made clear that she had no authority to negotiate with the EU because the referendum result required UK representation and that wasn’t her. Thanks for trying. It wasn’t just Scotland trying to find another way. The Brexit result triggered demands from many other right wing factions in other European countries to renew calls for leave referendums too. The UKs result could just be the start.
These storms though seem to be quite localised on the whole. For the average person in the street, life goes on. There is grey cloud, drizzle and wind but nothing really different from the usual Summer weather. The initial fear of rising racism seems to have been dissipated, European citizens resident in the UK are a bit more relaxed (particularly if you live in Scotland where you should have received a letter acknowledging your worth by your local MSP), and the FTSE has recovered. Yes the exchange rates are still against the pound but hopefully you brought your holiday money before the referendum (no we didn’t either).
Perhaps this is the calm before another storm hits triggered by Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. The uncertainty is still there but as time goes by, everyday life takes over. I don’t think it’s time to put away your raincoat and umbrella yet though.