Before getting into the day’s events I’d like to draw your attention to a column of Boris Johnson’s that was published on May 23rd, exactly a month before the vote.
Thanks to an unexpected wormhole in the space-time continuum, I have come across the following passage from a historical textbook a few decades hence. It is a chapter called ’Brexit’…
And was the word “Brexit” set in Comic Sans?
He goes on to narrate what he found in this textbook:
Given the choice between taking back control or being sucked ever deeper into a federal superstate, the British voted for independence on June 23. To no one’s very great surprise, Project Fear turned out to be a giant hoax. The markets were calm. The pound did not collapse. The British government immediately launched a highly effective and popular campaign across the Continent to explain that this was not a rejection of “Europe”, only of…
Despite the superficial similarities, Boris is clearly no Biff Tannen and the time-travelling textbook he discovered isn’t proving a very useful guide to the future so far.
The markets did have a comparatively good day today, though, which has given rise to a few Brexit talking points which I want to list here in the interest of balance. These are the claims, offered in support of the position that the economic shock is receding:
- The pound rallied against the dollar
- The FTSE 100 index is doing well
- Yields on British government bonds are low.
Each of these—and therefore the broader claim, that everything is awesome—can be rebutted but it would be too boring to go into here. Maybe another day. I’ll just leave this here for now.
— Katie Martin (@katie_martin_fx) June 29, 2016
In the morning, an event of historical import took place in which British dignity and gravitas was demonstrated to the full. Yes, it was Nigel Farage’s address to the European Parliament.
We are all facepalm man pic.twitter.com/hkFVXMBTGr
— Aisha S Gani (@aishagani) June 28, 2016
The person facepalming in the background is a cardiac surgeon who was raised in a gulag, so it’s safe to say that he was never going to be an ally of Farage.
Other European MEPs were equally unimpressed:
Martin Schulz tells MEPs to stop booing Farage: "Ladies and gentlemen, I understand you're emotional, but you're acting like Ukip"
— Michael Deacon (@MichaelPDeacon) June 28, 2016
Guy Verhofstadt to Farage: "Let's look on the bright side. Finally we're getting rid of the biggest waste of the EU budget: your salary"
— Michael Deacon (@MichaelPDeacon) June 28, 2016
Although our national hero did have one fan: Marine Le Pen, of France’s neo-Nazi National Front. Good look, Britain.
Marine Le Pen, yesterday Turning to Farage after his speech, she smiled, and declared: “Look at how beautiful history is" #contamination
— Elizabeth (@lizzjones18) June 29, 2016
Shortly afterwards a very different side of Britain was on display, when Alyn Smith of the SNP gave a genuinely historic speech for which he received a standing ovation.
— 5News (@5_News) June 28, 2016
Remember this: Scotland, did not let you down. Please, I beg you, chers collègues, do not let Scotland down now.
Have I mentioned that I’m Scottish?
OK, enough nice things: on to the racism. I’ve been at pains to mention in these updates that the rise in racist abuse has only been anecdotal so far, but the first official confirmations have started to come in now with the National Police Chiefs’ Council revealing that hate crimes rose by 57% week-on-week in the period immediately following the referendum.
I also quoted the BBC’s Sima Kotecha’s tweet yesterday in which she said she was called a P**i in her home town for the first time since the 1980s. I found out today that that home town is Basingstoke, where I used to live. Well done Basingstoke.
But London isn’t immune:
Two men shouted "go home, you're not English are you" at a schoolfriend in Kentish Town yesterday. She is English. She's also Jewish. Oh God
— Tara Mulholland (@tara_mulholland) June 28, 2016
And a big story yesterday involved a video of a racist incident on a tram in Manchester. The video’s been taken down now because the culprits have been arrested and it’s presumably going to trial.
Don’t chat s**t when you’re not even from England, you little f**king immigrant. Get off the f**king tram now. Get back to Africa.
Was this in Boris Johnson’s future textbook?
For me, Brexit is a bit like going through the breakup of a relationship or a bereavement in the specific sense that, when I wake up in the morning, there’s a brief period—a couple of seconds maybe—when I’ve yet to remember that all this has happened. Then the memories come in and there we go: I’m back in the room, back in the Brexit room where the chintzy carpets stink of stale beer while Farage grins at me over a Hamlet cigar. Not a nice feeling.
The last thing I’m going to talk about today is what’s going on in the main political parties. They are both in meltdown but Labour is doing a much more spectacular job of it. A no confidence vote in Jeremy Corbyn yesterday delivered a gobsmacking result, with 172 MPs voting against him and only 40 in favour. He isn’t resigning though and is marshalling his supporters among the party membership. The Labour party in its current form will not survive this.
On the Conservative side, it’s hard to know what’s going on really. Boris Johnson’s column on Monday (which I said at the time sounded “too good to be true”) turned out to be, essentially, a load of nonsense.
Boris Telegraph y'day column was "written too quickly" and he's tired. Friends agree sloppy & sent mixed messages & will be vetted in future
— Sam Coates Times (@SamCoatesTimes) June 28, 2016
Are you looking forward to this man being Prime Minister?