The British people defied the forcefully expressed wishes of the political establishment and confounded the expectations of pollsters on this day four years ago when they voted by a margin of 52 to 48 to leave the European Union, but the country still faces the possibility of getting nothing more than a “Brexit in name only” stitch-up.
Voting took place on June 23rd 2016 and the results came in through the early hours of the 24th. While even on-the-day exit polls predicted a remain victory, when the actual results started rolling in, it became clear this was not the case, with bellwethers like Sunderland and Nuneaton voting to leave.
Having conceded defeat after seeing polling at 10pm of polling day, Brexit leader Nigel Farage was cautiously declaring victory by four am the following morning in his now-famous “dare to dream” speech.
The surprise result — with polling in the runup to the vote overwhelmingly suggesting the government-supported position of remaining in the European Union would prevail in the vote — was followed by a four-year rearguard action by pro-Europe politicians from all parties in the UK Parliament. Britain’s Parliament persistently voted to block and frustrate Brexit in the years after the vote, to the point where by early 2019 the vote being honoured at all seemed seriously in doubt.
Happy Independence Day! pic.twitter.com/ksP85a7mli
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) June 23, 2020
One of the greatest signs that Brexit had totally stalled was when it was revealed that hte British people were to again go to the polls in May 2019 to vote for new members of the European Parliament, despite having voted to leave nearly three years before. Delivering their verdict on that, the British people sent Nigel Farage’s newly formed Brexit Party romping to first place, making it the single largest party in the European Union.
The resounding loss at the hands of the Brexit party made the continued leadership of then Prime Minister Theresa May impossible, and Mr Farage claimed the scalp of a second serving UK Prime Minister.
While the United Kingdom officially left the European Union on January 31st, some 1,317 days after it voted to do so, in practice the country actually remains in the bloc in all but name due to a so-called ‘transition period’ cooked up by Brussels and London. While negotiations continue between the UK and EU over what the post-Brexit relationship could look like, Britain remains subject to EU laws and regulations.
And while the country is theoretically due to leave the European Union fully and properly at the end of 202 on December 31st, the same pro-Europe actors who have constantly thrown roadblocks in the way of Britain’s departure remain dedicated to seeing this again delayed.
In a video released today to note “independence day”, veteran Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage — who noted the June 2016 vote was the culmination of 25 years campaigning for him — warned that Brexit itself still could be delayed and the country faced a “Brexit in name only”.
Remarking that there was “still more work to be done”, Mr Farage warned that it remains the case that many in the Conservative party never wanted Britain to leave the European Union, and there had been discouraging noises in recent days.
Mr Farage continued: “We don’t know what’s going to happen but rumours over the last couple of days coming from Downing Street, that they could be prepared to settle for us staying aligned to EU rules. But saying its OK, because we could leave them at a future date. That would be Brexit in name only.
“We’d still be in the EU rulebook, we’d be hampered doing trade with the rest of the world, we would not be genuinely an independent sovereign state.”
Signalling that pro-freedom voters might again have to stand up and be counted, the Brexit leader concluded: “Even after all this, we’ve still got to be prepared to fight the establishment again and they need to know if they let us down, if they fall at the last hurdle, there will be a massive price to pay. Keep the faith, let’s hope we don’t need to fight this battle again, but if we need to, we will. “