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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 24-Mar-19


Sunday 24-March-19

On the Brink of Brexit: TV questions, Petitions, Marches and Parliamentary Madness

2016 was a strange year. First we had the UK's 'Brexit' decision and then the election of Donald Trump in America. Both have been described as being a vindictive result of anger in the 'left behind' white working classes who saw their jobs move East while the political left turned into a haven for the intelligensia. Both also have leaders who seem to have what might be politely called 'mental issues'. In the USA, Trump's outrages are tweeted daily. In the UK, we have Theresa May and a motley crew of blind, barracking ministers and back benchers who are hell-bent on leaving Europe, no matter the damage to Britain and Europe.

I was recently an audience member in a TV programme where prominent people are asked questions by the audience. When Brexit came up, our local 'leaver' MP went on a bizarre Monty Python style rant, sarcastically saying we'd miss our Mars Bars and Viagra. When an audience member pointed out that the local population voted to remain in Europe and, as our democratically elected MP, he should be representing our views, the chap just got worse, stabbing a punishing finger at the questioner and raging about -- well, nobody noticed what he said as by now he had lost all sympathy.

In the last few days an online petition appeared on the Government website where members of the public can seek to gain support for concerning issues. If 100,000 people sign the petition, parliament is obliged to consider the question. This one asked for Article 50 (the decision to leave Europe) to be revoked so we stay in Europe. In a few days it had over two million electronic signatures, yet Prime Minister Theresa May dismissed it as irrelevant. Her particular madness is a blinkered charge towards any Brexit, preferably the deal that she has brokered with Europe and which parliament has rejected twice with a record majority. If they reject it yet again, she will lead us into a 'hard Brexit' that is widely expected to bring shortages, chaos and soldiers onto the streets. It has been suggested that she is on the autism spectrum, which makes sense as her social skills are few and she is unable to countenance alternative views.

So on Saturday I took the bus to London to go on a protest march. I've not done this since I was a student, many years ago. There I joined over a million people in a massive march which demanded that the British people are allowed a second referendum, deciding finally on whether we want to go with Theresa's deal or to remain in Europe. This ideas has terrified leavers who, paradoxically, go on about 'the will of the people' and the original referendum that 'instructed' the government to leave. Actually the original referendum was advisory only and the leave campaign is being investigated for corruption, not unlike Trump's election campaign in America. There is even suspicion of Russian involvement.

It was massive. Over million extra people converged on the streets of London coming from all across the country.

Will we be noticed? Certainly we hit the news around the world. Will the prime minister change her mind? Almost certainly not. Will MPs notice? Probably, as they wonder about how it will affect their chances in the next election. Will our peaceful public action change the course of history? Unlikely. Brexit is an ideology and the ideologues are in charge, straining towards the finish line even as the country tugs vainly at the reins.

And if we fall into the pit of a hard Brexit, will it really be that terrible? Probably not. We've weathered wars and austerity, where belts were tightened yet people still went to work each day. Life will go on. Will it Make Britain Great Again, as some Brexiters claim? Very unlikely. The post-colonial respect that allowed us to punch above our puny size in the world has declined steeply. Countries that used to look up to us now see us as mostly foolish. Like the international view of America, our citizens are viewed with pity as politicians trash goodwill with our friends and condemn our once-great nation to accelerated decline.

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