“A vote to leave is the gamble of the century. And it would be our children’s futures that would be on the table if we were to roll the dice.”
– David Cameron
In 2016, the politics of the UK have taken a ride on a very violent rollercoaster. From the vote to leave our French and German friends in the EU, the resignation of David Cameron, the appointment of Theresa May, former Home Secretary, to become the second woman prime minister to ‘grace our country’, to the protests for a second referendum to be held, there’s one question which muddles the minds of everyone- what’s happening next?
Brexit- the highlight of British Politics 2016- actually started in 2015, when PM David Cameron promised the nation for a referendum to leave the EU if Conservatives won the upcoming elections. He actually rejected calls in 2013 to leave the European Union but with the pressure of his backbenches, he made this promise. Surprisingly, the Tories won with a majority. Soon afterwards, the European Union Referendum Act 2015 was introduced into Parliament to enable the referendum. Cameron favoured remaining in a reformed European Union and sought to renegotiate on four key points: protection of the single market for non-eurozone countries, reduction of “red tape”, exempting Britain from “ever-closer union”, and restricting EU immigration.
On 22nd February 2016, in a speech to the House of Commons, Cameron announced that the date for this ground- breaking referendum would be 23rd June 2016- as we all know, the day the tables were turned.
Now with roughly four months ’till all time stopped for one day, it was time for Parliament and the rest of the UK to ally themselves with the two main campaign groups – Vote Leave® and Britain Stronger in Europe®. There were also many other campaign groups- Conservatives In, #INTogether, Grassroots Out etc.
Let’s tackle the Leave Campaign. There were many influential people who supported this group like Donald Trump, Katie Hopkins, and Nigel Farage *coughs*, however, if they won this referendum- and they did- they did a pretty good job whilst campaigning. I mean, their big, red bus itself was a winner.
The UKIP Party, famous for it’s right-wing and racist tendencies, gave this party the full backing, however, there were a few UKIP MPs who were a strong ‘remainers’. Several Conservative MPs were also ‘Leavers’. Five from Cameron’s Cabinet were opting for a Brexit whilst 17 sided with PM David Cameron to remain in the EU. The highlight of the Leave Campaign, in my opinion, was Boris Johnson, who had a pivotal role in convincing people to vote leave.
The Remain Party was a party famous with influentials and normal British people alike. Not to mention the world leaders, especially Belgium and France, who wanted us to do anything but leave. And we did. Over 300 Celebs from across the UK signed a letter about the UK remaining, saying that the UK shouldn’t be “an outsider shouting from the wings”. Some of these people include JK Rowling, Dame Helen Mirren, David and Victoria Beckham, Juliet Stevenson etc. The Remain Party was backed by the PM and most of his cabinet along with most of his backbenches. This was a strong campaign, backed by the government, with them issuing pamphlets to each house in the UK on what could happen if we did leave the EU.
However, a week before the Referendum, all press stopped when Jo Cox, Labour MP was murdered in her constituency. A 52-year-old local man, Thomas Mair, was arrested in connection with Cox’s death. On 23 November 2016, Mair was found guilty of murder and other offences connected to the killing. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a whole life order. Some witnesses reported that the suspect had screamed or shouted “Britain first” or “Put Britain first” as he carried out the attack.
Then came the day. The day it all changed. The day we fell out “avec nos amis européens”. As people rushed to polling stations, nobody could do anything but wait. Last minute speeches were being heard, and Cameron made one last appeal to the country. In a speech at 10 Downing Street, David Cameron asked everyone to keep the interests of our future generations at heart when ticking those boxes in the polling stations.
At 7pm, all polling stations were closed and counting began. Across the country, an uneasiness settled as each news station aired it’s Referendum Special- I watched David Dimbleby and his crew on the BBC.
Everyone watched, as the results came pouring in. Scotland voted with an overwhelming majority but the rest of the country- I don’t need to say. The UK voted to leave the EU by 52% to 48%.
The referendum led to the resignation of our PM, and within a week or two, after a very complicated leadership contest, Mrs Theresa May won the top job.
That was 2016 in British Politics in a nutshell- yes, it was overwhelmingly about Brexit but hey, it was fun. (!)
It’s been roughly six months since May got the top job, but what have we got from her yet?
Brexit means Brexit
Yes, thats right. We can all look forward to a blue, red and white Brexit- if that means anything.
Meanwhile, Corbyn was faced with a leadership contest within Labour and won.
Donald Trump becomes president in the USA.
What’s going to happen in 2017, idk.