A Remain petition with well over a million signatures may not stop Brexit but it could help prevent a no-deal.
It’s not often that the ‘bosses’ of the CBI and ‘workers’ of the TUC are truly united. But, on the threat of a no-deal Brexit, they are.
In a joint letter to Theresa May, the heads of the two organisations, Carolyn Fairbairn and Frances O’Grady, pleaded with the Prime Minister to prevent a no-deal.
“Our country is facing a national emergency. Decisions of recent days have caused the risk of no deal to soar. Firms and communities across the UK are not ready for this outcome. The shock to our economy would be felt by generations to come,” they wrote. “We cannot overstate the gravity of this crisis for firms and working people.”
Hardline Brexiteers seem to believe they are close to achieving their aim of a no-deal. “Just over a week to go. Hold firm. The goal is within sight,” tweeted ex-UKIP MP Douglas Carswell.
The economic impact of a no-deal would be severe – with suggestions it could be as bad as the 2008 financial crisis – but the effect on society as a whole could be worse.
Many people voted for Brexit because, after years of austerity, they were unhappy with the status quo and were convinced by the idea that EU immigration was the problem. If the UK economy crashed after Brexit, their hopes of a better future would be dashed. A dangerous backlash could well be the result.
Already there are signs that some are prepared to resort to violence. Anna Soubry, the Remain-supporting MP who left the Conservatives for the Independent Group, said she was “not able to go home this weekend” because of police warnings about “very, very serious death threats”. The Commons’ Speaker, John Bercow, felt the need to reassure MP they were not “traitors”.
Today, a petition to “Revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU” had more than 1.25 million signatures and the number was increasing rapidly – when the website was able to cope.
Brexiteer Cabinet Minister Andrea Leadsom said: “Should it reach more than 17.4 million respondents then I’m sure there would be a very clear case for taking action.”
It was meant to be a dismissive remark. But these are extraordinary times and it might just take something equally extraordinary – a political ‘Dunkirk’ as individuals rise up in their country’s hour of need – to force our Government to see sense.
The petition might not stop Brexit but it could increase the pressure sufficiently to prevent a catastrophic no-deal.