At 22:40 BST today, Tuesday 28 June 2016, The Downing Street petition demanding a 60% majority in a referendum to leave the EU passed the four million signatures mark. My MP tells me that parliament must respect democracy and the will of the people. I would have thought that four million people needed to be listened to by parliament.
There is an old expression, allegedly attributed to the Duke of Wellington, that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton.
Well here’s a thing: the two principal architects of the chaos engulfing the country following the vote to leave the EU, David Cameron and Boris Johnson, were also educated at Eton, that education presumably including some time on those same playing-fields.
So two events, separated by almost exactly two hundred and one years, had their genesis in Eton sporting activities: the first, a profound victory which brought peace to Europe, the second, a catastrophe which could well tear it apart. One-all then.
As I write, the Downing Street petition requesting a second European referendum if the majority vote is less than 60% on less than a 75% turnout, has passed the three million signatures mark. Nicola Sturgeon says that the Scottish Parliament could veto the exit from the EU; David Lammy says the UK Parliament should reject the referendum result. The Conservative party is leaderless and the Labour Party is in open internal warfare.
But whatever the outcome, the awful damage has been done. Even if the departure is vetoed by either of the parliaments, the Europeans will never trust us again. And who could blame them? Decades of good will and trust flushed down the lavatory.
This country used to be called Perfidious Albion; it was said that the sun never set on the British Empire because God did not trust the British in the dark. How apt those sentiments seem today; how can we ever hold our heads up in Europe again?
I strongly recommend anyone, outraged by Boris Johnson’s part in the referendum campaign, to read this article by Nick Cohen in The Guardian:
Cohen points out, among other things, that Johnson was fired from The Times newspaper for lying to its readers, and removed from the shadow cabinet for lying to Michael Howard about his (Johnson’s) private life. This man cannot, must not, be our next prime minister.
Make no mistake, this is a very dark day for our country. We have fallen victim to an internecine war in the Conservative party, while Her Majesty’s so-called ‘loyal opposition’ seem to have dreamed their way to a disastrous referendum outcome that will affect everyone in the United Kingdom.
Cameron, now unmasked as a hopelessly weak leader, decided to bet the country’s future on his victory in the last election by promising a referendum on our continued membership of the European Union. It was clear that his party was split, and he chose that huge gamble to stop the defection of his MPs to Ukip. Boris Johnson, the court jester, saw his opportunity as a 'white knight' leadership contender, and used his undoubted charisma and popularity to opt for a leave vote. Jeremy Corbyn did nothing. Johnson and his allies played the xenophobia card, whipping up the existing disquiet in the country regarding immigration and all the negative qualities of the Brussels’ bureaucracy, and the British People followed them into the ‘Leave’ lobby.
I predict the following: already the Pound Sterling has fallen in value to a level not seen for thirty years. As soon as ‘the people’ see the substantially increased costs of their overseas travel and their electronic goods imported from the far east, the reduction in the value of their properties, the increase in the cost of food and the negative effects of the stock market on their pensions they will turn on Boris and his friends. There will be a blood-letting.
We are within days of the one hundredth anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, where tens of thousands of British soldiers were slaughtered on the first day. ‘Lions led by donkeys’ they were called later, their leaders having condemned them to an appalling death.
The British People have been betrayed by their political leaders. With the honourable exception of those in Scotland, there is not one of them that should not hang their heads in shame this morning.
Guessed it? They are all in favour of Britain leaving the European Union. Game over for the leave campaign I’d say…
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs