Ken Sweeney is an angry man, because after a long and bitter battle, and despite being on its knees and there for the killing, the people of Britain are not applying the final blow to the utter lunacy of Brexit. So why is the British public not following the example of its European brothers and sisters by protesting relentlessly en mass until they achieve their goals? And what are their options should the British decide to vote with their feet and their voices? 

Brexit is utter lunacy. And do not let anybody tell you otherwise, because if they believe it is a good thing, they are either lying or just completely deluded. And even if they come up with some kind of decent argument, the fact is that whatever the pros they list, the cons are going to be far, far worse. We can discuss those arguments over and over again but one thing is clear – Brexit is going to destroy Britain. And it will be destroyed in so many ways that in twenty years’ time, history will recall the vote to leave as the ultimate social and political folly.  

Nobody really wants Brexit

As well as causing immeasurable destruction to Britain, Brexit will also impact on its neighbours and the wider world. And the world doesn’t want it. Who, apart from some cartoon character playing the President of the USA is calling for it? Justin Trudeau of Canada? No. Xi Jinping of China? Nope. Shinzō Abe of Japan? Don’t think so. Ram Nath Kovind of India? Not him, either.

You see, apart from a certain section of the population of Britain, nobody wants it. Let’s all be honest here – if the referendum was run again, it would be a landslide in favour of remaining. No amount of spin is going to convince me otherwise. A huge amount of those who voted leave hadn’t got a clue what they were voting for and yet, now they are probably more informed about the EU membership than prior to their decision. This means you can bet your bottom euro that they are rightly scared now, because it is hitting them where it hurts, far earlier than any of the large social and economic hardships that are being predicted. The people I am referring to who voted leave really don’t care if the European Medicines Agency move from London to another European city. The have no interest in the Dow Jones or the British stock exchange and market reaction to the recent negotiations. And I would go as far as saying that they most likely don’t care if the Irish question blows up into a full out return to conflict, or if Scotland leaves the UK. But what they do care about is their ability to go on holidays, buy cheap goods abroad or continue visits to that well known superstore with all those exotic fancy goods. They do care about their local club being able to buy that famous Spanish or French international player without any visa or immigration problems and they really care about being able to go to Hungary, Poland or Estonia for that budget dentist appointment. And as we have seen over the last few weeks, the ordinary British citizen is now experiencing what it will be like to travel abroad, even just to France or Belgium. Even the champion of Brexit, the utterly reprehensible British tabloid the Daily Mail, has started to show cracks in its armour. It recently published an article reporting on the enormous queues that British people are experiencing when trying to board planes to the continent. It does not matter why this is happening now, but it will be the norm for the future if freedom of movement is abolished in Britain, because that freedom goes both ways.

Thus, as I stated earlier, Brexit is a nightmare that has already started, and yet, despite the chaos that is ensuing, I believe that now is the best opportunity to kill it off. It is ready to go, but if you want it to die, you need to really show that you are a European and start acting like one.

So, Britain, forget your Facebook pages, your posting of Guardian articles, your candle vigils, your crowdfunding, your podcasts and your petitions. None of those will do anything. What you need to do is get out onto the street and stay there until this mess is deleted and defeated.

Protests with success

Look at your fellow Europeans in Poland and Romania. In February of this year, despite sub zero temperatures, the people of Romania came out in their hundreds of thousands and demonstrated outside the presidential palace in Bucharest after the Social Democratic Party of Romania, who had won the recent Parliamentary elections, tried to rush through a set of very worrying measures which would have allowed corrupt politicians, who stole from the public purse and used the powers of their office unlawfully, to walk away scot-free and with a clean criminal record. The demonstrations grew in hours and spread across the country, culminating with over three hundred thousand shouting and pressurising the Romanian government 24 hours a day until they got the law destroyed.

Only last month, when faced with the impending threat of the removal of the independent judicial system in Poland, yet again, people in their hundreds of thousands marched on their capital city, in this case, Warsaw and around the world, in defiance of the Polish government’s attempt to assert more control. The Polish resistance entrenched themselves outside the presidential palace and are now determined to ensure that if any threat to Polish democracy raises its ugly head, they will be out on the streets again. And it’s not the first time either. When the same government tried to enforce stricter abortion laws earlier this year, the women of Poland organised a strike known as ‘Black Monday’ across the country, and brought Poland to a standstill in aid of their right to control their own bodies.

And mass protests are not just confined to Eastern Europe. Back in 2008, over 20,000 pensioners stood outside the Irish parliament (Dail) to protest against cuts in their pension. Dubbed the ‘Silver Revolution’, they were successful, as the government of the time relented and cancelled any planned pension reductions.

Even though the worst possible scenario had not even happened, the people of Germany mobilised into a grassroots movement known as Pulse of Europe, because they saw the threat of a right wing government in Germany. What started off as a few people on a Sunday afternoon celebrating Europe, has now grown into a million strong phenomenon which has spread across the continent with branches in nearly every major city. I have no doubt that we will see more situations like this where governments will be faced with an onslaught of people power, should they try to abuse their privilege to run a country in Europe on behalf of their citizens. They are using channels such as social media to get their message across quickly and efficiently.

Where is the spirit of protest in Britain?

But the question is, despite the fact that Brexit is equally important than any of the examples I mentioned, why oh why are the British people not out on their streets? What is it about Brexit that even though they can see the hurt it is going to bring them, they still insist on going through passive motions and not even consider the continental tactic. Is it laziness, apathy, or is it some kind of old fashioned ritual in which the tourist slogan “Keep calm and carry on” is actually a real tactic? Whatever their reasons, they are losing the opportunity to strike the dragon down while it is injured – and it is injured seriously. The negotiations have just stared, yet the British government has no clear tactic, and it is now showing. In-fighting with mixed messages coming out from official sources all point to a clear lack of a plan, while the Europeans are gearing up to laying down the law. UKIP is dead and Farage is resigned to a radio show. The recent election was a disaster, yet, instead of taking the opportunity to get rid of the Tories, the so-called 48 million voted Labour in their droves, rather than taking the chance and giving the LibDems, the only party who were actively campaigning against Brexit, an opportunity to lead the country out of the disaster of Brexit. What the blazes was all that about? How, in all seriousness, did Labour get such a huge vote? Don’t tell me it was disgruntled Tory voters, because I refuse to believe that the Labour proposals were that attractive. And, for crying out loud, Labour has a total Eurosceptic at the helm who is one red star short of an all out communist. Yet, despite this, after all the hoopla, Britain ended up with a hung draw and nobody with a clear mandate. And, to make matters worse, the SNP are blasted out of influence and the Ulster DUP enter government!

A total comedy of errors, but nobody is laughing.

So what is it going to be, “remainers”?

Are you going to allow a soft, hard or lukewarm Brexit to happen, and then spend the next twenty years bemoaning a lost opportunity? Or are you going to get up off your collective backsides and fight for what you believe in? Because that is what you have to do. No one-off crowdfunded march will work. You need to be mobilised on a massive scale, get out there and stay out there. Go to the gates of Westminster, Number 10, or even Buckingham Palace if you have to, and stay there. Where you go actually doesn’t really matter – it’s all about how many of you turn up. Forget about permission, permits, or public order, it’s far too important for that nonsense. Nobody can do anything when you are hundreds of thousands. Ignore your politicians – every single one of them have failed you – publicly. Forget about the media – they are all making a profit, regardless of the sides they claim to be on. They may be the protector of the remain spirit, but newspapers like the Guardian are simply loving the Brexit issue and will continue to benefit hugely in sales and subscriptions as long as Brexit lasts. They are not your friends, they are simply a tool that you need to exploit, so use them accordingly, but don’t expect them to do the job of defending your rights to freedoms that Brexit will take away.

Get mobilised – here is what you can do

Speak to public activists, such as veterans of the Poll Tax protest in the 1980s, unions, active minority groups and NGOs like KOD in Poland. All of these organisations and individuals have massive experience in staging long term protests. Mobilise across the country and get UK citizens in every state that will be affected by Brexit to protest outside the local British embassy. Look for allies, especially in neighbouring states, such as France, The Netherlands and, in particular, my country Ireland. No EU state will be affected more by Brexit than Ireland, so we are a perfect ally to put so much pressure on the British government that it has to start seeing sense. Don’t underestimate our ability to influence. We may be a small country, but we have a strong reputation for negotiation and stubbornness, which can be tools to enforce change. We have already set out our stand, and it is clear that we have no interest in Brexit being a success. Ireland is your friend – use it, for crying out loud! And if you must use social media, take it and direct it like a guided missile. Grab one of the larger anti- Brexit Facebook pages and close it off to the massive stream of posts that flood it. Direct it to be used for mass protest issues only – let it be a lighthouse for smaller groups and individuals to see, so they can have a base of operations or a starting post to get involved. Above all, control it and ensure that everything, including meetings, events and co-ordination of keeping people protesting, comes from that one source. Those larger groups already have a massive membership. Use the membership like a business opportunity and see the value in an already sold audience. It is what those members want and they will stay if there is activity coming from one portal. Set up a committee made up of people from all walks of life so that there is no one agenda being forcefully pushed. Above all, keep focused and stay on topic, always.

Tough love, Britain

So come on Britain, we all know this idea of leaving the European Union is utter suicide and why should we all bow to a minority of people on this continent who have made a monumental cock up that most of them already regret. They know they screwed up, but until the tide turns to a greater extent, they won’t admit it. It must be a clear and visible change and once it happens, they will fall in line. Forget about that fool Farage claiming that there will be war on the streets. That’s utter nonsense, and if any trouble starts, it will be a tiny minority of bigots and racists who will be silenced by a massive majority suddenly empowered by a moral purpose.

This is tough love Britain – we don’t hate you and a hell of a lot of us don’t want you to leave but we are frustrated by your lack of action. We are willing to help but you have to start by yourselves. It’s not too late – Brexit can absolutely be stopped but it needs to be stopped spectacularly and with the force of hundreds of thousands of people prepared to make an effort, guided by a small but efficient committee determined to keep up the action. It’s still summer, the nights are short and the days are long, so take advantage of that and, as the great Bob Marley said, “get up, stand up, stand up for your rights”, because nobody else will.

Ken Sweeney
Committed to idea of supporting aspiring writers and journalists. Serial podcaster.

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    1. Thank you righteous brother. Solidarity.

      1. Wow. No punches pulled. Great article.

    2. Whilst I am moved by your passion with all due respect you are not British. The one thing I know about my compatriots is that they hate being told what they should do by non Brits. Look at the way Obama’s speech was received before the referendum. I have lived in France for the past 11 years, and am vehemently opposed to Brexit, however last week I met a holiday home owner from Birmingham who proudly told me she had voted for Brexit. When I asked whether she was concerned about her ownership of French property she replied, ‘Oh I won’t be affected I have an Irish passport!’. You can imagine my anger.

      1. Excuse me but Ken lives in and is entitled to live in the UK and has a vote there. Not British is dismissing the Irish the way the bloody referendum also so easily dismissed EU nationals, which included people I have known in the UK for at least 40 years, perhaps even longer. So, you might ask why they have not be naturalised if the UK is so important to them. That is their business so I preempted it.
        I too live in France, but my wife is not an EU ‘citizen’ although from within Schengen so enjoys freedom of movement too, but has less participation because she has absolutely no voting rights here. I know few people who have anything against your ‘non Brits’ advising or having opinions, sure those who say what they should do not go down well. But wait a moment, didn’t Trump say the UK should get out of the EU before he was elected and has reiterated it since, he is foreign and admired by plenty of Brexiters, or does that not count because he is pro-Brexit?
        Sure, there are leavers across the EU, Spain has more or less ghettos of them in a few places. Those of us who believe in Europe unity and more so if we believe in federalism would gladly see them packed off home. However, this is a democratic world (although the present Westminster autocracy appears to belie that) in which we tolerate people’s points of view. However, foreigners should shut up in your view? Then the hypocrites of the kind your example shows should too.
        What is lacking is concerted effort by the vast majority of remainers in the UK, bearing in mind marches of a few thousand are not representative, and far more active participation in opposing Brexit within the EU by UK people living across the mainland. Dismissing somebody because they are Irish is pointing the gun at one’s own feet given their status in the UK whatever their stance, that includes your example, especially since homes whether permanent or second will not be confiscated or otherwise affected, although Brexit scaremongers occasionally throw that in for good measure. It is unlikely it will affect holidaymakers much at all but those of us who live here may require a carte de séjour as pre-EU times. Big bloody deal, it is just a bit of bureaucracy which I shall deal with if I must. The rest of the negativity can be converted into positive action against Brexit and whether we win or not, we are gaining political friends and allies in Brussels who may just deliver what I consider a kick in the goolies by giving those of us who do not wish to go back to the UK a reassured future. Ken, like it or not, is contributing to that effort.

    3. Great article, thank you.
      Thought you might also enjoy this – my (less literate) attempt at inspiring a fight back…
      Empowering the opposition. Dressing the revolution. Stop Brexit!

    4. From what I gather as a non UK resident they are all too busy watching Love Island. Remember most affected people where largely denied the vote.

      1. I have been punched for being a Brexit bore but the issue does matter – I agree that Love Island is a displacement activity for many – let’s get out on the streets and stop clicking like on facebook – p.s. I liked your post !! https://www.gofundme.com/StopBrexit

    5. Brexit must be stopped it will be the End of The UK as you now know it and as you remember it. Where has the loyalty and guts gone. May wants you Apathetic , sad, poor with no fight in you & then Repeal Bill & you will never have any recourse to appeal. = Dictatorship this is what Tory’s want , Do not buckle under fight for your rights on the streets.

      1. Can I take it you don’t believe in Democracy or that the majority of the people who voted voted to come out of the EU.

    6. I voted remain, but accept the fact that Brexit will happen, and it will inevitably be a “hard” Brexit as the Tory “red lines” of ending the jusisdiction of the ECJ and ECHR will otherwise have to be crossed and freedom of movement retained. The consequential damage to the UK economy will be portrayed by the “Sun”, “Express”, “Mail” and the rest of the right-wing press as vindictive action from federalist & socialist Brussels and by the “Morning Star”, & “Mirror” as punishment by Brussels big capital. No amount of “demonstrations” during this parliament will halt Brexit.

      1. Great British passivity will indeed allow it to happen. Brexit can be stopped if we decide it can https://www.gofundme.com/StopBrexit

    7. Great article – British passivity will kill us all – I am out on the streets rallying the people – please take a look at this project https://www.gofundme.com/StopBrexit
      all the best

    8. As a remainer who voted Lib Dem at the last election, I say to you; It looks to me as though the Brits don’t want to be in the EU. They had the referendum, they had an election where the Lib Dem option was clear, they chose to leave. It annoys me that Labour clouded the Remain side of the referendum debate by putting a Eurosceptic up. The referendum was a farce no doubt, but as you rightly note: there are no demonstrations, there was no Lib Dem vote. Opportunities to kill the Brexit are not taken up, not required.
      I find the idea that The UK, the fifth largest economy in the world, will implode without the EU to be ridiculous. It isn’t a bright move to pick an unnecessary quarrel with our main trade partner, there will be consequences, but life will go on. Whether life will be what it could have been in different circumstances is mere speculation.
      In any case, there is no ‘without the EU’, there will be trade, even without a trade deal, and there will be movement of people. There has always has been movement of people, it isn’t an EU invention. Reality is rarely as binary as headline writers try to make it, which is why the Brits will ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’. The only error was in not keeping calm in the face of Boris Johnson’s campaign of misinformation about the EU.

      1. Saz, the media still present the UK as the fifth biggest economy as though that was a fixture. Yet France overtook them. Too many publications use the World Economic Forum’s 2015 details which are in fact 2013-14 published in 2015. 2017 projections do show the UK back at fifth but for much of 2016 France and India went ahead, for a very short time Brazil as well, thus the UK slipped to eighth. If the pound falls a significantly as present predictions say, then they will be back and probably permanently in seventh but still slipping down. Projections for 2050 show the UK at about 30th. There is still too much nostalgia for the Victorian age top world economy that was passed by the USA early in the 20 century and China, despite problems, likely to overtake then in a few years. In 1988/89 two of us included China as a case study in a book that had examples of 12 developing countries. Brazil and India were among the others. The point about implosion, which does exaggerate the situation, is that the UK was not prosperous before joining the EC but now is tempting a return to the ‘sick man of Europe’ if predictions about capital flight if the financial sector, major banks especially, and key export industries leave. That is where the projections remain speculative but it is highly likely by the end of 2017 the UK will be seventh and have Brazil and Italy very close behind with the potential to slip past if Brexit negotiations end without sustainable economic agreements, the over optimistic trade agreements begin to be negotiated but not sealed and the WTO membership votes against UK membership, which is not excluded despite governmental bravado. Allowing for zealots who are falsely patriotic and nostalgic for a far more powerful and far reaching UK, it looks like some realists are keeping their heads down and saying nothing, but watch where their money goes if not already offshore and the HQs of their businesses and interests shift, as they will for entirely practical reasons as well as financial.

      2. The UK is NOT the fifth largest economy. France took that place over on the morning ofJune 24th 2016, than India followed later that year. The UK is now the SEVENTH largest world economy. And the slowest growing in Europe. Greece (now in surplus) is rowing at twice the pace of the UK…

    9. I am a little late in finding your writing on the Internet but God it is so nice to find a kindred soul out there. The sooner the psychosis of Brexit is killed off the better for everyone.

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