It would be wrong to ascribe a greater significance to Nigel Farage than he deserves. Arguably, he simply acted as an anti-Europe focus for the many disaffected Tories who probably would, sooner or later, have blackmailed a Conservative prime minister into granting the referendum that has just taken place. Nevertheless, Farage achieved his entire objective, 100%; how many political leaders can say that? And having done so, he resigned, but not before publicly insulting his fellow members of the European Parliament, the same people who will eventually have to vote on whatever divorce terms this country manages to negotiate with the EU. Well done Nigel! Game, set and match.
We now find ourselves in a unique situation. The leaders of our political parties in their different ways have conspired, either by design, ineffectiveness or inaction, to lead us into a maelstrom. Having done so, they climb into their various lifeboats and leave us to our fate. And irony of ironies, the one leader who ought to go, who is to be criticised just as much as the rest for a lukewarm half-hearted campaign, steadfastly hangs on. You stand up for your principles Jeremy, never mind the desperate needs of the country.
But it is, of course, worse than that. We face a real and present danger that the country itself will disintegrate. Already the First Minister in Scotland is making overtures for her country to remain in the EU – for which she has a massive mandate. Worse still, there are rumblings in Northern Ireland regarding the fact that the border between the North and the South will become a land-border between the UK and Europe. That border has always had a unique status, but if the UK really does leave the European Union, will it have to be guarded? Will there need to be barbed wire, watchtowers, guard-dogs? Otherwise how are we to preserve our control over immigration – one of the key issues in the referendum debate? The Irish, north and south, are unlikely to be very pleased with such a prospect, and already I have heard it said that the North should reunite with the South, within Eire and the EU, to prevent such an absurdity from happening. Clearly such a prospect would never be agreed to by the Orange faction, and we have the prospect of a re-ignition of ‘the troubles’. Surely a perfect demonstration of the law of unexpected consequences.
There is one small, very small light at the end of a long and very dark tunnel. The next prime minister will be a woman – although that does raise the awful spectre of Thatcher in many people’s minds. Well, the men have royally screwed things up, perhaps a matriarch really can make things better. We can but hope. It is an unsettling prospect though, that the next Prime Minister of this country will be decided by 150,000 members of the Conservative Party.
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs