The Prime Minister has notified the country that he will resign but will stay on to provide calm in the immediate shock period of today’s decision to leave the EU – but he has been clear that he wants to see a new PM in place by October.
George Osborne is likely to do something similar.
In a strong and graceful speech Mr Cameron said that having led the campaign to remain in the EU, he did not feel it appropriate to lead the exit negotiations – ‘to Captain this ship to its next destination’ – which he said will need strong leadership from someone else – but should involve the governments of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
It has been immediately obvious that the Leave camp had, for some reason, not expected this. Chris Grayling, Leader of the House, looked and sounded quite flustered when the PM:s address had concluded.
It has to be said that if the Leave team had not even considered a ‘what if’ position to adopt in this scenario, the prospect of their future shaping of the UK’s departure from Europe and of its economy us not reassuring.
The financial markets are reacting to the vote exactly as the Remain campaign said they would and the Leave campaign dismissed out of hand. The pound is at a thirty year low and has taken the fifth steepest fall in its history as a currency. The FTSE 250 is tanking heavily.
The reality, as Mr Cameron said, is that this decision – which not even the Leave campaign had expected, must now be taken in hand and made to work. He has pledged to do all he can to assist that process.
We have yet to hear anything from Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.
Nicola Sturgeon issued a written press statement which we have published but is supposed to speak publicly later. The spin she puts on her and the SNP’s inability to get its vote out to the expected degree to support the Remain cause ; with the Labour party in an even worse place, seeing its heartland vote opting to Leave.
The First Minister is intent on taking an independent Scotland into the EU. But it is now being said that both the Dutch and the Danes wll now seek their own exit referenda.
So what about a scenario where Sturgeon and the SNP drag Scotland out of the UK and lash it solely to the EU – only to find that the EU itself collapses?
It’s all a bit like Southey’s anti-war poem, After Blenheim, where, having heard the greybeard’s story of the war, the child, ‘little Peterkin’, responds:
‘But what good came of it at last?’
Quoth little Peterkin.
‘Why that I cannot tell,’ said he,
‘But ’twas a famous victory.’
Nigel Farage spoke early, powerfully and rhetorically – saying that ‘we’ will make the 24th June a national bank holiday and call it ‘Independence Day’.
Given Mr Farage’s personal and long standing commitment to taking the UK out of the EU – and the extent to which this result is very largely owed to his efforts, will he be content to serve under a new PM he would understandably find hard not to see as a carpetbagger?
There are inherent tensions and a variety of different senses of entitlement amongst the Leave leaders which will not make for ease of transition – with none of Farage, Johnson and Gove the team player Mr Cameron has always been.
We are told that Boris Johnson is to make a statement soon.
That will be interesting.