There have been two great democratic moments in post-war British politics. The first was in the 1945 General Election when victory for the Labour Party under Clement Attlee swept away the old British establishment and brought in a new era of social democracy.
The second is today. Just as the old establishment was swept aside in 1945, we have seen a popular revolution against a bankrupt political class.
The nature of this revolution is still not properly understood by politicians at Westminster where the result is being treated with horror and scorn.
It is a revolution by ordinary British people against a grasping political class which gave us Black Wednesday, the Iraq War and the financial crash of 2008. Essentially, this is a revolt by the provinces against London and the poor against the rich.
We are likely to see seismic changes in the British political system, which was already breaking, and the consequences will spread far beyond our shores. UKIP has achieved Brexit and no longer has a purpose. Many of its activists will return to the Conservative Party which will most likely be led by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.
A significant number of Tory MPs will refuse to accept the leadership of Boris Johnson. Meanwhile, there is already an active move to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. Although Corbyn and his Left-wing cohort will retain control of the party machine, a majority of Labour MPs will break away and create a rebel group in the Commons. I expect the Labour Right to merge with the ‘modernising’ wing of the Conservatives. Effectively, they will form a new political party and fight ruthlessly to restore the Blairite/Cameron status quo that was blown to smithereens by the British people on Thursday.
This new party, having fought an unprincipled — albeit failed — campaign for Remain, can be expected to fight an equally unprincipled economic campaign and, backed by the City, to try to panic the British people into abandoning Brexit.
In these circumstances, it is unlikely that Boris Johnson will be able to command a Commons majority. Notwithstanding the Fixed Term Parliament Act (which means that apart from in exceptional circumstances, General Elections will only be held every five years), a way will be found to hold an election next year — or as early as November.
More than 40 per cent of Labour voters supported Brexit — even though less than five per cent of Labour MPs did. I would expect Prime Minister Johnson to offer a hand to Corbyn’s Labour in the hope of forming a national government. There are obvious Labour candidates for senior ministerial roles in this coalition, including Brexiteer MP Gisela Stuart and the veteran MP Frank Field.
In the interests of democracy, it is essential Labour should be represented in the post-Brexit negotiations with Brussels. The new government should be single-minded in its dedication to securing the best future for the UK outside the EU.
A government role should be found for Nigel Farage (one of the two or three most important post-war politicians) and his team. Since UKIP has only one MP, this will probably have to be done through peerages. The party which has campaigned for Brexit for so long deserves to share the responsibility of putting their ambitions into effect.
The Scottish Nationalists should be offered a second independence referendum — when the terms of Brexit are settled. This would be a fair democratic decision and it might secure the Parliamentary life of the new London government. For the Scot Nats would then be dependent on the new government to obtain permission to go ahead with a second independence referendum and thus it would agree not to support any no-confidence vote.
The SNP would also face the same problem as before if it went independent and sought to rejoin the EU on its own — it would struggle as a small state to persuade Brussels to give it the same influence and hand-outs that Scotland got from Westminster. For example, would EU taxpayers fund Scotland’s lavish social security system, free university tuition fees, free prescriptions and public services in the way that English taxpayers do now?
The post-Brexit government will be a supreme test for the Civil Service under Sir Jeremy Heywood. It must work with as much dedication for the new administration as it did for Cameron’s pro-EU government. Any civil servant who feels they are unable to do so should resign.
Post-Brexit ministers must discover what contingency plans for Britain leaving the EU have been made in their departments. If, scandalously, no such emergency planning was made by Sir Cover-up’s team — Sir Jeremy and his senior civil servants should be sacked for dereliction of duty. (In the run-up to the 1975 referendum on Britain’s membership of the EEC, quite detailed planning was undertaken in the event of a Leave vote even though it was far less likely than in 2016.)
The Civil Service must immediately work to identify the EU legislation (and the UK legislation derived from it) which is in the genuine interests of the British people (for example, food safety) as distinct from that emanating from vested interests or crazed regulators. Parliament should set up a permanent committee to accelerate this work.
Bank of England governor Mark Carney must go. The Canadian, former Goldman Sachs banker has been a partisan voice in the referendum debate — even attacking the Leave campaign on BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show — and cannot command the confidence of a post-Brexit government and people. His predecessor Mervyn King should be persuaded to resume his post, to help calm markets.
The bold decision by the British people will stimulate a wider European revolt against the EU. I expect Greece to fall out of the euro within months, setting off a chain reaction. There will be a determined attempt, led by Germany’s Angela Merkel, to use this crisis to make moves to create a single European country. This will be resisted, leading to convulsions across Europe against a background of mass unemployment and economic failure.
The post-Brexit government has a huge opportunity to lead all European peoples to a better future than the declining, undemocratic, unloved EU. Already some European leaders are demanding a referendum in their own countries. We have everything to gain from presenting an agenda for a better Europe.
Our message should be: No European people should have to accept the extinction of national democracy. No European people should have to accept mass unemployment and savage deflation — or massive extra taxation — to prop up the euro. No European people should be obliged to accept indefinite immigration, or to accept the continued failure and waste built into the Common Agricultural Policy and the fisheries policy and a host of other EU boondoggles. No European people need accept the folly of an EU army and the pretensions of an EU foreign policy.
On this basis, June 23 will go down as one of the great democratic moments in British history — and celebrated for centuries to come.