The impact of the United Kingdom’s crooked 2016 referendum to leave the European Union is fast unravelling as “Brexit” looms, but there’s a chance that “people power” could just save the country from an uncertain future.
Firstly, the legitimacy of the referendum is being questioned. Investigations have uncovered foreign interference in the campaign. The lies of the “Leave” campaigners have resulted in the former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson facing court proceedings. The sinister role of Cambridge Analytica-Facebook has been revealed.
All of this has led the public to question what politicians say and what they read.
The UK Prime Minister Theresa May — if she is still Prime Minister when you read this — is facing open revolt from Members of Parliament and her own Cabinet as she tries to get her proposed Brexit deal through the UK Parliament.
But as politicians squabble among themselves and the opposition Labour Party tries its best to ignore Brexit — as it causes splits among its support — the people are starting to fill the vacuum.
A bizarre televised address to the nation by the Prime Minister kicked started the revolt.
She claimed she was speaking for the people, encouraged them to blame politicians and attempted to portray herself as the people’s hero in trying to deliver Brexit.
But she misjudged the mood. Politicians immediately condemned her incendiary remarks — given that one politician was assassinated by a right-wing extremist in 2016 — and her comments have sparked an unprecedented upsurge in people power.
Two weeks ago, the idea of unilaterally declaring an end to Brexit was seldom talked about, but in just three days a petition to do just that has been signed by well over 5 million people. To put that into context, in some parts of the country more people have signed the petition than voted for their local MP.
It’s now an option on the table. As is a second referendum on leaving the EU, where “remainers” feel their arguments will win through.
On Saturday more than 1 million people from across the country marched through central London calling for a second vote, one without the lies and foreign actors of the 2016 poll. This march was on a scale similar to the protests against the US and UK invasion of Iraq in 2003.
But if politicians ignore this last-ditch display of people power in favour of remaining in the EU what will happen? The United Kingdom will leave the EU and a fresh referendum will be called on Scottish independence, where backing for European integration is much higher than in England and Wales.
Given support in Scotland for staying in the United Kingdom plummeted from 71% to 55% during the last independence campaign, the UK could cease to exist in a matter of years.
The irony being that this will have been overseen by the UK’s governing Conservative and Unionist Party.