Brave leaders ask brave questions. And they need to act on the results. Whatever you think about the result of the EU Referendum this morning – and indeed whatever your views on the appropriateness of starting on this path in the first place – the people have spoken. And the Prime Minister of the UK has responded. Outside Number 10 in London, David Cameron spoke with dignity and reason and, with a quaver in his voice, resigned because “I do not think it would be right for me to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination”.
Again, whatever you think of him or his political views, David Cameron has faced the consequences of public opinion, shocking though the result of that public opinion is for much for the world. He took immediate action and named the issue that was on everyone’s lips: how could someone who had been for campaigning to stay in the EU be the person to lead the UK’s negotiation to exit the EU? He also did his best to steady the ship in the face of a plummeting pound and stock market by confirming that he would be around for the next few months. A useful message, carefully choreographed alongside the Governor of the Bank of England’s calming tones, to help steady the markets and reassure people that nothing will change in the short term.
For some, this has thrown us into even more turmoil because we are now effectively leaderless. (We will not comment here on the opposition’s role or ability in all of this). But as a counterpoint, we now have one less question to ponder. And we have a clear (enough) timeline for action.
The path of the leader is a lonely one. They are surrounded by ‘trusted’ advisors but in reality, which opinions should they listen to? Ultimately, it is the leader who must set the course. The leader who needs to ask the difficult questions. And the leader who must stand up and take the consequences.
The power of the people in this particular scenario has changed the future of the UK for many generations and indeed, the future of the EU too. By casting their votes, the British people have as a consequence, put into action a domino effect that may directly affect Scotland’s relationship to the rest of the UK, and no doubt also, the role of other European countries within the EU.
Such a powerful story of asking for opinion and then having the guts to respond to it when it doesn’t go your way.