The Count: Some Thoughts

I’ve started writing this at 3.10 am, as the votes are being counted. Leave is running at 50.8% of the vote, according to the BBC News website. I’ve got Radio 4 on as background noise. At this stage, I have a few thoughts and I want to get them down (if only to say, “I told you so” later).

Right now, it’s too close to call. I have friends on social media panicking that we’re going to leave, but it has to be borne in mind that, unlike a general election, it really is one “man” one vote. But these areas that have declared already are the easiest to count. The high population density areas are the ones that have the most EU immigrants, and therefore the ones that actually fear them least, haven’t declared yet. With its Polish population, I’ll be interested to see which way Wolverhampton jumps. Also, the high population density areas are the cosmopolitan areas and the student areas. They have a very different socio-economic make-up from the areas that have declared already. 50.8% could certainly swing the other way. I could be wrong: it’s now 51.2% leave.

One way or another, this will be seen as a vote of confidence/non-confidence in the government. Cameron will live or die on this. If we vote to leave, I expect a Conservative coup internally. The way certain Cabinet figures have jumped ship after Johnson declared for Leave makes me expect that coup to be spearheaded by Johnson with firm support. There could be a new Prime Minister within a fortnight. If we remain, Cameron and Osborne will milk it for all it’s worth. Bear in mind, however, that Osborne can make a play for leadership if Cameron steps down, and that he could still be in a position of power if Cameron steps down, depending on his internal support.

Of course, we still have the results of the electoral fraud enquiry looming. For international readers (I have a few): there have been accusations that there were false declarations of campaign spending in several constituencies by the winning Conservatives in the last general election. This could force a series of by-elections that could lose the government their slim majority. In combination with a Leave vote, this could force an actual vote of no confidence in the government and a snap election. Labour aren’t prepared to fight that election in reality, but Corbyn is no tactician and therefore might be hubristic enough to force that vote.

That said, a Leave vote might force a coup in the Labour party. Leave votes are coming in thick and fast in Labour heartlands and there will be recriminations. Already the accusation of a lack of passion is being laid at Corbyn’s door. In reality he has refused to share a platform with Cameron, which means that his media presence has been reduced. The result is that Labour’s less politically aware voters (i.e. the majority of them) have not necessarily received Labour’s pro-EU message. It would be just for Corbyn to shoulder the blame for that.

The time is 3.43 am. Leave is at 51.2%.

One thing that has always concerned me is voter apathy. In a world where we create echo chambers of our own opinions on social media (actually, I don’t. I have very politically varied friends. But I’m told that this is a thing) it’s very easy to take a back seat and not vote, thinking that the country as a whole will vote your way anyway. Given that the Remainers are generally leftist, and that the Left tend to have a smug sense of their own self-righteousness, it would not surprise me if the missing voters were mostly Remainers. We had a high turnout, but that was still only around 69% when only about 13% of the country (according to recent polls) were still undecided. Somebody with an opinion stayed home. Whoever you are, if you disagree with the result, you only have yourself to blame.

So what happens next? It has to be remembered that this vote is not binding. This is just a count of public opinion. Boris Johnson has declared right from the start that his hope is that a demonstration of our intention to leave will allow a harder renegotiation with Europe and a binding re-run in two years’ time. EU President Jean-Claude Juncker is having none of it. But, hey, the Stirling is spiralling downwards even as I type. Knowing that the mere anxiety is causing this kind of chaos in the markets, would any given government actually commit the genuine economic suicide of Brexit, regardless of the mood of the people?

The time is 3.57 am. 51.4% to Leave. May you live in interesting times.

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~ by Scary Rob on 24 June, 2016.

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