Throughout the referendum, Vote Leave has made a slow progression to the far right. In its final push to win over voters, representatives from the campaign have talked about how the EU’s freedom of movement will affect the NHS (something you’d hear from UKIP, not top Tory ministers) and this week, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have both suggested an Australian-style points-based system when it comes to immigration – again, something UKIP have mentioned in the past.
Regardless of the result, columnists are alluding to the end of David Cameron’s time as Prime Minister, backed up with the fact that there are already talks about Cameron’s replacement – with Boris Johnson being one of the top favourites.
If the former Mayor of London is to replace him, then there’s no doubt that the result of the EU referendum will haunt the Conservative government. Boris Johnson leading a government dealing with Brexit wouldn’t be a problem. However, should he be forced to accept a vote to remain, then it could be a problem for his leadership – depending on how willing he is to acknowledge the public’s decision.
It’s a problem which lingers over the Scottish National Party today. Despite the people of Scotland voting against independence last year, the SNP are still desperate to push for independence where possible. At the moment, the next opportunity for the party is if Scotland leave the European Union against their wishes. As much as Johnson may dislike the remain vote, Boris should sever ties with the Vote Leave campaign as Prime Minister and learn to accept the result. By doing that, he would break free from a problem which currently affects the SNP, where they are waiting for every possible opportunity to get their desired result.
Even if the thought of a second referendum is off the cards, there’s a more immediate method which Boris Johnson could exercise as a possible Prime Minister. In his role, he could invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty at any time, without a referendum. Obviously, members of the public who voted remain would object to this decision – as would many parties within the Houses of Commons – but it is a possibility, even if it is rather extreme.
At the end of the day, the public voted in the Conservatives for other policies, so it would be wrong for the next four years of Tory rule – possibly under Boris Johnson – to be dominated by a push for Brexit. Not only should the opinions of the British public be respected after the referendum, but Boris’ desire to leave the EU – along with Vote Leave’s ideas – should be left with UKIP. If we want to leave, there will be a time where it will happen.