UK faces unprecedented political upheaval in wake of Brexit vote

Johnson claims there will still be ‘intense European co-operation’

Four days after the UK voted to leave the EU, the country faces an unprecedented political upheaval with leadership contests in both main parties.

As contenders lined up to succeed prime minister David Cameron as Conservative leader, Labour's Jeremy Corbyn faced a full-scale insurrection on his front bench.

Eleven shadow cabinet ministers resigned yesterday after Mr Corbyn sacked shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn. Mr Benn had been canvassing support for a move against the party leader, who faces a motion of no confidence from MPs this week. Mr Corbyn vowed to battle any attempt to topple him and insisted he would not "betray" the trust of the party members who elected him.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson, who led the Leave campaign, said that Britain was part of Europe and always would be.


Writing in today's Daily Telegraph, he claimed there would still be "intense and intensifying European cooperation and partnership in a huge number of fields". He cited the arts, sciences, the universities and the environment.

“EU citizens living in this country will have their rights fully protected, and the same goes for British citizens living in the EU,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Cameron will meet EU leaders in Brussels tomorrow for the first time since last Thursday's referendum. Senior EU sources say he will not face pressure from other leaders to immediately invoke article 50, the EU treaty provision which would start the clock on two years of formal talks on the UK's exit.



European Parliament

is more impatient, however, and in an emergency session tomorrow, the four main political groups will call on Mr Cameron to formally notify the

European Council

of the referendum outcome at the EU summit, which will be attended by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

"Hesitating simply to accommodate the party tactics of the British Conservatives hurts everyone," European Parliament President Martin Schultz said. "That is why we expect the British government to now deliver. The summit is the right time."

As uncertainty continued over the next steps in the exit procedure, the UK’s European commissioner Jonathan Hill announced his resignation on Saturday. His surprise decision could signal that the UK may already be unwinding its presence in the EU institutions, though the financial services commissioner said he would remain in the role on a temporary basis to ensure an “orderly handover”.

The Dáil will meet today to hear statements on the UK referendum, when Mr Kenny will outline the first steps of the Government’s response.

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton is China Correspondent of The Irish Times

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch, a former Irish Times journalist, was Washington correspondent and, before that, Europe correspondent

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times