Britain’s Brexit vote has redrawn the rules of British politics

by Atul Hatwal

Everything is different.

It’s not just the enormity of Britain deciding to leave the EU that is momentous or the inevitable installation of Prime Minister Boris Johnson but the nature of the campaign which led to this decision that leaves the political landscape utterly transformed.

British politics used to obey a simple rule. It used to be the economy stupid.

No more.

This vote was a straight contest of priorities for the public between immigration and the economy.

The public made a clear decision.

Underpinning that choice might be some nuance.

The manner in which claims of dire economic consequence from Brexit were disregarded highlights just how bad many Britons regard their current lot.

For this group, the transmission belt that connects the macro-economic with the kitchen table is evidently broken.

Others might not have equated Brexit with economic hardship and simply not believed would be that bad, using the referendum instead as an opportunity to kick their distant masters.

Either way, the fundamental political lesson that will be drawn for future campaigns by the main parties will be that immigration trumps the economy.

This will make for a very different approach to campaigns in the coming years.

British politics is about to become harsher and more right-wing as the Ukip-Vote Leave template is adopted.

In parallel, the substance of politics will now become consumed with one issue: disentanglement from the EU.

All government policy and activity will be considered through this prism.

The time, focus and effort of PM Boris Johnson, his Ministers and Parliament will be sucked into unpicking the ties that bound us to the EU.

As Johnson’s administration becomes mired in the administrative equivalent of a withdrawal from Vietnam, harried from the right by Nigel Farage who will be demanding swifter, more sweeping action while accusing them of betraying the people, Labour will be sitting on the opposition benches, shattered.

The referendum result exposed the chasm that separates the party leadership from its core support.

During the campaign, Jeremy Corbyn was criticized for his half-hearted effort. But does anyone think that the sight of Jeremy Corbyn on the stump in Sunderland would have made one iota of difference to the result there?

The PLP’s response has been a predictably poorly organised attempt at regicide with a no confidence motion in the leader.

Labour’s MPs might think Corbyn’s useless, they might be right, but have any of them bothered to talk to their local members?

It was only last September that Jeremy Corbyn was elected with such a crushing mandate.

If any MP thinks that the membership are going to do anything other than re-elect Jeremy Corbyn as leader in a contest, then they are even more out of touch with Labour’s members than our core support.

And if any Westminster plotters think that it’s feasible to somehow keep Jeremy Corbyn off the ballot by fixing the nominations, then they should have a long lie down.

The scale of membership revolt would rip the party apart.

So Labour is condemned to drift, listing and rudderless as angry MPs and rebellious members cancel each other out in the battle over our incompetent leader.

Immigration as the defining issue for all politicians, Boris Johnson as PM leading the long European retreat and Labour inexplicably even more divided and ineffectual than before.

What a mess.

Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut

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14 Responses to “Britain’s Brexit vote has redrawn the rules of British politics”

  1. Forlornehope says:

    You don’t need to worry about the future of the Labour Party; if things follow the pattern of the Scottish referendum it will be wiped out by UKIP in England and Wales and there is very little that can be done about it. All that will be left will be a few London MPs.

  2. 07052015 says:

    It certainly is a mess .Dave the bully got his just desserts.

    We are headed for little England -a tax haven for the super rich with policies to match.

    The new PM ought to want to call a general election to get their own mandate.But that would need a 2/3 vote of the Commons -do Labour mps have the guts for that -they would get rid of corbyn but they might get rid of themselves.

    New policies on housing,tax and social care need urgently.

  3. paul barker says:

    Not sure you are right about Bojo, I think its more likely to be someone I have never heard of.
    The PLP Coup is ridiculous, Parties belong to their members. Clearly Labour is already 3 quite different Parties & MPs need to face that .

  4. Ydoethur says:

    The fear of a Johnson government is overblown. He is very unpopular with Tory MPs and because they have a passably sane leadership system to eliminate the cranks and no-hopers he will not make the final two. Same goes for Gove.

    The likeliest candidates are May and Hammond at this juncture, with Crabb a decent outside bet.

    Whether any of them would be any good remains to be seen. The real risk for Labour is that shorn of Cameron’s wealth and Osborne’s hubristic incompetence, they find a way to call an election and win it by a huge margin against elderly out of touch posh boy Corbyn.

  5. Tafia says:

    This vote was a straight contest of priorities for the public between immigration and the economy.

    You don’t even understand why you lost do you – and until you do you will never win a General Election either.

    Immigration – Leave won because one third of Labour’s core blue collar vote voted for it, mainly in northern England, the English Midlands and the Welsh valleys. The reason they voted Leave is because they are adamantly opposed to freedom of movement – they don’t want it tweaking, they don’t wan’t it reforming, they want it stopping full stop. Coupled with that was sovereignty. They wanted UK law and UK Courts to have primacy over ALL matters within the UK – again, no reforms, no tweaking a bit here and there. What doid the toss pot Labour intelligentsia do? Talk down to them and belittle them. Obviously you never learned from Scotland.

    The Economy. The FTSE dropped sharply as did the pound. The FTSE has already recovered back to the level where it was in February, the pound is recovering and Carney – remember him? has already stated there will be no recession, the UK will manage just fine and the UK banks had already planned for this and have 600Bn of liquid assets in reserve.

    Underlying that were laughable assumptions. Remain thought that not only would 80% of 18-30 year olds vote, but they would vote Remain. As it turns out, less than 80% of 18-30 year olds are actually registered, of those only 80% (ie 64% of the total) voted, and in many areas large numbers, mainly low skill/no skill and/or living in depressed areas such as the heads of the Valleys, vote Leave. They also believed – in direct contradiction to all known evidence, that there would be a super-turn-out in the major conurbations and that they in turn would vote Remain. That proved to be bollocks. Manchester, Birmingham and others voted Leave. Turn-out across the major urban conhurbations was below average, as per usual. They also banked on a higher than average turn-out in Scotland. That didn’t happen. And on Wales voting Remain. That didn’t happen either and even Plaid voters in Plaid heartlands were voting Leave.

    There has been a working class revolution. It isn’t over yet. Common Purpose is next on the list for the guillotine.

    You can dwell, spit dummies and scream and scream until you are sick. Or you can be a grown-up, accept that the voters have made their decision, and work to make it work.

    Tomorrow the sun will rise and the sky will not fall in. And the day after. And next week. We are masters of our own destiny now and answer only to ourselves.

    You need to take a lesson in humility and dignity from Cameron.

    PS – Has anyone seen Osborne anywhere? He’s vanished.

  6. Dai says:

    Aye that about sums it up.
    One element missing is the timing of the next election. With a paper majority of just 12 Boris will be looking to win his own mandate and a united Tory party with a healthy majority. He’ll need to finesse the Fixed Term Parliaments Act provisions, which will be entertaining …
    Let’s be honest if Boris’s luck holds and he keeps enjoying the levels of popular affection he has succeeded in maintaining over the past decade he’s going to be unbeatable by any imaginable Labour leader. Having a credible PM and Cabinet could be the difference between a conventional defeat and virtual annihilation.
    Between now and October Iain McNicol and the NEC need to gear up the very basic elements of a snap election campaign with selection of prospective candidates for an election fought on the existing boundaries and automatic re-selection of all MPs in receipt of the party whip. Heaven only knows how JC and the current Shad Cab are going to write a manifesto that goes beyond mere slogans by September baffles me, but someone (Damien?) needs to be trying to cobble together something vaguely coherent.
    Obviously the biggest barnacle dragging Labour’s boat is the capabilities and beliefs of the guy we are proposing to install as prime minister. Just like last year but in spades. As Marx noted history repeats first as tragedy then farce.
    We have reached a tipping point where for plenty of the PLP inaction even if most likely doomed in the face of the sentimental membership is still better than certain defeat for oneself and the likely lingering death of Britain’s only serious social democratic party.
    Margaret Hodge and Ann Coffey have started the ball rolling and we will see how many will risk rallying in public to their standard on Monday night. Then the General Secretaries may roll up to hand JC a bottle of whiskey and a revolver …
    No change equals no chance and fortune can favour the bold as Boris has shown. If Major Jarvis bottles it then someone else will step up to bat, possibly one of the 2015 ‘Jo generation’ MPs. I’m not sure if things have moved on enough to sway the ever sentimental rank and file LP membership quite yet, but the rules are that if someone stands by Sept with the support of 33 fellow MPs then the NEC either holds an election as per the rulebook or refers the matter to full Conference (am not clear on this last bit, but there are no precedents…). The lessons learnt from last year though are that effective direct communication with inactive rank & file full members is next to impossible for a campaign mobilizing from scratch overnight BUT that the true key lies in the volumes of £3 one-off supporters who can be signed up from among the general apathetic public. Their votes are equal to those of the MPs and Gen Secs and they sign up BECAUSE they want to vote for candidate X. The key to winning is simply to sign up more of these £3 entryists than your opponent can. With a decent professional and prepared campaign infrastructure and loads of free media a solitary challenger could well sign-up a good whack of the Mirror’s 2 million daily readership (yes even now in 2016) whereas I suspect Momentum may struggle to advance much beyond it’s 2015 showing.
    The holding of its own Leadership election would give Labour legitimate cause to hamper efforts to hold an election before Xmas and if the nationalists are content to wait until spring then Boris may find using the finest brute Tory votes in Europe to batter aside the FTPA as his first prime ministerial act a less unattractive and possibly untenable proposition if given the alternative of an unopposed dissolution in May.
    It all comes back to the fraternity of affiliated general secretaries. I expect nothing from McCluskey of my own union who is a slightly risible prisoner of his hard left NEC, but Tim Roache, John Hannett, Dave Prentis et al should be looking back to Ernie Bevin’s precedent in saving Labour from pacifism in the thirties and put their country and the long term interests of their members ahead of appeasing their own internal loony left fractions. If there’s hope for Labour it lies in the proles …

  7. Anon E Mouse says:

    Instead of wasting time over analysing everything here maybe you ought to sort out the members of the PLP that are promoted to the front bench and stop being so tribal.

    Having just heard that sneering toff Lady Nugee on R4 Any Questions I actually think UKIP’s takeover of traditional Labour voters will be faster than I imagined.

    Scotland has gone. Wales will be next – it’s already started. I know I live there. Then the North of England and the Midlands will go leaving only London in the end.

    The Labour Party has no USP, represents a minority of middle class university educated human right types that have never worked and refuses to engage with the real problems of their core voter by calling them racist.

    As long as Labour attracts the self righteous patronising Caroline Flint / Angela Eagle types it is finished

  8. Alan says:

    No need to fix anything, Corbyn failed utterly in this campaign and won’t get enough nominations to be a candidate.

  9. When even Atul can’t be inspired to plot against Corbyn, it may be time for the Bitterites to lay down for a while.

  10. Forlornehope says:

    So, Corbyn’s supporters are right: non-voters can be persuaded to come out and vote. The only problem is that when they do, they’re going to vote for UKIP.

  11. Rallan says:

    Poor Atul. The public aren’t who you want them to be. Britain isn’t what you want it to be. You were told. But you won’t belive it yet. Not really.

    Soon the shock will wear off and the “major” parties will start talking about how immigration can’t really be reduced even though we’ve left. The metropolitan voters will cheer and everyone else will seethe quietly. Then UKIP will move from 3rd place to 2nd place in the polls, setting the scene for a new political revolution.

  12. delta victor says:

    No its the culmination of events fueled on the one side by Blairite stupidity and arrogance, and on the other of Labours left wing idiocy…we could not be here without the two fueled by sheer greed and thoughtless ambition from both.
    I congratulate you all…because you made this happen and if it was not for your mutual hubris and contempt of your leaders towards ordinary people especially white ones along with all the positive discrimination etc we could never have prevailed. I bow to you all with gratitude. Because Labours bigotry lost it the referendum.

  13. Mike Killingworth says:

    If the politics of race have replaced the politics of class – and I agree with you on that – then Labour, committed to the latter and with a membership that despises almost all the electorate apart from itself, is not “condemned to drift” but to utter irrelevance.

    It will return fewer MPs than the SNP at the next election.

    Labour is an idea whose time has gone.

  14. Tafia says:

    Manchester, Birmingham and others voted Leave

    Should be Bradford, Birmingham and others

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