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Britain's Completely Batshit Week Since Brexit, Explained For Americans

Please send help we are on fire.

Hi America! While you're all eagerly awaiting a divisive, bitter national vote in November, we just had one! As you might have heard, just over a week ago Britain narrowly voted to leave the European Union in a referendum.

But what's happened since then? Here's a quick summary of our political situation:

The referendum campaign had been full of warnings from experts about the dire economic consequences of leaving – which senior anti-EU politicians dismissed as nonsense.

"People in this country have had enough of experts," claims Michael Gove. #InOrOut

But then as soon as the result became clear, this happened to the pound.

(Free) The pound has hit a fresh low after the UK voted to leave the EU. Follow events live https://t.co/PYZpxNgWuq

That's...not ideal. Also we managed to wipe about $3 trillion off the value of the global stock market, which is a pretty impressive achievement for a small island! Go UK!

Obviously, it's at times like this that you want a strong, stable government in place.

So naturally British prime minister David Cameron – who had said he wouldn't resign as a result of a Leave vote – immediately announced that he would resign as a result of the Leave vote.

Holy shit, they replaced David Cameron with a cat.

That's because the referendum was largely a result of a big internal battle between different factions of the ruling right-wing Tory party (imagine the Republicans, but if they spoke like Benedict Cumberbatch).

Basically, Cameron promised a referendum in a cunning plan to try to placate his EU-hating enemies, campaigned for a Remain vote, lost, and now he's resigning, leaving his enemies to take over the party and the country. SO THAT PLAN WENT PRETTY WELL.

Speaking of plans, it turned out that nobody had actually made one for what we'd do if we voted Leave.

Conservative Leave MP, Boris backer: "there is no plan. Leave campaign don't have a post Brexit plan, Number 10 should have had one"

The prime minister's people said the Leave campaign should have made the plans, and the Leave campaign insisted the prime minister should have made the plans. With the result that nobody did.

It turns out that navigating your country through a moment of deep geopolitical crisis is a lot like trying to organise a party over WhatsApp with your flaky friends.

Also, pretty much immediately the people who had campaigned for Britain to leave the EU started admitting that the promises they'd made in the campaign weren't actually promises.

See, in order to actually leave the EU, we have to do something called "invoking Article 50". This is very complicated and confusing, but on the plus side it sounds cool.

Except that Cameron has said he won't invoke Article 50 while he's still prime minister – that's a job for whoever replaces him.

And the EU has no power to force the UK to invoke it, even though European leaders want us to leave ASAP.

So Article 50's not going to be invoked at least until there's a new prime minister, and even then it still might not actually happen. So we're kind of in EU limbo.

OH, AND! It is possible the Scottish government has the power to veto Article 50, but again, no one is quite sure. But it's either that, or there's a good chance Scotland will vote to leave the UK entirely.

OH AND ACTUALLY ONE MORE THING, Northern Ireland might also be screwed – as is evidenced by the fact that it's running out of application forms for Irish passports.

So here's where we're at. This is the central post office in Belfast #brexit #EURefResults

(In this situation, getting an Irish passport = the British version of marrying a Canadian if Donald Trump wins.)

Northern Ireland also voted strongly for Remain, largely because of the supporting role the EU played in its peace process, and because it's the only part of the UK to have land borders with the EU (with the Republic of Ireland).

It turns out that century-long violent disputes that have only recently reached a wary peace don't respond well to potentially having militarised borders added into the mix, especially when people cross them every day to go to work. More here – it is complicated.

So, to recap again: The economy is on fire, the prime minister's resigning, nobody bothered to make a plan for how to leave the EU, everybody wants someone else to take charge, and the UK might split up entirely.

So who will be the next prime minister?

Well, the Tory leaders of the Leave campaign were former London mayor Boris Johnson (a man so posh that his full name, we shit you not, is Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson) and Michael Gove (that guy who hates experts, and who once fell over amusingly).

To give you an idea of exactly how petty this whole mess is, Cameron and Johnson are old "friends" who both went to the same exclusive private school, and then Oxford University.

Power passes from the man third from left to the man fourth from right. What sort of working-class revolt is that?

Some people have ~speculated~ that Johnson only campaigned for a Leave vote in the first place as a way to force his old chum out of office and take over the country. It's like a terrible cross between Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones, except it is real and it is happening to us.

BUT WAIT! On the morning when Johnson was supposed to announce his leadership campaign with Michael Gove’s support…Gove announced that HE was running for leader instead.

By this point, actual British political news was basically indistinguishable from a random word generator.

Gove offered to sign in blood on parchment that didn't want to be PM. Boris said he was more likely to be re-incarnated as an olive.

Anyway, Johnson realised that he'd been comprehensively played, and quickly announced that he wouldn't run for leader after all, making absolutely everybody lose their shit.

The best reaction to the announcement that Boris Johnson has ruled himself out of the leadership race

To recap: One old university friend pushed the country to a constitutional and economic crisis to gain power from another old university friend, but got stabbed in the back by a third old university friend, at which point he decided not to bother after all.


"Hey, you've left a turd in the fridge." "Reluctantly I have concluded I am not the man to remove the turd from the fridge."

This means that the new favourite to be our next prime minister is Theresa May...who actually campaigned for Remain.

This is all made more fun by the possibility that whoever does become the next prime minister might call an election immediately, which would in effect be a referendum on the aftermath of the referendum.

MEANWHILE. You'd think that the governing party tearing itself apart would give the opposition party reason to celebrate, right?

You see, the opposition – the left-of-centre Labour party – is currently led by this guy, Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn was previously a fringe figure on the far left of the party, before being unexpectedly elected leader on a massive groundswell of grassroots support, especially from young people.

But now, with the prospect of an election in the next few months, the Labour party establishment are terrified they'll lose with Corbyn in charge.

As a result, over the weekend after the referendum, almost every single person in Corbyn's shadow cabinet resigned one by one.

The idea was that this would force Corbyn to step down himself. Except he didn't. He just kept appointing his increasingly small band of loyalists to the shadow cabinet and insisting he was going to tough it out.

So now Labour MPs are in open warfare with their leader and are probably going to force another leadership election, while Corbyn does his best to carry on like nothing's happening.

In conclusion: The UK voted to leave the EU. The economy kind of melted. Nobody has a plan for what to do and everybody wants someone else to take responsibility – but the governing party is too busy stabbing each other in the back, while the opposition party is too busy being at war with itself. The UK might split up entirely. And we might have to vote on all this again in a few months' time.

We are all so tired and so confused. Please help us. Please.

UPDATE. And now Nigel Farage, who led UKIP, the party whose primary goal was to get Britain out of Europe, has resigned as its leader now that he has got Britain out of Europe. He will continue to represent Britain in Europe in his other job as a member of the European parliament.