Today in Brexit-land: Juncker calls Farage a liar, Merkel’s warning, Labour’s meltdown

Sweet nothings.
Sweet nothings.
Image: Reuters/Eric Vidal
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Things have been moving fast since the UK’s June 23 referendum on Brexit. Here’s a rundown of what happened on day five of the country’s new, post-EU future.

European Parliament held an emergency meeting

Nigel Farage, leader of the right-wing UKIP group, kicked things off with a speech to his fellow members of the European Parliament—the people who have to approve whatever deal the UK negotiates with Europe after its divorce—telling them that none of them had ever held a real job.

“I know that virtually none of you have ever done a proper job in your lives or worked in business or worked in trade or indeed ever created a job. But listen, just listen,” Farage said, to boos and heckles.

Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, then called him a liar.

Farage kept at it though, seizing his moment to gloat over the UK’s recent vote to quit the EU:

“When I came here 17 years ago and said I wanted to lead a campaign to get Britain to leave the European Union, you all laughed at me. Well, I have to say, you’re not laughing now, are you?”

David Cameron made a stab at diplomacy

UK prime minister David Cameron arrived at a two-day EU Summit in Brussels, where he said Britain would not turn its back on its allies and called for “constructive” dialog.

His allies responded somewhat harshly.

German chancellor Angela Merkel said Britain could not pick and choose what it wanted from EU membership—for example, access to the free market but no free movement of people, as former London mayor and Leave campaigner Boris Johnson has proposed in speeches, op-eds, and fantasyland predictions.

“We will ensure that negotiations won’t be conducted according to the principle of cherry picking,” Merkel said. “Those wanting to leave the family can’t expect all obligations to become obsolete while privileges would continue to exist,” she said to the German parliament (paywall) before heading to the summit.

Mark Rutte, the Dutch premier and, at one time, one of Britain’s closest allies, said Britain should be offered space to negotiate a deal. Then he added (paywall): “England has collapsed politically, monetarily, constitutionally and economically.” Ouch.

Tomorrow (June 29), Cameron will be asked to leave as the other 27 countries decide how to deal with Brexit.

At home, things were no less eventful

Meanwhile, back in London, the Labour party continued to self-immolate. Party leader Jeremy Corbyn suffered a no-confidence vote of 172 to 40. He said he would stay anyways.

“I was democratically elected leader of our party for a new kind of politics by 60% of Labour members and supporters, and I will not betray them by resigning. Today’s vote by MPs has no constitutional legitimacy,” he said in a statement.

That was after most of Corbyn’s shadow cabinet resigned, forcing him to hastily pick a new one. Having secured that team, he invited Sky News to film its first meeting, where Corbyn was caught on mic saying “this might not be such a good idea.

Between the time the camera was set up and taken down, another cabinet member resigned.