Well, Theresa May has finally got one thing right: the public has “had enough”. Yes, Theresa, we are “tired of the infighting”. We are “tired of the political games and arcane procedural rows”. And God knows we’re “tired of MPs talking about nothing else but Brexit”.
Other than that, as usual, she’s living in her own personal fairytale in which she, the divinely inspired incarnation of redoubtable Britannia, does battle with *checks notes* her own MPs… to pass a withdrawal agreement that has already been rejected twice by parliament and which in the latest YouGov poll trails a staggering 22 points behind simply staying in the EU.
And yet May insists that she is on our side as she tries to bring her doomed agreement back to parliament for a farcical third time. What was it that Einstein said about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?
Meanwhile, May continues to refuse to hand this mess back to the people. “I don’t believe that is what you want,” she said on Thursday night. Even though only 12 per cent of the public thinks that parliament will be able to solve this crisis on its own. Even though support for holding a public vote has a 12-point lead. Even though a people’s vote is now the most popular Brexit option. May’s belief is, apparently, more important than actual data.
Thankfully, however, no matter what May seems to believe, she does not actually have the powers of a dictator. She cannot simply shove through an agreement that the country does not want.
And just as well, because her deal would be a disaster for this country. I say deal, of course, it isn’t actually a deal. It’s just a typically Mayish way of leaving, that does little more than defer all the important decisions. May’s “deal” has nothing to say about our future relationship with the EU, which means that it absolutely is not a way of moving on from Brexit. Rather, just as no deal would, it condemns us to a decade or more of “political games and arcane procedural rows”.
For women, May’s “deal” does nothing to protect our hard-won working rights from being bartered away under a future Johnson or Rees-Mogg government. It does nothing to protect the NHS, it does nothing to guarantee crucial environmental and food standards. The only thing it guarantees is a decade of uncertainty from which women would suffer the most: history shows us that in an economic downturn it is the services that women rely on that are first to be cut and it is women who are forced to cut down their paid working hours to pick up the slack. No wonder, then, that 62 per cent of women support a people’s vote.
This country has a proud history of democracy. We have stood up to dictators. We have stood up to fascism. We – and the MPs who represent us – can stand up to Theresa May.
But MPs need our help. They need our support.
In 1913, people from all over the country marched in their thousands over six weeks, to congregate in Hyde Park on 11 July. Their aim was to show the government that the “will of the people” was for women to have the vote. Fifty thousand people made it to Hyde Park – an extraordinary feat in a pre-social media world (not to mention a population that was about 20 million smaller than that of today).
This Saturday, we need to emulate those men and women. We need to turn out on the streets this Saturday in such numbers that even our wilfully blind prime minister can no longer continue to claim that she is acting out the “will of the people”. We need to stand together, in a show of strength, and demand our right to determine the future of this country.
And so that is what I will be doing. At 11am I, along with a brilliant bunch of women, will be speaking at the Women for a People’s Vote rally at the Bombers Command Memorial in Green Park. And then I’ll be marching to Parliament Square. I hope you’ll join me. Let’s stand together and loudly and forcefully tell this dictatorial prime minister, “No, Mrs May, you are very much not on our side.”
Caroline Criado Perez is an organiser for Women for a People’s Vote