This coming Saturday, I hope to see as many of my British friends and readers as possible on the Unite for Europe march in London, the last protest before Theresa May triggers Article 50 (as she has just announced she will, on March 29), starting the two-year process of the UK leaving the EU. The Facebook page is here, and the Twitter page is here.
Unite for Europe is an umbrella group of Remain campaigners, and the march begins at 11am outside the Hilton on Park Lane, with campaigners taking the message of the 16.1 million ignored British Remain voters to Parliament, to let Theresa May know, as forcefully as possible, that her plans for a “hard Brexit” are completely unacceptable, as is her evident contempt for those of us who voted to remain in the EU, who have been shamefully sidelined and silenced since last June’s referendum.
Just to be clear, I will be doing whatever I can, over the next two years, to stop Britain leaving the EU, as I am convinced that it will, otherwise, be the single biggest act of economic suicide committed by any country in my lifetime — as anyone not blinded by patriotic wishful thinking can ascertain by reading Ian Dunt’s excellent book, Brexit: What the Hell Happens Now? or his more recent article, Everything you need to know about Theresa May’s Article 50 nightmare in five minutes.
The fear of everyone who has not slipped into a delusional state of falsely triumphant blinkered isolationism about Brexit is that the “hard Brexit” we are apparently heading towards, favoured by the would-be tyrant Theresa May (who had to be taken to court to allow Parliament to have a say in negotiations — even though MPs then shamefully gave that right away) and her trio of inept Brexiteers, David Davis, Boris Johnson and Liam Fox, guarantees to destroy our economy, because, in exchange for leaving the single market and the customs union, we will be unable, in two years, to set up any alternative trade deals, and will, by this time in 2019, be a friendless pariah whose economy will be about to fall of the most enormous cliff.
It doesn’t help, of course, that leaving the EU will not significantly reduce immigration, even though a disproportionate concern about immigration, stoked by the corporate right-wing media and politicians, was clearly what was driving much, if not most of the Leave vote.
In addition, I will, to my dying day, refuse to accept that the outcome of the referendum represented “the will of the people,” when it clearly didn’t. Of those who voted, 17,410,742 (51.9%) voted Leave, while 16,141,241 (48.1%) voted Remain, but 27.8% of eligible voters (12,948,018 people) didn’t even turn out to vote, meaning that just 37.44% of the people expressed this fictitious majority “will” that the Leavers are fond of wielding like a bat.
Moreover, the outcome of the referendum was not legally binding, but was, instead, just advisory, and, in addition, constitutional experts agree that any referendum that involves major constitutional change shouldn’t be decided on a simple majority vote, but should involve a 60% or two-thirds majority.
On top of this, the so-called “will of the people” — the 37% — may have been for leaving the EU, but the referendum failed to ask how this departure should take place, and although, ever since, the tunnel-visioned Brexiteers have monotonously banged on relentlessly about how “we’re leaving, get over it,” they seem unable to comprehend that we have to actually work out how to leave the EU, what to do with 43 years of laws and treaties that we have been part of, and for which we have no replacements, and whether we should crash out of all trade agreements to protect our alleged desire to close our borders, even though there is no evidence that we will actually be able to stem immigration.
Below are the aims of Unite for Europe march’s organisers, which I more or less share, although they are, to be blunt, considerably more polite than me. As I put it, Brexit must be stopped, the — mostly — Little England isolationists who make up so many of my fellow citizens represent the worst of Britain, Theresa May is a dangerous racist and Islamophobic authoritarian Christian Little Englander, David Davis is hideously out of his depth, Boris Johnson is a dangerous self-seeking clown, who should never be forgiven for having led the Leave campaign to victory without even believing in it, and Liam Fox is a dangerous and unpleasant far right ideologue. I also want to see David Cameron hauled back to accountability, and humiliated for the crime of having, with complete irresponsibility, called the EU referendum in the first place.
Was is the march about?
Fundamentally, we never wanted Brexit and this march is about making our voices heard. The voices of those who believe:
1. It’s not okay to ignore us.
2. It’s not okay to incite hate and divide communities.
3. It’s not okay to fail to protect EU nationals who work and pay taxes in the UK.
4. It’s not okay for a handful of people to decide the future of many behind closed doors.
5. It’s not okay to lie and put futures at risk for political gain.
6. It’s not okay for the old to decide the future of the young.
If Article 50 is triggered we’ll do everything we can to limit the damage this government will be causing.
What do we want?
The government has asked for our opinion, and now they’ve closed the doors. This is not okay.
1. We want our voices to be listened to: an open conversation where the UK’s civil society is consulted and where Parliament or the people have the final say on our future.
2. We want to remain a member of the Single Market.
3. We want to secure the benefits that the EU membership brings us.
4. We want a guarantee that the EU citizens already here will have the right to stay.
See you on Saturday!
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).
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When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:
As Theresa May announces that she’ll trigger Article 50 on March 29, beginning our official suicidal departure from the EU, here’s my encouragement to everyone in London or nearby who hasn’t been fooled by the delusional patriotic isolationism of Brexit to come to the Unite for Europe march in London on Saturday. In this article, I run through the reasons why Brexit is such a bad idea, and why there is no “will of the people” mandate, and call on everyone opposed to it to be aware that we must relentlessly publicise how disastrous it will be over the next two years as its disastrousness becomes apparent, and to work towards making sure that, in the end, we don’t actually leave the EU after all.
Here’s Larry Elliott in the Guardian, warning about the difficulties of all manner of trade negotiations that are essential to our health and our economy – and, experts say, cannot possibly be negotiated within two years: https://www.theguardian.com/business/economics-blog/2017/mar/19/brexit-britain-talking-trade-deal-eu-wrong-talking-point
Still finding it hard to believe that there hasn’t been more of a pushback against Brexit from the City. Here’s the informative FT on how Frankfurt looks like being the winner, as London and the UK are so intent on being the losers: https://www.ft.com/content/fc39820c-05a2-11e7-ace0-1ce02ef0def9
This is rather lovely – ‘The EU Song’ by Lail Arad, described by Billy Bragg as “a touching lament about 16 million cases of heartbreak.” I’m also working on a Brexit song for my band The Four Fathers, ‘I Want My Country Back (From the People Who Wanted Their Country Back)’, but striking the right tone lyrically is proving difficult when every day there are so many examples of nationalistic, isolationist delusion from the PM, MPs, the media and the Inselaffen (as my fellow isolationist citizens are known in northern Europe). So anyway, have a listen to Lail telling it how it is.
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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