CommonSpace columnist Yvonne Ridley says First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is the only one to have remained calm during the Westminster Brexit storm
I HAVE been in England for the last few days witnessing, first hand, the unravelling of the Brexit campaign following its victory in the EU referendum and the bizarre handling of the crisis by the mainstream media.
So, the story so far: Prime Minister David Cameron has not surfaced from Downing Street since he announced he was clearing off in October having lost his Remain campaign. His chancellor, George Osborne, was 'missing in action' until this morning when he tried to calm the markets down, and on Sunday, wannabe Tory leader Boris Johnson was off for a game of cricket at one of his Eton mate's stately homes.
The blonde bombshell was visibly shaken when he emerged from his London home on Friday morning to be greeted with someone shouting "you twat" before a chorus of "Tory Scum" followed by lots of booing.
England is leaderless, rudderless and it is now becoming quite clear that the Brexit lot have no forward planning strategy in place.
Speculation is rife that a General Election will probably be held in the autumn – just 18 months after we had the last one.
The only calming voice amid all the carnage and chaos has been that of Scotland's first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, but, of course, her interests lie in the interests of her people and not those south of the border.
So how has the London-based media reacted? They've plunged into a headlong charge for Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader, doing their best to help the Blairites within the Parliamentary Labour Party destabilise and unseat him.
England is leaderless, rudderless and it is now becoming quite clear that the Brexit lot have no forward planning strategy in place – but the media has decided the big story is the opposition party, Corbyn and a faux leadership race.
Meanwhile, a handful of Tories are now admitting that the pledge to give European money to the NHS was a load of old tosh along with the other false statistics emblazoned on their battle bus. But no one in the mainstream media appears bothered that the nation was lied to and so far I've not seen any journalist doorstep the likes of Johnson, Gove or the others about this.
Meanwhile, a handful of Tories are now admitting that the pledge to give European money to the NHS was a load of old tosh along with the other false statistics emblazoned on their battle bus.
Instead, the London-based media is consumed by the resignations of a string of unremarkable shadow ministers most of us have never heard of, including a woman called Gloria, a devout vegan and Scotland's one and only Labour MP. Despite repeated assurances Corbyn is going nowhere and, at the time of writing, no one has emerged as a contender, this is a non story.
Len McCluskey, head of the most powerful trade union, Unite, has said he's backing Corbyn and, of course, Corbyn still has the largest mandate ever of any Labour leader from the grassroots membership.
Yet Sky News, the Murdoch media and most of the Westminster press pack have been salivating and going into overdrive speculating the downfall of Corbyn. They've camped outside his north London home and are monstering him as soon as he shows his face.
Surely the big story is the mysterious inactivity from the Tory-led government; the prime minister and his second-in-command have vanished and none of the Brexiteers, led by Boris, Michael Gove and Nigel Farage, or any of their 130 Tory MP supporters, have emerged to calm the situation.
While Scotland's government calls an emergency session on a Saturday, the inactivity of the Tories has been nothing short of breathtaking, followed closely by the lacklustre London press.
But no one in the mainstream media appears bothered that the nation was lied to and so far I've not seen any journalist doorstep the likes of Johnson, Gove or the others about this.
Meanwhile, the EU has made it clear that it's not going to wait for Cameron to bimble around aimlessly until October and has already started meetings about Britain's departure from Europe, and the French have chipped in saying UK borders can move back to Dover from Calais.
The money markets are in a spin, the pound is worth about three cans of beans and a bottle of Worcester sauce, and people on both sides of the referendum debate are feeling abandoned and helpless. This is the biggest crisis the country has had to face since World War II and no one, apart from the Scottish leader, appears in control.
Sturgeon, without a hint of schadenfreude, has described the situation as shameful, but, as I said before, her priorities lie with the Scottish people – although there are growing calls to move the English border to Hull…
She gave more than half a dozen major political interviews on Sunday morning just 24 hours after her Cabinet held an emergency session in response to the referendum result. She told ITV's Gordon Brewer: "If the Scottish Parliament is judging this on the basis of what’s right for Scotland, then the option of saying we’re not going to vote for something that’s against Scotland’s interests, that’s got to be on the table. You’re not going to vote for something that is not in Scotland’s interests."
Brewer asked Sturgeon if she could imagine the fury of English people who voted for Brexit if Scotland tried to block the UK leaving the EU, and she responded: "I can, but it’s perhaps similar to the fury of many people in Scotland right now as we face the prospect of being taken out of the EU against their will. I didn’t create these situations. I’m trying to navigate the best way forward through them."
The money markets are in a spin, the pound is worth about three cans of beans and a bottle of Worcester sauce, and people on both sides of the referendum debate are feeling abandoned and helpless.
And during an interview on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show she warned the next Tory leader off trying to block a new independence referendum, adding: "I don’t think it is acceptable in the context we find ourselves in for anybody trying to dictate to Scotland the terms of how we seek to take the country forward. It is simply not acceptable and I would caution any future prime minister against putting themselves in that position."
When asked about the political shenanigans in London, she said: "As I watch what’s happening in Westminster just now, the complete vacuum of leadership, it’s shameful what’s happened both in the Tory party and in Labour, I am determined that Scotland is going to be led, and led with purpose."
Frankly I can't wait to escape the madness and head north again and would not be in the least bit surprised if I'm met by thousands of English refugees doing the same – at least they would be given a warm welcome by a country that's open for business 24/7.
Picture courtesy of Yvonne Ridley
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