A Brexistential Crisis

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Natasha Cellupica-Towers, Journalism Undergraduate, University of Roehampton

The only things missing from the Sunday Paper Review talk were a mug and some slippers. The heating had been turned onto a warm glow and people took off their rainy boots and coats and snuggled into the Robert Graves Gallery. Hosting the event was journalist Stefan Stern, commentator and political advisor Ayesha Hazarika and former Labour General Secretary Lord Iain McNicol. The newspapers reviewed included The Daily Mail, The Telegraph and The Sunday Times, one of which Stern held up to the audience and crinkled in his hand, exclaiming how the world should not give up on such wonderful objects. The laid-back conversation slid easily from royal weddings, the NHS online, Strictly Come Dancing and the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The event was wonderfully relaxed yet stimulating and heated as the conversation (naturally) fell into a game of predictions for, everyone’s favourite word: Brexit. Stern instantly addressed the clear political inclination of the panel, himself working for left-leaning paper The Guardian and the BBC, and the other panellists having worked as part of the Labour Party. “It’s OK” he reassured the audience, “I went on twitter this morning and apparently these two are both Blairite Tory scum, so it’s ok”. Roars of laugher flooded from the audience and formalities were forgotten.

The panellists read aloud various Brexit related headlines, all of which revolved around the state of Theresa May’s party. Hazarika jumped at the chance to explain May’s position, highlighting the different groups of Conservative cabinet ministers that are turning their backs on the PM through a lack of confidence. She spoke about how both sides of the Commons are now just “completely bluffing each other out” and how “we the public have no idea where this shambles is going to end up”. The room grunted in agreement.

However, it was Stern that stumbled on what became the big question of the morning. “Predictions for the next 2 weeks with Brexit?”. Oh, what a question. The panellists took a second to think about their answer, but it wasn’t long before Iain McNicol was ready and raring to go, “I think we’re going to have a second referendum”. He was met with applause. Although admitting he thought the chances of it actually happening were quite slim and predicting Theresa May will come back from Brussels with some form of agreement, he speculated that it may not pass through both Houses of Parliament.

Hazarika, however predicts “a fudge that will suit nobody. The Great British Fudge Off”, doubting that the Prime Minister will neither return with a suitable agreement or keep her job. An interesting, yet potentially slightly worrying, point to acknowledge is that despite their similar political views, none of the panellists agreed on what the future holds in a post-Brexit Britain. In fact, none of them seemed all that sure on their own opinion on the matter, arguing with themselves at some points.

Either way, the political forecast is looking pretty foggy. And if panellists such as these can’t quite put their finger on what’s about to happen to Britain. How can we?