Tag Archives: David Cameron

THERESA MAY: Britain’s new prime minister

Incoming British Prime Minister Theresa May, speaking at a terrorism conference at Chatham House in Dec. 2015 as Home Secretary. Photo: Chatham House/Creative Commons

Incoming British Prime Minister Theresa May, speaking at a terrorism conference at Chatham House in Dec. 2015 as Home Secretary. Photo: Chatham House/Creative Commons

By Victoria Honeyman, University of Leeds
July 11, 2016

Britain is to have a new prime minister in the form of Theresa May, currently the home secretary. May will take office July 13 after the contest to become Conservative leader was unexpectedly cut short by her rival Andrea Leadsom.

May was always seen as the more likely of the two candidates to prevail but it had been thought that she wouldn’t emerge as the victor until September. Then, after facing a backlash for comments she made implying that being a mother made her the best woman for the job, Leadsom quit the race.

So, who is the new prime minster? Some newspapers obsessed over May’s quirky shoe choices. But she also hit headlines with her admission in 2002 that the Conservatives were often seen as the “nasty party”.

Before you continue: please know that reader-supported Facts and Opinions is employee-owned and ad-free. We are on an honour system and survive only because readers like you pay at least 27 cents per story.  Contribute below, or find more details here. Thanks for your interest and support.

After graduating from Oxford, May spent her early career on a London council and at the Bank of England. She was elected to the House of Commons in 1997 as MP for Maidenhead in Berkshire. Her star rose quickly and she became shadow Secretary of State for Education in June 1999, when the Conservative Party was the party of opposition.

When then leader William Hague departed, his successor Iain Duncan Smith appointed May as shadow Secretary of State for transport. Then in 2002, she became chairman of the Conservative Party.

Her style was calm, collected and, as the “nasty party” reference suggests, not afraid to point out uncomfortable truths in order to help her party win power. Under Duncan Smith’s successor, Michael Howard, May returned to the transport portfolio, before moving to culture, finally becoming shadow leader of the House of Commons in 2005 when David Cameron rose to the leadership.

After a short stint as shadow Secretary for Work and Pensions, May took up her more permanent position as HOme Secretary after the Conservative Party came to power as the lead partner in the 2010-2015 coalition government. She held that position right up until now – an exceptionally long stint in one of the government’s toughest jobs.

Traditionally in British politics, it was anticipated that Prime Ministers would occupy two of the three large governmental positions before becoming Prime Minister, those positions being Home Secretary Foreign Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer. However, many Prime Ministers have not held more than one of those positions, and some have held none.

Tony Blair had famously never held a government position before becoming Prime Minister, as the Labour Party had been out of power for the entire duration of his career as an MP. Cameron, too, had never held a Cabinet position before becoming Prime Minister, although he had been a special adviser to Norman Lamont while he had been Chancellor. In modern times, only Jim Callaghan (1976-1979) and John Major (1990-1997) had fulfilled the traditional apprenticeship of government.

Waiting for the vision

For May, there will be no “third way” or “Liberal Conservatism”. She is seen as being to the right of Cameron, who represents the more centre-right element of the party.

We can expect May’s leadership to be defined by the Brexit talks. May has cast herself, not just since the referendum vote, but since her arrival in parliament, as a steady pair of hands. She will need to live up to that reputation in a political environment which is unpredictable and tumultuous.

The lack of a longer leadership campaign means that May has not been pressured on any of her policies, nor has she had the opportunity to explain and justify them to the party and the public.

It seems likely that Britain’s new PM will attempt to “steady the ship”, securing Britain’s relationship with the EU. She said as much in a speech outside parliament when her leadership was confirmed. Brexit, she said, means Brexit, and securing a good deal must be the top priority.

But she will also have to heal her party’s nasty wounds. And even if she didn’t say as much, this problem will have to come first – at least chronologically. The Conservatives have been bitterly divided over the European issue for many years and the referendum has only deepened the rift.

So, before starting protracted negotiations with the EU and various other key trading nations, May will need to bring peace to her own team. And while her first cabinet may give us a hint as to her intentions, it may be some time before her vision for Britain becomes clear.

The ConversationCreative Commons

Links:

We can make Britain a country that works for everyone: Theresa May’s speech launching her campaign, on her campaign site: http://www.theresa2016.co.uk/we_can_make_britain_a_country_that_works_for_everyone

Europe looks forward to dealing with pragmatist, by Duncan Robinson & Stefan Wagstyl, Financial Times

Der Spiegel reporting on Theresa May (mostly in German)

Related works on F&O:

Dawn breaks behind the Houses of Parliament and the statue of Winston Churchill in Westminster, London, Britain June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Dawn breaks behind the Houses of Parliament and the statue of Winston Churchill in Westminster, London, Britain June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Brexit will save the European project, by Jonathan Manthorpe, International Affairs    Analysis

When the dust of history settles, the moment angry Britons voted to quit the European Union will stand out as the moment that saved the 28-nation project.

‘Explosive shock’ as Britain votes to leave EU, Cameron quits, by Guy Faulconbridge and Kate Holton  Report

Britain has voted to leave the European Union, forcing the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron and dealing the biggest blow since World War Two to the European project of forging greater unity.

Brexit Factbox: Who, where, when why – and what next, by Alastair MacDonald, Report

In England’s Mean and Truculent Land, by Jonathan Manthorpe, F&O International Affairs columnist

Britain’s departure from the EU will be a journey across new territory full of terrors and treacherous terrain. Among the many stupidities in Cameron’s management of the referendum was allowing a simple majority for victory.

An American “Brexit” revolt? Not likely, by Tom Regan, F&O Summoning Orenda columnist

Immediately after the Brexit vote, to take Britain out of the European Union, the hyperventilating United States  media found umpteen different ways to say “It could happen here.” This American media chorus is wrong.

 

Victoria-HoneymanVictoria Honeyman is a Lecturer in British Politics at the University of Leeds. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

 

 ~~~

Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded by our readers. It is ad-free and spam-free, and does not solicit donations from partisan organizations. To continue we require a minimum payment of .27 for one story, or a sustaining donation. Details here; donate below. Thanks for your interest and support.

F&O’s CONTENTS page is updated each Saturday. Sign up for emailed announcements of new work on our free FRONTLINES blog; find evidence-based reporting in Reports; commentary, analysis and creative non-fiction in OPINION-FEATURES; and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS. If you value journalism please support F&O, and tell others about us.

Posted in Also tagged , , |

Brexit Factbox: Who, where, when why – and what next

Nigel Farage (front), the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) reacts with supporters, following the result of the EU referendum, outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Nigel Farage (front), the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) reacts with supporters, following the result of the EU referendum, outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville

By Alastair Macdonald 
June 24, 2016

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Britons voted in a referendum on Thursday to leave the European Union. Following are answers to key questions on what will happen next in Britain’s relations with the bloc:

1. WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Vote Leave campaign leader Boris Johnson speaks at the group's headquarters in London, Britain June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Stefan Rousseau/Pool

Vote Leave campaign leader Boris Johnson speaks at the group’s headquarters in London, Britain June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Stefan Rousseau/Pool

The EU is in shock and entering uncharted territory. No member state has ever left and Article 50 of the EU treaty, which sets out how a state can exit the bloc, offers little detail. Although it provides a sketchy legal framework for a two-year period of withdrawal (see below), many believe it will take longer to establish a new trading relationship between Britain and the EU and some fear the process will become bitter, disrupting the economy and European affairs across the board.

Cameron has said he will resign by October and leave it to his successor as leader of the Conservative party to notify the Union that Britain is leaving by invoking Article 50. That will set that two-year clock ticking and the EU itself cannot, officials believe, trigger the process itself. Some in the EU want the process to start more quickly, even as soon as Cameron briefs EU leaders at a summit on Tuesday, and are concerned about suggestions from Brexit campaigners that they might prefer to open new negotiations before triggering Article 50. Cameron’s potential successor Boris Johnson said he saw no reason to start the process and that nothing need change in the short term.

A deal Cameron struck with EU leaders in February to curb immigration, protect London finance interests from the euro zone and opt out of “ever closer union” has been killed by the referendum result and EU leaders have ruled out new talks on a different form of British EU membership – “Leave means leave”.

Many want a quick, two-year divorce while negotiating terms for a future, arms-length relationship may take much longer. However, Germany in particular is keen to see as orderly a transition as possible to a new relationship. That might involve Article 50 negotiations, which the treaty says should “take account” of the new EU-UK relationship, being extended beyond two years to allow time for a broader deal. Such an extension requires the consent of all 28 member states, and reaching that unanimity could be problematic. Nonetheless, EU lawyers and politicians are renowned for their ingenuity. One EU official said that a divorce treaty requiring only a majority vote might be agreed within two years but to take effect only once a second treaty establishing a new relationship was finally concluded.

There are a number of options open to Britain, including to maintain its access to EU markets in the manner of Switzerland and Norway — although EU leaders have said the price for that could be allowing free EU migration and accepting other EU rules that British voters have just rejected in the referendum.

If no treaty is agreed, EU law simply ceases to apply to Britain two years after it gives formal notice it is leaving.

Until a departure treaty is signed – which requires assent from Britain and a majority of the remaining 27 states weighted by population – Britain remains, in principle, a full member of the EU but will be excluded from discussions affecting its exit terms. In practice, many expect British ministers and lawmakers to be rapidly frozen out of much of the Union’s affairs.

Some Brexit campaigners have also said Britain should act more quickly, for example to stop funding the EU budget or curb immigration from EU states. That could provoke EU reprisals.

“The Article 50 process is a divorce: who gets the house, who gets the kids, who gets the bank accounts,” a senior EU official said, referring to priorities such as settling the EU budget and the status of Britons living in other EU states and of EU citizens in Britain – several million people in total.

Failing to stick to Article 50 would be “messy divorce territory”, the official told Reuters: “It is spouses, instead of working through lawyers, throwing dishes at each other.”

An array of laws and EU entitlements will cease to apply to British business and citizens, creating what Brexit campaigners say will be opportunities for more growth and more selective immigration but which Cameron has said will do long-term damage to the economy and Britain’s global influence.

New trade barriers would hurt both sides’ economies. But many EU leaders fear that a political “domino effect” of other countries voting to quit the bloc would cost more long-term.

2. WHAT’S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW?

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron speaks after Britain voted to leave the European Union, outside Number 10 Downing Street in London, Britain June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron speaks after Britain voted to leave the European Union, outside Number 10 Downing Street in London, Britain June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

EU leaders and the heads of EU institutions in Brussels have delivered statements that broadly stress a mantra of Three Rs: Regret – at losing nearly a fifth of the EU economy and more of its military and global clout; Respect – for the will of the British people; and Resolve – to keep the other 27 together. They also reminded Britain that it remains a full member for the time being, with all the rights and obligations that entails.

Foreign ministers are meeting all day in Luxembourg.

Foreign ministers of the bloc’s six founders, Germany, France, Italy and the Benelux trio, meet in Berlin on Saturday. EU “sherpa” advisers to the leaders meet in Brussels at 2:30 p.m. (1230 GMT) on Sunday, when a Spanish general election will also affect EU business. On Monday, EU summit chair Donald Tusk and French President Francois Hollande will meet in Paris and then travel to Berlin to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

Jean-Claude Juncker, who leads the EU’s executive Commission which will negotiate the details of a deal with Britain, plans a meeting of its college of 28 national commissioners for Monday.

Britain’s commissioner, close Cameron ally Jonathan Hill, faces being stripped of his sensitive portfolio overseeing banks and financial services. He may choose to resign. That would allow a new British premier to appoint someone else to the Commission, albeit for a limited period until Britain leaves.

EU leaders meet in Brussels for a 24-hour summit starting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. EU officials expect Cameron to report on the vote and what Britain will do next, then go home that evening. Tusk will then chair a meeting of the remaining 27, a format that will become familiar in the coming years of divorce talks.

Leaders may agree to meet again in July.

3. WHAT IS ARTICLE 50?

This 261-word section of the Lisbon Treaty has the following key phrases:

– A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention … The Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union.

– It shall be concluded … by the Council, acting by a qualified majority.

– The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification … unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.

– The member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions … or in decisions concerning it.

4. WHERE DOES THE EU GO FROM HERE?

The Union needs quickly to fill a 7-billion-euro hole in its 145-billion-euro annual budget, which is currently fixed out to 2020, as it loses Britain’s contributions while saving on what Britons receive from EU accounts.

The EU will also want to clarify as quickly as possible the status of firms and individuals currently using their EU rights to trade, work and live on either side of a new UK-EU frontier.

Britain is expected to give up its six-month presidency of EU ministerial councils, due to start in July next year. Its place may be filled by Estonia or, possibly, Malta or Croatia.

EU leaders may push for a quick show of unity on holding the bloc together in the face of eurosceptics inspired by the result in Britain — including National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who leads polls for next April’s French presidential election. But there is little prospect of major new projects.

Divisions between Berlin and Paris on managing the euro zone probably rule out a big move on that front before both hold elections in 2017. A major EU security and foreign policy review is already on the summit agenda as is a new push to tighten control on irregular immigration from Africa.

Many leaders caution against alienating voters by moving too fast on integration, which they say has alienated voters. Summit chair Tusk wants to launch a formal process of reflection on where the Union has failed to connect with people.

5. SO WHAT CHANGES?

In principle, nothing changes immediately. Britons remain EU citizens and business continues as before. In practice, many believe trade, investment and political decisions will quickly anticipate British departure from the bloc. The EU could also face a Britain breaking apart as europhile Scots plan another push for independence and seek to join the EU on their own.

There is a “Brussels consensus” that Britain must be made an example of for leaving to discourage others and will face a chilly future, cast out to perhaps talk its way back later into some kind of trade access in return for concessions such as free migration from inside the bloc and contributions to the EU budget – things which Brexit voters want to end but which the likes of Norway and Switzerland have accepted in varying forms.

However, cautious diplomats do not rule out surprise turns.

Copyright Reuters 2016

(editing by Mark John, Janet McBride)

Related stories on F&O:

‘Explosive shock’ as Britain votes to leave EU, Cameron quits, by Guy Faulconbridge and Kate Holton  Report

 Britain has voted to leave the European Union, forcing the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron and dealing the biggest blow since World War Two to the European project of forging greater unity.

In England’s Mean and Truculent Land, by Jonathan Manthorpe, F&O International Affairs columnist

Britain’s departure from the EU will be a journey across new territory full of terrors and treacherous terrain. Among the many stupidities in Cameron’s management of the referendum was allowing a simple majority for victory.

 ~~~

Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded by our readers. It is ad-free and spam-free, and does not solicit donations from partisan organizations. To continue we require a minimum payment of .27 for one story, or a sustaining donation. Details here; donate below. Thanks for your interest and support.

F&O’s CONTENTS page is updated each Saturday. Sign up for emailed announcements of new work on our free FRONTLINES blog; find evidence-based reporting in Reports; commentary, analysis and creative non-fiction in OPINION-FEATURES; and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS. If you value journalism please support F&O, and tell others about us.

Posted in Also tagged , , , , |

‘Explosive shock’ as Britain votes to leave EU, Cameron quits

Dawn breaks behind the Houses of Parliament and the statue of Winston Churchill in Westminster, London, Britain June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Dawn breaks behind the Houses of Parliament and the statue of Winston Churchill in Westminster, London, Britain June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

By Guy Faulconbridge and Kate Holton 
June 24, 2016

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain has voted to leave the European Union, forcing the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron and dealing the biggest blow since World War Two to the European project of forging greater unity.

Global financial markets plunged on Friday as results from a referendum defied bookmakers’ odds to show a 52-48 percent victory for the campaign to leave a bloc Britain joined more than 40 years ago.

Vote leave supporters stand outside Downing Street in London, Britain June 24, 2016 after Britain voted to leave the European Union. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs

Related, analysis: In England’s Mean and Truculent Land by Jonathan Manthorpe. Above: Vote leave supporters stand outside Downing Street in London, Britain June 24, 2016 after Britain voted to leave the European Union. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs

The pound fell as much as 10 percent against the dollar to touch levels last seen in 1985, on fears the decision could hit investment in the world’s fifth-largest economy, threaten London’s role as a global financial capital and usher in months of political uncertainty. The euro slid 3 percent.

World stocks saw more than $2 trillion (£1.46 trillion) wiped off their value. Big banks took a battering, with Lloyds, Barclays and RBS falling as much as 30 percent.

The FTSE stock index recovered much of its early losses by the end of the day after the world’s main central banks offered financial backstops.

The United Kingdom itself could now break apart, with the leader of Scotland – where nearly two-thirds of voters wanted to stay in the EU – saying a new referendum on independence from the rest of Britain was “highly likely”.

An emotional Cameron, who led the “Remain” campaign to defeat, losing the gamble he took when he promised the referendum in 2013, said he would leave office by October.

“The British people have made the very clear decision to take a different path and as such I think the country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction,” he said in a televised address outside his residence.

“I do not think it would be right for me to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination,” he added, choking back tears before walking back through 10 Downing Street’s black door with his arm around his wife Samantha.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron walks out of 10 Downing Street with his wife Samantha as he prepares to speak after Britain voted to leave the European Union, in London, Britain June 24, 2016.    REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron walks out of 10 Downing Street with his wife Samantha as he prepares to speak after Britain voted to leave the European Union, in London, Britain June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

INVENTING ANOTHER EUROPE

Ballots are sorted after polling stations closed in the Referendum on the European Union in Islington, London, Britain, June 23, 2016.        REUTERS/Neil Hall

Ballots are sorted after polling stations closed in the Referendum on the European Union in Islington, London, Britain, June 23, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall

Quitting the world’s biggest trading bloc could cost Britain access to the trade barrier-free single market and means it must seek new trade accords with countries around the world. A poll of economists by Reuters predicted Britain was likelier than not to fall into recession within a year.

The EU, which rose out of the ashes of two world wars fascist and communist totalitarianism to unite a continent of prosperous democracies, faces economic and political damage without Britain, which has the EU’s biggest financial centre, a U.N. Security Council veto, a powerful army and nuclear weapons.

“It’s an explosive shock. At stake is the break up pure and simple of the union,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said. “Now is the time to invent another Europe.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who invited the French and Italian leaders to Berlin to discuss future steps, called it a watershed for European unification.

Her foreign minister, who will with France present other EU founding members with a plan for a flexible EU on Saturday, called it a sad day for Britain and Europe.

The result emboldened eurosceptics in other member states, with French National Front leader Marine Le Pen and Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders demanding their countries also hold referendums. Le Pen changed her Twitter profile picture to a Union Jack and declared “Victory for freedom!”

The vote will trigger at least two years of divorce proceedings with the EU, the first exit by any member state. Cameron, in office since 2010, said it would be up to his successor to formally start the exit process.

His Conservative Party rival Boris Johnson, the former London mayor who became the most recognisable face of the Leave camp, is now widely tipped to seek his job.

“We can find our voice in the world again, a voice that is commensurate with the fifth-biggest economy on Earth,” he told reporters at Leave campaign headquarters.

MPs from the Labour Party also launched a no-confidence motion to topple their leader, leftist Jeremy Corbyn, accused by opponents in the party of campaigning tepidly for its Remain stance.

Nigel Farage, the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), reacts at a Leave.eu party after polling stations closed in the Referendum on the European Union in London, Britain, June 24, 2016.  REUTERS/Toby Melville

Nigel Farage, the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), reacts at a Leave.eu party after polling stations closed in the Referendum on the European Union in London, Britain, June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville

“INDEPENDENCE DAY”

Vote Leave campaign leader Boris Johnson speaks at the group's headquarters in London, Britain June 24, 2016.       REUTERS/Stefan Rousseau/Pool

Vote Leave campaign leader Boris Johnson speaks at the group’s headquarters in London, Britain June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Stefan Rousseau/Pool

There was euphoria among Britain’s eurosceptic forces, claiming a victory over the political establishment, big business and foreign leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama who had urged Britain to stay in.

“Let June 23 go down in our history as our independence day,” said Nigel Farage, leader of the eurosceptic UK Independence Party, describing the EU as “doomed” and “dying”.

The shock hits a European bloc already reeling from a euro zone debt crisis, unprecedented mass migration and confrontation with Russia over Ukraine. Support for anti-immigrant and anti-EU parties has surged across the continent.

U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, whose own rise has been fuelled by similar anger at the political establishment, called the vote a “great thing”. Britons “took back control of their country”, he said in Scotland where he was opening a golf resort. He criticised Obama for telling Britons how to vote, and drew a comparison with his own campaign.

Obama said he had spoken with Cameron and that the United States’ relationship with Britain would endure.

“While the UK’s relationship with the EU will change, one thing that will not change is the special relationship that exists between our two nations,” he said in a speech.

Britain has always been ambivalent about its relations with the rest of post-war Europe. A firm supporter of free trade, tearing down internal economic barriers and expanding the EU to take in ex-communist eastern states, it opted out of joining the euro single currency and the Schengen border-free zone.

Cameron’s ruling Conservatives in particular have harboured a vocal anti-EU wing for generations, and it was partly to silence such figures that he called the referendum.

The 11th hour decision of Johnson – Cameron’s schoolmate from the same elite Eton private boarding school – to come down on the side of Leave gave the exit campaign a credible voice.

World leaders including Obama, Merkel, Chinese President Xi Jinping, NATO and Commonwealth governments had all urged a Remain vote, saying Britain would be more influential in the EU.

A woman holds a sign in Westminster, in central London, Britain June 24, 2016.     REUTERS/Phil Noble

A woman holds a sign in Westminster, in central London, Britain June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Phil Noble

DARKEST HOUR

A taxi driver holds a Union flag, as he celebrates following the result of the EU referendum, in central London, Britain June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville

A taxi driver holds a Union flag, as he celebrates following the result of the EU referendum, in central London, Britain June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville

The four-month campaign was among the most divisive ever waged in Britain, with accusations of lying and scare-mongering on both sides and rows over immigration which critics said at times unleashed overt racism.

At the darkest hour, a pro-EU member of parliament was stabbed and shot to death in the street. The suspect later told a court his name was “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain”.

The campaign revealed deep splits in British society, with the pro-Brexit side drawing support from voters who felt left behind by globalisation and blamed EU immigration for low wages. Older voters backed Brexit; the young mainly wanted to stay in. London and Scotland supported the EU, but swathes of England that have not shared in the capital’s prosperity voted to leave.

Support for Remain among Scots prompted Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to declare it “democratically unacceptable” for Scotland to be dragged out of the EU, two years after voting to stay part of the United Kingdom. “I think an independence referendum is now highly likely,” she said.

The financial turmoil comes at a time when interest rates around the world are already at or near zero. The shock could prevent the U.S. Federal Reserve from raising interest rates as planned this year or even provoke a new round of emergency policy easing from central banks.

Left unclear is the relationship Britain can negotiate with the EU. EU officials have said UK-based banks and financial firms could lose automatic access to sell services in Europe.

Huge questions also face the millions of British expatriates who live freely elsewhere in the bloc as well as millions of EU citizens who live and work in Britain.

Copyright Reuters 2016

(Additional reporting by William James, Kylie MacLellan, Sarah Young, Alistair Smout, Costas Pitas, Andy Bruce and David Milliken in London, and Steve Holland in Turnberry, Scotland; Writing by Mark John and Pravin Char; Editing by Peter Graff and Anna Willard)

Related on F&O:

 

Brexit Factbox: Who, where, when why – and what next, by Alastair MacDonald, Report

In England’s Mean and Truculent Land, by Jonathan Manthorpe, F&O International Affairs columnist

Britain’s departure from the EU will be a journey across new territory full of terrors and treacherous terrain. Among the many stupidities in Cameron’s management of the referendum was allowing a simple majority for victory.

 ~~~

Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded by our readers. It is ad-free and spam-free, and does not solicit donations from partisan organizations. To continue we require a minimum payment of .27 for one story, or a sustaining donation. Details here; donate below. Thanks for your interest and support.

F&O’s CONTENTS page is updated each Saturday. Sign up for emailed announcements of new work on our free FRONTLINES blog; find evidence-based reporting in Reports; commentary, analysis and creative non-fiction in OPINION-FEATURES; and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS. If you value journalism please support F&O, and tell others about us.

Posted in Also tagged , , , , |

In England’s Mean and Truculent Land

Vote leave supporters stand outside Downing Street in London, Britain June 24, 2016 after Britain voted to leave the European Union.     REUTERS/Kevin Coombs

Vote leave supporters stand outside Downing Street in London, Britain June 24, 2016 after Britain voted to leave the European Union. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs

JONATHAN MANTHORPE: International Affairs
June 24, 2016

When I was born in 1944 my parents lived a few hundred yards from where George Vancouver grew up in Kings Lynn, on England’s North Sea coast where the thrills of the horizon and the world beckon.

In moments of inexcusable hubris, I sometimes fantasize that Vancouver and I, two Norfolk boys raised a few streets apart, neatly bracket the story of the British Empire.

The difference is that he was one of the heroes of the beginning while I, even in my most illustrious moments, am only a chronicler of the end. By some lights, my life has been a long last dance.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron walks out of 10 Downing Street with his wife Samantha as he prepares to speak after Britain voted to leave the European Union, in London, Britain June 24, 2016.    REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron walks out of 10 Downing Street with his wife Samantha as he prepares to speak after Britain voted to leave the European Union, in London, Britain June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

In my early years after the Second World War Britain’s Empire was still almost intact. And even though my school days were buffeted by Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s 1960 “winds of change” speech to the South African parliament, some of my classmates went off to be the last generation of British district officers in West Africa and elsewhere. The era of imperial decline was unstoppable, and quite rightly so. After over 50 years as a journalist – 40 of them as a foreign correspondent – I have lost count of the number of times and places where I have seen the union jack rung down at midnight.

The shrinking and diminishing of Britain stopped, however, when it joined what was then the European Economic Community in 1973.

The early years were tough as the British economy adjusted to the new realities and Margaret Thatcher’s political revolution in the 1980s changed Britain’s view of itself and the world. But membership of what is now the European Union (EU) has been good for Britain, and the booming, modernized British economy has been good for the EU.

So what happened on Thursday, when British voters opted by 52 per cent to 48 per cent to leave the EU, is perplexing. It looks like a short-sighted and self-destructive act of mindless petulance.

The English urban blue collar, Labour Party supporters and rural Conservatives who powered this drive to leave the EU appear to have been driven by a sense of frustrated powerlessness. The opportunity to kick the establishment classes in the shins – if not higher – was too tempting to miss. The majority is lashing out in blind rage, not a considered valuation of the future of the country.

Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron called the referendum at a time when it appeared – briefly – that his party might lose support to the right-wing and charmless United Kingdom Independence Party. His prime purpose, though, was to silence noisy and rebellious Tories on his own backbenches and among his cabinet ministers.

But Cameron and the monumentally underwhelming Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn both clearly felt that the benefits of EU membership are so self-evident that serious campaigning for the “Remain” ticket was unnecessary. Cameron made only half-hearted attempts earlier this year to negotiate a new deal with Brussels aimed at securing British sovereignty over issues like immigration. He came away with nothing substantial. This was just the kind of thoughtless lack of attention to public opinion that so irritates many voters.

Both Cameron and Corbyn will pay for their disdain with their jobs. Cameron announced on Friday morning he will step down by the time of the Tory party annual conference in October. Corbyn too is toast, though he may not realize it yet.

Among the many stupidities in Cameron’s management of the referendum was allowing a simple majority for victory. The “Leave” vote of 52 per cent is decisive, but it is also divisive. Nearly half the population wants to stay in Europe. Lines have been drawn for turmoil in British politics for years to come. On a matter of this importance to the future and stability of the country a two-thirds majority for change would have made much more sense.

The majority of voters dismissed the economic arguments for Britain remaining in the EU as irrelevant to their concerns. What bugs the majority is the perception that the country is being flooded by immigrants, over whose entry the British people have no control. Brussels is blamed for foisting this cultural erosion on Britain and constantly sucking more and more sovereign powers from the Westminster parliament. And to add injury to insult, Britain, the EU’s second largest economy, contributes massively to Brussels’ coffers for the privilege of being abused.

None of these beliefs stands up to much scrutiny. They are the same kind of mythologies that energize Donald Trump’s supporters in the United States.

They may be myths, but they have changed the world. Britain’s departure from the EU will be a journey across new territory full of terrors and treacherous terrain.

To start with, there is now huge political uncertainty in Britain.

Vote Leave campaign leader Boris Johnson speaks at the group's headquarters in London, Britain June 24, 2016.       REUTERS/Stefan Rousseau/Pool

Vote Leave campaign leader Boris Johnson speaks at the group’s headquarters in London, Britain June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Stefan Rousseau/Pool

The most likely person to succeed Cameron as Tory party leader and Prime Minister is Boris Johnson, the engaging but thoroughly untrustworthy former Mayor of London. Johnson made himself leader of the “Leave” campaign, though a widely held view by those who have watched him from up close is that he is driven by political ambition rather than Eurosceptic philosophy.

The indications so far are that Johnson will seek what is known as an “EU-lite” relationship with Europe. Two non-EU members, Norway and Switzerland have this kind of free market relationship with the EU. However, these deals require Norway and Switzerland to confirm to most EU rules, including the free movement of people which so infuriates the majority of British voters. Switzerland and Norway are also required to pay Brussels large amounts of money to finance the relationship. But neither country sends members to the European Parliament or has officials in the Brussels bureaucracy. The result is that Switzerland and Norway have to comply with the EU’s diktats without having any voice or influence in their creation.

It seems highly unlikely that British voters will think that still having to obey the EU’s rules without having any say in their writing is any advance on what they have now.

All this will play out over the next four years. The process for Britain’s departure will be set in motion when the London government invokes Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon. This envisages a two-year period when London will negotiate with the European Commission, the European Parliament and the remaining 27 EU members the terms of Britain’s departure and its future relationship with the EU. That timetable is not fixed and it will probably extend into three years or so. But the new Conservative government will probably want to get the deal done before the next British election due in May, 2020.

By that time there may not be a Britain as we know it now. Among the several social and political divisions revealed in the results of the referendum vote is a clear divide between England and Scotland. The Scots voted 62 per cent to stay in the EU with only 38 per cent opting to quit.

Leave supporters cheer results at a Leave.eu party after polling stations closed in the Referendum on the European Union in London, Britain, June 23, 2016.  REUTERS/Toby Melville

Leave supporters cheer results at a Leave.eu party after polling stations closed in the Referendum on the European Union in London, Britain, June 23, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville

In 2014 a referendum on Scottish independence from the United Kingdom was defeated only narrowly. The leader of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon, who is also First Minister of the regional government, said on Friday that a new independence referendum is now “highly likely.” Given the Scots’ attachment to the EU, it is almost certain they would opt to leave the United Kingdom, which they joined in 1603.

Similar reassessments will go on in Northern Ireland. With Britain out of the EU, Northern Ireland’s border with the Irish Republic will close. The free movement of people and goods across the border is an important element in the peace arrangements that brought an end to the 30-year-long terrorist war between Irish Nationalists and Ulster Unionists. The closing of the border again will prompt the people of Northern Ireland, including the unionists, to re-evaluate where their long-term interests lie.

By the time Britain departs the EU it might consist only of England and Wales, though it is by no means certain that the Welsh are dedicated partners in the Brexit adventure.

The country that finally leaves the EU could well be only an English recalcitrant rump of Britain.

However unappetizing, the Brexit example is seen by many as a danger to the entire EU project. Euroscepticism is flourishing in Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands. There will undoubtedly be pressure in all three countries for their own referenda on quitting the EU.

In other countries central to the EU project and the continued integration of the member states, such as Germany, France and Italy, there are unlikely to be demands for departure votes. But in all three of those countries, as well as in other EU member states such as Hungary and Poland, right wing parties are winning growing support. This is largely a result of the EU’s shambolic response to the flood of refugees from Africa and the Middle East, but it is challenging the assumption, by the high priests of the EU, that ever faster and deeper integration is the only way forward.

Britain is the EU’s second largest economy, after Germany, and its departure is going to rattle the economic underpinnings of Europe until a new relationship is worked out. Brexit will also force the EU architects to re-examine what they are building, and to whose benefit. The EU needs to tackle its democratic deficit that allows nonsense like the creation of the unsustainable euro common currency and other efforts to force members into a political union for which they are neither ready nor willing.

Britain under several prime ministers of all political stripes has been quarrelling with Brussels almost from the moment the country joined the EU. It is a grim commentary on the culture of the EU that Britain has to stamp its foot and storm out of the room to get attention. If that is the outcome of Brexit, then something positive may yet come out of what looks at the moment like a debacle.

Copyright Jonathan Manthorpe 2016

Contact — including for syndication/republishing of Jonathan Manthorpe’s columns –message: jonathan.manthorpe@gmail.com

Related on F&O:

Small Stampede for the Brexit, by Jonathan Manthorpe, June 11, 2016

It is unlikely that Britons are going to give a conclusive answer to the question whether they should remain in the European Union or leave it when they mark their referendum ballots on June 23.

Sadiq Khan: British dream reality for London’s first Muslim mayor, by Parveen Akhtar

In Pakistan, the chances that the son of a bus or rickshaw driver could secure a high-ranking political position in the country’s capital city are minuscule. But now, the people of London have elected Sadiq Khan – the son of an immigrant Pakistani bus driver – to be their first Muslim mayor. …read more

The Trump virus goes global, by Jonathan Manthorpe

Trumpery – the political disease that is convulsing the United States and which is characterized by  incompetence, boastfulness and danger – appears to be mutating into a world-wide epidemic. Like America’s Donald Trump, London’s Boris Johnson and Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines are riding a wave of public disgust for traditional politicians.

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson

The Boris Show heads for prime time, by Jonathan Manthorpe

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London who unashamedly lusts to be Tory Prime Minister of Britain, clearly relishes his role as a source of public entertainment. In his nearly two decades in the public eye, Johnson has made buffoonery a high political art form. And public delight at his verbal indiscretions, temperamental inability to parrot contemporary political correctness, willingness to make a fool of himself, and genial, basset-hound features have aligned into considerable political backing.

Manthorpe B&WJonathan Manthorpe is a founding columnist with Facts and Opinions and is the author of the journal’s International Affairs column. He is the author of “Forbidden Nation: A History of Taiwan,” and has been a foreign correspondent and international affairs columnist for nearly 40 years. Manthorpe’s  nomadic career began in the late 1970s as European Bureau Chief for The Toronto Star, the job that took Ernest Hemingway to Europe in the 1920s. In the mid-1980s Manthorpe became European Correspondent for Southam News. In the following years Manthorpe was sent by Southam News, the internal news agency for Canada’s largest group of metropolitan daily newspapers, to be the correspondent in Africa and then Asia. Between postings Manthorpe spent a few years based in Ottawa focusing on intelligence and military affairs, and the United Nations. Since 1998 Manthorpe has been based in Vancouver, but has travelled frequently on assignment to Asia, Europe and Latin America.

~~~

Real journalism is not free. If you value evidence-based, non-partisan, spam-free information, please support Facts and Opinions, an employee-owned collaboration of professional journalists.  Details here.

 

F&O’s CONTENTS page is updated each Saturday. Sign up for emailed announcements of new work on our free FRONTLINES blog; find evidence-based reporting in Reports; commentary, analysis and creative non-fiction in OPINION-FEATURES; and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS. If you value journalism please support F&O, and tell others about us.

 

Posted in Also tagged , , |

Small Stampede for the Brexit

JONATHAN MANTHORPE: International Affairs
June 11, 2016

It is unlikely that Britons are going to give a conclusive answer to the question whether they should remain in the European Union or leave it when they mark their referendum ballots on June 23.

Recent polls show “Leave” supporters marginally ahead of those wanting to stay. The pro-“Brexit” vote is between 45 per cent and 48 per cent, according to half a dozen polls. The vote to remain is about five percentage points less.

But a poll published on Thursday and conducted by the market research company Opinium in tandem with the European Centre for Research in Electoral Psychology shows that about 18 per cent of voters are undecided. Most of those don’t expect to make up their minds until the last few days of the campaign.

So there is still everything to play for and the result is likely to be only a marginal victory for which ever side comes out on top.

Please chip in at least .27 cents to continue reading. Real journalism — reporting and analysis — is not free, and it’s not supported by either governments or the tooth fairy. Details below, or click here.

This will leave Britons divided about the future of the country. Though, given the nature of the campaign debate and the leading characters involved, muddled is probably a better description of the British state of mind. “Divided” implies passionately held views whose advocates will take years to resolve their differences, if they ever do. Yet these months of campaigning have been a singularly bloodless affair, notable more for the eccentricities of the leading figures involved than any sense that Britain’s long and colourful history is approaching a decisive moment.

The issues appear straightforward. The Brexit campaign says that since the EU morphed from being a purely free trade area into a political project aimed at creating a European federation, more and more sovereignty has slipped from Westminster across The Channel to Brussels. Britons, say the Brexit campaigners, are no longer masters in their own home.

The “Leave” campaign has focused on immigration and the free movement of people to live and work in any of the 28 countries of the EU. Immigrants are taking jobs from Britons and driving down wages, say the Brexiters. Mistrust of foreigners has taken hold with many voters despite independent analyses showing that Britain has a shortage of skilled workers and that this is driving up wages.

And voters should not fear that leaving the EU will have dire economic consequences, says the “Leave” campaign. Britain will easily sign free trade agreements with the old Dominions like Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well as with the United States, and, indeed, with the EU as Switzerland and Norway have done.

David Cameron

David Cameron

The Britain Stronger in Europe campaign is a cross-party group led by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron. It has focused largely on what it says will be the terrible economic buffeting Britain will take if it leaves the EU. The “Remain” campaign is backed by a strong chorus of bankers, business leaders, economists and men-in-suits of various disciplines.

But these legions of doomsayers have not had a conclusive effect on the voters, largely because Cameron’s campaign has brought new depth of meaning and nuance to the word anaemic. His arguments have been made with such turgidity that Cameron deserves to lose the referendum just for being so incredibly boring.

Turgidity seems to have been his strategy. Cameron fears that if any passion or colour is injected into the campaign it would benefit only the Brexit side. He has made it firmly clear to his 27 fellow EU leaders as well as the union’s senior officials that he wants them to stay out of the debate. People like German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, have buttoned their mouths at Cameron’s insistence. They have been left with the clear feeling Cameron thinks that any expression of hope on their part that Britain stay in the EU will be counterproductive and only bolster the Brexit side. For that reason, Cameron was not happy when, a few weeks ago, U.S. President Barack Obama urged Britons to stay in the EU.

With such a lacklustre campaign advocating “Remain,” it is a wonder the polls show both sides so evenly matched. That must be because the champions of Brexit are a cast of characters from whom anyone with any sense would hesitate to buy a used car.

READ: Boris Johnson: schemer or charmer? -- Jonathan Manthorpe

Boris Johnson

The British public’s affection for Boris Johnson, the former Mayor of London and now Tory backbencher who made a political career by playing a loveable, naughty sheepdog, appears to be wearing thin. His dishevelled appearance and colourful refusal to abide by rules of political correctness have carried him this far. But in retrospect, his eight years as Mayor of London, which ended early in May, were singularly unproductive. There is no doubt that his main aim in leading the Brexit campaign is to oust Cameron as Tory leader and become the British Prime Minister. And with Johnson, there is always a problem about believing what he says. He is singularly untrustworthy, and his path through life is littered with friends, and especially women, whom he has betrayed.

Boris as TV personality, and even as mayor, is entertaining, but do you really want him in 10 Downing Street and leading Britain along the lonely post-EU path into the unknown?

Nigel Farage, the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party – Ukip – has lengthy credentials as a champion of the campaign to get Britain out of the EU. Oddly in the circumstances, his main political platform is as a long-running Member of the European Parliament. His several attempts to get elected to the Westminster Parliament have failed, but voters pay far less attention to whom they send to the Strasbourg parliament. A small, highly organized campaign can often win a seat in the European Parliament, which is why it contains more than its fair share of odd balls.

Farage appeals to hardcore Little Englanders, but for most people he is the pub’s loudmouth bore — entertaining for about five minutes on first meeting, and then to be shunned.

What no one has figured out with any certainty is what happens on June 24 if a majority of British voters opted to leave the EU the day before. There is a mechanism for EU members to leave under Article 50 of the 2009 Treaty of Lisbon. This envisages a two-year period when the remaining 27 EU members would negotiate Britain’s departure. The ignominy of this would be that Westminster would lose the initiative. Its exit voucher would be a matter of bargaining and squabbling among the other 27.

And the two-year timetable is not hard and fast. It can be extended, and it is easy to imagine that the EU’s most powerful members and institutions would see it in their interest to stall the process for as long as possible. There are real fears that Brexit might spark a rush for the exit by other countries that are unhappy with loss of sovereignty and governing powers to Brussels. There are even predictions that Britain’s departure could trigger the collapse of the entire EU, especially as a political federation. Thus, in the EU bureaucracy and pivotal countries like Germany and France there will be no desire to make Britain’s departure easy, quick or painless.

There is also the prospect that a vote to leave could start the break-up of the United Kingdom. The Scots in particular are strong supporters of EU membership. A Brexit vote would undoubtedly encourage the Scottish Nationalist regional government to launch another referendum on Scottish independence, this time with more likelihood of winning than in the 2014 ballot.

Cameron has said that if the leave faction wins on June 23 he will invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – before himself heading off into political retirement. But there is another route Britain can go if the Brexit vote wins. The Westminster parliament can simply repeal the 1972 European Communities Act that enabled Britain to join what was then the European Economic Community. It is far from certain, however, that the British Parliament would back a unilateral declaration of independence from the EU.

Cameron was pressed into staging this referendum because of pressure from his backbenchers, about half of whom support Brexit. But in the House of Commons as a whole, there is a clear majority that wants Britain to remain in the EU. If there is only a slim majority for Brexit, and especially if there is a low voter turnout, MPs can justifiably question the political legitimacy of the result and balk at revoking the European Communities Act.

Thus a vote for Britain to leave the EU is unlikely to produce a “Freedom at Midnight” moment. Instead it will open the gate to a long and gruelling trudge through a muddy field, with no clear view of the destination or what the eventual outcome will be.

 

Copyright Jonathan Manthorpe 2016

Contact: jonathan.manthorpe@gmail.com. Please address queries about syndication/republishing this column to jonathan.manthorpe@gmail.com

Further information sources:

 

Manthorpe B&WJonathan Manthorpe is a founding columnist with Facts and Opinions and is the author of the journal’s International Affairs column. He is the author of “Forbidden Nation: A History of Taiwan,” and has been a foreign correspondent and international affairs columnist for nearly 40 years. Manthorpe’s  nomadic career began in the late 1970s as European Bureau Chief for The Toronto Star, the job that took Ernest Hemingway to Europe in the 1920s. In the mid-1980s Manthorpe became European Correspondent for Southam News. In the following years Manthorpe was sent by Southam News, the internal news agency for Canada’s largest group of metropolitan daily newspapers, to be the correspondent in Africa and then Asia. Between postings Manthorpe spent a few years based in Ottawa focusing on intelligence and military affairs, and the United Nations. Since 1998 Manthorpe has been based in Vancouver, but has travelled frequently on assignment to Asia, Europe and Latin America.

~~~

Real journalism is not free. If you value evidence-based, non-partisan, spam-free information, please support Facts and Opinions, an employee-owned collaboration of professional journalists.  Details here.

 

F&O’s CONTENTS page is updated each Saturday. Sign up for emailed announcements of new work on our free FRONTLINES blog; find evidence-based reporting in Reports; commentary, analysis and creative non-fiction in OPINION-FEATURES; and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS. If you value journalism please support F&O, and tell others about us.

 

Posted in Also tagged , , |

Britain’s New World

Alex Salmond official photo, supplied by the Scottish Parliament

Alex Salmond Photo from Scottish Parliament

Britain will never be the same. The day after Scots voted 55-45 to support the United Kingdom, on promises by unionists for a new range of Scottish powers, Prime Minister David Cameron set in motion a process to empower not just Scotland, but also Wales and Northern Island — and potentially to remake the British political system.

Meantime, First Minister Alex Salmond, who devoted his life to Scottish independence, shocked Scots by resigning, which he had earlier said he would not do if his Yes campaign for independence failed.

“For me as leader, my time is nearly over,” he told reporters in Edinburgh. “But for Scotland the campaign continues and the dream shall never die.”

United Kingdom prime minister David Cameron said he was “delighted” at the referendum result, and in a speech Friday rejected Salmond’s assertion that the campaign continues. “There can be no disputes, no re-runs – we have heard the settled will of the Scottish people.”

Cameron appointed Lord Smith of Kelvin to oversee devolution in Scotland, and  William Hague to oversee plans for a system allowing more powers for citizens in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, developed at the same pace as Scottish devolution.

“Now it is time for our United Kingdom to come together, and to move forward,” said Cameron. “A vital part of that will be a balanced settlement – fair to people in Scotland and importantly to everyone in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as well.”

Salmond  called on Britain’s leaders to honour that settlement, and the 11th-hour promises made in the last weeks of the campaign, promptly.

Wrote Salmond: “The unionist parties made vows late in the campaign to devolve more powers to Scotland. Scotland will expect these to be honoured in rapid course. Just as a reminder, we have been promised a second reading of a Scotland Bill by the 27th of March next year and not just the 1.6 million Scots who voted for independence will demand that that timetable is followed but all Scots who participated in this referendum will demand that that timetable is followed. “

 – Deborah Jones

 Continued ….

Photo by Moyan Brenn, Creative Commons via Flickr Kilchurn Castle, north of Glasgow, Scotland, in Loch Awe

Kilchurn Castle, north of Glasgow, Scotland, in Loch Awe. Photo by Moyan Brenn, Creative Commons via Flickr

Excerpts of Salmond’s blog post on the Scottish referendum site: 

It’s important to say that our referendum was an agreed and consented process and Scotland has by majority decided not at this stage to become an independent country. I accept that verdict of the people and I call on all of Scotland to follow suit in accepting the democratic verdict of the people of Scotland.

But I think all of us in this campaign say that that 45 per cent, that 1.6 million votes, is a substantial vote for Scottish independence and the future of this country. Let us say something which I hope that unites all campaigns and all Scots. I think the process by which we have made our decision as a nation reflects enormous credit upon Scotland. A turnout of 86 per cent is one of the highest in the democratic world for any election or any referendum in history. This has been a triumph for the democratic process and for participation in politics.

For example, the initiative by which 16 and 17 year olds were able to vote has proved to be a resounding success. I suspect that no one will ever again dispute their right and ability to participate fully and responsibly in democratic elections.

So we now face the consequences of Scotland’s democratic decision. Firstly, Clause 30 of the Edinburgh Agreement is now in operation. On behalf of the Scottish Government I accept the results and I pledge to work constructively in the interest of Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

Secondly, the unionist parties made vows late in the campaign to devolve more powers to Scotland. Scotland will expect these to be honoured in rapid course. Just as a reminder, we have been promised a second reading of a Scotland Bill by the 27th of March next year and not just the 1.6 million Scots who voted for independence will demand that that timetable is followed but all Scots who participated in this referendum will demand that that timetable is followed.

I’ll be speaking to the Prime Minister shortly after this statement but can I return thirdly to the empowerment of so many Scots entering the political process for the very first time. It is something that is so valuable it has to be cherished, preserved and built upon…

Whatever else we can say about this referendum campaign, we have touched sections of the community who’ve never before been touched by politics. These sections of the community have touched us and touched the political process. I don’t think that will ever be allowed to go back to business as usual in politics again.

Excerpts of Cameron’s speech, posted on the UK government site:

So now it is time for our United Kingdom to come together, and to move forward. A vital part of that will be a balanced settlement – fair to people in Scotland and importantly to everyone in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as well.

Let us first remember why we had this debate – and why it was right to do so.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) was elected in Scotland in 2011 and promised a referendum on independence. We could have blocked that; we could have put it off, but just as with other big issues, it was right to take – not duck – the big decision. 

I am a passionate believer in our United Kingdom – I wanted more than anything for our United Kingdom to stay together.

But I am also a democrat. And it was right that we respected the SNP’s majority in Holyrood and gave the Scottish people their right to have their say…

Scotland voted for a stronger Scottish Parliament backed by the strength and security of the United Kingdom and I want to congratulate the No campaign for that – for showing people that our nations really are better together.

I also want to pay tribute to Yes Scotland for a well-fought campaign and to say to all those who did vote for independence: “we hear you”…

To those in Scotland sceptical of the constitutional promises made, let me say this we have delivered on devolution under this government, and we will do so again in the next Parliament.

The 3 pro-union parties have made commitments, clear commitments, on further powers for the Scottish Parliament. We will ensure that they are honoured in full. 

And I can announce today that Lord Smith of Kelvin – who so successfully led Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games – has agreed to oversee the process to take forward the devolution commitments, with powers over tax, spending and welfare all agreed by November and draft legislation published by January.

Just as the people of Scotland will have more power over their affairs, so it follows that the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland must have a bigger say over theirs. The rights of these voters need to be respected, preserved and enhanced as well.

It is absolutely right that a new and fair settlement for Scotland should be accompanied by a new and fair settlement that applies to all parts of our United Kingdom. In Wales, there are proposals to give the Welsh government and Assembly more powers. And I want Wales to be at the heart of the debate on how to make our United Kingdom work for all our nations. In Northern Ireland, we must work to ensure that the devolved institutions function effectively.

I have long believed that a crucial part missing from this national discussion is England. We have heard the voice of Scotland – and now the millions of voices of England must also be heard. The question of English votes for English laws – the so-called West Lothian question – requires a decisive answer.

So, just as Scotland will vote separately in the Scottish Parliament on their issues of tax, spending and welfare, so too England, as well as Wales and Northern Ireland, should be able to vote on these issues and all this must take place in tandem with, and at the same pace as, the settlement for Scotland.

I hope that is going to take place on a cross-party basis. I have asked William Hague to draw up these plans. We will set up a Cabinet Committee right away and proposals will also be ready to the same timetable. I hope the Labour Party and other parties will contribute.

It is also important we have wider civic engagement about to improve governance in our United Kingdom, including how to empower our great cities. And we will say more about this in the coming days.

This referendum has been hard fought. It has stirred strong passions. It has electrified politics in Scotland, and caught the imagination of people across the whole of our United Kingdom.

It will be remembered as a powerful demonstration of the strength and vitality of our ancient democracy. Record numbers registered to vote and record numbers cast their vote. We can all be proud of that. It has reminded us how fortunate we are that we are able to settle these vital issues at the ballot box, peacefully and calmly.

“Now we must look forward, and turn this into the moment when everyone – whichever way they voted – comes together to build that better, brighter future for our entire United Kingdom.

Further reading on Facts and Opinions:

Scotland Votes, Frontlines blog post

Scotland Decided: what the experts say

An expert panel looks at what happened, and where it leaves the UK and Scotland.

ALEX SALMOND: The Independent Scot. By Murray Leith

If there’s one figure that anyone anywhere would associate with the Scottish referendum campaign it’s Alex Salmond, first minister of Scotland, leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), and the man who could be responsible for the break-up of the United Kingdom. But who is he, where did this political whirlwind begin and where will it take the man and his party?

Scottish leader downplays difficulties of independence. By Jonathan Manthorpe, April 2014 (Subscription)

Scots  will vote in a referendum on September 18 on separation from the United Kingdom. But the division of assets and liabilities in the break-up of a country is complex and vexatious – and in the case of Scotland, these matters are particularly difficult. The latest polls in Scotland, with the undecided vote discounted, shows 52 percent of respondents support staying with the United Kingdom while 48 per cent want independence.

Further reading elsewhere:
Salmond to resign after Scotland rejects independence, Agence France-Presse 

Scotland’s pro-independence leader Alex Salmond said Friday he would resign after losing a referendum that left the United Kingdom intact but opened a Pandora’s box of demands for more autonomy across Britain.

Scotland is staying. London’s headaches are just starting, Christian Science Monitor 

British leaders are relieved by the Scots’ vote against independence. But devolving new powers to Scotland – and perhaps to England – may be a bigger challenge for Westminster than the referendum was.

Queen Accepts Scotland’s Apology (Satire), Borowitz Report, The New Yorker

In the aftermath of Scotland’s “no” vote in the referendum on becoming an independent country, Queen Elizabeth II, of Great Britain, took to the airwaves on Friday morning to inform the people of Scotland that she “graciously and wholeheartedly” accepted their apology. “Although the matter of independence has been settled, one question remains very much open,” she said in an address televised across Scotland. “And my answer to that question is this: yes, I forgive you.”

 

 

Facts and Opinions is a boutique for slow journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is sustained entirely by readers: we do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes.  Why? We appreciate, and rely on, your interest and support:  for $2.95 (the price of a cheap brew) you can subscribe to F&O for a month. If that breaks your budget, a one-day pass is $1. A subscription is required for most F&O original work. Subscribe for free to Frontlines by entering your address in the form on the right of this page (we won’t share your address), or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

 

Posted in Current Affairs, Gyroscope Also tagged , , , , |

On the EU and David Cameron’s Base

360px-David_Cameron_officialDavid Cameron’s campaign to prevent the election of  Jean-Claude Juncker as head of the European Commission was a piece of sound and fury, writes International Affairs analyst Jonathan Manthorpe. His defeat would seem, on the surface, conclusive — except when considered as a work of domestic politicking. An excerpt of Manthorpe’s column:

The humiliating defeat of British Prime Minister David Cameron in the election for the European Union’s top bureaucrat is probably the best thing that could have happened to him.

Cameron took a calculated risk in the fallout from May’s elections for members of the European Parliament, in which right wing anti-EU parties including the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) made unprecedented gains.

The results made Cameron’s credibility look threadbare, especially his pledge to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s membership of the EU. Cameron wants to grab back powers over national policy-making and legislation that have been handed over to Brussels. His plan is to put the results to a clear yes or no referendum in Britain in 2017, after the next general election, due in May next year.

But recent local and European elections in Britain show that a gathering tide of voters, both Conservatives and supporters of the opposition New Labour party, are so fed up with the intrusive nannyism of Brussels … read more (subscription required*)

*Log in on the top right of each page (or click here to purchase a subscription or a $1 site day pass) to read:

Cameron courts “heroic defeat” by European leaders

Jonathan Manthorpe’s columnist page is here.

 

Facts and Opinions is a boutique for slow journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O performs journalism for citizens, sustained entirely by readers: we do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes.  Why? If you’d like to support our journalism, for $2.95 (the price of a cheap brew) you can subscribe to F&O for a month. If that breaks your budget, a one-day pass is $1.) 

Posted in Current Affairs Also tagged , , , |

European ground shifts beneath supporter’s feet

Nigel_Farage_MEP_1,_Strasbourg_-_Diliff

Nigel Farage. Photo: Diliff

When all is said and done following the European Union elections, the person who really counts is the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, writes International Affairs analyst Jonathan Manthorpe. Is Merkel correct in believing that surging support for rightwing parties stems from economic insecurity — and not a fundamental objection to EU powers? Still, EU supporters are treading with care. Excerpt of Manthorpe’s new column:

There is no comfort for Europe’s band of supporters of a bigger and more powerful political union that their side won nearly 64 per cent of the vote in last weekend’s election.

That victory cannot override the reality that parties that want to either radically reform or abandon the 28-member European Union (EU) doubled their support from the 2009 election to 36.4 per cent of the vote.

As leaders gathered in Brussels on Tuesday evening for an informal post-mortem dinner, the mood was markedly downbeat. Even the most avid EU supporters were displaying an unusual lack of certainty about the group’s immediate future.

French President Francois Hollande, for example, can, like all his predecessors, usually be depended on to respond to any crisis within the EU by issuing demands for more centralized European control and power.

Not today … read more*

*Log in on the top right of each page, or click here to purchase a subscription or a $1 site day pass, to read Revolt against Brussels rattles European leaders.

Click here for Jonathan Manthorpe’s page, with all of his columns for F&O.

*Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O serves and is entirely funded by reader payments. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from non-journalism foundations or causes.

 

 

Posted in Current Affairs Also tagged , , , , |