LONDON – Just over fifteen-thousand Leave supporters have protested at a total of two locations in Westminster against the delay to Brexit, on the day the UK had been due to leave the EU.
A deepening crisis has stricken Britain, as public concerns grow that there is a lack of political will on the part of elected officials to carry out any Brexit, which voters supported in an historic referendum on June 23rd, 2016. Now, nearly three years later and without a deal in place as the due-date has passed, a major radicalization of the public is being further realized. Demonstrators created a mixed mood, combining a festival environment with strong elements of frustration, the slogan “shame on you” resounded throughout the mobilization, as MPs rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement.
These protests come as MPs on Friday rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s withdrawal deal, which she negotiated with the EU, by 58 votes. The UK had been due to leave the EU on March 29th, but ‘both sides’ agreed to postpone the date last week after May had twice been unable to get her Brexit deal through the Commons.
Friday’s defeat of the withdrawal agreement led to mixed reactions. Some in the crowd, who saw Mrs May’s deal as generally bad, welcomed its rejection, while others feared it could lead to another EU referendum and believe that a bad deal to leave is better than no deal to leave.
A BBC video from overhead shows the size of one of the two protests.
The March to Leave – which began in Sunderland two weeks ago – arrived in Parliament Square on Friday afternoon. A separate Make Brexit Happen rally, organised by UKIP, was also held.
Meanwhile, at the March to Leave protest, former UKIP leader Nigel Farage and Tory Brexiteer MP Mark Francois delivered speeches.
Britain was Never Fully Committed, Special U.S-UK Relationship Adds Layer of Intrigue
Some American flags were also noted in the UKIP organized rally, relating to Farage’s line that Brexit will allow for greater U.S-UK, that is, Trans-Atlantic ties with or without the EU. This is of particular interest, given that numerous analysts have interpreted both the Catalan independence movement and Brexit as distinct from Euroscepticism in other parts of Europe. In the case of the latter, there was some promotion of Euroscepticism through Russian media vectors, apparently being used as a pressure tool upon the EU to reject the Trans-Atlantic mandates regarding anti-Russia sanctions. But with Catalania and Britain, it has been observed that these may function as pressure on the EU to maintain Trans-Atlantic ties as the sitting U.S President is apparently and at least openly, opposed by NATO’s media-intelligence-diplomatic wing, the Atlantic Council.
Trump’s dealings appear to be ‘devil’s deals’, in which the petitioner must ‘be careful what they wish for’. Numerous experts have interpreted Trump’s line on NATO, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Israel, as examples of a type of ‘overkill’ that underscores the real dynamics, and leaves the petitioners with ‘exactly’ what they asked for in such a way that ultimately works against their own interests.
Therefore what exists is a seemingly unworkable situation: the EU’s worsening conditions determined at Brussels have been rejected by a majority of UK voters, where at the same time such a move in someway weakens a Europe that has shown signs of developing its own armed forces independent of NATO, and has found back-doors around the anti-Russia sanctions regime in place.
The UK was never fully integrated into the EU, maintaining a special relationship with the U.S independent of the EU through different banking and political channels, and maintaining its own over-valued pound sterling separate from the Euro. This ‘strong pound’ policy promoted EU imports that benefited British subjects as consumers, but harmed them in terms of employment, on the production end. As automation and outsourcing as continued, the crisis of employment and meaningful work, underscoring the lack of job security and worker’s rights, has created a menacing crisis.
A counter-protest by the group Stand Up to Racism also took place in Westminster, consisting of center-left and Europhile subjects, whose name insinuates in a rather defamatory way that the Leave/Brexit movement is ipso facto racist. Meanwhile, a number of radical left and communist groups have supported the Leave/Brexit movement as a genuine working class initiative.
Protests for Brexit also continued into the evening, and lines of police were deployed to keep the crowds under control. Protesters were documented burning EU flags, in stark contrast to a much smaller mobilization days before which had strong leisure class and upper-middle class overtones, hedonism culture, and attempted to connected the pro-LGBTQ movement to being pro-EU.
The Metropolitan Police said four arrests had been made at the demonstrations, though at the time of publishing FRN is unclear whether these were anti or pro Brexit demonstraters, given the nature of the minuscule but militant Antifa-esque ‘Stand Up to Racism’ counter-protest taking place concurrently.
Former UKIP leader and Brexiteer Nigel Farage spoke at the March to Leave rally – organised by campaign group Leave Means Leave – and was greeted by loud cheers as he took to the stage.
“It’s brave of you to come,” he told demonstrators. “Because I sense, being in Westminster, that we are in enemy territory.
“There are hundreds of people just over the street that have treated that referendum, and those who voted for it, with total and utter contempt for the past three years.”
Mr. Farage told Leave supporters “not to be disheartened”, and also signalled that he would be willing to stand again as an MEP if the UK takes part in the European Parliament elections in May.
The UK has a new Brexit deadline of 12 April, by which point it needs to have told the EU what its next steps are.
If the UK wants to delay Brexit further, the EU is expected to insist that it takes part in the elections.