At the first meeting of the EU Summit earlier this week, the UK Prime Minister David Cameron used his last meeting there to voice his disappointment that he failed to win his side of the referendum. However the EU leaders said there would be no turning back for the UK.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said “If you want to exist and leave this family, then you cannot expect all the obligations to drop away but privileges to continue to exist,”.
Government leaders expressed their warning to Cameron that delaying the period before the UK legally activates the EU’s exit mechanism will hinder the start of negotiations for any future relationship. During a debrief over dinner Cameron told his 27 colleagues that their refusal to give him a better deal that reduced immigration to the UK had cost him the referendum and his job. He went on to warn them that if they wanted a close economic relationship with the UK that they would have to find a way to tackle immigration, according to a British government official.
Lingering hopes that the referendum result could be reversed were ruined and several government leaders insisted that the UK can’t expect special treatment once they had left the EU. “The U.K. won’t be able to access the single market without applying the rules of freedom of movement,” French President Francois Hollande said. “This isn’t to punish the British people,” but following the referendum “they will have to face the consequences for some time.”
While Cameron expressed his disappointment at the result of the referendum, Nigel Farage, leader of the far-right UK Independence Party (UKIP), gloated unapologetically and provoked the union in Brussels, calling for free trade with the bloc while insulting members consecutively.
“Isn’t it funny? When I came here 17 years ago and I said that I wanted to lead a campaign to get Britain out of the European Union, you all laughed at me. Well, I have to say, you’re not laughing now, are you?” he said. In an interview later with CNN, Farage brushed off his comments as a light-hearted joke, saying “They don’t like me. It’s mutual,”.
“The worst liars can be found among UKIP,” said Manfred Weber, leader of the European People’s Party, “Mr. Farage, if you had an ounce of decency in you, you would apologize today to the British. Shame on you.”
While at home in the UK Cameron had left behind a worsening political crisis as candidates from both his Conservatives and the Labour opposition were challenging for the leadership of their respective parties.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn lost a confidence vote as a post-Brexit fear is rife within the world of British politics. The no-confidence vote is not binding and Corbyn is still party leader, but it allows opportunity for an official leadership challenge to be launched. Corbyn said he would not stand down, despite the vote.
The fight for power in Cameron’s Conservative Party has already begun with Boris Johnson, a leader of the “leave” campaign and the former mayor of London and Home Secretary Theresa May looking to be the front runners to battle it out. Michael Gove has unexpectedly joined the race for leadership of the Conservative party saying “I have come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead. I have, therefore, decided to put my name forward for the leadership. I want there to be an open and positive debate about the path the country will now take.” After Gove’s unexpected announcement Boris Johnson has now decided not to stand for leadership in the Conservative Party as he lost his following. Stephen Crabb, Liam Fox and Andrea Leadsom will also join May & Gove in the fight for leadership.
The European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU would put a time limit on the UK’s triggering of the exit mechanism. “If someone from the Remain camp will become British prime minister, this has to be done in two weeks after his appointment,” Juncker told reporters as the meeting ended. “If the next British PM is coming from the Leave campaign, it should be done the day after his appointment.”
EU President Donald Tusk, who co-ordinates EU summits, said the 27 leaders would meanwhile meet on Wednesday to undertake “deeper reflection” on a “new impulse for Europe.” He said he plans to call another meeting of the 27 in September.
The GBP seems to be in some sort of a strange limbo. The FTSE 100 is posting gains and the initial shock appears to have been pushed aside as an overreaction and the fallout seems contained. Still it is early days, no agreement has been reached but it appears that until article 50 is invoked an odd stability has emerged.
TransferMate have a 24 hour phone line Ireland: 01 635 3700 or UK: 0207 6599185 and an online platform www.transfermate.com for any businesses concerned with sterling volatility and interested in discussing their foreign currency payments.