- Elliot Mulligan
A Brexit-blemished 12 months
The past 12 months have been jam-packed with juicy political intrigue, sensational headlines and murky backbench treachery. Since the 24th June 2016 we have lost a Prime Minister, gained a new one, Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity has gone through the roof whilst the pound has gone through the floor. Oh, and we had another election. So sit back and enjoy as I tell the tale of Brexit – one year on.
Everyone can remember when they heard the news that Britain had voted to leave the EU. Many of us had gone to bed trusting that the majority of political commentators would be proved right. I had spent the night watching Dimbleby’s overnight coverage, so the result was for me more of a gradual shock than the sledgehammer it must have been for others. However, the news didn’t sink in until later that morning, when a sombre looking David Cameron emerged from No 10 and announced his resignation.
‘The British people have made a very clear decision to take a different path and as such I think the country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction.’
That’s when it hit me. ‘Oh boy’, I thought, ‘we’re in for a ride now’.
A few weeks later, Mr Marmite of politics, Nigel Farage, stood down as leader of UKIP. Well, stood down for a little bit, then changed his mind, then changed his mind again. Don’t blame you Nige, victory can make anyone a little light headed.
Who could forget the battle for the Conservative Party Leadership? With heavyweights such as Michael Gove and Boris Johnson, it was never going to be pretty. One misguided comment from Andrea Leadsom later and Theresa May was coroneted Prime Minister.
What followed next was a period similar to the start of the Second World War, a ‘phoney Brexit’ if you will. Little happened, all the action presumably taking place in quiet backrooms behind locked doors, this continued until November, when a ruling at the High Court stated Mrs May had to give MPs a vote before triggering Article 50. This was arguably the moment when things turned ugly, when the Great British Brexit façade fell away and revealed a nation bitterly divided. If you disagree, just recall that Daily Mail front page, with the pictures of the three judges and Gina Miller and the word ‘traitors’ underneath.
MPs did eventually pass the Brexit bill, by 494 to 122 which led to the triggering of Article 50 on March 29. Over nine months after the public voted to leave the EU, the declaration kick-started a two year process of negotiations that would culminate in the U.K’s withdrawal in 2019.
Then out of the blue, we had an early election! That really threw a spanner in the works, especially when the Conservatives lost their majority in Parliament despite May asking the public to ‘strengthen her hand’ in the Brexit negotiations. Oh, the irony.
One year on from the EU referendum, it seems as though almost everything and practically nothing has happened. This may seem like a strange paradox, but let me explain. Whilst all three major political parties have experienced significant upheavals - leadership contests, resignations etc - in terms of Brexit, nothing concrete has actually been achieved. Yes we’ve had a few pieces for camera, such as the ‘Brexit Bill’ and the EU Great Repeal Bill, but it’s been over a year since the referendum. Negotiations are barely underway, and according to various sources, are already beginning to grind to a halt.
One year later, and we’ve barely made any progress.
P.S. – if that isn’t a gloomy enough forecast for you, remember Boris Johnson is our foreign secretary.