Why Nyla Nox will join the People’s Vote march, in the rain, crying for this country as she walks.
First published in October 2019.
On Saturday 19 October I will be marching for a People’s Vote, together with at least a million other people.
While we are marching, the British parliament will, once again, decide our fate by voting on a Withdrawal Agreement (it is most definitely not a ‘deal’, only the prerequisite to negotiating a potential deal with the EU once the UK leaves).
Meanwhile, my heart is racing with fear and slowing down with dread. I can’t keep my food down. I can’t sleep. I’ve cried for a bit. Now I feel very weak.
According to economists, Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement is much worse in its disastrous impact on the UK than May’s was. People will lose so much.
According to left-leaning analysts, the fact that many protections (workers, environment, etc) have been moved from the legally binding Withdrawal Agreement to the not legally binding Political Declaration, make this Withdrawal Agreement dangerous for many of us and could pave the way for a very different Britain. ‘Selling out to Trump’ is probably a good shorthand for this. According to rumour, this is how Johnson got the smirking ERG on side, telling them all these things are no longer legally binding so he will just tear it all up after Brexit. And of course he will. Who is going to stop him then if they don’t stop him now?
On the other hand, right now, there is a majority in the UK for remaining in the EU.
Real people. Like you and me. Real people who will be harmed by any Brexit.
If the People’s Vote was tomorrow, we would remain in the EU.
But this government, tolerated and therefore enabled by the rest of parliament, may well drag us all out. Kicking and screaming, in my case. But out nevertheless.
Sajid Javid: “There is no need for an [economic] impact assessment” of the Brexit deal.— Ed Conway (@EdConwaySky) October 17, 2019
Parliament will be forced to vote in a space of a few hours on a Withdrawal Agreement that decides the fate of generations. Without the necessary information, without impact studies, without proper consultations. A process familiar from autocratic regimes.
However, this parliament is directly responsible for its own predicament. The government has no majority. And yet they have let it speak for us, and let it negotiate with the EU for us. And the EU has chosen to make a deal with this government. This specific government. They would have done a deal with a National Unity government if one had approached them instead. It’s not the EU’s job to save us.
👇🏻 “The Democratic Unionist Party will be unable to support these proposals in Parliament.” pic.twitter.com/zcisdSLkPy— DUP (@duponline) October 17, 2019
Our Prime Minister got this Withdrawal Agreemen agreed with the EU because he cut Northern Ireland loose. This is what Varadkar must have suggested to him, however indirectly. And it makes a lot of sense from the Republic of Ireland’s perspective, at least at this point in time. It is also probably what the Conservative government was planning to do anyway before May lost her majority and had to rely on the DUP. According to the experts, this deal is even more disastrous for Northern Ireland than May’s deal, but there’s nothing they can do about it except vote against it, all 10 of them. However, Johnson has a huge minority, so the DUP has lost its temporary power. And, when it comes down to it, no one outside Northern Ireland will save Northern Ireland.
And this is what I feel tonight. My heart is racing, and then slowing down to a scary crawl. My stomach is very upset. I cannot sleep.
No one will save us.
I’ve said for a while that one of our biggest weaknesses on the Remain side is wishful thinking. With Brexit, we’ve always been looking for someone to save us. Someone to prevent the disaster of Brexit because as grassroots people with no strong organisational structure, no traditional ground game and very limited funding, we have been running to catch up with political parties who have all these things, and then some more.
The DUP is abhorrent to many Remainers. But, ironically, the DUP saved us for a long time. Without it, we would already be gone. Because only the DUP prevented the deal we have now. (Some Remainers fantasize that Sinn Fein might take their seats and vote the Withdrawal Agreement down. Why on earth would they? This particular Withdrawal Agreement?)
The EU will not save us.
Many were astonished, most of us were deeply hurt when we saw the laughing faces of the EU leaders today, rejoicing about Johnson’s deal, the deal that will bring so much harm to the UK. We recoiled when we saw those EU leaders lean into the camera and say, proudly, ‘we were able to meet all the UK’s red lines’ (not quite true), and ‘we respect the will of the British people’, a phrase that we have come to recognize as the fascist poison it is.
Collectively, we now want to stay in the EU. Many of us very strongly support the EU, because it has created peace in Europe. And because of many other wonderful things, including Freedom of Movement.
But the EU was never going to save us. To the EU, we are represented by Boris Johnson and it is him they are proudly satisfied with. In the last few days, a desperate little delegation from the People’s Vote campaign travelled to Brussels in order to ask the EU to save us. The EU did no such thing.
The EU would however have responded if there had been a different Prime Minister and a National Unity Government who would have asked for an extension for a Referendum.
That was possible. Many of us fought to make it possible when parliament was prorogued. Have we already forgotten the obscene preening of Johnson and his Attorney General after the courts let parliament come back? And yet, our elected representatives let him continue to be Prime Minister, and let him represent us to the EU. And that is why we have this deal.
Of course, the Conservative Party is not going to save us, on the contrary, they are the ones who are hell bent on harming every single one of us.
The opposition is not going to save us. They missed their chance to seize the day and send someone else to Brussels. Brussels would then have done whatever they could for that person. But now, it is very uncertain that the opposition parties will even get their act together to vote this deal down. And they will no longer propose attaching a People’s Vote to the deal.
The Labour Party will not save us because their leadership wants Brexit and because the party is too weak to do the right thing.
🏴 It is time to place Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands.— The SNP (@theSNP) October 17, 2019
🗳 To take our own decisions and chart our own course.
🌍 The world is waiting for us - so let’s win our nation’s independence.
🎥 @NicolaSturgeon at #SNP19. pic.twitter.com/cI56LmJ280
The SNP, who were de facto leaders of the opposition for most of the last 2 years, and who spearheaded the prorogation case and many other initiatives, will not save us. They have changed course and more or less given up on the UK. They are now focused on independence from the UK. If Brexit happens, it’s not the same disaster for them. Because they have a way out. The worse Brexit is, the more likely is it that Scotland will gain independence, one way or another. Put the blame for this firmly at the feet of the Labour Party who did not vote for the Cherry amendment in March which would have changed the default from No-Deal to Revoke. In that case, Johnson would probably not even be Prime Minister now.
The LibDems will not save us. They will not even table a motion to attach a referendum to the Johnson deal. And there aren’t that many of them in this parliament anyway.
Nobody will save us.
And here we are.
We’ve arrived at the ultimate point of responsibility. We, the people, need to change our fate.
(When I say ‘we’ I am of course slightly exaggerating – I am not British and therefore do not have the vote. I am in fact under attack by the British government whose main goal is to end Freedom of Movement. To them, I am the enemy who needs to be eliminated from the UK. But I have been fighting, as have many of us, with, and to a certain extent for, the British people – The British people have not been fighting for me, however.)
British friends, as Donald Tusk would say, you have left it very late. Reversing the disaster of Brexit would have been much easier much earlier on. There is not much time left. There is not much hope left. You did have allies in the EU. They are gone. You tried to get a People’s Vote, but late in the game. Most of you don’t even dare to ask to Revoke (except of course the very brave 6 million who signed the petition).
Frankly, I don’t know if it is already too late.
For now, we rely on parliament to save us. The same parliament that prematurely triggered Article 50 in 2017, with no preparation and no thought as to what they actually wanted the outcome to be. They created this disaster. (triggering Article 50 was entirely optional, it could have been done much later, at any time.) So is it realistic that they will even vote this Withdrawal Agreement down?
The problem is, when the UK is out of the EU, it is out.
EU leaders are today happily congratulating the UK on the Withdrawal Agreement. Would they even understand that we are afraid and desperately unhappy?
EU leaders have, with this Withdrawal Agreement, also enabled a right-wing regime in the UK that will only get worse after Brexit. We know the plans. Their agenda is no secret. They will implement it. Sooner rather than later. But the EU has chosen to do business with the likes of Johnson. They may come to regret that. But they will not save us.
So – will I still march on Saturday?
Yes, of course.
I will be there, in the rain, crying for this country as I walk. By the time we start marching, our march may already be futile. Our parliament may have voted the Johnson Withdrawal Agreement through and thereby have enabled Brexit.
The phones will be jammed. I might not even know it before I arrive in Parliament Square.
The march may turn into a wake.
But I will still march, and I urge you to march, too.
I was never sure that we would actually be able to stop Brexit.
Not because it shouldn’t be stopped. Of course it should be stopped. It is a deadly disaster. (It will also destroy my life and my business.)
But because I somehow have lost my wishful thinking. (I have also lived through coups in other countries and I know that the worst can actually happen. I’ve seen it.)
‘But then we can always rejoin.’ More wishful thinking. If the UK leaves the EU, it will take a very long time to come back.
It may take a very dark road. Maybe some of the worst will be stopped at the last moment. Maybe it won’t.
But I am marching, in a sense, for my deepest self. I am marching also for all of us, for the most important values I have. For peace, for democracy.
And, most of all for Freedom.
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