English, British, European – for how long?

We-ell. Where are we now? To be honest I don’t know. Johnson is a slippery beast. Never in my life have I experienced what it is to have a senior politician who has such a distant relationship with truth. I have loathed Margaret Thatcher, considered her opinions and policies wrong and divisive, but I never doubted she believed in what she was doing. With Johnson, no. It’s all about him, his ego. Just read his book about Churchill if you don’t believe me. It’s a book about Johnson as he would like us see him. A fantasy masquerading as history. I am getting an inkling of what it must have been like to be Italian all these years. I don’t like it. Everything he does feels like a potential trap, particularly when he says words such as ‘respect’ ‘democratic’ ‘people’. These are just words to push buttons, provoke knee jerk reactions. In other words, not democratic.

But it is increasingly clear that Brexit is not about democracy, it is not about what is best for the country, it is not about cool headed sensible decisions; it is about emotion. If a referendum were held tomorrow what would the result be? I don’t know. Surveys give conflicting answers. It appears that many people think that if Johnson’s deal is agreed Brexit is ‘done’ (another word increasingly used by the pro Leave bunch). This is wrong. Agreeing this deal is just the end of the beginning. The next phase is going to be more intense, more contentious, more dangerous. But the red tops keep exhorting the government to ‘get it done’ ‘let us go’ ‘break the shackles’. No one has been able to explain to me satisfactorily what those ‘shackles’ are, what we would be freed from: frictionless trade? freedom of movement? membership of the biggest trading block? All things I am very happy to keep. Who wouldn’t be?

So no surprise to hear that last Saturday I joined over one million people marching through London to proclaim our desire to remain in the EU.


My journey to the mach was easy and pretty short. Some people had travelled overnight in coaches from all over the UK. This time there were many regional flags, people keen to show it is not just the Metropolitan Elite who is in favour of the EU, but those from Salisbury, Cornwall, Essex (Essex!), Edinburgh, Glasgow, Kent, Cardiff. You get the idea. I didn’t recognise all the flags, and obviously only being in one section of the march I didn’t see all of them, but the White Rose of Yorkshire, flying among posters of Jo Cox, brought a lump to my throat.

Others made me smile. Especially these dogs in their customised onesies.

You might wonder what good these marches do, when Parliament routinely ignores them, and despite photographic evidence showing the huge numbers of people who attend, they are downplayed by influential parts of the press. Whatever the income, we are witnesses to these events. In the future historians will study these images. Apparently Jacob Rees Mogg and his son were heckled as they left the Palace of Westminster. I watched the footage. JRM chose to leave via an exit which would bring his son into direct contact with protesting Remainers. There is another exit which would have been closer to his home. I have no doubt at all that this was a stunt. I have despised JRM for a long time, but this was a new low. I write as someone who has mixed feelings about not tripping Johnson up a year or more ago when I had the chance. Lost opportunity?

But there was no tripping up on the march.

for democracy

The police were there but at a distance. These marches are characterised by their good humour. There are no fights, no aggression. This time I didn’t see any pro Leave protester either.

No more lies

calm and committed

A sea

We walked together. Our politics are not the same. There are those who vote Labour, Lib-Dem, Tory, Welsh Nationalists, SNP. On other matters we are divided. But our wish to remain part of the EU brings us together. Rather like the Suffragettes. Which is what makes Johnson’s repeated offer of a general election so derisory. It will solve nothing. We need a second referendum. The caveat is that this referendum must be legally conducted. If, as in 2016, one side is shown to have broken rules, it cannot stand. It’s not only our membership of the EU that is at stake here, it is our democratic system.


6 thoughts on “English, British, European – for how long?

  1. I was at an international conference this week which featured hourly updates on Brexit. The Greyhounds for Remain look like the affinity group to join.

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