The weekend does not seem to have offered any new insight as to where and what exactly the UK is heading for. If anything, chaos and uncertainty is more apparent than ever before. All the signs seem to point towards an EU exit but is Brexit really looming? Jessica Longley reports
The pound continues to face volatility, reaching a low of $1.32 on 27 June, whilst the FTSE100 has lost £85bn ($68.7bn) since the referendum result. As the UK’s economy weakens, worried investors are increasingly cautious with their money, many postponing or reducing their investments. Several economists, such as Larry Hatheway and Philippe Saw, are predicting a period of stagnation for the UK with the further possibility of a recession in the coming months. The FT’s chief economics commentator, Martin Wolf, believes that a tightening of fiscal policies may be on the cards and that the restructuring process for companies depending on the EU could potentially take a decade.
On the political side of things, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour shadow cabinet is dismantling as we speak with two thirds of shadow cabinet ministers having already handed in their resignation letters. Corbyn, however, has insisted he won’t quit amid rumours that his office sabotaged the Remain campaign. As for the Tories, Chancellor George Osborne has said that the current government’s main aim is to maintain fiscal stability: "We are open for business,"- he claims. He is supporting Cameron’s decision to delay the activation of Article 50, stating that it should only be put into action once a clearer image of the EU-UK relationship can be forged.
Is it realistic to hold on to that slither of hope of waking up from this Brexit nightmare or should we all accept half-heartedly the consequences of the referendum and try to patch things up in a soon to be non-EU UK?
Glimmer of hope on the horizon
Although considerable damage has already been made by the referendum’s result, there are a few positive takeaways from this weekend.
The idea of a second referendum has been thrown back and forth in the hope of it being considered by Parliament. Even though Cameron’s spokesperson has stated that another vote is "not remotely on the cards", a petition supporting the idea of a second referendum, originally started by a Leave supporter, gained more than three million signatures over the weekend.
The possibility of a second referendum taking place was fuelled not only by many Remain voters who felt that their voices had not been heard but also by the misled Leave-turned-Remain supporters.
It is important to take into consideration the bad press that left Leave’s reputation tarnished. The Leave campaign’s sudden backtracking on several of their major claims -such as the £350m supposedly to be injected into the NHS if the UK were to leave the EU, which was labelled by Nigel Farage a "mistake" less than 24 hours after the referendum result -left many Leave voters betrayed and wanting to change their vote. The inaccuracy of Leave’s statements have now been made harder to find by the Leave campaign who wiped their own website’s home page, further proving the fallacy of their arguments.
Immigration has also come up under the spotlight due to Leave now saying that immigration numbers may remain unchanged, further infuriating Leave voters who were driven to vote Leave in the belief that it would change the UK’s immigration policies for the better.
Other Leave voters also expressed their disbelief at the referendum result, telling the BBC and contacting electoral services that they voted Leave only as a sign of political protest, not expecting their vote to have an impact on the outcome of the referendum.
Many, especially young people, also took to social media to express their anger and disbelief, organising events in protest of the UK leaving the EU. Three events are already trending on Facebook. One of them, "Stand Together", will take place on the 28 June in Trafalgar Square and has already attracted more than 144k people on Facebook, with 54k of them having clicked "attending"; 176k more are invited to the event.
Upheavals and public discontent aside, the referendum is not legally binding and any PM will need parliamentary approval to trigger Article 50. Bearing in mind that the majority of MPs are Remain supporters; this can only be good news for Bremainers. Furthermore, although Cameron is stating that the public’s opinion should not be ignored, the fact that he has not yet activated Article 50 paves way for the possibility of a Brexit reversal. Boris Johnson is also in favour of delaying Article 50, with several heads of state, such as the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the French President Francois Hollande, publicly stating that they will not push the UK to act quickly.
In a nutshell, one way of counteracting the referendum may be to put pressure on the government and the MPs in the hope of stopping the implementation of Article 50.