Almost three months have passed since the shock result of the Brexit referendum. Since that day in June, David Cameron has left office and his highly regarded Home Secretary, Theresa May, has moved into Number 10 – becoming only the second woman Prime Minister to lead a UK government.
One of her first jobs was to form a new cabinet. She did this with precision and a certain amount of mischief.
The three leading architects of the Brexit movement were immediately tasked with drafting Britain’s exit from (and future out of) the EU. Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary, David Davis as Minister for Brexit and Liam Fox as International Trade Secretary.
What has become abundantly clear is that none of them had really expected to win the vote in June and none of them has a clue how to proceed now they have. It seems they had merely been positioning themselves within their own party to lead it at a future date. Their actions were more about self-interest than the good of the country.
The added bonus of May’s cabinet blueprint is that her three new ministers don’t even like each other. She’s appears to be saying to them:‘you made this mess now either you sort it between you or you fall together!’
During the lead-up to the Brexit vote, May kept a fairly low profile. She was seen as a Remain supporter but was never too visible in the actual debate. Since becoming PM she has refused to activate Article 50 – the formal mechanism for leaving the European Union. Instead, she insists she will not be rushed.
She has now publicly ruled out a points based system for future immigration to the UK, stating it would not be workable. In doing so she has, once again, undermined the three new Brexit ministers she holds responsible for this constitutional mess and has removed the only concrete proposal they had previously presented as a selling point for leaving the EU.
In reality, since June, we don’t really seem to have moved on much further than we were at the time of the vote. Public opinion is still very much split over Brexit and, despite the public smiles, the Conservatives remain deeply divided.
Of course, the government are not obliged to act on the decision made by the British electorate. The PM might be hoping failure by her ‘Brexit Threesome’ will change the minds of those who voted ‘out’ and will finally destroy the anti EU lobby within her own party. If that were to happen we could continue as we are but in a much stronger position to renegotiate a new deal within Europe. After all, the EU cannot afford to lose any other member states.
If she miscalculates, her fate will follow that of her predecessors, for whom Europe has been a curse.
One thing is for certain – it could start to become very messy!