‘UK is heading for years of chaos’ - Ken Livingstone, former London mayor

A Brexit supporter holds a Union Flag at a Vote Leave rally in London, Britain © Neil Hall
Nothing like this has happened before, no one knows if this will tip the global economy into recession or will it just be a bit of short-term pain for Britain, says former Labour mayor of London, Ken Livingstone.

As the world awoke to news on Friday that Britain had decided on a future without the European Union, voting in a historic referendum for a 'Brexit', Livingstone believes the problems for the United Kingdom are just beginning.

RT: Just how big of a shock is this going to be for the City of London?

Ken Livingstone: We were all expecting it to be close. But since the assassination of Jo Cox, we thought there had been a movement more in favor of staying in. So, most people were expecting it was going to be this close but it was going to go the other way. And now we are going to be in years of chaos. Nothing like this has happened before, no one knows if this will tip the global economy into recession or will it just be a bit of pain short-term for Britain. Are we going to get the big financial institutions in London planning to go to Paris or Brussels? No one has a clue. No one has done any really good long-term planning on this.  

RT: We had dire warnings in advance from global banks about mass redundancies and possible economic consequences to all of this. Why do you think people voted in a face of this?

KL: Working class people in Europe like in most of Europe and in America have had 30 years left behind. All the wealth has gone to a small elite, good jobs have gone and there is a real anger there. That’s what fueled the rise of Donald Trump in America and that’s what fueled this vote to leave. Most of our right-wing papers always blamed immigrants - immigrants have taken their jobs, have taken their homes. But the truth is we had under Thatcher and Blair nearly three and a half decades in which we’ve ignored our manufacturing, we didn’t invest in modernizing our economy, we didn’t build homes. It’s not immigrants who’ve taken our jobs and homes; it is awful government who’ve failed at creating a good, strong economy.   

RT: How much blame does the European elite need to take for this Brexit vote?

KL: If you actually look, the same has happened in America, almost all the wealth that has been created in recent years has gone to those top super-rich elite, or to the big corporations, like Google and Starbucks who don’t pay any tax. And that’s fueled this anger. And that’s why next year’s French election, Le Pen could very well win on the back of people who will say, ‘Look, Britain’s done this, why can’t we do it?’

RT: What’s your opinion about UK Scottish MP’s speaking that it is very likely that another referendum could be called there?

KL: They’ve got a real problem there. It was alright talking about independence when the oil price was about $150 to a barrel and the Scottish economy is totally dependent on oil. They get a huge subsidy from the rest of the UK to cover the very large deficits they’ve got. And I think for them to leave could be catastrophic for them. Because I don’t think the oil prices are going to surge up to those levels again anytime soon because the global economy is fairly weak, we don’t see strong growth in the way we did a decade ago.

RT: Despite the dire economic warnings the people heard before in England, they thought they would be better off. What’s your stance on it?

KL: The real problem is that nobody believes a word our politicians say anymore. All the dire warnings, people tended to dismiss them. What we will now find out is if that is going to happen. And the truth is no one knows. Nothing like this has ever happened in the global economy before. And if we are really lucky, it will be a short sharp shock, and if we are unlucky you could tip the whole global economy into a long period of very low growth or even a global recession if the markets panic. And there is nothing like stock exchanges and international traders getting themselves into a panic.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.