Best of times … Worst of times … Brexit aftermath
Syed Nasir Ershad
After they voted to leave the EU, there were huge celebrations among Brexit campaigners and Eurosceptics across Britain. On the morning of Friday June 24, Prime Minister David Cameron stepped down because he had lost his Project Fear campaign to stay in the EU. His statement was that he would do everything he could as Prime Minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months, but he did not think it would be right for him to try to be the captain that steered their country to its next destination. How much clearer one could be!
Anti-EU politicians throughout Europe welcomed Brexit and looked to seize on the result in order to further their own campaigns for independence! EU leaders were immediately forced into damage control and issued responses in a bid to defend the integrity of the European bloc. Before the decision Mr. Tusk said that Europe’s external enemies would open a bottle of champagne to celebrate a Brexit. He called to the opponents of Brexit to try to do everything to spoil that party.
The Brexit result sent shockwaves through the global economy and lead to a dramatic drop in the value of the pound. Britain’s currency had already weakened ahead of the referendum. But Ukip leader Nigel Farage had earlier tried to assure that even if sterling were to fall a few percentage points after Brexit, the Britons should not worry. According to him it was positive as they had a floating currency and it would be good for exports.
In the first few weeks after the Brexit, British politics descended into chaos. The Conservatives tried to find a new leader and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn faced calls to resign. Eurosceptic Tory MP Boris Johnson ruled out running in the Conservative contest after he was stabbed in the back by his Brexit ally Michael Gove. Mr. Gove removed his support for Mr. Johnson and decided to stand himself. He was up against the then Home Secretary Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom.
UKip leader Nigel Farage mocked the EU and its member states during a meeting of the European Parliament on Tuesday June 28. On Monday July 4, Mr. Farage stood down as the leader of Ukip, declaring that he wanted his life back.
The expectation in the first few months of Brexit referendum is not so bright among many. Mr. Cameron had said the next prime minister should decide when to trigger EU’s Article 50 – the law that would start the process of the country’s political divorce from the EU. This step would in effect start the timer on the two year-period that Britain would be given to negotiate its exit of the EU before the end of June 2018.
Now the current UK Prime Minister Mrs. May as well as the failed Mr. Gove argued that Article 50 should not be triggered until next year. At this point, Britain should start lengthy talks to renegotiate EU agreements and build new trade links with Europe and the rest of the world. There are concerns that these negotiations could be made more difficult because EU bosses would want to discourage other countries from following suit by also leaving the EU. As well as facing tough talks over Britain’s place in Europe and the rest of the world, the country could also faces the prospect of another Scottish referendum.
Former First Minister and SNP leader Alex Salmond said that the two-year negotiated exit from the EU creates a time frame for a new referendum on Scottish independence. Anti-EU populist parties would be seeking to ride on the momentum from Brexit ahead of key elections in France, the Netherlands and Germany in 2017. So, the road ahead does not appear to be so great for the Great Britain.