The Conservative Brexit politics and its dynamics: It was in 2013 when David Cameron miscalculated the mode of the British people about the Euro-zone question. He made a promise for a referendum that would settle the European question in British politics “once and for all”, the decision have come back to sink him in a pool of political quagmire. By their nature, politicians are supposed to know the unwritten referendum rule of eluding it unless you’re confident of winning it. Surely, Cameron overestimated the strength of the leave team as a winning team. The margins were close from inception and a risky political move especially when the outcome is riddled with uncertainty. This proved the divide between the masses and the political elites. The “leave victory” referendum results also brought the conservative party into leadership disarray. The conservative leader had no choice but to fall on his sword to end a six year career as British prime minister. The British Prime Minister and Britain’s European Commissioner Jonathan Hill were the first high profile casualties of Brexit. EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said Hill’s position as financial services chief would be taken by Valdis Dombrovskis, the commission vice president for the Euro.
On his resignation, Cameron stated he would not lead the process to trigger article 50. A government must trigger the article by officially notifying the EU of its intention to leave. Then there is a two-year period in which the terms of the leaver’s exit are negotiated. During this period, Britain would no longer be able to take part in any EU decision-making, and any exit agreements must be approved by all 27 remaining EU nations and the European Parliament. Then after Britain’s formal exit, fresh negotiations would begin on any new trade deals. But, crucially, there is no timescale or mention of when to trigger Article 50 after a referendum, leaving many politicians and economists worried about a long period of uncertainty.
Brexit lead campaigner Boris Johnson was expected to lead the Brexit government but withdrew due to internal politics. Astonishingly, Theresa May and other prominent figures in the Remain campaign entered the race to lead a Brexit government. She alluded that she can offer “strong leadership” and unity the UK needs, and promised a “positive vision” for the country’s future. However, it is interesting to note that Theresa has never shown any Sign of strong leadership during the campaign period. Cameron stepped down primarily because he backed a losing horse. Ironically, some of the leaders such as May that were with him in the Remain camp suddenly knew how Brexit can work better. This seemed twofaced for the Remain leaders, they were never committed to the Leave ideology. A Remain leader’s commitment to negotiating with the European Union of 27 member states will be put under scrutiny and monitored. Boris Johnson and Michael Gove were leading figures of Brexit, at the end they weakened their chances of succeeding Cameron. A fierce conservative leadership battle race begun with contenders Michael Gove, Theresa May, Stephen Crabb, Liam Fox and Andrea Leadsom facing off. Theressa May and Andrea Leadsom emerged as the two leading candidates. Neither woman was the leading face of the referendum campaign they backed. After realising that Theressa May was gaining momentum, Andrea Leadsom pulled out of the race to avoid a show down with Theressa May. Saying it is in the “best interests of the country”, paving the way for Theresa May to become prime minister. The All eyes are on Theressa May and it remains to be seen how she will navigate the Brexit challenges. Boris Johnson decision to withdraw from the race was strategically rewarded by Theressa May. He was appointed British foreign secretary. As a leading leave campaigner, it reassures the leave campaigners that their agenda is still on track. It is interesting to note that the Remain leaders are replacing each other despite the leave victory.
Far right Brexit opposition leader Nigel Farage has since resigned as the leader of the UK Independence Party, saying he “couldn’t possibly achieve more”. At a speech in London, Mr Farage, who was elected as an MEP for the party in 1999, said he had never wanted to be a career politician and was standing down. He has had two stints as leader of the Eurosceptic party since 2006. “I now feel that I’ve done my bit, that I couldn’t possibly achieve more,” he said. “I won’t be changing my mind again, I assure you.”
Meanwhile, the opposition labour Party is also in leadership dispute of its own. Jeremy Corbyn a leave campaigner refused to call it quit without a fight. Both labour and the conservatives have Brexit and Remain leaders. Neither of them was associated with the Remain nor Leave camps, individual leaders made their choices. The country is simply divided between 52% Leave and 48% Remain, instead of the usual labour and conservative political contestations. It remains to be seen what oppositional posture labour will take once article 50 is triggered. The referendum has also created problems for Great Britain with Scotland crying foul about the Brexit vote.
The negotiations with the European Union will begin under Theressa May, the sooner the better. Both German foreign minister and the EU commission president Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Jean-Claude Juncker respectively said the process should begin as soon as possible.
The feared immigration implications with the “getting our country back” nationalism rhetoric is touted by the Remain group as the reason for Brexit victory. Far right wing parties smell blood across Europe and seem to be excited about the Leave Vote and, as it would seem, are eager to push for such referendums in their own countries. This raises a pertinent question of whether right wing politics is gaining momentum, or the populace is warming to the ideology as an available alternative. I suspect is more about the alternative to the status-quo than “nationalist forces” across Europe driven by a growing hatred towards immigrants. Nikolaos Michaloliakos, leader of Golden Dawn in Greece, said that, “Golden Dawn welcomes the victory of the nationalist and patriotic forces in Great Britain against the European Union, which has been transformed into the doleful instrument of loan sharks,” Nationalism and the financial dealings of the euro-zone seems to be the main issues across the right wing formations.
With estimated £2tn of value wiped off, the world stock markets rescission questions were asked across the globe. Financial expects and commentators were almost all painting a gloomy picture and said the move will reduce trade most likely as a result of uncertainty and so on. While less is said about the positive aspects of Brexit, a blink picture is painted by economics. Unlike in South Africa, though, when the rand plummeted as a result of the then finance minister Nene’s firing, the decision was reversed. In the case of Britain, the Britons will have to find a way around the Brexit vote because it won’t change. The financial institutions such as the IMF were also caught off guard by the Leave vote. They can only try to influence the Brexit negotiations with the 27 member states to safeguard their interest. One will not be surprised therefore if the IMF ask to be part of the negotiations. The question is how much power and influence do financial institutions have on the sovereignty of imaging countries. In South Africa, the president was embarrassingly forced to reverse his appointment decision by the real leaders. This is despite the fact that it is his constitutional prerogative to appoint and disappoint ministers as he deemed fit.
By Sivodlo Silombo
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