It is frequently said that a week is a long time in politics, but this week has surpassed all expectations.
On Thursday last week, voters in the United Kingdom sent shock waves around the world when they voted in a referendum for Britain to leave the European Union. Nearly half the country are disappointed, indeed many of them feel cheated, but the result was clear.
Before some people were out of bed, Britain’s future had changed completely and one of the most electorally successful Prime Minister’s had resigned.
Within hours the speculation about who would replace David Cameron had begun. Would it be Theresa May, George Osborne or Boris Johnson? Did it need to be someone from the leave camp or a committed remainer? While the Conservative Party and the media fixated on the shock resignation and the question of a new Prime Minister, Labour was fairing no better.
In less than seven days Labour’s internal problems had spilled out onto the streets in what is without doubt the political pantomime of the century. In a vote of no confidence, 172 MPs voted against Jeremy Corbyn, but still he refuses to go. So Labour want rid of their leader and he refuses to budge while we wanted to keep ours but he was gone within hours.
How much worse could it get? The Labour leader is now being challenged by a woman who could only come fourth in the election for Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. For some MPs she is the unity candidate and for most she is better than the leader they have. But for the hundreds of thousands of Labour Party members, Corbyn is their chosen one and unless and until he resigns they will support him.
While the Labour Party implodes, the Conservative election for leader of the party and Prime Minister is starting to look like an episode of the ‘Thick of It’. There are so many small groups of people huddled in corners of the Palace of Westminster canvassing for their chosen candidate that one Labour colleague told me, “We have run out of nooks and crannies for them to hide in.”
While we all struggle to keep up with who is in and who is out of Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet, Boris Johnson pretty much declared his candidacy and withdrew from the race in one speech.
I made my decision which way I was going to vote in the referendum and shared that decision with my constituents. I didn’t hide my views, I repeated them on the pages of this newspaper and on the BBC but after that I took little part in the campaign and I certainly didn’t endorse any of the wildly exaggerated claims.
When history looks back on the UK’s exit from the political structures of the EU it should also make mention of the national fallout as well as the international.
As Boris Johnson has shown, you didn’t need to just be in the remain camp for this momentous event to have an impact. The Prime Minister has gone, George Osborne’s and Boris Johnson’s leadership ambitions are over and Jeremy Corbyn is leading his once great party to utter destruction.
As we embark on a new chapter in British politics and in Britain’s relationship with the EU and the rest of the world, the only thing we can be completely sure of is no one has a clue what is going to happen next.