(ANTIMEDIA) United Kingdom — Since Thursday evening’s historic Brexit vote, things are changing as fast as mud is being slung. While victorious British ‘leavers’ feel they’ve been snatched from the jaws of the Brussels’ elite, the ‘remains’ believe they just swapped one set of faceless bureaucrats for another. The only thing certain is that the intense divisions in the U.K. are likely to be around for some time.
Millions of voters rejected an establishment they feel has left them behind. Communities hit hardest by savage government cuts and decades of economic failure howled against the status quo. People’s perceptions of E.U. membership have been varied and complex, generally correlated with whether or not they feel the global system benefits them. While many see Brexit as the voice of the politically disillusioned, others have called it an IQ test — one 17 million people failed miserably.
Hours after the result, major ‘leave’ campaign promises were revealed to be lies. UKIP leader, Nigel Farage, admitted the promise that £350m a week would be spent on the NHS if the U.K. backed a Brexit vote was a “mistake.” At the same time, Conservative Leave campaigner, Nigel Evans MP, said there had been some “misunderstanding” over the campaign’s position on reducing immigration.
Congratulations on ‘British independence’ rolled in from French far-right leader Marine le Pen, as well as Donald Trump. By Saturday evening, over two million people had signed a petition calling for a second referendum. After the government’s website crashed repeatedly due to increased traffic, signatories called for the government to implement a new rule. The petition said if the remain vote is less than 60%, based on a turnout of less than 75%, another referendum should be called. As signatories spiked to more than three million, the government removed 77,000, claiming they were added fraudulently.
Brexit has been referred to as a working class revolt against the political establishment, and the political house of cards continues to tumble. After the result was announced, Prime Minister David Cameron immediately resigned, leaving London Mayor Boris Johnson the leading contender to replace him.
Meanwhile, civil war within the Labour party has escalated. Jeremy Corbyn faces calls to resign amid growing backlash over his handling of the party’s E.U. campaign, during which he refused to resort to scaremongering and bigotry. In the early hours of Sunday morning, shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn was unceremoniously axed, accused of plotting a coup against the Labour leader. By Monday morning, eleven members of Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet had resigned.
By Saturday, the United Kingdom itself appeared to be crumbling as quickly as the political establishment. Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced she would seek immediate discussions to protect Scotland’s place in the E.U. She said another referendum for Scottish independence is “highly likely.”
In Northern Ireland, where 56% of voters sought to remain in the E.U., Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness called for a vote on a united Ireland. As the only part of the U.K. to share a land border with an E.U. country, it’s unclear how Brexit will play out in the region. Unusually large numbers of people were said to have been seeking Irish passports. The leader of Democratic Unionist Party, Arlene Foster, attempted to allay people’s fears, claiming a poll on the future of the Irish border would not happen. Calling for a period of calm, she said the decision to leave the E.U. is an opportunity to build a new, hopeful, and more democratic nation.
In Wales, where people voted 53% to 47% to leave the E.U., Dr. Daniel Evans said there was a lack of national media and public sphere in the country. As a result, the Welsh public engaged in the referendum on English issues rather than Welsh ones. Many he spoke to knew little of the implications of Brexit for Wales, and instead focused primarily on issues such as immigration (the claims Nigel Evans MP has since said were a misunderstanding.)
After an emergency meeting in Brussels, President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said the other 27 member states want to negotiate Britain’s exit plan as soon as possible. A joint statement by E.U. leaders expressed regret over the U.K.’s decision but called for negotiations to be launched swiftly. By Saturday, the U.K.’s most senior diplomat in Brussels had resigned following Britain’s vote to leave the bloc. According to the Guardian, Lord Jonathan Hill’s departure from the finance job was a foregone conclusion once the U.K. was on its way out.
Much of the country is still reeling from outcome of the polarising referendum. Many are convinced millions voted to leave as a result of the xenophobic fear-mongering pushed from above in the lead-up to the debate. For some, immigrants and the E.U. became a unconscious scapegoat for Westminster’s crippling austerity, the cuts to public services, spiraling living standards and their marginalisation by successive British governments. In the wake of the vote, a wave of hate crimes was triggered. Reports of immigrants and their descendants being abused in the street poured in. Signs saying “Leave the E.U” and “No more Polish vermin” were posted through letterboxes.
Although Article 50 — the formal notification the U.K. intends to leave the E.U. — is yet to be invoked, reports are emerging of a potential domino effect across the European Union. Meanwhile, Comedian Ricky Gervais pretty much summed up what life will be like in the U.K.:
“The rich will still be rich, the poor will still be poor, and we’ll still blame foreigners,” he said.
This article (The House of Cards Comes Tumbling Down: A Brexit Recap) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Michaela Whitton and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since you’re here…
…We have a small favor to ask. Fewer and fewer people are seeing Anti-Media articles as social media sites crack down on us, and advertising revenues across the board are quickly declining. However, unlike many news organizations, we haven’t put up a paywall because we value open and accessible journalism over profit — but at this point, we’re barely even breaking even. Hopefully, you can see why we need to ask for your help. Anti-Media’s independent journalism and analysis takes substantial time, resources, and effort to produce, but we do it because we believe in our message and hope you do, too.
If everyone who reads our reporting and finds value in it helps fund it, our future can be much more secure. For as little as $1 and a minute of your time, you can support Anti-Media. Thank you. Click here to support us