Bremain? Brexit? A divided politics, a divided country?

Read few comments.

Questions:

1. If this will be Brexit what you expect for British political scene, especially for Tories, a turmoil? Or animosities from the campaign will be quickly forgotten?

2. If this will be Remain the idea of having a second referendum on the EU will be buried or maybe not so much and we can expect voices calling for another referendum especially if the result will be tight?

Answers:

Mark Shephard, Senior Lecturer, School of Government and Public Policy, University of Strathclyde

1. The Conservatives are split and they will still be split after the referendum. As to how split, depends upon the result and the direction that the EU travels (how far will the UK result and pressures from within other EU countries lead to subsequent EU reform?). As to whether this matters depends upon the extent to which the Labour Party can capitalise upon this. There are lessons for the Conservatives from the splits and animosities of the John Major years which the Labour Party could turn to their advantage as they did in 1997, albeit most likely with a different leader.

2. It looks like the result is going to be closer than the 45 to 55 split in the Scottish Independence referendum. If Scotland tells us anything it is that splits this close (and the EU is likely to be much closer) do not go away and so we are likely to see calls for other referendums in the future (on the EU following either vote outcome + on Scottish independence if Scotland votes remain and England votes leave). And if England vote leave and the rest of the UK swing it for remain… then things could get really difficult for the Conservatives as support for UKIP could rise at the expense of the Conservatives, which is how we got the EU referendum in the first place…

Robin Pettitt, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Arts and Social Science, Kingston University

1. The one thing we know for certain about Leave is that the consequences are extremely uncertain and almost entirely unpredictable. That does  still mean that we can say some things. One is that financial investors loathe uncertainty and are likely to head for safer ground elsewhere. We are therefore likely to see considerable financial upheaval in case of a vote to Leave. We are seeing it already. The Pound Sterling has decline in value as Leave in the polls, and went up again when Stay did a bit better.

On the political side we can again expect a lot of uncertainty. One very likely consequence of a vote to Leave is that David Cameron time as PM is finished. On an issue this big, where he has thrown everything at  Stay, a vote to Leave would be a mortal blow to his authority. That would then mean the Conservatives would go through what is likely to be a bitter leadership contest. The favourite person to win is Boris Johnston. He is a supporter of Leave (although for entirely opportunist reasons – i.e. he wants to become PM and he, probably rightly, calculates that supporting Leave would help). However, an overwhelming majority of the House of Commons support Stay. So, we have a political majority in Parliament supporting Stay and a PM supporting Leave having to negotiate with the EU on a post-Brexit relationship. A very messy situation.

Finally, there is the huge matter of the UK actually leaving the EU and what it relationship with the remaining EU countries is going to be. Those negotiations are likely to be protracted and very bitter. The big players in the EU would want to make the UK’s leave as unpleasant as possible as a warning to other countries.

In short, Leave would likely lead to long term political and economic instability.

2. This is considerably more simple as it would basically maintain the status quo. It is likely that Cameron would still have to step down as PM and Conservative leader. His party is deeply split on the EU issue, and there will be a lot of his own MPs and ministers who would want his political head as revenge for supporting Remain. In addition, if it is a Remain (which I think it will be) it is likely to be a narrow vote for Remain, with a majority of Conservatives – members, politicians, and general supporters – supporting a Leave. Basically, Cameron has dug his own political grave with this referendum.

Finally, the big supporters for Leave will never stop calling for the UK to leave the EU. This referendum will not put the issue to rest. I think most supporters or Leave would see it as merely a battle in the wider war for the UK’s future. They will not stop advocating for Leave just because they lost this time around, especially, as you say, if the result is a narrow victory for Remain.

Ivor Gaber, Professor of Journalism, University of Sussex

1. We’re in unchartered waters so the truth is no one knows. The Tories have a great instinct for survival (the world’s oldest political party) so despite the bitterness it won’t be a surprise if they unite together irrespective of the result. In the event of a close Remain vote I think Cameron will soldier on and announce his retirement at the party conference in October. If its leave he will go more quickly perhaps succeeded by Theresa May as a temporary leader (But who stands a chance of winning the permanent job as well – as a Remainer who has kept a low profile.) Boris is marmite much love and much hated, but it’s the party members who have the final say and they mostly love him so it could still be him unless he’s knocked off the shortlist by MPs (they chose the two names who go out to ballot)

Labour is likely to suffer more. In the event of a Remain vote Corbyn is secure. If its Leave he is in real danger but the MPs know if they turn on him the next leader will be just as, if not more so probably John McDonnell.

2. If this will be Remain the idea of having a second referendum on the EU will be buried or maybe not so much and we can expect voices calling for another referendum especially if the result will be tight?

If the vote is very tight for Leave some MPs might well suggest that there is an issue of parliamentary sovereignty – the referendum has no legal force it’s “advisory” only. But if this happens expect Farage to lead his troops onto the streets.

Tim BaleProfessor, Chair in Politics, Queen Mary, University London, Author of the book: The Conservative Party from Thatcher to Cameron

1. rexit will actually be easier for the Conservative Party: those who wanted to remain will just make the best of what they regard as a bad job under a new leader who will be elected over the summer if and when David Cameron resigns.  It may also spell the end of UKIP or its full transformation into an anti-immigration radical right wing populist party.  For Labour it will be bad.  The new Tory leader and PM would be well advised to call an early election at which Labour will suffer a catastrophic defeat.  The latter will, however, have an upside: it will mean the end of Jeremy Corbyn and the chance for Labour to begin rebuilding with a better leader in 2017 rather than in 2020.

2. If remain wins by a narrow margin, there are enough obsessive zealots on the right of British politics (both Tories and Ukippers) to keep the Eurosceptic flame alive and who won’t rest until we have a second, decisive referendum.

 

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