The weekend everything changed…

What a weekend!  It really does feel different now – claims of “the will of the people” have never sounded more hollow, the 2016 referendum result never more stale.  The online petition to Revoke Article 50 has topped 5 million signatures, dwarfing all the pro-Brexit petitions combined by a massive margin.  Over a million travelled from all over the country to march for a People’s Vote while Nigel-No-Mates struggles to muster 50 for his “Brexit Betrayal” march.

And just look who’s marching.  On Saturday there were young people everywhere – twenties, teens and younger.  All demanding a say, all demanding a brighter future.  Now study the photos (if you can bear to) from one of Farage’s sad little gatherings and tell me how many you spot under the age of 40.

A better Prime Minister, one with charisma and genuine leadership qualities, would have built a cross-party consensus for a Norway-style soft Brexit and would be taking us out of the EU with a deal that a majority would accept (if reluctantly).

But that time has passed.  May’s Brexit plans have turned to ashes on a pyre of incompetence, intransigence and infighting.  The people have stared into the abyss of a hard Brexit, and while a few still want to jump, most are stepping back and turning away.

But we are not there yet – we need to keep on fighting until Brexit is dead and buried.  We owe it to the younger generations – the ones whose minds are unsullied by rose-tinted false memories of Empire.  The ones who truly understand that avoiding the next war is more important than celebrating victory in the last one.  The ones who have grown up understanding that being born on the other side of a line on a map doesn’t make you different or inferior.

Liberal Democrats have always understood this – it goes to the very core of who we are.  The time will come, after Brexit is averted, that we can celebrate and congratulate ourselves on being the first  party to recognise the coming disaster and stand against it.  But right now we need to reach out to everyone around us – friends, family, workmates, and let them know that the Government has failed them and a better future is possible.

* Nick Baird is a Lib Dem member, activist and grandfather from Cheltenham

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  • I hope this is true but there are plenty of indications the other way too,
    The ERG seems to be shifting towards backing Mays Deal & the rush to sign the Revoke Article 50 Petition seems to have sunk to a trickle. At the high point last week people were signing at the rate of 2,000 a Minute, right now its at about 150 a Minute.
    I am torn between Hope & Gloom.

  • Sorry to come in again but I forgot to say how disillusioned I am with the “Leadership” of the Peoples Vote movement. They can organise a good Demo but in Parliament, where it matters, they keep chickening out. A Peoples Vote will not be among the options voted on tomorrow apparently. It seems that The Time is still not right & they want to wait till The Last Minute. We now have 17 Days before we crash out with No Deal, how Last-Minute do we want to get ?

  • @Paul Barker – I haven’t seen it confirmed either way if a People’s Vote will be one of the options. My understanding is that John Bercow will select the choice of options tomorrow.

  • Richard O'Neill 26th Mar '19 - 12:14pm

    People’s Vote haven’t even settled on a definite question that they feel should be asked. It seems more like a movement to channel anger about Brexit (and in some cases Corbyn) rather than a remedy for the mess we are in.

    Any wording of a fresh vote will need to be agreed to by the government. It is possible, for instance, we may end up having another referendum without Remain as a direct option.

    Added to which if it is non-binding there is no more garuntee that the result will be enforced by Parliament than the 2016 one. if we did have a fresh referendum in which the public voted for No Deal, would Lib Dems or TIGs or Blairite Labour MPs honestly go and vote it through. I really can’t see it.

    Added to which the leadership in the EU oppose another vote. They’re​ impatient for us to approve the proposed deal and stop bothering them.

    It’s all such a mess.

  • Economically and rationally ‘Leaving’ is a mess.

    ‘Leavers demanded a parliament free of an “unelected EU dictatorship”; what a sad joke. The UK now has a ‘dictatorship’ run by Theresa May (who became PM by default).
    Parliament votes down her deal; her response, “Let’s have another go, and another, and another.”
    Parliamentary rules say she can’t do it; but what the heck, like the leader of a banana republic, she says she can.

    The world looks at the UK Brexit mess and laughs.

  • My money is still on the PM getting what she wants.

  • Arnold Kiel 26th Mar '19 - 4:51pm

    Somebody should start “no-deal now”- and “May’s WA”- petitions to have a proper race. I would not worry about which would win.

  • @Paul Barker – you’re right to reflect that the current position seems to be finely balanced. Mrs May is probably clinging to the hope that tomorrow’s indicative votes process will prove to be inconclusive and that no clear alternative to her “deal” will emerge – in which case she can then come back with MV3 which she would argue as a choice between her deal vs chaos and uncertainty. Alternatively, if a cross-party consensus begins to emerge amongst MPs in favour of, say, Common Market 2.0 or another softer version of Brexit, she will no doubt seek to use that “threat” to scare the ERG into backing her deal. In either case, the result of MV3 (if it actually happens) is likely to be closer than the previous two attempts – but, bearing in mind, the DUP’s continued opposition, etc, the parliamentary arithmetic is probably still against her.

    If the present impasse continues as we approach 12 April, I suspect that that there will be growing pressure for revocation of Article 50 – which, on a free (unwhipped) vote, a majority of MPs could well support if that was, by then, the only way left to stop a no-deal outcome.

  • The Government has responded to the petition. You can guess the response, or read it at

  • @Arnold Kiel – there is already a “no deal” petition at

    Currently less than 600,000 signatures, or a tenth of the Revoke Article 50 petition.

    There is no petition for May’s Withdrawal Agreement because absolutely no one is in favour of it.

  • Peter Martin 26th Mar '19 - 6:53pm

    @ Arnold Kiel, @ Nick Baird,

    Very few people actually want ‘no-deal’. Most Leavers would like a deal but not May’s deal.

    That’s why I haven’t signed any petitions.

    But, if someone set up a petition for a better deal maybe I would!

  • Nonconformistradical 26th Mar '19 - 6:55pm

    “here is already a “no deal” petition at

    Currently less than 600,000 signatures, or a tenth of the Revoke Article 50 petition.”

    And since petitions on the site run for 6 months this one has already been running since 17 October 2018

  • Jayne Mansfield 26th Mar '19 - 7:21pm

    @ Peter Martin,
    Glad to hear it Peter.

  • Arnold Kiel 26th Mar '19 - 7:35pm

    Peter Martin, of course, always for the unicorn, never something real.

    Thank you, Nick. 10:1; I am not surprised. How comes the press does not pick this up (it should be their job to be better informed than me)?

  • It is interesting comparing the Government’s response to both petitions Nick links to.
    It is telling that the response to the “no deal” petition doesn’t mention any of the points raised in the “revoke” petition, when it would have been fitting to have started the response to the “no deal” petition with practically the same opening sentence used for the “revoke” petition.

    I suspect the Government had to respond to the “revoke” petition just to be seen to be ‘listening’. Also I suspect they are looking at ways to head off the petition and dramatically slow the rate of new sign-ups. However, it confirms the Government’s objective is to deliver a Brexit, just so that it can tick the box.

    As for all the dire threats to our democracy, I say bring it on, because a loss of trust means greater scrutiny of Westminster and more engagement with what our politicians are doing on our behalf, which can only be healthy for democracy.

  • Martin Hodder 26th Mar '19 - 9:38pm

    A so called “soft Brexit” is worse than remaining, and so would not solve anything?

  • Since the present deal dares to recognise the problems that the Northern Ireland situation causes should we not be discussing the Irish question. After all it was claimed by Gladstone to be his mission – to pacify Ireland. How many centuries are acceptable for a permanent solution?

  • Richard Underhill 27th Mar '19 - 1:19pm
    Donald Tusk’s speech to the European Parliament has been in the news.
    He reminded them that there are a lot of people who are not represented at Westminster and should be represented in the European parliament.

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