Does the UK have a government?

By Stephan Lewandowsky
Professor, School of Experimental Psychology and Cabot Institute, University of Bristol
Posted on 25 June 2016

It has now been 12 hours or more, since at the close of the first day of trading after the UK’s referendum vote to leave the EU, more than $2 trillion had been wiped off the stock markets around the world. This response is pretty much as it was expected by the preponderance of national and international experts, whom a leading “Leave” campaigner likened to the Nazis in the closing days of the campaign.

During those 12 hours, on what should be a relatively quiet Saturday in summer, a number of remarkable things have transpired:

  • The Leave campaign took less than 48 hours to abandon its pre-referendum fantasies, acknowledging that the mythical £350,000,000 being sent to Brussels every week do not actually exist and therefore cannot be used to fund the NHS, and expressing surprise at the expectation that immigration would now decline. If anything will decline, it might be funding for the NHS.
  • Scotland has a government. The government of Scotland met and expressed its intention to remain part of the EU, in accordance with the overwhelming will of their people.
  • The EU has a governing structure. It met in Berlin and decided to move forward at a rapid clip to reduce the inevitable period of economic uncertainty to the extent possible and for the Brexit negotiations to commence.
  • France has a government, and their Foreign Minister made the rather obvious observation that it would be nice for the UK to have a new Prime Minister in a few days so that Brexit negotiations could commence. Not an unreasonable request at face value.

One thing that has been remarkably absent from this list of events, as of 1pm Saturday, is any mention or appearance of any sort of a government of the United Kingdom. We have not heard from the currently-former Prime Minister, nor from a future-possible Prime Minister.

Does the UK even have a government at this most crucial time of its history during my life time? Events are unfolding on a millisecond time scale, all the world's market analysts are tracing events waiting to pounce when the markets open on Monday, and the UK government has gone AWOL.

Driven by demagogues and arsonists, the UK ignored all the experts and all the facts and, to its own horror, set off a global crisis and a national recession on Thursday. On Friday the pound Sterling suffered a record loss of value and the stock markets worldwide lost $2,000,000,000,000. Also on Friday, the Leave campaign revealed itself to be the scam that it was.

On Saturday, the arsonists and demagogues are nowhere to be seen, while the frat boys in the Tory party are trying to figure out what to do next.

Eventually the adults will have to clean up the mess.

Upated 2:10pm:

Now this from the defense secretary, Michael Fallon:

"The prime minister goes on, the government goes on until the autumn, until there is a new leader and a new government. We’ll remain at our posts and we have a big agenda. We were elected only a year ago and we’ve set out fresh legislation, which we’re taking through parliament at the moment. Cabinet is meeting on Monday. We were all elected just a year ago on a big programme of continuing to move the economy forward, creating more jobs, a programme of social reform, and investment in defence which you can see today."

Oh dear. Seriously?

Updated 2:33pm:

London has a government too. Mayor Khan came out strongly, declaring that

We also have a video message from the currently-still-not-quite-former Prime Minister about celebrating Gay Pride.

This is actually the second tweet of the day by No 10. I missed the first one because it was about huggable heroes and did not show up in my news feed. Apologies to the huggables.

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4 Comments


Comments 1 to 1:

  1. Harry Wiggs at 23:36 PM on 25 June, 2016
    Seeing this the POV OF an American, frightened at the prospect of a President Trump, and having previously thought Brits were more intelligent than the average American, I have been disabused of that notion, and am now even less sure the American electorate will do the right thing, come November.

    Given Australia might elect Bill Shorten, and winters are too harsh in Canada, if we are maliciously stupid enough to elect Drumpf, I am not sure to which country to move....
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