The referendum to decide Britain’s future in the EU has come and gone. The Leave vote won by an underwhelming margin of 52 to 48 percent, and now the country must figure out what the future may hold. New deals with other countries must be struck and Britain must find a way to prove its global relevancy or fade further into the shadow of what was once ‘Great’.
Leaders of the Brexit campaign will not be leading transition away from the EU. After having been at the forefront of the campaign, all of the Brexit campaigners have suddenly faded from the political limelight.
The outcome of the referendum has set the tone for the foreseeable future in Britain, but this is not the only lasting effect that could result from the campaign. Prominent leaders on both sides of the campaign have presented themselves in a certain way, and, like it or not, they have set an example for people to follow.
It seems fitting to start with former Prime Minister David Cameron. In initiating the referendum he showed himself to be a firm believer in democracy, a leader who served with the people's demands very much in mind. He did, however, make the mistake of placing himself at the forefront of the Remain campaign. He misjudged the situation, called for a referendum, and then lost it.
The most powerful moment in his case was Cameron's resignation. He resigned swiftly after the final result came in. He had said the he would remain the prime minister regardless of the result, but went back on this word all too quickly when he found himself on the losing side. This would be forgivable if he had called for the referendum through a genuine trust in the public, and if he had really wanted to give the people of Britain an opportunity to decide their own future.
But this was not the case. Cameron called the vote to nullify eurosceptics and to silence calls for separation. His loss in Brexit highlighted how he had lost touch with the British people, and instead of trying to regain his connection, he opted to step back from his mistake and let others take control.
The strongest voice in the Leave campaign belonged to Nigel Farage. As a leader of the U.K. Independence Party, UKIP, and throughout the campaign, his desire to leave the EU was always clear, and his resignation at the end of the campaign is a testament to this.
Farage set out with clear goals in his career as a politician, and to his credit, he has now achieved his main ambition of leading the country away from the EU.
The campaign Farage ran was based on the promise that life outside the EU would be better. But no one could argue for or against the promise, because, ultimately, it is impossible to tell until the fine details of the departure are written and Britain is forced to stand alone. His campaign began back in 1993 when he left the U.K.’s Conservative Party, and only intensified throughout his years in the UKIP.
Farage was very much a founder of Brexit, but now he will sit back and watch the repercussions from the outside. His aim after all was to initiate Brexit, never to help out afterward.
The common theme between the two leaders here is a distinct lack of ownership. They are both seemingly unable to truly own the result of the referendum they created. Having called for the vote in the first place, David Cameron has now given the reins to current Prime Minister Theresa May, and Nigel Farage has also relieved himself from further responsibility.
There seems to be an absence of maturity in parliament. Watching a parliamentary debate shows this immaturity. The majority of the members of U.K.’s parliament come across as bickering remnants of old politics.
One member of parliament stands out, though. MP Mhairi Black, 21, comes across as unwilling to take any nonsense. She is unafraid to dive in and cause ripples as shown by an interview conducted by The Guardian, in which she labelled Westminster as a “complete boys club” that is both “excluded from reality” and “allows tradition to rule over reason.”
The simple fact that an MP of Black’s age and lack of experience is able to show a greater degree of maturity than the entrenched career politicians should be a red flag to the establishment.
Mhairi Black is exposing the need for a paradigm shift in how MPs carry themselves, and while it is not necessary to agree with her political views, one must acknowledge that, at last, there is an MP willing to own this role.
Hopefully she is the first of a new phalanx rising up to drive a polar shift in U.K. politics.
Cover credit: Patrick Chappatte/The International New York Times
Cover source: Cagle Media