My take on the early Brexit winners and losersIan Bremmer, Ph.D
(CNBC) – WINNERS
Boris Johnson – The former London mayor and grudging “Leave” supporter-turned enthusiastic “Leave” leader chose the winning side. He’s now a front-runner to lead the Tory party. #HellFreezesOver
Theresa May – Boris Johnson’s populist approach to the Brexit campaign ticked off quite a few Tory elders, so the real money should be on UK Home Secretary Theresa May to succeed outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron. May is a political heavyweight and is generally respected among the Tories, something Boris Johnson is … um, not.
Nigel Farage – the once-embattled UK Independence Party leader gets his moment in the sun. Also gets to keep having a political career. And the fact that he quoted “Independence Day” in his victory speech made a crazy night that much crazier.
Marine Le Pen/Geert Wilders – Charismatic figures with a long history agitating for EU exits, France’s Marine Le Pen and the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders wasted no time calling for their own referendums. Brexit legitimizes their years of saber-rattling, and moves them from the political fringes into the mainstream, where they can do serious damage to the European project.
Vladimir Putin – Russia’s strongman needed this. Low oil prices have leveled the Russian economy, and the International Olympic Committee has banned Russian track athletes from competing at #Rio2016. But now he gets to say “at least we’re not Europe.”
Nicola Sturgeon – The head of the Scottish National Party delivered on her end from Scotland, where 62 percent of Scots voted to “Remain,” though turnout wasn’t as high as hoped. She now has political leverage by threatening to hold another Scottish referendum. And if Scotland leaves, the British drought at Wimbledon gets retroactively reinstated.
German/US relations – Going to get stronger. By default.
David Cameron – The man called the referendum to keep Euroskeptic Tories from defecting to the UK Independence Party camp in last year’s parliamentary election. That turns out to have bought him an extra year in 10 Downing Street. Hope it was worth it, David. #KarmaIsABitch
British pollsters – whiffed on the Scottish referendum. Whiffed on last year’s parliamentary elections. Whiffed on the Brexit referendum. We were better off flipping a coin.
Alexis Tsipras – when the Greek Prime Minister held a referendum on whether the Greek people should sign a deal for more austerity, he just ignored the results. The fact that Cameron actually fell on his referendum sword makes Tsipras look silly. Oh, and Grexit is now a real possibility now that the precedent has been sent.
Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn – Pundits have pointed to Labour’s particularly poor showing to get out the vote as a key reason why the “Remain” side failed to win. And Jeremy Corbyn just failed in his first real test as Labour leader. Labour has some soul-searching to do, though it feels like we say that after every election.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel – Brexit is now yet another problem for Europe (read: Merkel) to deal with. As if she didn’t have enough to worry over.
The British pound sterling – As the pound fell to levels not seen since 1985, maybe the first time ever that the British wish they had adopted the euro.
London’s financial sector – Despite the UK’s long-fraught relationship with the EU, it was clearly a net benefit for London’s financial sector, which could lay claim as the financial center of Europe. Much harder to do that when you’ve announced to the world you no longer want to be part of “Europe.” Look for Frankfurt to pick up the slack.
Donald J. Trump – Would have made him a winner, except he arrived in Scotland and announced that the Scottish “took their country back.” So many things factually incorrect in that one statement I don’t even know where to begin. Still, Brexit shows that divisive politics has an audience, which could bode well for The Donald.
Commentary by Ian Bremmer, the president and founder of Eurasia Group. He is also a professor at New York University and the author of “Superpower: Three Choices for America’s Role in the World.”