Free at last?! Brexit has been chosen 52% to 48% and the Prime Minister has said he will quit by October - ironically, just last week he was telling us, "Don't be a quitter." He also predicted World War Three (or was it Zee?) so maybe he is quitting so he has more time to stock up on tins of beans and loo rolls. It remains to be seen if he will take George "Emergency Budget" Osborne with him.
The result was close and not predicted, even Nigel Farage threw in the towel after the polls closed yesterday evening before grabbing it back later in the night. The reason "Leave" won is quite subtle and not being reported at the moment. As can be seen from the early Sunderland result, it's differential turnout. In a normal election nice middle-class people pop along to the polling station and make their cross. This means a 60% turnout is considered good. Yesterday though, voters were flocking in from the council estates in greater numbers than ever before. Turnout shot up past 80% in some areas and needless to say it is this kind of person who is most affected when immigration causes rents to rise and wages to fall. So the unwashed voted Leave, and now the Guardian-readers are squealing foul. It is no foul though; it is the genuine will of the people.
Indeed 52% is an under-representation of the true native British desire to leave the EU. There was a big Scottish Remain vote which was more of an anti-English vote than an anti-EU vote. They don't like the EU anymore than the rest of us but the opportunity to prod the English was too good to miss. Call it the "Mel Gibson effect".
And in London, 60% of the massive five million strong electorate voted Remain. But 60% of Londoners are immigrants, born abroad but with UK citizenship now, and their instinct is to weaken British sovereignty as native Brits are seen as the enemy who might at any point suddenly object to their country being invaded. They see a weaker Britain as better for them.
It was noticeable during the campaign that Leave proponents were the smarter, cleaner-cut set, exemplars being MEPs Nigel Farage and Dan Hanan, journalist Julia Hartley Brewer, writer Louise Mensch and Colonel Tim Collins, while Remain were a collection of scruffy freaks such as Eddie Izzard, Bob Geldorf and Jeremy Corbyn, as well as innumerable short, fat and largely indistinguishable and incomprehensible Scottish ladies. Leave was led by higher IQ, better educated people than Remain, and yet the great bulk of Leave's support came from ordinary working men and women. The British class system does contain an unwritten, and largely invisible to outsiders, compact in which the upper echelons look out for the less lofty. Toffs who honour the contract get rewarded with great loyalty; scruffs who somehow achieve a high position don't even realise the contract exists and get grudging support because they claim to be from the working class. Yesterday's result was the product of old fashioned patricians who have nothing personally to fear from the EU doing their duty and looking out for those who do have a lot to lose.
The result provoked predictable wailing and gnashing of teeth at the BBC, in Brussels and wherever the Bilderberg HQ is. It was gleefully reported that the Pound had fallen to its lowest level against the USD since 1985. By this morning though it was at its lowest level since last week. Likewise the FTSE 100 was back up in its normal trading range by mid-morning after a low start.
So what of the future? What is likely to happen and what would we like to happen?
Well, here are a few new words for your vocabulary: Frexit, Nexit, Swexit and possibly Dexit and Itexit. These refer to France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and Italy leaving the EU. As predicted by many, not least this blog, Brexit seems likely to cause a rush for the door. We have shown the way, others want to follow. In Italy "leave" is running at 50%, in Sweden some polls have it at 60%. Throughout the referendum campaign Remainers would challenge Leavers to name the model they wanted, the options mainly being the Swiss Model or the Norwegian Model - neither model being ideal. They both involve being swamped by immigrants for starters.
It seems likely that the way ahead is the 'British Model'. What that is remains to be worked out, but when figured out it is likely other leaving countries will follow the British model. Yanis Varoufakis, Greek finance minister for a few months last year slash bike-riding rock-god voiced the fear that Brexit would cause the EU to fracture along the Rhine. Although it's a fear for him, to this blog that sounds like quite a good thing. The Western European countries are not really the problem. What we need is an a la carte (see, using French, not a complete Little Englander) association which allows each member to pick from a grid of options. Down the side of the grid are the nations of Europe and across the top the options such as free trade, free movement, common currency, shared fishing, etc. Tick what you want. Free movement would not be a problem with France, Germany, Sweden and other such countries, free trade would be fine with countries further East, and this blog would only endorse a shared currency with the Republic of Ireland (and Scotland were they to quit the UK.) Other European nations may wish to tick other boxes, so let them. There is no harm to us.
It is possible though, that no other "exit" movement will be successful and we will end up dealing with the EU as a monolithic bloc. So be it. In that case we will have to be more restricted in the deals we do. It is not the end of the world. In fact there is a big old world out there and plenty of opportunity.
It is now only the morning after the night before; very early in the Brexit process. At this point all we can say with complete confidence is that the future will be interesting.