Brexit earthquake has failed to materialise
We were warned of a Brexit apocalypse: the pound in free fall, investment frozen, and the Chancellor forced to pen an emergency budget to save the nation from penury.
Remainers warned that traditional allies would spurn us, forcing the UK to “the back of the queue” as global markets shuddered.
However, 100 days after polling stations opened and the nation decided to walk away from the European Union, we may have felt the tremors, but an earthquake has failed to materialise.
In their defence, most of the Brexit Cassandras have consistently said the real impact wouldn’t be felt until Brexit actually meant Brexit and we found ourselves outside the world’s largest custom union.
That could be two years if we follow the Lisbon treaty’s Article 50 route, but quicker if the UK decides to walk away from the single market in a so-called “hard” Brexit.
But before “triggers are pulled” and negotiations start “after notification”, the fallout of the vote has been profoundly reshaping British politics.
With few facts, or a fixed timetable, bitterness, fear, anger and bravado have been carving through the biggest parties.
Let us start with the winners.
UKIP has lost and gained a leader, but the referendum result tore off a scab on the party’s internal politics, pitching millionaire donor Arron Banks against its only MP, Douglas Carswell.
Anti-Farage modernisers tried to co-opt UKIP’s national executive to take the party in a new direction, causing Mr Banks to openly ponder whether he should turn his cash hose onto setting up a political movement, powered by the data gleaned from Leave.EU’s vote push.
In the Conservatives, there is an increasingly vocal group of hardline backbenchers (and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox), who believe World Trade Organisation rules and the threat of mutually assured tariffs are the justification for withdrawing from the customs union as soon as possible.
That’s set them at odds with the soft-Brexiters and majority backbench Remainers who have their foot on the brake pedal rather than the accelerator.
So far Theresa May has adopted her default position when faced with internal squabbles or potentially controversial decisions: silence.
But “Submarine May” – as she was dubbed waspishly in a book by Sir Craig Oliver, David Cameron’s former director of communications – will have to surface soon.
Business leaders, Brussels negotiators and European premiers continue their clamour for clarity.
And in Labour the so-called “shadow-shadow” cabinet of New Labour moderates still agitate, fuelled by their anger over Jeremy Corbyn’s seeming reluctance to campaign to stay.
That the Labour leader used his address at the party conference to concentrate on broad themes such as social inequality rather than the mechanics of Brexit has widened, not healed, divisions.
After his team briefed that he was “relaxed” about levels of immigration when a third of Labour supporters had voted to leave, critics warned he was blind to changing political realities in core party seats.
So while the plague of locusts never materialised, a swarm of political ramifications keeps buzzing around Westminster. 100 days and the political landscape’s still shaking.