July has been a turbulent month in British politics, following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union on the 23rd of June. This article will summarise the fallout of the Brexit referendum.
Theresa May becomes Prime Minister
Following what most thought would be a tight leadership battle, Theresa May became the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on the 13th of July. Her journey into securing the position was swift, as a victory in the first ballot of Conservative MPs on the 5th of July removed all of May’s competitors, with the exception of Andrea Leadsom. Leadsom’s withdrawal from the race just six days later left May the last woman standing, confirming her as the new leader of the Conservative Party.
One of May’s first moves as Prime Minister was to reshuffle the Cabinet of Ministers. There are a few key changes to the Cabinet that are worth highlighting particularly. Firstly, prominent Brexit campaigner and ex-Mayor of London Boris Johnson was selected as the new Foreign Secretary to a mixed reception. Secondly, May’s opponent Andrea Leadsom became the new Environment Secretary, whilst other opponents Liam Fox and Sajid Javid became International Trade Secretary and Communities Secretary respectively.
The reshuffle of the Cabinet also left some big names noted by their absence, as previous Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne resigned, and prominent Brexit campaigner Michael Gove was sacked as Justice Secretary.
The entire cabinet reshuffle can be found here.
Turbulence in the Labour Party
The Labour Party descended into chaos post-Brexit, as party leader Jeremy Corbyn found himself the butt of a new wave of criticism following UK’s decision to leave the EU. Corbyn has, however, been successful in defending attacks from within the Labour Party, as he has maintained his position even after a vote of no-confidence motion was successfully cast at a 172-40 vote on the 28th of June.
The re-consolidation of his position has not been absolute, however, as Corbyn is still combatting dissension and attempts at factionalising the party even up to the time of this article’s posting. In response, the labour leader has told those planning a split to seriously reconsider.
The result of the Labour leadership election between Owen Smith and Jeremy Corbyn will be announced on 24th September.
Renewed desires for independence in Scotland and Northern Ireland
The UK’s vote to leave the EU was met with renewed claims of independence from the nationalist parties of Scotland and Northern Ireland. The vote mirrored the sentiments of England far more than it did the political leanings of the other nations in the United Kingdom, reigniting anti-UK sympathies in the hearts of many.
In response to the Brexit result, Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the SNP, stated that “a second independence referendum must now be on the table, and it is now on the table”. Paralleling this is Northern Ireland’s pro-independence party, Sinn Fein, whose leader has also called for a vote for Ireland’s unification.
Hate crimes on the rise in lieu of Brexit
In the aftermath of the Brexit, incidents of hate crimes in the United Kingdom have risen by 57% on average nationwide according to the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC). As may be expected, hate crimes have increased particularly in pro-Brexit constituencies. For example, police data has revealed a 191% increase in hate crimes in Lincolnshire – the site of the UK’s highest leave vote – compared to last year.
In response, the Home Office has announced plans to tackle this divisive, snowballing threat. Yet, some of the British public may find this ironic, as some political commentators have accused May’s Home Office of contributing to this surge in hate crime itself.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage steps down
Lastly, Nigel Farage – the self-styled ‘father’ of the Brexit – has resigned as leader of the anti-EU party, UKIP. Explaining his decision, he said: “During the referendum I said I wanted my country back … now I want my life back”. This does not, however, mean that Farage has excluded himself from Brexit negotiations, as he reportedly reacted ‘with fury’ when sources within the Brexit camp mentioned plans to exclude him from the next stage of the deal-making process.
Now without their most influential spokesperson, and with no successor announced, UKIP finds itself in a paradoxical weakened state post-Brexit.
Image credit: flickr.com/chrisgriffith