Addressing pro-Brexit supporters on Whitehall, the leaders of UKIP were quick to declare “the end of democracy in the UK”. Nigel Farage, who left the party citing its increasing extremism, also spoke, telling supporters they were “brave” to enter the “enemy territory” of Westminster.
These extreme remarks came after MPs voted for a third time against Theresa May’s proposed withdrawal agreement on what otherwise might have been Brexit Day.
However, despite the Faragists’ anger, as things stand they will get exactly what they want – at 11pm on 12 April, the UK will crash out of the EU without a deal.
European leaders are certainly preparing for this eventuality. In a statement, the European Commission said no-deal was “now a likely scenario”, remarks echoed by the leaders of several EU member states.
Theresa May appeared dangerously close to having no real plan for the next two weeks.
“The bottom line remains that if the House does not approve a withdrawal deal and cannot countenance leaving without a deal we will have to seek a longer extension,” she said, laying out the options without showing the way forward or, in other words, leading.
She needs to realise that her time as UK leader is coming to an end and go out in style – using every ounce of her remaining political energy to ensure that Britain does not leave the EU without a deal. If she fails to do this, she must be ousted within the next few days.
In order to get an extension, Britain needs to present the EU with a genuine reason for further delay.
If May and the rest of our MPs can actually identify a Brexit deal that a majority of them are willing to support – at what is now the 13th hour – that would be one possible reason, as long as it is also acceptable to the EU.
But a better reason would be to enable a second referendum to be held. Over the past three years, it has become fairly clear that Brexit will damage, not improve, the health of the UK economy.
If the UK left under a soft Brexit and our fortunes declined, the Faragists would cry treason and accuse MPs ruining everything by betraying the “will of the people”.
A second referendum that was not a Remain stitch-up, which sought to hear the will of the people on all the available options, would prevent such dangerous talk from gaining any traction with the wider public.