Brexit: Fear, Loathing and Anger on Both Sides of the Channel

A man carrying a European Union flag walks past the Palace of Westminster, meeting place of the two houses of the Parliament, a day after Britain voted to break out of the European Union, in London, June 24, 2016. (Andrew Testa / The New York Times) A man carrying a European Union flag walks past the Palace of Westminster, meeting place of the two houses of the Parliament, a day after Britain voted to break out of the European Union, in London, June 24, 2016. (Andrew Testa / The New York Times)

The UK’s and Europe’s leaders have shifted into the crisis mode of urgent, high-stakes weekend meetings. But rather than making progress, these officials have instead exposed gaping differences among the Continental powers and chaos at the top Britain’s Conservative and Labor parties.

The UK’s political class is reeling from the Brexit vote. The major players in both parties now face having to manage a process that will prove to be difficult and stressful, where numerous details that will have profound long-term implications need to be sorted out. Even in a best case scenario, the results will make a lot of citizens less well off, and it won’t be just people working in the City who can arguably afford it (for instance, a recession is pretty much a given). This is not an attractive project for a career politician.

Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn, who had a weak hold on his position even before the Brexit vote, beat back an insurrection by Hilary Benn, the shadow foreign minister and son of the Socialist icon Tony Benn. Corbyn removed Benn from the shadow cabinet. However, given that many Labor MPs want to hold Corbyn accountable for the Leave vote by virtue of making a lackluster case for Remain, he’s only fought off an immediate threat.* (In fairness, a must-read Guardian article we featured yesterday found that voters in the north and west, where Leave won, weren’t interested in what either party was telling them).

The Conservatives are also in disarray. One of the unintended side effects of Cameron’s 90 day caretaker government is that the jockeying for leadership and backstabbing may continue for longer than if he had resigned immediately. From the Telegraph story Tories at War:

The Tory civil war over the EU referendum…

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