If Remain Had Won, Would We Be Witnessing This?

By David Price

It was a dramatic night, alright. At one point, the Vote Leave campaign thought they’d clinched it. Early returns from the North East – and then a surprise upset in Swindon – saw far greater swings than predicted for the anti-EU side. Huddled amidst jubilant supporters, Nigel Farage took to the airwaves. “This is the big one. This looks like an historic victory that will shock the political establishment to its core…”

Then, just as the Leave side was getting a whiff of victory, in came results for the Home Counties. Turnout was much higher and they were all breaking for Remain. Leavers watched nervously as the numbers ticked up on the screen. Suddenly, elation turned to bitter resignation. Bristol, Bath, Oxford, Cambridge and Gloucester all started knocking the Remain vote back up. By 4.39am on Friday, June 24th it was all over – the United Kingdom had voted to stay inside the EU.

Farage was back on TV. “This isn’t over!”, he barked defiantly. “We demand a second referendum! The lies of the mainstream media were beginning to get found out – we were beginning to pull this thing around and people were breaking increasingly for Leave at the last minute. We will fight this again, and people shall be armed with the truth this time!”

A sheepish looking David Cameron came out of Downing Street at 6am to address the nation. Someone at the BBC had switched on the radio mike he was wearing before his speech started, and he was heard to intone to his aid Craig Oliver, “bloody hell, that was a nailbiter!” Vote Leave’s Michael Gove looked crestfallen, as a typically avuncular Boris did a brief interview to Newsnight’s Emily Maitliss. “Well, we gave it our best shot – we shot the goose but we could not – in the end – cook it.”

Leavers were despondent but defiant. Buoyed by the closeness of the result – 48% Leave, 52% Remain – many began to agitate. There was a huge march, starting on College Green outside parliament. The BBC gave it constant rolling news coverage. Reporters talked about the possibility of the referendum result being overturned. A huge online petition got three million signatures, saying there should be another vote. Sky and BBC news networks seemed strangely excited by this, and kept reporting how the numbers were growing in every hourly news bulletin…

Newspapers ran stories about stupid Remain voters who didn’t know what they were voting for, because they were too immature. There was a reported rise in hate crime against old people, who had as a group disproportionally voted Leave. All over Twitter, activists were calling for unspeakable things to be done to Nick Clegg. Then, an Eastern European man punched a Brexit voter to the ground, and a TV reporter speculated that it was, “an EU-nationalist hate crime.” The subsequent court case found nothing of the sort – just a drugs gang-related quarrel – but the damage was done…

Back in the House of Commons, David Cameron began to look worried. Large numbers of his MPs told him that, whilst they respected the result of the referendum, the vote was nevertheless not an affirmation of the status quo. “It’s clear that, whilst the Leave side didn’t quite win, it is necessary to drive policy forward accepting that half the country wants to leave the EU,” said Tory MEP Daniel Hannan on Sky. Dominic Raab and Priti Patel lead a delegation to the Prime Minister telling him that – whilst they respected the referendum – even though the Remain side had won, Britain could not actually stay in the EU. “Look at the hate crimes, look at the stupidity of the voters, look at the online petitions”, said Raab. “You’re just not going to make it stick, DC!”

So Cameron went back to the EU for another “renegotiation”, and this time actually meant it. “My party leaves me with no choice,” he told a nervous looking Donald Tusk, “despite the referendum there are many forces ranged against me, and I can no longer resist. The UK has to leave the European Union by the back door – we will remain EU members in name only. Call it “associate membership”; we shall publicly say we’re in but I’m passing a bill next week to the effect that the European Court of Justice no longer has power over Westminster. We’ll shadow what you do, talk the talk and walk the walk, but things can’t be the same anymore…”

A shocked Juncker slammed down his cognac glass and stubbed out his cigarette. “But you have just won a referendum to stay in the EU!”, he exclaimed. “Yeah I know JC, but the vote was so close and the media, the establishment, everyone, they’re all against me – respecting the vote is just too politically painful”, pleaded Cameron. Juncker shouted, “What! You told Merkel your plan was to permanently dock the UK to the EU, and you win the vote, but you don’t carry it through. How can you snatch defeat from the jaws of victory? You British are mad!”

And with that, the European Commission President sat back, sparked up another Soubranie cigarette and intoned calmly, “okay we will help you pretend that you’re still in the EU, to keep the Remain voters happy. I guess we have no choice.” Cameron replied, “Thanks old boy and chin up, it could be worse – just imagine if Catalonia had declared independence…”

Labour Leave will campaign to achieve a fair deal from Brexit negotiations. We recognise the will of the UK public and will hold the government and the Labour Party to account.

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