Responses to the Referendum

EU-referendum-vote-to-stay-says-Greencore-boss_medium_vgaDavid Runciman at The London Review of Books:

So who is to blame? Please don’t say the voters: 17,410,742 is an awful lot of people to be wrong on a question of this magnitude. They are not simply suckers and/or closet racists – in fact, relatively few of them are – and they are not plain ignorant. You can’t fool that many people, even for a relatively short period of time. And yes it was close, but it wasn’t that close. The margin between the two sides – 3.8 per cent – was roughly the same as the margin by which Obama defeated Romney in the 2012 presidential election (3.9 per cent), and you don’t hear a lot of people complaining about the legitimacy of that, not even Republicans (well, not that many). Plus, turnout in the referendum, at 72.2 per cent, was nearly 18 per cent higher than in the last presidential election. The difference, of course, is that a general election is a constitutional necessity whereas the EU referendum was a political choice. If you don’t like the outcome, don’t say it was the wrong answer to the question. It was the wrong question, put at the wrong time, in the wrong way. And that’s the fault of the politicians.

Cameron must shoulder the lion’s share of the responsibility. It was a reckless gamble, given that the stakes were so high. No one can say how this will play out, but it has already put enormous pressure on the basic functioning of the British state, something that Conservatives are meant to value above all else. As Scotland pushes for independence, Irish nationalists agitate for unification, Wales explores its relationship with England, Labour faces a split that may lead some of the party to an explicit embrace of extra-parliamentary politics, and Farage stirs the pot, the situation is unlikely to resolve itself any time soon. This has the makings of a full-blown constitutional crisis that the Conservative Party, no matter who becomes its next leader, may struggle to contain.

more here.