On Brexit, What a Pathetic, Leaderless Country We Have Become

1.2.17

A Brexit illustration for the Guardian by Nate Kitch.Please support my work as a freelance investigative journalist and commentator.

 

In America and around the world, the apocalyptic nightmare of Donald Trump and his administration is provoking widespread protest. In the UK, meanwhile, as deluded nationalists led by the Prime Minister Theresa May forge ahead with pushing for our departure from the EU as a result of last June’s narrow victory for the Leave campaign in an advisory referendum in which 27.9% of the electorate couldn’t even be bothered to vote, almost no one is standing up for the 16.1 million people — myself included — who voted for Remain.

It is as if, at a general election, the party that wins gets the right to prevent the opposition from criticising them at all, and also gets to completely ignore everything that those who voted for the opposition believes, when it contradicts what the winning party thinks.

How is this possible? The wretched referendum, whose outcome was not legally binding, was so blunt and inadequate a tool that it failed to specify what leaving the EU would entail, or, indeed, whether that would be acceptable to voters. And yet, under Theresa May and her three Brexiteers — David Davis, Boris Johnson and Liam Fox — no questions about the form Brexit might take — let alone whether it might not be a good idea to accept the result of an advisory referendum that might end up being economically suicidal — was allowed.

With the blackest irony, our leaders, defending a referendum that was supposed to restore sovereignty to the UK, spent months fighting to prevent that. Sovereignty in the UK resides in Parliament, not in the whims of the Prime Minister and her Cabinet,  and yet the increasingly unhinged May and her Brexiteer clowns fought in court to prevent Parliament from having any say, appealing to the Supreme Court when the High Court reminded them what sovereignty means, and losing for a second and final time last week, after wasting nearly three months that could have been productively spent discussing what Brexit actually means.

In response to the Supreme Court ruling, the petulant government then issued a derisory bill, the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill (HC Bill 132), containing just two clauses and 137 words, scheduling just two days for MPs to discuss it (yesterday and today, culminating in a vote), and three days in the committee and report stages before it goes back to the Lords.

As the Guardian reported, Labour then “tabled seven planned amendments to the bill, one of which would guarantee a ‘meaningful vote in parliament’ on any final deal. Another amendment would be to guarantee the protection of workers’ rights and securing ‘full tariff- and impediment-free access’ to the EU’s single market. The other five amendments are: to ensure the Brexit secretary, David Davis, reports on progress to the Commons at least every two months; guaranteeing the rights of foreign EU nationals living in the UK; obliging regular consultation with the devolved governments; requir[ing] regular impact assessments on the effects of leaving the single market; and [obliging] the government to keep all existing EU tax avoidance and evasion measures. The final amendment is targeted at the government’s threat that if the UK does not get a sufficiently good deal from the EU it will walk away and shift the economy towards low regulation and tax.”

These are sensible amendments, but Jeremy Corbyn then imposed a three-line whip on Labour MPs, insisting that they all vote with the government and pass the bill — presumably because of fears that, otherwise, pro-Brexit Leave voters will be alienated.

Quite why the concerns of Remain voters should so thoroughly dismissed was not explained by Jeremy Corbyn, but it has, understandably, led to rebellions by shadow ministers and MPs.

Lest we forget, although 17.4 million people voted for Brexit (37.4% of eligible voters), and 16.1 million voted against it (34.7% of eligible voters) — and another 13 million (27.9% of eligible voters) didn’t vote at all — those results are not reflected in the views held by MPs.

As we went into the referendum, 479 out of 637 MPs who had declared an intention were voting Remain — almost exactly 75%, with just 12 MPs’ opinions unknown.

Of the Tories, 185 supported Remain, while just 138 supported Leave. For Labour, 218 supported Remain, while just ten supported Leave. And all 54 SNP MPs supported Remain, as did all eight Liberal Democrats, and 22 of the 24 other MPs from other parties, including Caroline Lucas of the Green Party.

And yet, since June 23, Remain voters have found themselves almost entirely sidelined in discussions about Brexit, in the media and also in Parliament, despite the fact that this is the most significant decision in the lifetimes of anyone born after the UK joined the EU in 1973, despite the fact that it is hugely significant whether leaving the EU means leaving the single market (which we were not asked about), or leaving the customs union (which, again, we were not asked about), in order to allegedly control our borders, and even though doing so might well be the single most devastating act of economic suicide committed by any country in living memory.

Against our valid fears of an economic apocalypse, all we have been given in response is the would-be tyranny of Theresa May, seeking to exclude Parliament from its sovereign role, and aggressive Leavers complaining, monotonously, that “you lost, get over it,” as though disentangling ourselves from 43 years of laws and treaties is a simple binary choice, and not, as I recently described it, “like deliberately cutting a living body in half but then having only a few minutes to conduct the major surgery required to not let the patient die.”

When not snapping at us, the Leavers have also demonstrated a hopelessly sunny and deluded optimism, adopted by people up to and including David Davis, whose behaviour suggests that they believe that upbeat jingoism, nationalism, British pride and self-obsession is a reflection of reality rather than a hopelessly outdated delusion from the inhabitants of an island nation and former imperial power with a mistaken sense of its own importance, which is proposing cutting itself off from a club that numerous other countries would dearly love to be a member of.

And yet, as the vote on Article 50 approaches, the 16.1 million of us who voted Remain are still barely represented. In December, just 89 of the 479 MPs who supported Remain last June voted against a non-binding but symbolically significant proposal to allow Theresa May to trigger Article 50 by the end of March — 23 Labour, 5 Lib Dems, 51 SNP, Green MP Caroline Lucas, Ken Clarke of the Conservatives and eight others — and, two months on, those who voted Remain are no closer to being adequately represented.

Tory Remainers are so far largely refusing to break ranks — although one can only hope they find their spine when the two years of negotiations that follow the triggering of Article 50 begin — because, presumably, their constituents will not take kindly to having their wishes betrayed, as Zac Goldsmith learned in Richmond in December. Raphael Behr had an article in the Guardian yesterday about the silent Tory rebels, but every indication is that none but Ken Clarke will rebel now, and that, as in December, only around 90 MPs will vote against the bill to trigger article 50; in other words, despite the 16.1 million of us who voted Remain getting 48.1% of the vote, and despite 75% of MPs having supported Remain, just 14% of MPs will represent the wishes of the 48.1%. When the SNP MPs are taken out of that equation, the situation is even more scandalously unrepresentative, with only around 6% of English, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs prepared to stand by the 14.5 million Remain voters in the three countries — and 94% of MPs supporting the 16.4 million who voted to Leave. This massive representational imbalance — and the accompanying disdain for Remain voters from their own MPs — must surely be remedied over the next two years or there will be hell to pay at the ballot box in 2020.

As Polly Toynbee wrote in a Guardian article yesterday, ‘Labour MPs owe a duty to the country – not Corbyn’s absurd three-line whip’:

It is the first duty – the patriotic duty – of elected politicians to protect citizens from danger and promote their wellbeing, as they see it. Yet out of cowardice or political self-interest most will vote this week for what they think will profoundly and permanently damage their electors.

A quarter of MPs will joyfully vote us out of the EU, because these Europhobes sincerely believe this wayward self-destruction is in the national interest. But three times more MPs never supported Brexit, knowing it to be an error looking more damaging by the day. Still, they will vote for it all the same. Ignoring Edmund Burke’s instruction to act as representatives and leaders, instead they will cravenly follow what a small majority thought one day in June.

They “respect” the result of the referendum, they repeat nervously. Why? It was a consultative vote that failed to define Brexit on what terms, with what sacrifices or at what price. So foolishly certain were both main parties that they would swing a remain result, they agreed a referendum without setting a threshold beyond a bare majority. They added no mechanism for agreeing an unknowable Brexit deal at the end of negotiations. MPs should now salvage and repair some of that negligence.

Focusing specifically on pro-EU Labour MPs in constituencies where a majority of voters supported leave, Toynbee added:

What a dismal spectacle to see life-long pro-Europeans in Brexit-voting constituencies crumpling to “respect the will of the people” for fear of losing their seats. Those who rebel are virtually all in remain seats, where that “respect” is simpler.

Labour MPs caught in that dilemma plead their working-class voters’ indignation at immigration, suppressed wages, over-run public services – even though many of these seats have few migrants: relatively few are like the much-quoted Boston or Barking. These MPs defend themselves by sneering at “metropolitans” who, they say, don’t understand north-eastern or Midland seats.

I would reply to them that they have a deeper duty to their voters than obeying how they voted that day. MPs’ duty is to lead and defend their people from Brexit’s reduced living standards. Make the case. Stand by what you believe and explain why Brexit will harm them, their children and their grandchildren. Talk about why a stable alliance in which we have an equal voice is stronger than the haphazard chance of trade deals with the likes of US, China or the Gulf – none the size of our EU trade.

Nor is this primarily a class question: the old are more to blame for Brexit. But as older cohorts drop off the perch, Labour MPs should stand up for the new young voters reaching the register. They say economics can’t win the EU argument alone – though if brutal Brexit predictions turn horribly real, that will change. If emotional patriotism matters most, then our sovereignty is safer with Europe, not demeaning our sovereign in a golden carriage ride down the Mall with Trump. Our status in the world is stronger as a leading EU member than alone, striking dishonourable deals with dictators. Shunning Trump and re-embracing Europe best reflects British values, who we are, what we believe and what binds us to democracies like ours: it’s not too late.

Based on my analysis of the disaster that Brexit will be for our economy — in part confirmed by Ian Dunt’s excellent and highly recommended book, Brexit: What The Hell Happens Now? — I’d love to see a majority of MPs vote against the proposal to trigger Article 50 by the end of March, because, to be frank, I want to see Brexit stopped — to save my country from returning to the 1860s or becoming an international tax haven with no money for public services — but I doubt that will happen, leaving myself and the rest of the 16.1 million to count on MPs fighting to secure the least damaging Brexit deal possible in the two years of negotiations following the triggering of Article 50 — with a particular focus on the importance of the single market and the customs union, and with the understanding that, if it becomes apparent during negotiations that it will be an unprecedented economic disaster, MPs can and must stop it.

Exact details of how constituencies voted have been hard to come by, but Chris Hanretty, a Reader in Politics at the University of East Anglia, published estimates after the referendum suggesting that around 230 of Parliament’s 650 constituencies voted Remain, and that the majority for Leave was only between 0.1% and 7% in the next 100 seats, taking us to a majority of the country’s 650 seats. These figures suggest to me that, if the true, catastrophic cost of Brexit can be exposed following the triggering of Article 50 (a task that, presumably, must fall to MPs because so much of our media is biased in favour of the Leave campaign), it is not inconceivable that Brexit can be stopped.

Numerous polls since the referendum (see here, here, here and here) indicate that the Leavers’ majority has already been overturned, and I would argue that the only reasonable response to this, given the enormity of what is at stake, is for there to be another referendum based on the details of leaving the EU, not the simple desire to do so, or for MPs, when they get to vote on the details of our planned departure, presumably in 2019, to refuse to endorse them, before the UK sinks under the weight of its hubristic and dangerously unwarranted self-regard.

Note: The illustration at the top of this article is by the illustrator Nate Kitch. See his website for more.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose debut album ‘Love and War’ and EP ‘Fighting Injustice’ are available here to download or on CD via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and The Complete Guantánamo Files, an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

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46 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    As MPs engage in a second day of debate about triggering Article 50 and leaving the EU, I ask why the concerns of the 16.1 million people who voted Remain – myself included – are so scandalously ignored. Those of us who have been closely studying what it means to leave the EU have concluded that it is likely to be the largest self-inflicted act of economic suicide in living memory, and yet the fact that the referendum was merely advisory is dismissed by the Tory government and by Labour, and the fact that the referendum did not ask how we should leave the EU is ignored, even though, if it involves leaving the single market and the customs union, it is rational to conclude that the cost will be too high to allow Brexit to proceed. But despite the fact that 75% of MPs support remaining in the EU, and despite the fact that we, the 16.1 million, represent 48.1% of those who voted in the EU referendum, only 14% of all MPs are expected to vote against the government.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Here’s Polly Toynbee on the heartfelt speech yesterday by Ken Clarke, who, as she explained, “spent 50 years hauling Britain into the modern world. Yesterday, in a speech that will echo down the years, he raged against the dying of the European light.”
    See: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/01/ken-clarke-brexit-zealots-european
    This was Clarke on the ludicrous fantasy that great trade deals await us outside the EU: “Apparently you follow the rabbit down the hole and emerge in a Wonderland where suddenly countries throughout the world are queuing up to give us trading advantages and access to their markets that previously we’ve never been able to achieve. Nice men like President Trump and President Erdogan are just impatient to abandon their normal protectionism and give us access … No doubt somewhere there’s a hatter holding a tea party with a dormouse!”
    See the whole speech here: http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2017/02/mps-risk-missing-their-last-chance-shape-theresa-mays-brexit-deal

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    And here’s the admirable Caroline Lucas – ‘Parties must work together to stop the UK falling off a Brexit cliff edge’: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/01/article-50-trigger-parties-work-together-brexit-terms-cliff-edge

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    And here’s Gideon Rachman in the FT, writing about how ‘Donald Trump is a disaster for Brexit’, because, to leave the EU, we would need to rely on the US, and yet Trump is disastrously unreliable:
    https://www.ft.com/content/fde7616a-e6cf-11e6-967b-c88452263daf

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks to everyone liking and sharing this. Here’s what the grown-up in the room, Sir Ivan Rogers, the UK’s former ambassador to the EU, told MPs earlier today: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/feb/01/brexit-talks-eu-fist-fighting-sir-ivan-rogers

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    So tonight, by 498 votes to 114, MPs voted to give Theresa May the power to trigger the UK’s exit from the European Union. There were 47 Labour rebels, who defied Jeremy Corbyn’s idiotic whip, 50 SNP MPs, seven Liberal Democrats, one Tory (Ken Clarke) and nine others including Green MP Caroline Lucas. At the time of the referendum, 75% of MPs supported remaining in the EU, including 185 Tory MPs and 218 Labour MPs. Where were they all tonight? To represent the 16.1m of us who want to stay in the EU, 294 MPs should have voted against this bill, not just 114 of them.
    As my friend Sarah Kay has written tonight, “The UK Parliament has voted 498 – 114 to let the country float into the North Sea until it sinks without even asking to see a White Paper about dismantlement of its own system. A case went all the way to the Supreme Court to ensure the power to shoot the country in the head would not rest with the Prime Minister, but with the representative bodies. As a result a majority of 384 voted to hand it to the Prime Minister.”
    A shameful night. Now we have to persuade MPs to fight to secure the least bad Brexit possible — and, in 2019, if only a disaster is possible, to find their spines and refuse to allow the Tories to commit us to economic suicide by refusing to ratify the final agreement.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

  8. Andy Worthington says...

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    On behalf of my band The Four Fathers, I say: 75% of MPs support staying in the EU, but as 86% of MPs prepare to vote to leave the EU instead, ignoring the 16.1m people who voted to remain (48.1% of those who voted in June’s EU referendum), we’re reminded of how misplaced racism – diverting attention from the bankers responsible for the global crash of 2008 that triggered our endless economic winter and the Tories’ cynical age of austerity – played such a major part in the Leave campaigners’ victory, and we’d like to invite you to listen to our song, ‘Tory Bullshit Blues’, which helps to explain this – in quite a passionate rock and roll manner! https://thefourfathers.bandcamp.com/track/tory-bullshit-blues-2016-mix

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Yamil Arrifai wrote:

    You there in england it seems you are not going to a good deal either… For us maybe it’d be good cause the pound would decrease hehehe

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    The pound has lost about 15% of its value against the dollar since the referendum, Yamil, and prices of food are already going up. Great achievement …

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Yamil Arrifai wrote:

    Damn… I think thats also happening in the US since the madman won. Here in brazil the dollar is decreasing and also the pound, not too much but they are. I hope the idiots who voted brexit would suffer the most so they may learn not to be racists

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, the racists deserve to suffer, Yamil. They think they don’t need immigrants, but actually they do all manner of jobs the racists don’t see or don’t recognize. I just wish those of us who aren’t persuaded by the racists’ arguments didn’t have to suffer as well!

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Yamil Arrifai wrote:

    In the end the fair pays for the unfair

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Sad but true, Yamil.

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    When Ghias Aljundi shared this, he wrote:

    Read this please from my dear friend Andy Worthington. Hypocrite MPs let us down

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Ghias Aljundi wrote:

    Sad day for Britain

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, indeed, Ghias. So now we have two years to persuade the craven MPs not to go down in the history books as the facilitators of Britain’s great economic suicide because of their simple-minded obsession with respecting “the will of the people” – but with no sign that they’re wiling to accept the responsibility.

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    Ghias Aljundi wrote:

    Andy I don’t trust these greedy MPs. Shame on Corbyn useless leader

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    After all this capitulation, a lot of work will be required to establish why Brexit must be stopped, Ghias, but I don’t see that we have any choice but to keep trying to exert pressure on the MPs, however untrustworthy they are in general. What a disaster.

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    Ghias Aljundi wrote:

    Andy do you think it can be still stopped? Tories are unleashed

  22. Andy Worthington says...

    I have to hope so, Ghias. As much as Labour have spinelessly been catering to their Leave voters, so too have the Tories – and yet there are plenty of Tory MPs whose constituents voted Remain who won’t be happy if their MPs spurn them. Lot son opportunities for pressure to be exerted, I think.

  23. the talking dog says...

    Sorry to see that your country has allowed the ill-advised actions of a minority of your electorate to result in a national suicide pact. I know I’ve seen something like that somewhere else pretty recently…

  24. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, now where could that have been, TD?
    Unfortunately, although a minority of your electorate were responsible for Trump becoming the president, he can at least be got rid of in four years, whereas Brexit is for life – although the impact of Trump’s court nominations will last for decades, of course.
    I also take heart that there is a huge amount of opposition to Trump, whereas on Brexit there is largely silence, even though 16.1m of us voted Remain. It seems we have no trouble getting worked up about your president, but little appetite for recognizing that, although our own leaders may not be quite so offensive, on Brexit their arrogant destructiveness is just as troubling …

  25. Andy Worthington says...

    David Knopfler wrote:

    It’s been a rough period politically. President Obama washed his hands of 41 souls he should have saved. America managed, somehow, to elect a man even less suited to the job than George W Bush. When Bush left office I’d hoped lessons had been learned. And now this miserable vote which speaks volumes about how low our political principles in Westminster have sunk. Jeremy Corbyn seems to have finally perversely decided that he might as well be the incompetent fool people unfairly saw him as and like Samson has done untold damage to himself, his party, his country, Europe and as a result of that, the planet. I am so tired of feeling contempt for our political class when I want to feel respect

  26. Andy Worthington says...

    Corbyn definitely shouldn’t have done it, David, that’s for sure, as it can only possibly be interpreted as a desperate desire not to upset Leave voters – while demonstrating that no one cares about the Remain voters. I wanted to see a robust challenge on this vote because we, the 16.1 million, deserve it, and don’t deserve to be brushed aside because everyone, it seems, is afraid of the 17.4m Leave voters. What do they think they’re going to do? Riot? I actually don’t think most people are healthy enough to riot anymore.
    On the vote, however, a narrow victory for Theresa May would have shown far less capitulation than was demonstrated, and indicated that a fierce fight was to come over the terms of Brexit. In the end, though – and I couldn’t bear to watch it but was told about it – the Tories were apparently bragging about how much the Labour support meant to them. What a terrible indictment of Labour getting its priorities spectacularly wrong.
    What I wonder now is how we get a serious, motivated movement of people to put pressure on the MPs as the negotiations proceed. Will it come from the likes of Open Britain, do you think, or do we need something new? What’s certain is that two years of continued capitulation simply isn’t an acceptable prospect as we waltz slowly to our self-inflicted doom.

  27. damo says...

    The tragedy of all this is that after 7 years of torie austerity when the poorest and most dissadvantaged in the country have been stripped of everything ….its going for them to get much much worse all thease economic dead towns that reliy on eu funding will find themselves with nothing and – as god forbid it dosent but it will – our economy tanks the tories will have to grab money from somewere ………and guess wer that will come from …….yes social services…..the poorest will be crushed ….dust bowl uk……its allright for the rich tories ….but will it be ….if people are pushed into a corner and god willing they will fight back ……may boris fox farage ….well they better flee

  28. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, I agree, Damo. I will be a disaster for those who voted for it, unless we change course.
    But as with Trump’s America, I fear that we have passed the point of comprehension for so many of those who voted for Brexit or for Trump. They are projecting their half-formed desperate hopes onto exactly the people who will further strip them of any hope, and failing to recognize that they need to look to the left for answers.

  29. Andy Worthington says...

    David Knopfler wrote:

    Andy it seems there is a new generation of politically astute activists coming through. I’ll be watching the green shoots with interest. If we can avoid a 70 year old withered narcissist in America picking a war with Iran, China, or who knows who else we might still be here to see positive change come around again rather than this dismal, endless recession towards a new dark-age. I see nothing positive economically for the socially and economically disadvantaged in the UK… It’s going to be toughest, ironically in the areas that voted for Brexit

  30. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for mentioning the activists, David, as the positive signs are certainly that Trump faces an unprecedented rebellion by the people. No US leader has been regarded so unfavourably, and with so many people prepared to get out into the streets to say so, so early in his presidency before. And of course the anti-Trump sentiment is very strong here too, which is interesting to see, but I worry for us because we appear to have stronger feelings about Trump than we do about our own government that is so wholeheartedly trying to drive us off a cliff and that is indifferent – or even enthusiastic – about us becoming a marginalised basket case of Victorian poverty with pockets of super wealth as an international tax haven. Everyone seemed hypnotised by the mantra that Brexit is “the will of the people” when that’s appallingly defeatist. All the signs are that, since the referendum, there has been a swing away from the Leave camp, so that a small majority now supports us remaining in the EU, and yet no one is shouting about it, filling Whitehall with people calling for May, Johnson, Davis, Fox and the entire pro-Brexit clown show to be removed from office for their belligerent incompetence.

  31. Andy Worthington says...

    When Sue Katz, in Boston, Massachusetts, shared this, she wrote:

    There’s something in the air. Read this article by the excellent journalist Andy Worthington. He talks about what is going on in Britain – and it’s weird how much it parallels what’s going on here. If you don’t understand about Brexit and what it will mean, check this out.

  32. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for sharing, Sue, and for pointing out the parallels. In both of our countries, I fear, the aggressive white minority that is trying to drag us back to a misremembered golden age has ended up being manipulated by politicians (or even pretend politicians like Trump and Boris Johnson) and the media, and seems to be impervious to reason. We have a huge fight on our hands if life is not to get much, much worse for all of us.

  33. Andy Worthington says...

    What now? Here’s Anne Perkins in the Guardian thanking Labour’s 47 rebels and pointing out how Labour now has to fight the Tories. Disappointed as I am in the refusal of far too many MPs to oppose the triggering of Article 50, it is certainly true that pro-Remain MPs must now work as hard a possible to oppose the “hard Brexit” favoured by May and Davis and co, and, as I see it, to be prepared to refuse to pass final legislation in two years’ time if, as seems certain, the outcome will be economic ruin on an unacceptable scale: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/02/labour-challenge-brexit-lies-brexit-bill-article-50

  34. Andy Worthington says...

    Nicholas Racz wrote:

    Agree. Staggered by the stupidity

  35. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Nicholas. For something so important for the future of this country, which was “won” by such a small majority in such a disreputable referendum, I am amazed and appalled at the cavalier manner with which MPs who themselves supported remaining in the EU are turning their backs on their beliefs for perceived political survival, or are pandering to their whips in the cases of those whose constituents voted Remain, only to see them kow-tow slavishly to the alleged requirement to serve “the will of the people.”

  36. Andy Worthington says...

    Nicholas Racz wrote:

    the only answer is for people to literally — by the hundreds of thousands – to protest outside westminster and Number 10 until the politiicans actually begin to fear for their careers. But it’s not happening. staggered.

  37. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, people will get out in the streets in significant numbers to protest Trump but not Theresa May, Nicholas. How does that make sense? Do they really not realise she’s a small-minded bigot like Trump? Do they not realise that she, like Trump, will almost certainly wreck her country’s economy because she’s not fit for the job?

  38. Andy Worthington says...

    Nicholas Racz wrote:

    Protesting means missing footie and Game of thrones

  39. Andy Worthington says...

    Or shopping, Nicholas. But that’s not particularly relevant in this case. There are going to be hordes of people out on Saturday, protesting against Trump. But not against May. I suppose part of the problem is Stop the War, who hate Trump, but who want us out of the EU, so like so much of the left they’re actually supporting Theresa May 100%.

  40. Andy Worthington says...

  41. damo says...

    Has there even been protests about leaving the eu anymore your right 30,000 out protesting trump but no one protesting brexit and to see all the remaine mp,s kowtowing and supporting……..the will of the people…….good god…….weeeeeell lets see how the will of the people is doing in a years time when anybody with scence has fled a sad isolated broke little island……as with trump im glad to see the terminators on our side …lol…..arnie laying into trump

  42. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, it’s ridiculous, Damo, but as I figured out last night it’s primarily because the Left in this country supports us leaving the EU, and is playing into the hands of Theresa May and the Brexiteers. Honestly, they should be ashamed of themselves. Hello, Stop the War. Wake up! The enemy is here, in No. 10!
    As for Arnie, yes, good on him. Apparently, after Trump criticized his ratings on ‘The Celebrity Apprentice’, which he took over from Trump, he told him, “Hey, Donald. I’ve got a great idea. Why don’t we switch jobs? You take over TV, as you’re such an expert in ratings. I take over your job and people can finally get to sleep comfortably again.”

  43. damo says...

    The tories out there open monster they make no bones about it and let everyone see it……..as for the left like snakes in a barrel snide infested with blaireites how can you have a right wing left

  44. Andy Worthington says...

    Exactly, Damo. How can you have a right-wing left-wing party? Thanks to Blair and Mandelson and Brown. Like it was all about the opportunity to make money, and not about the constant need for vigilance to prevent people from being exploited.

  45. damo says...

    Andy the blairs mandelsons brown ……hillarys ….dont give a shit about the lives or concerns of working class people the poor the exploited. they sneer at them and thats why the working class and poor then turn to ukip and farage, trump in america and le pen in france. nobody likes a limmosiine libberal or a champaine socialist espesh if people are struggling. i find the metropolitan wealthy privelidged left snide and as insideouse as the tories

  46. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, I’m with you, Damo. Labour and the Democrats have shown nothing but contempt for the working class. Under Blair, remember, “New” Labour relied on making John Prescott the Deputy Prime Minister so that they had a bridge to the working class, and that was what Obama did as well, having Joe Biden as the Vice President. They have lost their inability to talk convincingly to working class people. Unfortunately, the alternative – UKIP and Donald Trump – are not the right answer, and I still find it staggering that people would allowed themselves to be fooled into thinking that Farage or Trump are, in any way, in touch with the ordinary people when they’re so clearly not. So we’re left with the conclusion, unfortunately, that Trump and UKIP are targeting working class discontent not by really promising job creation and a revival of self-esteem in these communities across the US and the UK that were first abandoned and destroyed by Tories/Republicans (and then not revived by Labour/Democrats) but by playing on racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic fears, and that, of course, has sent us down a very dark route indeed.
    Do we really have to wait until a fascist regime has removed everyone who can be described as an immigrant from our countries before the sidelined, mostly white working class eventually come to realise that it wasn’t the immigrants, after all; it was their own leaders who lied to them?
    I sometimes wonder if people have gone beyond an ability to understand what is actually going on; that the sense of entitlement that defines our age, and that affects so many people from the rich to the poor, is the dominant problem, and that change cannot come until people start thinking of themselves as special, and entitled, when in fact they’re lazy and greedy, and, in the cases of the working class, want others to do all the work for them, and now – horrendously – are blaming those doing the work they don’t want to do for having taken away the jobs they didn’t want in the first place, and still don’t want.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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