Britain Left Rudderless and Split After Brexit Earthquake Shock

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Both major political parties in the UK are in turmoil just days after Britain voted to leave the European Union in an In-Out referendum that sent shockwaves through Westminster and will have dramatic consequences for both Britain and Europe.

Conservative MPs Wednesday (June 29), begin a ballot for a replacement for David Cameron who — visibly shocked by the referendum result — announced his intention to quit as prime minister, leaving his party split ahead of renegotiations with the Brussels machine. 

Meanwhile, Labour Party members of parliament (MPs) are holding a vote of no confidence in their leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is being blamed for a lackluster campaign to keep the UK inside the European Union, with many of its grass roots voting against party policy on EU membership.

​Cameron's fatal flaw is that he has always been a soft euroskeptic and headed a party deeply divided over Europe. Ever since the Treaty of Maastricht was signed in 1992, Conservatives had been at war. The divisions lost them the 1997 election and they were out of power for 13 years. Back in power, Cameron's attempt to clear the issue once and for all — in the face of the rise of anti-EU party UKIP — he decided to hold the referendum.

The result has still left his party still as divided as it was before the referendum. Having lost, he declared he would stand down, paving the way for a new leader. Former London mayor Boris Johnson began as the bookies' favorite, having fought for Brexit, although he looked shocked when the result came in. Justice Secretary Michael Gove, who led the Brexit campaign, may stand.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt — a Remainer — is set to challenge and possibly call for a second referendum. Another contender is former defense secretary Liam Fox, who campaigned to leave.

However, Theresa May, Home Secretary, is a strong contender, although she supported remain, which could lead to clashes within the party over negotiations with Brussels over the conditions of a Brexit. Another to throw her hat in the ring is Energy minister Andrea Leadsom, who is pro-Brexit, but the bookies have her as the outsider.

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Whatever the result, Cameron is currently a lame-duck prime minister and will continue until he is replaced, possibly by September 2, but that is a long time with the UK having no effective government.

Labour MPs v Grassroots

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has a unique position in the Labour Party, having always been an arch euroskeptic, in being forced to campaign to remain in the EU, much against his instincts, because party policy was pro-EU.

Having played a low-key role in the campaign, he was condemned for appearing on a comedy show and — being asked how enthusiastic he was about the EU on a scale of one to ten — said he was "between seven and seven-and-a-half." In the end many traditional Labour strongholds voted for out — mainly because of immigration and EU migrant workers taking British jobs. 

Now he is facing a vote of no confidence by his parliamentary colleagues, who are at loggerheads with the grassroots supporters who voted for Corbyn as leader. The same grassroots, many of whom defied Corbyn's lukewarm campaign to remain in the EU and voted to leave in their droves.

Corbyn's election as Labour leader after losing the 2015 general election was controversial. He was the outsider all the way through, but — owing to a change in party rules allowing people to join the Labour Party as a supporter for as little as US$4 in order to vote — attracted a huge group of supporters and won, much to the anger of many of his parliamentary colleagues.

​There have been 40 resignations from his shadow cabinet in 48 hours. Corbyn contends that he enjoys a huge mandate from grassroots Labour supporters and that he will not stand down. If a vote of no confidence triggers another leadership election, it will pit Corbyn and grassroots supporters against most of the MPs. Either way, the party not likely to be effective in parliamentary opposition for some time to come.

With the Conservatives in disarray, still divided over the EU and without a leader until September and Labour in open warfare, the UK finds itself in the center of the biggest crisis in EU history without an effective voice in Europe or a credible parliament.

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