Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Brexit: Political Tantrums

Political behaviour during and after the referendum was strange. Close friends like David Cameron and Boris Johnson who had similar views for a long time fell out with each other,  Boris Johnson, a former mayor of London, becoming a fanatical Brexiteer and Cameron opposing the exit option.

There were splits in both Labour and Conservative parties in their support / opposition to the exit option. Jeremy Corbin, popular among the Labour voters but despised by the Labour MPs, was listless in his opposition to exit. His lethargy contributed to many Labour voters opting for exit. UKIP (UK Independence Party) was the only one unanimously in favour of exit. Its the then leader, Nigel Farage, insisted that if the exit proposal lost narrowly by say 48-52, there should be one more referendum. In the event, exiteers won by 51.9-48.1 and Nigel Farage did not think that fairness demanded another referendum. Surprisingly, Nigel Farage has since quit leadership of his party.

David Cameron decided to quit primeministership owning responsibility for the referendum verdict.It was widely expected that Boris Johnson would try to become the prime-minister since he was mainly instrumental in the country taking the plunge. It was also expected that his friend, Michael Gove, who campaigned equally fiercely for exit, would support Johnson. But in an act of epic betrayal, Michael Gove announced his own candidacy for Tory leadership. Johnson thereafter decided not to contest. Did Johnson realise that voting for exit was easy but executing the exit was Sisyphean? Was Johnson waiting for an excuse to disown executive responsibility for his own proposal to exit?

Johnson suffered one more ignominy. He supported the candidacy of Andrea Leadsom and made flattering comments on her 'leadership skills'. Subsequently she made some most inappropriate comment on childlessness, got ridiculed and withdrew from leadership contest. In the end, only Theresa May remained in the field and she became the prime minister.

Political tamasha did not end there. Theresa May's preference was for the country to continue in EU. However she accepted voters' verdict and made the interesting observation that 'Brexit means Brexit'. She made Boris Johnson the Foreign Secretary. Johnson had earlier commented awkwardly on many leaders including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. "Obama is half-Kenyan and his ancestral distrust of Britain is to be expected." "Hillary Clinton looks like the sadistic nurse in a lunatic hospital." (Can one be more impolite?) "Trump is not fit for the post he is aiming at." Donald Trump has now started calling his competitor 'Hillary Rotten Clinton'. Boris Johnson is a colourful buffoon though he was a successful mayor of London.

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