Things have been moving fast since the UK’s June 23 referendum on Brexit. Here’s a rundown of what happened on day six (June 29) of the country’s new, post-EU future.
The EU’s 27 remaining members met without the UK for the first time and afterwards presented a united front. Britain—its seat around the table in Brussels left empty—cannot negotiate an “à la carte” relationship with the bloc that would feature free trade but not the free movement of people, the EU Council said. In any case, there will be no informal talks between the EU and UK before London formally invokes “Article 50” of the 2009 Lisbon Treaty, which sets a two-year deadline for divorcing the EU. Given the political vacuum in London, there is no clarity as to when those talks will start, or who will start them.
UK prime minister David Cameron appeared before UK Parliament at the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions session, the first since the Brexit vote. For a lame-duck leader fresh from the biggest political fiasco in Britain’s modern history, it was notable that he could still score points against Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, whose own party colleagues are trying to oust him.
Cameron acknowledged that the turmoil at Labour is good for the Conservatives, but said that having both of the country’s main political parties engulfed in infighting is bad for the country.
Meanwhile, star economist Thomas Piketty quit as an economic advisor to Corbyn’s party, saying he was “deeply concerned with the Brexit vote and with the very weak campaign of Labour.” Yesterday, former Bank of England policymaker David Blanchflower did the same. The five remaining members of the party’s Economic Advisory Committee, including Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, put their work on hold, and said in a statement that the Brexit vote was “a major disaster for the UK, and we have felt unhappy that the Labour leadership has not campaigned more strongly to avoid this outcome.”
The revolving door for Labour’s shadow cabinet kept spinning, as shadow education secretary Pat Glass called it quits. She was appointed two days ago.
Splenetic UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage delivered a triumphant, ill-tempered speech to the European Parliament yesterday (“You’re not laughing now, are you?!”). Behind him, the visible distress of the parliamentarian in seat 123 made for much mirth on social media. Today, the occupant of seat 123, Lithuanian health commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis, came forward to give his thoughts on Brexit, the future of the EU, and what what going through his mind as he was “grimacing and trying to hide my despair while Nigel Farage spoke”:
At one point, Farage pilloried the parliament as useless and out of touch, saying hardly any members in the chamber ”have ever done a proper job.” Before politics, Andriukaitis was a cardiac surgeon.