a time for courage not serene acceptance. Like many 'Remainers', I hadn't wanted this vote in the first place and feared this would be the outcome. (For some of the reasons why, read this brilliant analysis by John Laurenson,) A month later, how is it all looking? Have I come to terms with the vote and accepted all it will mean? That is apparently the British (Katie Razzall) and the sane (Mark Mardell) response. "We are leaving the EU, we must get on with it and work together to make it happen" seems to be the line. Well, I accept that the vote has happened and that this has been the outcome. But does that mean I accept we now have "Brexit"? Not at all. I am British and I am sane and I think what is happening to my country is destructive and mad. I can't, and I won't, let up on trying to stop that madness. Here are 3 of the reasons why, and 5 practical steps for anyone who still feels the same way and wants to do something about it.
- We are a Parliamentary, not a direct democracy - Parliament dumped this decision onto us. I believe everyone who voted in the referendum did their best to answer the question posed based on their life experience. However, this was an advisory referendum and is not legally binding. There was very little fact or rational argument at the heart of either campaign. There was no plan for the future.It was not a General Election yet it seems to have been treated as such. Despite what we are being told, there is no strong mandate to leave the EU. Take a look at this brilliant short film by Andy Knott: "Brexit mandate, what Brexit mandate?".
- The "UK" did not vote to leave the EU - important constituent parts of the United Kingdom did not vote to leave and their voices have a right to be heard. Forcing "Brexit" onto the people of Gibraltar, Northern Ireland and Scotland is morally unacceptable. In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has been outstanding within her remit (and ultimate desire for independence). But no-one is speaking up for Remainers elsewhere. It is not just Leave campaigners who disgracefully ran away after the result (and then got shamelessly rewarded by positions in the newly arranged British government). Remain politicians have also abandoned ship and there is currently no effective opposition. Remainers must let our politicians know that we have not gone away.
- Leaving the EU is not in our best interests - this is more and more apparent every day. Our economy is plummeting, our rights and environmental protections are threatened. None of the problems that people who voted to leave the EU want to see fixed (even when we utterly reject the xenophobia and racism) will be fixed by leaving it, not least because the vote was not primarily about the EU in any meaningful sense. However we voted, we are likely to be dissatisfied whether we have a 'hard' or a 'soft' "Brexit". There are no good scenarios for Britain arising from it. This is a political failure that will be hugely costly for us all and will haunt us for years, if not decades. Life is not binary. We pay our politicians to deal with the nuance and the subtlety, and to act in our best interests. We have seen precious little of that before or after this referendum. Some say that because the Government, most politicians and most of the media have accepted the outcome, so must we. But we do not and we should not.
Practical steps you might want to take
- Demand that Parliament takes back responsibility. Ask your MP to:
- Support Early Day Motion 243 asking Parliament to agree to a second referendum on the terms of an UK-EU exit package or on the UK remaining in the EU. (Shamefully, only 17 MPs have so far supported this despite Parliament supposedly being 2/3 in favour of Remain. @DavidLammy has been a real star. Where are the rest?)
- Ensure that there is a Parliamentary vote on whether to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and write in support of the legal case to ensure that such a vote takes place (to be heard in October)
- Attend the debate on the petition "EU Referendum Rules triggering a 2nd EU Referendum" at Westminster Hall on 5 September at 4.30pm and put points on your behalf as a Remainer. You can also attend yourself. (This petition asked for a retrospective change to the EU Referendum Act to hold another referendum if the remain or leave vote was less that 60% based on a turnout of less than 75%. This was never going to happen - although most certainly Parliament should have included some such protection - and the petition itself has already been rejected by the government. However, because over 4 million people signed it, it will be debated.)
- Sign and gather support for a new petition asking for a delay in invoking Article 50 until the impact on the UK is reviewed
- Support @, the new newspaper for the 48% and post pictures of your favourite places in Europe on the hashtag #myeurope (Recommended - very therapeutic)
- Join More United the new movement for British politics and look out for pro-EU events and other initiatives via Move for Europe and @ and elsewhere on social media
- Challenge anyone anywhere who says that we are now "post-Brexit" or have already left the EU, or that the UK voted to do so, including, shamefully, the BBC.