You have to laugh really. Since the Brexit referendum in June 2016, we have had nearly 3 years in which to negotiate a rational, fair and acceptable deal that would enable us to leave the European Union with dignity and above all with maintained strong trading links. Somehow, whether through wilful misunderstanding or plain and simple incompetence we have managed to antagonise more or less the entire European Union, most of our own electorate and even the various political factions. We have somehow managed to turn a clear (if fatally flawed) ideology into a national humiliation.
Britain, even at its most eccentric, has always consoled itself with the knowledge that, no matter how bad things got in Britain, we would at least never be more embarrassing than the United States under the present administration. We had nothing to touch Donald Trump for hubris and moral vacuum. Somehow that was strangely consoling.
Now we have nothing. Our country, the once proud imperialist nation, is now an international laughingstock. Whereas once being British was winning first place in the lottery of life, we now hold the wooden spoon. We are a nation ill at ease, split so many ways and floundering. We are, to quote the famous lines “not waving but drowning”.
Our politicians on both sides are playing a terrifying game of brinkmanship. Mrs May (at time of writing still the Prime Minister) clearly plans to take the decision on her deal down to the wire. To the point where no alternative is available but to crash out of Europe in a blitzkrieg of acrimony and litigation. This is not how politics used to be run. This is not the sensible politics of consensus. This is bullying.
Perhaps the saddest part is that the hard line Brexit supporters actually support a no deal Brexit. In some distorted notion of patriotism, they feel that this is the best way to send a message to Europe. They are certainly correct – it sends the message that we are prepared to sacrifice our own economy to make some fatuous Little England statement. No wonder they are laughing at us.
But this is no laughing matter. To see the Brexit crowd giving audience to Tommy Robinson, odious leader of the neofascist English Defence League was to witness rabble-rousing of the worst kind. It was hard to believe this was London in 2019. It felt like Nuremberg in 1934. Finally we were seeing Brexit for what it is, stripped of its pleases and thank yous. An ugly plebiscite.
I’m tired of hearing about “the will of the people “. Firstly, the original vote was, at best, a marginal victory for the leave campaign. Anyone who argues that 52% versus 48% is “a mandate” is living in cloud cuckoo land. It is, to all intents and purposes, a coin toss. And it’s funny also that those who squeal loudest about the perversion of democracy are those who would deny the electorate the opportunity to have the final word in a second referendum. Apparently the electorate is not allowed to change its mind. I wonder what they believe general elections are about.
But if we believe in true democracy and the upholding of the will of the people, the case for a second referendum is clear. The first referendum set out the chosen course of action. The government has attempted to implement that. The second referendum would be an opportunity to endorse the government’s work. Or not as the case may be. It has, after all, been the best part of three years. Plenty has changed. Lies and misrepresentations have been exposed.
To deny the population of the UK that right on the grounds of democracy is comical. For the Brexit supporters, democracy apparently only applies once. Make no mistake – those who would deny us a second referendum, those angry, tattoed, shaven headed bigots in Parliament Square on Friday, are the true enemies of democracy.
And in the midst of this chaos and anarchy, our political leaders are immobile, fixed in the headlights. The Prime Minister is clearly fatally wounded, damaged by her own hubris and further undermined by her own colleagues. This is understandable. The Tories have always been savages beneath the skin. And they can’t help themselves when there is blood in the water.
Instead of uniting, our politicians seem hell bent on furthering their own personal agendas whilst still muttering about the public’s loss of faith in democracy. I don’t think the public has ever lost its faith in true democracy. Where credibility has been stretched beyond breaking point is our faith in our elected representatives as bastions of said democracy. Instead they are vultures picking over the carcass of accountability.
It’s hard to know where we go from here. How do we step back from the brink? I truly believe we are teetering on the edge of Civil War.