On Wednesday 29 March, at 12.30pm, Britain’s ambassador to the EU, Tim Barrow, will hand deliver a letter to the European Council President, Donald Tusk. On that sheet of paper will be the words triggering Article 50. Nine months after Britain voted for Brexit, it will formally begin the process of leaving the EU.
For grieving Remainers, the delivery of the letter abruptly marks the end of the denial stage. But what happens next?
Speaking at an Open Britain event, former Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg had an answer. Responding to the concerns of a scientist in the audience, he declared:
“The most important thing of all is people like you make your voice heard. What the hysterical aggression from the Brexiteers means is they want to silence you.
“That’s why they attack everyone. The Bank of England – how dare you speak about the British economy? How dare judges make a judgement? How dare Remainers still believe they want to be part of the EU?
“What they systematically try to do is bully and delegitimise anyone who disagrees with their narrow world view.
“It’s a ludicrous thing when 16.1m people – that’s more than have ever voted for a party in a general election – voted for a different future, when 70 per cent of youngsters have voted for a different future.
“It is astonishing these people, how they give themselves the right to say: ‘You have no voice, how dare you stick to your views how dare you stick to your dreams and aspirations?’
That’s the most important thing of all. You don’t get bored, you don’t get miserable, you don’t glum, you continue to speak up. What they hope is you’ll just go home, the most important thing is people continue to speak up.”
He urged those affected by Brexit to lobby their MPs, and force them to raise the issue in Parliament.
After Article 50 is triggered, the UK positioning is over, and the EU negotiators will set out their response. As well as the official negotiating team, MEPs and leaders of EU27 countries are likely to give their views – and with elections scheduled in France and Germany, some will be responding to the pressures of domestic politics first.
For those Remainers who feel politically homeless, there are several groups that have sprung up to campaign against a hard Brexit:
Open Britain is in many ways the successor to the Remain campaign, with a cross-party group of MPs and a focus on retaining access to the single market and holding the government to account.
Another Europe is Possible was the alternative, left-wing Remain campaign. It continues to organise protests and events.
March for Europe is a cross-Europe Facebook community which also organises events.
The People’s Challenge was a crowd-funded campaign which, alongside the more famous Gina Miller, successfully challenged the government in court and forced it to give Parliament a vote on triggering Article 50.
The3million is a pressure group set up to represent EU citizens in the UK.