The political landscape in post-#brexit U.K. reminds of the creation and subsequent destruction of Buddhist sand paintings, known as sand mandalas. This is the process whereby coloured sand is strategically placed on a surface through an extremely laborious and time-consuming process in order to create a lovely and detailed sand painting, only to be ritualistically dismantled soon after completion.
Like the sand mandala takes weeks of round-the-clock work to create only to be destroyed in mere minutes, the U.K. is experiencing a rapid dismantling of its political and social order, which was moulded over decades of cooperation within institutions such as the E.U. A multiculturally-oriented Britain is rapidly transformed into an inhospitable place, with political campaigns reminiscent of Nazi propaganda and with a spike in racially-motivated attacks.
The primary actors in the farce that turned reality, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, are now gone. Johnson is not running for the leadership of the Tories, which would make him the next P.M., and Farage has resigned from U.K.I.P. earlier today.
It doesn’t take a political mastermind to interpret Boris’ decision: his bet has not paid off and he decided to cut his losses. His bet was simple and effective. He was to lead a dignified Leave campaign which would raise his profile and lacking gravitas. That would eventually come handy upon Cameron’s completion of his turn in office. Boris would rise as a patriotic candidate, the only one able to reach beyond the electoral base of the Conservatives, and would rule the day.
Unfortunately for Boris, his side won, and his plan failed. He then had two options: either to call it quits or to run for office. Had he decided to run for the leadership of the Tories, he would find himself in N.10 far sooner than expected. He would be the Prime Minister to preside over the U.K.’s exit from the E.U., and, quite likely, over the dismantling of the United Kingdom. Clearly an outcome not fitting Boris’ grandiose vision of himself in leadership.
Farage resignation is more difficult to interpret. For one, and contrary to popular expectation, he has not been the main pillar of the Leave campaign, and not for lack of trying. He was deliberately sidelined by more (self-professed) liberal conservatives who tried to articulate a not-so-racist argument for Leave. Nevertheless, the Leave vote has been a clear victory for him. Whatever the case, the next few months will be difficult for whoever is in charge of managing the logistics of brexit. What was project fear is now turning into reality, with the U.K. taking a serious financial and political hit in the aftermath of the referendum.
In this climate, Farage’s resignation makes perfect sense. He will not be part neither of the group that will negotiate the divorce with the E.U., nor of the group that will attempt to contain the adverse financial effects of brexit. What’s more, he will not be held immediately accountable for the false promises of the Leave campaign whose main assertion was that immigration will fall upon leaving the European Union. Farage staying on the outside, means that he will eventually be able (a) to attack the Tory negotiators and (b) keep blaming immigrants, thus maintaining his modus operandi and the reason for his political existence. He is not gone for good, he is only avoiding the consequences of his actions.