BBC CONTINUES ‘PROJECT FEAR’: How is the BBC going to report Brexit? The early signs are not good.
News-watch, via its sister BBC Complaints website, has been inundated with submissions – many more than during the referendum campaign itself – that the Corporation is treating the Brexit vote as an aberration and a disaster.
One exasperated viewer of BBC1’s news bulletins wrote:
Every time I see any report about Brexit the people who are aired by the BBC are making horrible xenophobic comments. Brexit is being portrayed as the English being xenophobic when they want freedom of law-making among other things. This is not racism. This is not about Europeans at all, it is about the EU regulations and the fact that people want to have control in their own country.’
And a listener to Radio 4’s Any Questions? asserted:
I listened as always to BBC R4s any questions today and was disgusted, but not surprised, at the continuing derogatory bias against Brexit. Just two examples from the programme.
1. The audience was clearly selected to represent those in the population who either choose IN as their active vote or ticked IN because passively they were undecided, did not what to do, felt uninformed, ‘better the devil you know’, keep the ‘status quo’, etcetera. These people were clapping and whooping the Remain points and booing the Brexit side, while the later audience members, in their minority, demonstrated appropriate polite applause.
2. The panel representing the Brexit side were speaking of hope, trade with the world and an upbeat, honest stance. Conversely the Remain panel continue to childishly project fear, with talk of being ‘afraid’ and in a ‘dark place’, in a ‘dark wood’. This sort of unhelpful, inappropriate language does just not have a place, and Jonathan Dimbleby, as the chair, did nothing to address this. Deplorable.
Following on from this, R4 Today’s headlines this morning (27/6) were in full negative mode. Heavy stress was given to stories which suggested the United Kingdom could fracture (with potential exit by both Scotland AND Northern Ireland), and that business leaders would stop investing and cut jobs.
Sarah Metcalf, as the programme closed reflected the overall editorial tone. Yes, there had been a vote for exit, but in the BBC’s estimation, she opined, it was a ‘very confused’ voice.’
Which part of the word ‘leave’ on the referendum ballot paper would that have been?
Nick Robinson stressed after George Osborne delivered his holding statement on Brexit at 7.15am that he was dressed in a ‘funereal’ dark suit. Arguably, this also spoke volumes about BBC attitudes. Leaving the EU is tantamount to death rites; on hand to bolster the impression was a UBS analyst who thought that the coming months would be disastrous for the UK economy.
Maximum prominence was also given to the views of Michael Heseltine in wanting a second referendum, and declaring that dire consequences were inevitable. True, this was immediately balanced by counter views about the positive benefits of Brexit from a pro-‘exit’ businessman. But this ran very much against the flow of the rest of the programme, a begrudging inclusion and a fig leaf.
This overall, all-pervading tone of doom was set only hours after the polls had closed by Exhibit A: Friday night’s Newsnight (transcript below), the first edition of the programme not bound by the strict referendum balance guidelines.
How was it? The transcript needs to be read in full to appreciate the full range of negativity involved. But in summary, it seems that the Corporation has reverted to its a full pro-EU campaigning mode that News-watch has chronicled for the past 17 years. The programme can best be described as a continuation of the remain side’s Project Fear.
In this post-referendum world, Nicola Sturgeon and Kenneth Clarke, it seems, are now regarded as the revered patron saints of the martyred, wronged Remain side. In parallel, a goal appears to be to stress every possible negative about Brexit; no production effort is going to be spared, in demonstrating how ignorant and prejudiced are the grass roots voters who had the temerity to want ‘out’.
Of course the job of journalism is to explore the weaknesses in political stances. But Friday night’s this amounted to a declaration of all-out war on Brexit, complete with funereal music.
A comparison is that when David Cameron announced there would be a referendum on EU membership back in 2013, Newsnight covered his decision which contained 18 pro-EU figures ranged against one who was not. News-watch’s complaint about this went to the BBC Trustees’ Editorial Standards Committee who declared that because this was not a major news event,
Presenter Evan Davis was in full attack dog mode, and for good effect, uttered a theatrical, incredulous ‘wow’ when he detected (wrongly) that pro-exit MEP Daniel Hannan had rowed back from a campaign promise about immigration.
Davis gave maximum exposure to those who still opposed exit, and tried most in his interviewing to undermine the ‘exit’ side. For example, in the opening interview sequence dealing with political reaction to the poll, Kenneth Clarke – who revealed that his political career began because he wanted to join the then European Economic Community in the 1960s – Davis allowed Clarke to push to maximum extent his resentment about the referendum outcome and push his pro-EU ardour.
In the same sequence, Tristram Hunt was not challenged about his highly questionable contention that in reality, Labour supporters in places like Brighton and Exeter supported staying in the EU, and therefore, there was no real problem in Labour’s overall pro-EU stance.
In sharp contrast, Vote leave representative Suzanne Evans was subjected to sharp questioning about whether promises to fund the NHS out of the UK’s EU contribution would be kept.
In her contribution, Kirsty Wark, speculating about the possibility of the break-up of the UK in consequence of the vote, stressed that Scotland (unlike England, it was implied) had sent its sons and daughters all over the world and had welcomed many different nations from time immemorial. She gushed:
‘…we, in turn, have welcomed many different nations here – Russians, Italians, Poles, Pakistanis, and immigration just does not seem to be the same issue here as it is south of the border. Why do you think it is that immigration doesn’t seem to be such an issue as it is in England?
Followed by a Vox Pop contributor who said:
[blockquote]I think that Scotland as a race of people we are just more multicultural, our culture is more varied, if you think about sort of storytelling and music, anything like that, And I just think that we are more accepting of new ideas here.’
During the referendum campaign, the BBC subjected every utterance of ‘exit’ campaigners to fact checks, and usually concluded they were wrong. In this case, some facts about immigration in Scotland are relevant. ‘Multicultural’ or not, only 7% of Scotland’s population is currently foreign born, whereas the proportion in the UK is now 14%, the majority of them in England.
Thus Wark’s assertion was highly misleading. It seemed an overt attack on negative attitudes of ‘leave’ voters’ in England.
Transcript of BBC2, Newsnight, 24th June 2016, EU Referendum, what now? 10.30pm
MARK CARNEY: Good morning.
DAVID DIMBLEBY: Well, at 4.40am, we can now say that . . .
MC: The people of the United Kingdom have voted to leave the European Union.
VOX POP MALE: I’ve got my country back! I’m not going to be here a lot longer, I’m nearly 80. But what I’ve got, I want to keep!
JOURNALIST (to Farage) Should Cameron leave?
NIGEL FARAGE: Not yet.
NF: Well, by about ten o’clock, I would say, would be about right.
DAVID CAMERON: I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.
FEMALE JOURNALIST: Are you not worried about what you’re hearing this morning? About David Cameron resigning or the strength of the pound?
VOX POP FEMALE: No, no, not at all. Not at all. No, it’s a good thing.
MALE JOURNALIST: A letter of no confidence has been tabled with Jeremy Corbyn.
NICOLA STURGEON: We will begin to prepare the legislation that would be required to enable a new independence referendum.
MARTIN MCGUINNESS: Anybody that doesn’t think this is big stuff needs to get their head around it.
VOX POP FEMALE2: I’m kind of thinking of moving to another country.
MM: This is huge.
BORIS JOHNSON: It was a noble idea for its time. It is no longer right for this country.
VOX POP MALE 2: Chuffed to bits. We’re better off out. Because the French don’t like us and the Germans don’t like us.
VOX POP FEMALE 3: Shocked. Bewildered. I don’t know what’s got to happen next.
VOX POP FEMALE 4: We’ve got nothing. Nothing can get worse, now. We’ve got nowt, so what can get worse than it already is?
MC: Thank you very much.
EVAN DAVIS: So, what now? It’s the biggest financial story since the crash, a huge political story, a once in a generation foreign policy shift, all in one day – not to mention the constitutional uncertainty around Scotland. We can keep calm, but carrying on as before, not really possible. The enormity of what happened has been sinking into voters on both sides today. We mustn’t over interpret the result. If a mere one in 50 of all voters had switched from Leave to Remain, we’d be having a different conversation. But we mustn’t under-interpret it either, and all that it represents. Is this, for example, the first vote ever to say it’s NOT the economy stupid, it’s immigration? Is the real story here a revolution? The latest of a wave of insurrections sweeping the West? A challenge to the established order and the political class? The discontented getting their own back? Or should you view it as an inter-generational struggle? The polls showing under 45s voted in and over 45s wanted us out. And there’s an aftermath of bitterness. One young man’s tweet: “I’m so angry”, he said. “A generation given everything – free education, golden pensions, social mobility – have voted to strip my generation’s future”. Well, for some, it comes down to nothing less than a culture war.
UNNAMED MALE IN STREET: So who’s corrupt and overpaid?
MAN HOLDING BANNER: Europe. Europe.
ED: Youthful urban liberals versus older social conservatives. The former worry that Britain will now turn its back on progressive values. The latter think it’s time for their voice to be heard again. It’s not as clean-cut as that of course, but that’s where the argument goes – what kind of country will we now be? Well, it’s for the history books to argue about the causes of this uprising. We’re going to do something different tonight. We’ll look ahead to what comes next. What’s next for politics in this country? The two major parties both looking battered, both with leadership questions to be answered. What’s next for Europe? How will the EU now choose to treat us? And how does our decision affect the EU? And what’s next for the UK, with Scotland voting so differently to England? Well, of the three “what nexts”, politics comes first, as it shapes everything else. At a turbulent time like this, it might be great to have a Nelson Mandela to take over, heal the wounds, articulate a vision for the country and negotiate a new arrangement with goodwill and good grace. Well, Donald Trump flew into Britain today, but he’s not available. David Cameron is on his way out. And Jeremy Corbyn? Many in Labour want him out, too. It is an awful time to be a mainstream politician. I’m going to be talking to some of them in a minute. But first, I’m here with our political editor, Nick Watt. I mean, Nick, in Westminster this morning, shock and awe?
NICK WATT: Well, they were absolutely shell-shocked in Downing Street by this result. They had a simple thought, Project Fear would deliver them a second referendum win but instead what you saw power and authority seeping away from Number Ten a Number Eleven Downing Street. You might have thought, for example, on a day like this that the Chancellor would calm the markets, but no, that job was left to the Governor of the Bank of England and you just had a couple of tweets from the Chancellor. In the case of Number Ten, We were talking to one Whitehall source who, likened Number Ten to doughnut, whose centre of the shell has fallen apart. And this source went on to say, no communication from Number Ten, we assume they must have gone to the pub. (moves into package report) As dawn broke today, Britain awoke to the most momentous shuffling of the political order since the Second World War. (Newsreel from Suez Crisis) Suez, the devaluation of sterling, the defenestration of Margaret Thatcher.
MARGARET THATCHER: We are leaving Downing Street for the last time . . .
NW: Arguably, they were all trumped today when Britain stumbled out of the EU. Overturning four decades of assumptions about Britain’s place in Europe was of an order of such magnitude that it made the resignation of a sitting Prime Minister a second order issue. David Cameron’s voice cracked as he announced his departure.
DAVID CAMERON: I love this country. And I feel honoured to have served it. And I will do everything I can in future to help this great country succeed. Thank you very much.
NW: Any hope the victor had of a Roman-style triumph were soon crushed, when Boris Johnson was greeted by protesters as he left his house. (Michael Gove) The Prime Minister’s nemeses looked funereal at the depth of what they have achieved something.
BORIS JOHNSON: I want to begin this morning by paying tribute to David Cameron, who has spoken earlier from Downing Street, and I know that I speak for Michael in saying how sad I am that he has decided to step down but obviously, I respect that decision.
NW: Johnson owns the next few months but his hopes of reaching Number Ten might hinge on whether his assurances of a seamless transition to life outside the EU come true. Gove insists he has no interest in leadership but a fellow Leave campaigner is not so sure.
JACOB REES-MOGG: The Conservative party has so many talented people, dozens come to mind but my top three would be Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Andrea Leadsom.
NW: Do you think the next Conservative prime minister will have been a Brexiter?
JRM: Well, the Prime Minister has stood down because he feels that having backed Remain he cannot implement the will of the British people expressed in a referendum – that surely applies to anyone else who supported Remain.
NW: Within months the circus will have moved on. But for the moment David Cameron finds himself as something as a hostage to his former allies as he accepts their timetable for a British exit from the EU. David Cameron had hoped to end his Premiership as one of the great Conservative social reformers but instead, he finds power ebbing away.
CATHERINE HADDON Institute for Government: I’m not sure whether we’d call it a zombie government, but certainly it feels a bit more like a caretaker government for the next few months. We have a government that had a massive legislative agenda, deficit reduction, prison, NHS reform, Universal Credit, all sorts of things, and a lot of it has been on hiatus already because of the EU referendum. Now, partly because of the leadership campaign, because you have a Prime Minister who’s effectively an interim Prime Minister for the next few months, and because of summer, and all of the concerns about the EU and what will happen there with negotiations, even more will probably be in abeyance for the time being.
NW: You wait and age for a leadership crisis, and then two come along at the same time. A few hours after the Prime Minister announced his plans to resign, two veteran Labour MPs said they would lay the ground for a challenge to Jeremy Corbyn. Others share their concerns.
CAROLINE FLINT Labour: I understand that motion, and I understand the concerns of Margaret and Anne and other colleagues of, you know, looking at the result of yesterday. We went into this referendum campaign expecting 70 to 80% of Labour supporters and voters to vote Remain – I think we barely got 50%. And if he cannot demonstrate after this massive test that Labour can retrieve ground and he knows how to do it, there are more problems ahead. We could have a general election within six months, and at the moment, based on the outcome of yesterday, it’s not looking good for Labour and not looking good in terms of Jeremy’s leadership.
NIGEL FARAGE: We’ve got our country back (cheering)
NW: It was Independence Day for the winners, but the most unashamedly pro-EU party said that Britain should not give up on its European destiny.
TIM FARRON Liberal Democrat: We heard Nigel Farage, rather ungraciously, before the result, when he thought he’d lost, saying there could be a second referendum. I’m not going to go saying that, erm, if things change, as the months go by and public opinion significantly changes then, you know, we must make sure we keep all options open, we mustn’t shackle ourselves to the corpse of a Brexit government.
NW: For some, the European dream will never die, but for another generation at least, Britain’s European journey is at an end.
ED: Nick Watt. Well, here with me, the former Tory Chancellor Ken Clarke, Suzanne Evans from Vote Leave, and Tristram Hunt, the Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent, which actually voted to leave the EU with one of the biggest margins in the country. Ken Clarke, it’s, you know, what, 46 years in politics, all . . . devoted to the European project, you must feel gutted?
KEN CLARKE: I do. Well, I started in politics as a very active Conservative student politician, supporting Harold Wilson’s first bid to join the European Community, so it’s slightly ironic that 50 years later this neurotic argument’s still going on, and we’re actually leaving the European Union. But erm, I actually am quite deliberately sort of trying to control my er . . . annoyance and my anger and my distress about the whole thing, er, because at the moment, er, you know, we’ve now got to decide what we do next, which I think is what your programme’s about. We have a caretaker government, we have no policy of any kind on what our relationship is going to be with the outside world tour Europe in particular, we don’t know what we’re going to do about the immigration, but we know, a lot of people were told to be very frightened about it, and so I think I have to count to ten and decide, well, what the devil do we do now after this extraordinary, very narrow result, it could have gone either way.
ED: (speaking over) Can I . . . can I just ask you one other . . . sort of personal reflection. Ed Miliband last year stood in an election against your government and he said, ‘I am better for business, because I’m not going to risk the nation’s departure from the European Union.’ You now, looking back, must’ve thought . . .
KC: (speaking over) Oh I think . . .
ED: . . . it would have been much better if Ed Miliband had won the 2015 election.
KC: No, I don’t think that, but I mean (fragments of words, unclear)
ED: (speaking over) But we wouldn’t be here if he’d won the 2015 election . . .
KC: (speaking over) All politicians of my generation think referendums are an absurd way of running a modern, sophisticated country, but I, there was no point in my emphasising that once we’d . . . gone out and said we were going to have one, and there’s no point in my emphasising that now, because we had one, and we are where we are. I think everybody on both sides, and I’m sure people on both sides feel as passionately as I do . . . the country at the moment is in a period of great uncertainty, it needs a government, it needs a government that could start getting on with the business of running the country in several crises again, and it needs to decide, as we’ve got to negotiate with the European Union, what exactly do we want to negotiate .(words unclear due to speaking over) negotiating (words unclear due to speaking over)
ED: (speaking over) Right, what do we want . . . Very quickly, the other two of you – general election? Do you think a general election is required at this kind of time, Suzanne Evans?
SUZANNE EVANS: Personally, I’d say not. While I’m absolutely ecstatic at the result, I do recognise that nearly half the country voted the other way, and will be quite worried, and indeed, I’ve spoken to people today who do have concerns about where we go next, and I’ve been doing my best to reassure them, as of course have various other people today. I think a general election, for me, would bring in another level of uncertainty . . .
ED: Right . . .
SE: . . . which is probably best avoided.
ED: And just briefly, Tristram, general election?
TRISTRAM HUNT: I think there’s a high likelihood that if we have a new leader of the Conservative Party, they’ll want to develop their own mandate, so what whether we have an election in autumn, or whether we have an election in spring, and what they’ll have to go to the country on is what their Article 50 renegotiation strategy will be . . .
ED: (speaking over) What, what, what the plan is.
KC: I agree there is a serious risk of an election, er, and I, at the moment, can’t quite see how a government can be formed with a parliamentary majority, you know, to make the kind of changes that most of the Brexiteers have been talking about. They don’t know what they want really. I actually think to go into a general election would add to the risks to where we are, more uncertainty, more chaos, and actually another daft and dreadful campaign, which might produce . . .
ED: (speaking over) Okay . . .
KC: . . . a very indecisive result . . .
ED: (speaking over) I don’t want to get stuck on this . . .
KC: . . . it would be disastrous.
ED: I’m so sorry, we haven’t got much time, I do want to talk about who should be the next Prime Minister. Before we hear your view, Ken, who should be the Tory leader, Tristram, who do you think it should be?
TRISTRAM HUNT: Who the next leader of the Conservative Party . . .
ED: (speaking over) Yes, yes.
TH: . . . er, should be (words unclear due to speaking over)
ED: (speaking over) We’ll talk about the next leader of the Labour Party . . .
TH: . . . from an outside . . . well, I think, from a Labour perspective, I think I regard Boris Johnson as a very, very successful celebrity candidate, who is a very, very clever man, who has used that intelligence to appeal to some very base instincts, who, alongside Michael Gove, would seek to deliver a very neoliberal Tory Brexit. Erm, so I don’t really want any of them, is that, is that an alright answer? (laughs)
ED: (speaking over) No, that’s okay, you’re allowed to say that. Suzanne Evans, do you have a view?
SE: It clearly has to be somebody who is passionate about Brexit and has a very clear vision . . .
ED: (interrupting) So it can’t be Theresa May, you would say?
SE: So it can’t be Theresa May, I would say, although I think it’s a shame, because she was clearly one of the front-runners, and I think had she come out for Leave . . . to me, I think Andrea Leadsom had been one of the standout stars of this campaign . . .
ED: She’s had a good campaign, for sure.
SE: And certainly if not as Prime Minister, then Chancellor for sure.
KC: Because nobody has the first idea . . .
KC: . . . what the economic policy of the government is now supposed to be . . .
SE: It’s going to be the same as any other sovereign and independent, free country, Ken . . .
KC: (speaking over) and nobody has the first idea what, what we’re saying about immigrants and what we’re not, there’s a danger the country is going to fool around with another leadership election, having . . .
ED: (interrupting) Well it has to.
KC: . . . having, it does, it does. But (fragments of words, unclear) we need a balanced government, we need it being headed by somebody of balanced views, not just somebody who’s good at photo opportunities . . .
SE: (speaking over) Are you suggesting none of the Brexiteers who fronted the campaign are balanced?
KC: (speaking over) We need . . . we need people who can settle down to the serious business of government.
ED: Theresa May, was that Theresa May? Just give us the name, give us the name . . .
KC: (speaking over) The whole referendum campaign . . . when, when it was, the whole referendum campaign, when it wasn’t bashing immigrants, was all the Boris and Dave show, and if the British, now they’ve caused a crisis for half the Western world, decide to have a real fun Conservative leadership election again . . .
SE: (speaking over) Half the Western world? This is hyperbole, Ken, are you going to give us the name . . .
ED: Are you going to give us the name?
KC: I’m not going to give you a name.
ED: (speaking over) Okay, right, let’s turn to Labour, let’s turn to Labour because Tristram Hunt, the Tories are fighting each other, Labour seems to be fighting with its voters, and that must be a much, much more serious place for the party?
TH: I think this referendum exposes some pretty big tensions within the Labour Party and the labour movement and where you see, for example, in Stoke-on-Trent, 70-30 out, and you contrast that with some of the vote in Brighton or Bristol or Norwich or Exeter, other Labour areas, we’ve got this divide between our traditional, working-class Labour communities, who felt real pressure under globalisation in the last 10 years, felt pressure on wage levels from immigration, erm, feel discontent about the level of change, versus, as you said in your intro . . .
ED: (speaking over) I understand the problem, which you’re describing . . .
TH: (speaking over) Yes . . .
ED: . . . but (exhales) I mean it’s an enormous problem for a political . . .
TH: (speaking over) It is.
ED: . . . to find that its base, or half of the base . . .
ED: . . . is basically completely at odds with it and . . .
TH: Well . . .
ED: . . . it doesn’t view the world in the same way at all.
TH: But we have had these problems in the past, and Ken will know that there are any number of books written called, you know, ‘What’s Wrong With Labour?’, ‘The End of Labour’, ‘Will it Ever Come Back’ you know, in the 60s and 70s, and if you have someone with a convincing vision of Britain as a social democratic future, who people trust and want to put their country in the trust of, well then you can overcome these problems, there’s no doubt about that.
ED: (speaking over) And Jeremy Corbyn . . . Jeremy Corbyn, does he meets that requirement, that, that, that . . . that job description?
TH: Well, Ken said an interesting thing about the serious business of government, and we now face really serious, tough and difficult times. This is a national crisis, and the job of opposition rather like John Smith during the Maastricht Treaty is to provide strategic vision and forensic detail. Now, Jeremy Corbyn is very, very good at energising the base and making those who are already convinced of Labour ideals feel better about themselves, whether he is the man to make sure that Labour values, Labour values are at the core of a renegotiation strategy (words unclear due to speaking over)
ED: (speaking over) (word or words unclear) that was a very long way of saying, ‘No, he’s not the right man for the job,’ is he?
TH: (speaking over) No, no, no, no, no . . . no, no, there’s a serious point here. Whether he’s the man to have the Labour values at the core of the renegotiation strategy, I’m not convinced he has those capacities.
ED: Right. We’ve got it. Erm, Suzanne Evans, there’s a problem with trust in politicians, isn’t there, and that’s been one of the reasons why you’ve actually done very well. When exactly are we going to get the £350 million extra a week, spent on the National Health Service that you promised in your campaign . . .
TH: (speaking over) Nigel Farage said it was a . . . yeah, he said it was a lie this morning.
ED: . . . when is that going to happen?
TH: It’s gone, already . . .
SE: We actually promised £100 million a week for the NHS . . .
(barracking from others)
ED: I saw one thing, ‘£350 million for the NHS’
TH: (speaking over) On a big bus, I saw it on a bus.
SE: We said, ‘£350 million we could spend on our own priorities, like the NHS’ . . . and they (words unclear due to speaking over) made a specific . . .
TH: (speaking over) And universities, VAT . . .
SE: . . . proposal to say £100 million for the NHS, and that is exactly the kind of cash injection that the NHS needs, and it’s fantastic to have this money . . .
ED: (speaking over) (fragment of word, unclear) When are we going to get the hundred . . . when are we going to get the £100 million a week extra on the NHS?
SE: When we leave the European Union. So, let’s say that will be two, three years time?
ED: Do you not think that there’s just a possibility that the very things that brought the mainstream politicians into such disrepute and low regard and the lack of trust and nothing they say is believed is now about to hit you and all of those who made that case?
SE: No, I don’t (fragment of word, or word unclear) the British electorate made the decision, they looked at Project Fear . . .
ED: (speaking over) But there wasn’t, there wasn’t a little asterisk . . .
SE: . . . and they looked at Project Hope . . . and they chose Project Hope.
ED: . . . saying read . . . read . . . there wasn’t an asterisk saying, ‘Read this bus very carefully, because we’re not saying £350 million a week.’
KC: But Evan it (words unclear due to speaking over)
TH: (speaking over) It said, it said, it said . . .
KC I mean, both sides, the campaign was dreadful . . .
SE: Yes. (word or words unclear) awful . . .
KC: So the public got angry and confused, and were no better informed when they finished than when they started, which is why a lot of old people in particular were so angry with the politicians, anti-establishment and they . . . it’s a protest vote, a lot of this. The worst thing they did was all these Syrian refugees . . . Britain has complete control over how many Syrians come here and how don’t (sic) how many don’t. We did on Wednesday, we do now, it’s nothing to do with the EU, whether they’re admitted and settled here. They had a whole poster, showing thousands of them streaming in . . .
ED: (speaking over) We have to, you know, we have to leave it there, let’s not go back over the campaign . . .
TH: (speaking over) It was disgusting.
KC: No, I’d rather not go over the campaign . . . We, we need, we need (fragments of words, unclear) the right man to reunite the party and the country, we need a policy and the sooner the better.
ED: Thank you all very much indeed. Well, of course, alongside the politics is economics. Famously, we like to describe ourselves as the fifth largest economy in the world. Today, we actually came close to being the sixth. The pound has fallen, you see. So when you convert our pound-based national income into dollars, it isn’t what it was. Well the financial gyrations were considerable, some companies’ shares were pummelled in the expectation that things will get difficult. Our business editor, Helen Thomas, is here. Helen, take us through some of those gyrations.
HELEN THOMAS: So, you heard about the meltdown, there is ample cause for concern but there are the odd crumb of comfort out there. So, the pound, our best barometer for the overall confidence in the UK economy. So, you can see here it surged higher last night as hopes built for a Remain victory and then it plunged, an absolutely huge move for a currency.
ED: (laughter in voice) Currencies don’t move like that.
HT: No. No, but later in the day it found a level, it stabilised around 1.37 to the dollar, stock markets, similar story, so here you can see a very, very dramatic drop at the open of the markets . . .
ED: It’s on the left there . . . Just on the left, yeah . . .
HT: . Both for the FTSE 100 and the more UK-focused 250. Banks and property stocks very hard-hit but as you can see, the markets then came back and recovered. Now . . . so what we didn’t see was this sort of downward panicked spiral that would indicate a total loss of confidence in the UK. Having said that, it was a really tough day and that reflects investors marking down their outlook for the UK.
ED: Now, that’s all the sort of the acute crisis – some might say the worrying thing was not getting through the next week, it’s sort of the longer-term.
HT: Well, and we may be in this sort of slow, grinding process of figuring out what the economic going to be. Now, we know some of the areas of concern because the Bank of England helpfully told us last week. So . . . so they said, erm, while consumer spending has been solid, there is growing evidence that uncertainty about the referendum is leading to delays to major economic decisions. And they mentioned a commercial and real estate transactions, car purchases and business investment. Now, the concern is that those areas that were already slowing, the shutters just come down. And most economists I’ve spoken to do think we’re in, you know, we’ve got a slowdown in store, possibly a recession, the question is, how severe? Now let’s, let’s leave aside any risk of an outright crisis, erm, you can still have a pretty ugly outcome, if business investment and hiring dries up very quickly, erm, you can see her, business confidence was already falling into the vote, so in that scenario unemployment starts to rise, people worry about their jobs, banks pull back on lending, partly because they’re worried about loans being repaid, that hits confidence and consumer spending. Meanwhile, a weak currency means higher inflation, and the Bank of England, which targets inflation may not feel it can react aggressively to try and stability economy.
ED: It does get a bit confusing. Is there any sort of more sanguine . . . more sanguine . . . scenario you can paint?
HT: Yes, it still probably involves business investment falling on the back of the vote, but a weaker pound could boost exports, erm, and more importantly, the Bank of England might say ‘We’re not going to worry about inflation for now, we’re going to look through that,’ they could cut rates, they could stimulate the economy in other ways, maybe they’ve got enough tools left in their toolkit to do that. The irony is, the governor, Mark Carney, who’s had a pretty hard time of late, he is crucial to how this all plays out.
ED: Helen, thanks. Well look, the next of our ‘What nows’ is Europe itself. After the French Revolution other royal families worried about how to keep their heads, and there’s perhaps a bit of that on the continent. And worry they might about keeping their jobs – if any eurocrats were still harbouring dreams of creating a European superstate, Britain has shown that the old concept of the nation state is not going down without a fight. And critically there is now the looming question of what our relationship with the EU might be. Our diplomatic editor Mark Urban is in Brussels. Good evening, Mark.
MARK URBAN: Evan, look, the thing that is defining attitudes here is a fear of contagion. Now, we heard Marine Le Pen, some Dutch Eurosceptics and others as well in Europe welcoming today’s result, but none of them are in power right now. And none of them is in a position to deliver an in-out referendum in another European country any time soon. But the attitude that seems to be dominant here, we have certainly heard some of the big hitters in the Brussels machine voicing this attitude, is that Brexit should happen not just quickly but in a very tough or exemplary way. In other words, they want the other countries in Europe that may be watching to see the Brits go out on very tough terms. Fascinating insight tonight from Wolfgang Schreiber, the German finance minister, very influential, a leaked Brexit plan of his suggested trade terms and an association agreement not like Norway, as some people had been discussin in the UK, not like Switzerland, more the sort of deal that Turkey or Canada might be negotiating in the latter case. So very tough terms, all to do with trying to head off a risk, which even last night, almost nobody in this town really had got to grips with the idea of what was about to hit it. (packaged report) (French and German radio chatter) In the city at the heart of the EU, they woke up to the day that ever-closer union died. Across the airwaves and in many languages, that dread news sank in. With markets plunging across many countries, the woman styled ‘Queen Europe’ by some called for calm.
ANGELA MERKEL (translated): What the outcome of this watershed will mean to us in the coming days, weeks, months and years will depend on us. If we, the other 27 member states of the European Union, are capable and willing not to rush into any quick and easy decisions which would only further disunite Europe. But if we’re capable and willing to assess the situation calmly and soberly in order to come to a joint decision on this basis.
MU: At the Commission, leaders of the European institutions met to calibrate their response. And, very soon, it became clear that there would be no further offers to Britain. We are already hearing voices here from the other 27 members of the EU that they should force the pace of Brexit in order to protect their own economies and political systems. And now we’re going to hear from the bosses of the Union’s big institutions, and it’ll be fascinating to see to what extent they think the Union should drive a tough exit bargain with the UK. For the man running the European bureaucracy, even the words to describe this moment seemed to stick.
JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER President of the European Commission: The British people expressed its views on their er (five second pause) next situation. We now expect the United Kingdom government to give effect to this decision of the British people as soon as possible. However painful that process may be.
MU: As for what it meant for the remaining 27, watch this.
REPORTER: Is this the beginning of the end of the European Union?
JCJ: No. Thank you. (applause)
MU: Blunt but very much to the liking of the non-British journalists and officials. So Europe is in the deepest of crises, as consultations begin prior to a Brussels summit next week. And there are already suggestions by many players here that any deal should be exemplary, with the UK denied access to the single market.
GUY VERHOFSTADT MEP Prime Minister of Belgium, 1999-2008: It is a consequence of the British vote because the single market, or the European Economic Area, includes also the free movement of labour. (laughter in voice) That was the problem in the referendum. So I think that the only way to establish a new relationship between Britain and the European Union is using a trade agreement. Like Europe has trade agreements with a number of countries.
MU: There’s a statue just outside the Commission. It shows a step into the unknown. And on the day that the Brexit earthquake hit this town, it has rarely seemed more apt.
ED: Mark Urban there. Well, earlier I was joined by Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair’s former chief of staff. Did he think the decision to leave was irreversible or was there a still a route he could see where Britain would retain some kind of membership of the EU?
JONATHAN POWELL: Well, I think this was a vote against something rather than a vote for anything. It was a vote against our current relationship with the EU but it wasn’t a vote for what sort of new relationship we should have. So I must say I think David Cameron is right to delay the start of negotiations until there is a new Prime Minister. But I would go further than that, I think any new Prime Minister needs a mandate for a negotiation. He has to set out what he is for, what sort of new relationship are we going to have with EU? Are we going to be Norway? Are we going to be Canada? Who are we going to be? I think that’s very, very important that they get that mandate from an election. So I don’t think you can really start negotiations until there has been an election, not just the choice of a new Tory leader.
ED: OK, but that raises lots of issues. So, hang on, is it possible a party could go into an election saying ‘we are in, we’re just going to ignore the referendum and we’ll just negotiate us to remain?’
JP: Of course you can, that’s what elections are about. You go for an election in a mandate, one of the many reasons Mrs Thatcher was against referenda was because she thought you should decide this in representative democracy through an election. But the main point here is this is a vote against something, it’s not a vote for something. The Brexiteers were completely divided on what they wanted, no one knows what they mean. So someone has got to set out a positive mandate and they’ve got to get a vote for it.
ED: Right, now look, a lot of the Europeans are saying they want this to happen quickly. The path you are describing, and indeed the path that the Leave campaign has been describing is one that takes, well, one that takes quite a lot of time. We will be waiting months before the negotiation gets going. Do you think we can really keep our European partners waiting that long?
JP: I think we’ll have to. I mean, David Cameron has already set out the timetable as far as he’s concerned. It’s only us who can start Article 50, not them. So I totally understand why they wanted to be quick, because the uncertainty is hurting them, not just us. But in the end they are going to have to wait for us and I think we would be sensible – A, to have a negotiating position, B, to have a new Prime Minister, and C, for that Prime Minister to have a mandate for his negotiating. This is really important about our future . . .
ED: Right . . .
JP: You can’t just go in there not clear what you want.
ED: Now, the other critical thing is, how hardball do you think they’re going to play with us? Because, already we’ve heard some reports saying the Norway option, forget it, you’re not going to get the Norway option, that’s not on the table. You are going to be properly out. Now what, what do you think the European Union, what line do you think they will take? How tough will they be?
JP: Well, they are not going to try and punish us because they want to have good relations with us. But the point is that they have their interests. They are going to meet at 27 without us next week to start working out what their position is. Their main priority is to keep the EU together, it’s to stop the EU disintegrating. So there are not going to offer us anything that will encourage the Dutch or the Finns for the Danes to leave. So they are not going to offer us a super deal outside the EU because otherwise they will start losing other people. So that will be the last thing they do. They’ve got to take care of their interests and we’ve got to fight for ours.
ED: And bluffing, do you think there has been some bluff over the last few weeks in the run-up to the referendum?
JP: Well, I kind of hope so. If you remember, Boris Johnson said before he became the leader of the Brexit campaign, he said his preferred option would be to have a new negotiation and a new referendum, and that the referendum would get us a better deal. So I’m hoping that he becomes leader of the Tory party, which I’m not hoping, but if he does then he will have that mandate, he can go off and make an negotiation and then have a new referendum. Remember, the Irish have done that twice this century. They voted against the treaty, had a second vote, and voted for it. Now, it seems very unlikely at the moment, the EU saying no to it, the Brexit campaign saying no to it, but that is one option when we go forward and when people realise quite how ghastly the alternatives are.
ED: We’ve been talking about Britain and its relationship with the EU. Let’s just briefly talk about the EU itself. How dangerous is the British vote for other countries . . . for the existence of the EU?
JP: Well, it is a threat to the existence of the EU because it’s going to encourage other Eurosceptics, and you can see who the friends of the Eurosceptics are, they’re people like Le Pen, people like Trump. Those sort of people are going to be agitating to break Europe up. And of course, European governments are going to resist that, so it is a problem for them. Even leaving that to one side, what’s going to happen to Europe without Britain is it’s going to become less liberal, it’s going to become more integrated and it’s going to become more German and that’s going to worry lots of countries in Europe. That’s why they wanted us to stay in. That’s an inevitable consequence of us leaving.
ED: Jonathan Powell there. Well, to pick up on that I’m joined by the journalist and broadcaster, the French journalist and broadcaster Christine Ockrent and one of the leading lights of the Leave campaign Dan Hannan. A very good evening to you. Christine, how does all of this look from France this evening?
CHRISTINE OCKRENT: Well, it looks pretty ghastly. But, at the same time, listening into the very interesting discussion you just had Evan, I think you shouldn’t underestimate the determination of the key member states on the continent not to let Brits play the fiddle, determine the timetable, and you know, we should just sit and wait for them to actually act. I think very much will depend on what happens on Monday when Madam Merkel meets in Berlin with François Hollande, er, the Italian Prime Minister and Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council. I think that you will hear what the tone will be and again, as has been said by your Brussels correspondent, there’s that series of meetings next week. And again, you know, the European Union had been functioning for 17 years before Britain was accepted in, so I think there’s a degree of arrogance at times, if I may, even at that late hour in the night . . .
ED: It wouldn’t be the first time . . .
CO: . . . and sort of thinking that we are going to disintegrate, er, after this rather ghastly result (fragment of word, or word unclear due to speaking over)
ED: (speaking over) Can I just push you, sorry to interrupt, can I push you? David Cameron is stepping down, going to take a good two or three months to elect a new Prime Minister, a new leader of the Conservative Party, no one really feels that David Cameron can do the negotiation, you’re going to have to wait three months before this starts, aren’t you?
CO: Yes, but you think that people in Brussels will just sit and wait? I think the process is going to be so complicated, the economic and financial costs, we’ve seen nothing today, of course, the pound lost a great deal of value, and the markets will be shaken for quite some time, so I think there will be a lot of work being done in the meantime, and, you know, it’s not going to be done by a snap of the finger, but again I think on the continent there’s also this idea that the British people, especially the older generation, the ones who really have deprived the young ones of all the benefits of Europe, they are going to feel the brunt, and that is something that on the continent will be closely watched, especially by those Eastern European countries which, may I remind you, Britain wanted so much inside the EU . . .
CO: . . . and now complains about immigration from Eastern Europe.
ED: (speaking over) Christine, let me put your points . . . let me put your points to Dan Hannan. Dan Hannan, firstly, they don’t want us to take all this time and sit around thinking about it, they just want us to get on with it, and that’s a perfectly reasonable request, isn’t it?
DANIEL HANNAN: Well, you’ve already answered that point, Evan, we have to wait until there somebody to do the negotiations, so it can’t start until that’s taken place. I think getting this right matters much more than the time, and by getting it right, I mean, being fair to our friends and allies on the continent, as well as getting a deal that is in our own interests and it would be crazy to rush into something . . .
ED: (speaking over) (fragments of words, or words unclear)
DH: . . . after 43 years at the expense of getting something that’s mutually satisfactory.
ED: Jonathan Powell said we need to have an election (fragments of words, unclear) we haven’t yet worked out what the plan is, what the model is, do you agree with that?
DH: No I mean (fragments of words, unclear) one of the reasons that Brussels is so unpopular is that it’s seem to be contemptuous of public opinion, it swats aside referendums, it’s incredible that less than 24 hours after the result, we’ve already got people trying to undo it. But what I would say, if I may sort of temper or soften what I’ve just said a little bit, although, plainly, we have a verdict that says we are going to leave the European Union, it was a narrow majority, 48% of people voted to stay in . . .
ED: Yeah . . .
DH: . . . Scotland voted to stay in . . .
ED: (speaking over) Almost 50-50, yeah.
DH: . . . right, Northern Ireland, Gibraltar voted to stay in, we have, we who are on the winning side have to be cognisant of the extent to which opinion is divided, we have to try and carry as many Remain voters with us, and that may well mean that quite a lot of the existing arrangements remain in place, that we try and find a status that both Leavers and Remainers can live.
ED: (speaking over) But you know, look, I’ve heard you talk about this, and it sounds like you Daniel Hannan, I don’t know whether you’re speaking for Vote Leave or for Boris Johnson or for anybody else, it sounds like you are veering towards something closer to the Norway option . . .
DH: Well . . .
ED: As a compromise between the 48 and the 52?
DH: I mean, I . . .
ED: In the single market, yeah?
DH: My issue with the EU has always been the lack of sovereignty, the lack of democracy (fragments of words, unclear) you know, of course there are economic issues as well . . .
ED: (speaking over) You could take Norway.
DH: It wouldn’t be exactly Norway, obviously, we’re a very different country, we’re 65 million rather than 5 million, but the idea of staying within a common market, but outside the political integration I think that is feasible, yes.
ED: And that means free movement of people.
DH: It means free movement of labour, it doesn’t mean EU citizenship with all the acquired rights.
ED: I’m sorry, we’ve just been through three months of agony . . .
DH: Well, hang on . . .
ED: . . . on the issue of immigration, and the public have been led to believe . . .
DH: (speaking over) (fragment of word, or word unclear)
ED: . . . that what they have voted for is an end to free movement.
DH: Here is a very, very important point. From the moment we joined, we had the right to take up a job offer in another member state, you had a legal entitlement if you presented your contract . . .
ED: (interrupting) But why . . .
DH: . . . now, that changed with Maastricht, when EU citizenship was introduced, people were given legal entitlements to live in other countries, to vote in other countries and to claim welfare and have the same university tuition and so on. That bit, I think, is going to change, that means we can deport people . . .
ED: (speaking over) Why didn’t you say, why didn’t you say this in the campaign?
DH: (speaking over) Listen, I said that at every single meeting . . .
ED: (speaking over) Daniel Hannan, why did you not say in your campaign that you were wanting a system, a scheme where we had free movement of labour . . .
DH: At every . . .
ED: (speaking over) Completely at odds with what the public think they have just voted for.
DH: (speaking over) I have just spent four months addressing rallies virtually every day, and at everyone, I would say, ‘Do not imagine that if we leave the EU that means zero immigration from the EU, it means we will have some control over who comes in and in what numbers . . .
ED: (speaking over) You’ve given the impression, you’ve given the impression . . . you want to take back control . . .
DH: (speaking over) (word or words unclear) it’s all there on YouTube, you can see it on there.
ED: Your, your campaign has given the impression that we will not be able to get immigration down to the tens of thousands if we are out . . . inside the EU, I think most people would say that gives the impression we will get it down to tens of thousands if we’re outside the EU.
DH: No, we’ve always been clear, we want a measure of control, it will be for a future parliament to determine the numbers, and to determine, you know, how many students, how many doctors, how many family reunifications, whatever, but I don’t think anyone has ever tried to put a number on it, that’s obviously going to depend on the state of the economy . . .
ED: (speaking over, word unclear, ‘Well’ or ‘Wow’) Dan Hannan, thank you very much. Christine Ockrent, thank you, I had meant to come back to you, we’re out of time, but I hit a . . . nerve there with Dan Hannan. Thank you so much, thank you. Okay, there’s one other potentially momentous area to look at tonight. It’s the UK itself, time to dust off those old dis-united Kingdom clichés that were so popular during the Scottish referendum. And let’s go to Scotland now, Kirsty is in Edinburgh tonight, Kirsty can give us a flavour of the talk in Scotland about a second referendum there. Kirsty?
KIRSTY WARK: Well, first of all, after such a decisive vote in Scotland to Remain, this country feels a bit like it is in limbo, people are actually bewildered and some of them devastated that England voted to leave the European Union and now Scotland, in a way, is unable to move forward. Nicola Sturgeon says that an independence referendum’s highly likely, but she can’t afford to lose again. And she herself has said there is no guarantee that people who voted ‘no’ in the first independence referendum and voted to remain in the EU would vote independence for Scotland. So, there are so many questions. What would the impact be on the Scottish economy, look what happened to the pound . . . to oil after the last referendum, would we really have a closed border and tariffs, when we trade 64% of our trade is with the rest of the UK? And what currency would Scotland use? All these unknowns – can’t use the pound, won’t use the euro. On the other hand, for many people in Scotland now, membership of the European Union is a fundamental, it is non-negotiable. So the SNP is looking for a period of calm. Nicola Sturgeon had absolutely no option but to address the question of an independence referendum straightaway this morning.
NICOLA STURGEON: The manifesto the SNP was elected on last month said this: The Scottish parliament should have the right to hold another referendum if there is a significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will. Scotland does now face the prospect. It is a significant and material change in circumstances and it is therefore a statement of the obvious that the option of a second referendum must be on the table. And it is on the table.
KW: From here, the United Kingdom seems in a very different place and Scotland is very much another country. Now there is a greater period of uncertainty north of the border than there is in England. The mechanics of a second referendum or not clear, but it is unlikely that Westminster would deny Scotland a fresh independence vote because, from the Shetland Isles to the Borders, the majority wants to stay within the European Union. There is a sense of unreality here today. People cannot quite believe their southern neighbours would be such worlds apart.
VOX POP FEMALE: I cannot believe we have done this. I am very scared. Especially with the Tory government that we have at the moment, and I think especially in Scotland, we do not have much of a voice in the UK at all.
KW: Do you feel that we are very different in Scotland from England?
VOX POP FEMALE 2: Yes, there is going to be a split. With us being in and out, I think there’ll be a split.
KW: The roots of our relations with Europe are long and deep, the old alliance, the treaty between the French and the Scots was signed in the 13th century and Scotland has a long tradition of sending its sons and daughters overseas, all over the world, and we, in turn, have welcomed many different nations here – Russians, Italians, Poles, Pakistanis, and immigration just does not seem to be the same issue here as it is south of the border. Why do you think it is that immigration doesn’t seem to be such an issue as it is in England?
VOX POP FEMALE 3: I think that Scotland as a race of people we are just more multicultural, our culture is more varied, if you think about sort of storytelling and music, anything like that, And I just think that we are more accepting of new ideas here.
KW: Are you Scottish or French?
VOX POP MALE: Neither, I am Italian!
VPM: Working in a French van.
KW: And tell me, do you feel welcome in Scotland?
VPM: This morning, when I came out of my flat, I was feeling a little bit less welcome. But I think that they voted for staying, no?
VPM: So, I think I will try to feel welcome anyway because in fact I am welcome, maybe! (laughs)
KW: In six weeks’ time, the world’s eyes will be on Edinburgh for another reason: people will come from all over the world to the biggest international arts festival on the planet. And the festival was set up in the wake of the Second World War to encourage cultural relations between Scotland, Britain and Europe, to make sure that another war in Europe would be unimaginable. Nicola Sturgeon made it clear today that she wants to build a consensus in the country around a referendum. Now, it is possible that senior figures from other political parties would be part of a consensus. Preferring, finally, to live in an independent Scotland within the European Union, rather than in an increasingly dis-United Kingdom, divorced from the EU.
ED: Kirsty there, in Edinburgh. Now, Scotland and England is one division, young and old another. But there’s more going on too – there’s an anger in large parts of the country that have not felt blessed by the benefits of globalisation. In contrast to bustling metropolitan hubs like London or Manchester which voted Remain. And that schism has asserted itself to the shock of those at the top. Filmmaker Nick Blakemore has spent the last couple of days in Burnley, which voted two-thirds for Brexit, to see what was motivating voters there.
VOX POP MALE: We won’t lose control, we have lost control.
VOX POP MALE 2: For me it comes down to, when we vote somebody in, whoever gets into the government, they make the rules. And at the moment there is somebody above them. That’s why I’m going to be voting to leave.
VPM: What really gets me is this, I fought for this country in 82.
VPM2: Fair play.
VPM: This government now is going, immigrants, here you go, tick, you can all come in. I don’t want it, send them back home. We joined the EU for one thing, yeah? To have a better life, yeah?
VPM2: But . . .
VPM: Hang on . . . And then it comes to light, it’s not a better life.
VOX POP MALE 3: Vote for hope, that was the thing in the paper. Do not vote for fear, vote for hope.
VPM: You can’t vote for hope, there’s no hope nowadays.
TANYA THOMPSON Vote Leave Activist: We’ve had enough of the Tory scenario, the austerity, the cuts.
NICK BLAKEMORE: Why is that the fault of Europe?
TT: The minute this referendum is over and if Remain wins, that’s it, our NHS is gone.
VOX POP FEMALE: I think we should leave and give it a try and we should get our independence back because it’s just got absolutely out of hand.
TT: It has, I’ve got to admit, it’s the one thing, it came down to democracy, sovereignty, and the NHS.
VPF: There is good and bad. There is a lot of people come from abroad and they’ve done good for this country.
VPF: I was born in Germany, I’m a foreigner myself.
TT: We are not little Englanders. We’ve always looked outwards.
VPF: England was the greatest thing I’ve ever known when I came over here and you were free and if you worked hard you got rewarded. Right?
VPF: I’ve never had a day’s benefit, I’ve never had anything out of this country. I’m 83 years of age and all I can get is single poll tax allowance. Not that I need it, I’ve got food in my belly, I’m getting by and I’m not complaining.
VPF: When I look round there is a lot of folk worse. But I do object to people who have worked all their life, just stuff being taken off them.
VOX POP FEMALE 2: None of us know what the future holds. I think that’s why everyone is undecided.
TT: My main point is, you can’t base your argument on a country and an entire superstate that hasn’t got your best interests at heart. That is the be all and end all.
VPF2: That’s my main reason for leaving, who else is going to look after our country but us?
DAVID DIMBLEBY: Here we go. Good evening, and welcome at the end of this momentous day when each one of us has had the chance to say what kind of country we want to live in. At 10pm the polling stations close after weeks, months, years of argument.
SARAH MONTAGUE: The BBC is forecasting that the UK has voted to leave the European Union after more than 40 years.
TT: Good morning.
TT: Come on in. I want to . . .
NB: Come out first. Tell me, what’s your reaction?
TT: I don’t know yet, I haven’t switched it on, I’ve put these out and I’m hoping I’m not going to look stupid. Fingers crossed I’m not . . .
NB: Well, the BBC are calling it for Leave.
NB: You need to put the telly on. Tanya, just tell me what’s your reaction to that?
TT: I’m over the moon, I don’t know what to say. We did it. Everybody woke up in time. Everybody listened. Everybody understands, yes, it’s going to be rough at the beginning. But we’ve done it.
ED: Some views from Burnley. With me, two historians, David Starkey and Kate Williams, from the Times, Tim Montgomerie and writer and equality campaign Paris Lees. Paris, what’s your reaction as you watched that?
PARIS LEES Writer and Broadcaster: I recognise those towns, that’s where I’m from Evan, erm, and I think these people are going to be really upset when they find out that they’ve been lied to. I think it’s . . . it’s misguided, erm, obviously the people have voted with good intentions, but I think we are being led down a very dark path.
ED: Let’s just ask whether the nation is in some way historically unusually divided. Kate do you think we are in an unusual . . .
KATE WILLIAMS Professor of History, University of Reading: I do think we’re incredibly divided. I think this is the biggest historical event, the most divisive event since the Civil War and I think it’s the most historical event we’ve seen since the Act of the Union itself. I mean, we see divisions here between North and South, between young and old, between the fact that Scotland is going to have a referendum (fragments of words, unclear) Northern Ireland . . . concerns about . . . Martin McGuinness saying about joining together, and we know that a Scottish referendum is probably going to trigger questions about a referendum in Wales. So we’re seeing massive divisions, and when we actually see a petition getting a lot of people signatures saying that London might actually set up as a separate city state . . .
ED: I think it’s a joke though . . . (fragments of words, or words unclear)
PL: I’m not entirely sure it is.
KW: I’m not entirely sure, I think . . . but I think there is certainly, I mean, there is some joking in it, but there is some . . . that, I think, shows the leg (sic) the level of the divisions, it’s huge.
ED: You’re both, you’re both Remainers, and now you two are both Brexit supporters. David do you think the nation is historically divided at the moment?
DAVID STARKEY: It is, but I think eight is slightly exaggerating, I can think of Ireland, I can think of Roman Catholicism, I can think of all sorts of things that have split us – even the whole question of whether we fought the Nazis or not, you know, the country was hugely divided. I think the more interesting question is why this has happened. It seemed to me your Burnley film was absolutely right. What has happened is the European Union is a proxy, it’s a proxy for deep discontent with experts, with the political class and so on, and I think it’s also the fact that the political parties have been led for the last . . . nearly 20 years by leaders, Blair on the one hand and Cameron on the other that have thought it was very clever to kick their supporters in the goolies.
ED: (fragments of words, or words unclear) if it’s a proxy, was it the right thing to get out of it, if it (laughter in voice) was just a proxy?
DS: (speaking over) Yes . . .
ED: You’re implying it’s like let’s just kick something, and that’s, the EU’s over there and let’s do that . . .
DS: Well . . . I think, I think an awful lot of people actually voted on that basis. And it’s very important we recognise that, which of course also allows for the kind of point that Daniel Hannan was making, that perhaps we could begin to reunite as a very real possibility. And I think that what we’ve got to do is something which no recent government has had the courage to do, we’ve got to rediscover a sense of national interest. Britain has spent the whole of its time arguing ‘we’ve got to be good, we’ve got to support European rights because otherwise the Russians will misbehave’ we’ve really got to start to do a de Gaulle.
ED: Tim, the voters we saw there in Burnley are actually the ones political parties are finding it quite difficult to reach, any political party, aren’t they? (unknown speaker, words unclear) What, what is the . . . what is the answer to that, because they’re not natural Conservative voters, your party’s nowhere near them.
TIM MONTGOMERIE: Sure, and you talk about Britain being divided, but, you know, I’m currently based in Washington for The Times, and I’m of course seeing the whole Trump phenomenon over there, we’re all seeing the Trump phenomenon, and I think we’re sort of six, seven years after the global crash now, and I think immediately after the global crash people just wanted governments that stabilised the situation. But now there’s the hunger for reform and remedy. And I think we are seeing that right across the world . . .
ED: Can I just make one . . .
TM: . . . and today’s revolt, yesterday’s revolt by er, poorer Britons, and they were the overwhelming explanation for why we are leaving the European Union, that has to be heeded. This isn’t just a vote to leave the European Union, this is a cry for help for a huge proportion of our population, who think politics has stopped working for them . . .
KW: And it is a vote against austerity, I absolutely agree, but when you think of places like Wales has got 500 million subsidy, huge votes against austerity, they talked about poverty, we didn’t really see much talk about sovereignty in the same way, and the concern is that these people, it is not going to give them . . . any, it’s not going be (word or words unclear due to speaking over) for Burnley.
DS: (speaking over) But sorry, you see, Kate, you’re making a very elementary confusion. You’re assuming . . .
KW: No I’m not . . .
DS: Yes you are. You’re assuming that the economy is always what mattered. What this vote shows . . .
KW: But austerity is tied up with the economy.
DS: (shushes her) What this vote shows it that it’s culture that matters . . .
ED: It can be, it can be.
DS: . . . and it can be . . .
PL: Well, it’s the lack of politicians connecting with voters, if you look at Jo Cox, she was doing a good job of it, the SNP in Scotland is doing a good job of it, so I think that Labour and the Conservatives both need to put their hands up and . . . admit that they’re just not getting it right.
DS: But sorry, you’re point about those voters in Burnley, they are, at the moment, they’re floating voters. A Conservative leader who was as clever as Disraeli – remember, it’s Disraeli who turns, captures the working man’s vote in 1867, and there’s the possibility now of a Boris, or another charismatic Tory politician who invents the national interest . . .
ED: (laughs) Alright, let’s ask the Remainers whether you think Boris is a healing, a healing person . . .
PL: I think Boris, his speech it was, it was just extraordinary. That wasn’t a victory speech, I think he realises that . . . he’s got it wrong and this is really, really, really serious. And I just hope that we can actually have another referendum, because I think a lot of people would actually . . .
DS: (speaking over) Loser – bad loser.
KW: Jonathan Powell was saying . . .
PL: (speaking over) Well, I’d rather . . . I think actually I’d rather be a bad loser, I’ve got more important things to worry about than how . . .
KW: (speaking over) I’m not sure it is about losing, because people actually feel that they have been lied to, and that’s what . . .
PL: People have been lied to . . .
KW: There’s so, there’s so much more voter regret than I’ve ever seen before, most people (words unclear due to speaking over)
DS: (speaking over) You’re now having a clear illustration of why the vote went why it did.
TM: I think people are going to be surprised with Boris Johnson. He’s probably the likely next Prime Minister of this, this country. Actually, you look at his record, he was championing the were living wage before other Conservatives . . .
ED: (speaking over) Immigration amnesty . . .
TM: Same sex marriage, he opposed the tax credit cuts that you’re just one proposed, he’s much more of an interesting Conservative than people think.
ED: (speaking over) We’ve talked a lot about the sort of, the, the Burnley divide, and the metropolitan elite, Paris, what about the generational divide, because that is really quite striking. The under 45’s would have clearly voted to stay in, and the over 45s clearly voted to take us out.
PL: Well there was a great headline on Vice today, er, which said, ‘Grandma, what have you done?’ And I think that a lot of millennial’s will be feeling that this morning, I think it’s incredibly selfish and I personally will not
TM: (speaking over) Why selfish?
PL: . . . forgive or forget. Because . . . the older generation don’t have to live here as long as the younger generation.
DS: So, why don’t we introduce, for example, a cut-off point (laughter from TM and ED) beyond which you can’t vote. Are you . . .
PL: (words unclear due to speaking over)
DS: (speaking over) Your sense of sublime self entitlement . . .
PL: No . . .
DS: . . . are we going to have those under 35 with two votes? (words unclear, multiple speakers talking at once)
PL: Young people . . . young people have already had so much taken away me (sic) I don’t need you to take away my airtime as well, Mr Starkey. So what we’re actually looking at is a generation of people who . . .
DS: (speaking over) You haven’t and my question?
PL: Well, you’re not letting me, because you’re interrupting me, because you’re a privileged white man who just wants to speak over me, and this is the problem. Young people are getting very sick of it, sick of being spoken over, sick of being patronised and we have to pay for our education (others speak over unclear) the way your generation didn’t have to, you know, we’re just, everything that gets taken away, young people are being cut out, firstly I think there’s a lot of frustration, and, you know, for young people, Europe’s just somewhere where we go on holiday and go clubbing. You know, we don’t have this xenophobia.
KW: And the young vote is going to be vital in Scotland, of course, the Scottish referendum included 16-year-olds, they were massive in the turnout, and I think that this (fragments of words, unclear) I notice Nigel Farage saying, ‘Well, we can engage with the Commonwealth’, but I’ve been watching the Australian media who have been saying today, ‘Why are we still linked to this country, it’s going to be so diminished, they’re going to lose Scotland, possibly Wales, and the Commonwealth is probably due for the chop as well.’
ED: Is this . . . this is not what you (fragments of words, unclear) be careful what you wish for is the kind of message (fragment of word, unclear)
TM: I, I think at the moment, in our relationship with Europe, we have a situation where people from Africa, Asia, Australasia are actually second-class status when it comes to coming into Britain, we prioritise European . . . the problem isn’t Little Englandism, it’s Little Europeanism, Britain now has the opportunity to open ourselves to the world.
PL: There won’t be a Britain, this time in 10 years.
ED: And that is about it, what a 24 hours . . .
KW: Thank you.
ED: . . . it’s been. Normally we’re meant to be the quietly stable nation that doesn’t do revolutions cut people’s heads off, but today we’ve been rocking the world. That’s all we have time for tonight.
Photo by (Mick Baker)rooster