Britain has voted Leave in its European Union referendum. The Euro cause, though strong in London and environs, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and university towns, failed to carry substantial cities like Birmingham and Sheffield and was shellacked in the industrial north and across many other parts of England. Remain — a position backed by the large majority of educated commentators, by business and cultural notables, and by the leadership of the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, and Scottish Nationalist parties — has been reduced to what the funeral industry calls cremains.
The successful vote will begin an undefined dance of negotiation with Brussels, which has a hundred ways of stalling and complicating that process. Following earlier anti-EU votes in member countries, in fact, Brussels simply ignored the voters and came back a while later to ask again for the answer it wanted. Should the British political leadership want the negotiations to lead nowhere, it has many ways to connive at that. However, both Conservative and Labour parties must now confront a crisis of revolt from their members. The issue is particularly acute for the Tories because Prime Minister David Cameron led the Remain cause, and rival Boris Johnson, the former London mayor, made a compelling alternative leadership figure for Leave.
One theme on Twitter last night was curious: a number of commenters chided Wales for voting Leave even though it receives substantial regional subsidies from the European Union. (See here, here, and here.) In short, subsidies don’t always buy love. On balance, though, isn’t it probably a good thing if such programs fail to purchase local political sentiment?