It’s been a grim year – but what if Britain had never voted for Brexit?
Happy Independence Day, everyone! Can you believe it was just one year ago today that we all unanimously took the monumentally brave decision to put our hand inside a toaster and set that bad boy to hard Brexit? The world certainly has changed in the last 365 days – we’ve got a new prime minister, a new US president and a new sense of horrific, unending despair. Also, a new Harry Potter play. Neat!
It’s almost hard to think about how different the world would have been if the result had gone the other way. Just imagine: how much chaos could have been averted, if a small proportion of the country had switched their vote to remain? Dear reader, there is no need to imagine. Using extremely accurate predictability models, the kind that the polls used to predict the EU referendum, the US election and the 2017 general election completely successfully, I have created that alternate reality. Welcome to the World That Brexit Forgot.
24 June 2016
On the steps of Downing Street, David Cameron, basking in the glow of his unambiguous 51.9% remain victory, immediately calls another referendum for 2018. This one asks whether Britain should sink itself to the bottom of the North Sea and attempt to develop into an Atlantis-style civilisation, or whether it should be boring and remain part of the land people. Initial polls suggest most people in Britain want to remain landlubbers, but for balance Question Time will offer a seat to Poseidon, God of the Sea, at every broadcast until the referendum.
4 July 2016
Friends and family worry that Cameron is now addicted to calling referendums – holding six more, including one on what he should have for breakfast one morning. Due to a poorly thought-through online poll question, he ends up having to eat a Boaty McBoatface submarine. Eventually Samantha Cameron holds an intervention, where family and friends beg him to stop. Cameron responds by holding a referendum on whether anyone in the country still likes him. Despite lots of photo ops with Barack Obama and shots of him running in rivers, CamerON is defeated by CamerOFF by a landslide, 51.9% to 48.1%. Cameron is so ashamed he flees to a completely random country that he chooses totally off the top of his head for no reason: Panama. George Osborne becomes prime minister instead.
5 August 2016
Osborne is under pressure to step down within one month, after accepting another job as the editor of the Evening Standard, and as the editor of the Times and as the editor of the Daily Star (where he renames himself George Phwoar-sborne), and as the new Doctor Who, and as the new host of Top Gear and Bake Off, Bank of England boss and archbishop of Canterbury. Tragically, after accepting all of these jobs he tries to work out what tax bracket he’s supposed to be in and his brain explodes. Boris Johnson takes over.
4 September 2016
With the victory of remain, the Conservatives no longer have to pretend they don’t like big business. Johnson announces that the Tories are now sponsored by Amazon, under a deal that will last for the next five years (about the length of time it will take for an Amazon delivery to arrive). Amazon also promise to use drones to deliver new Tory candidates to constituencies within two hours.
Jeremy Corbyn is finally ousted as Labour leader. The PLP declare that he was far too cosy with David Cameron during the successful remain campaign, and they need someone who isn’t quite so willing to bend his beliefs just to get in power. Plus they made him sing the national anthem a few more times and he didn’t quite put enough gusto into the bits about killing the Irish. Corbyn resigns and goes on to replace Ed Miliband on the Jeremy Vine Show, winning five Sony awards for services to radio, as well as a Brit award for freshest new DJ. He seems happy.
The American election takes place, but excitement is down following Trump’s loss of momentum after the leave loss. Trump had attempted to claim he was always on the side of remain, and that he was actually the first person to use the word “remain” in English, but in a campaign where he had relied so much on telling the truth, this obvious lie stood out. Turnout is horribly low: Hillary wins 84 to 16, with many people surprised that as many as 16 people voted for Trump. Trump goes back to his day job of making sleazy deals, insulting people on Twitter and golfing on the weekend in Mar-a-Lago.
Michael Gove releases his new book for Christmas – a brilliant science-fiction novel about what would happen if Britain had voted to leave the EU. He predicts that Team GB would have won 85 extra gold medals at the Olympics, that England would have won Euro 2016 and the movie Get Hard with Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart wouldn’t have been allowed to come out in British cinemas. He also bemoans the death of “-exit” as a suffix, which hasn’t been used since June, saying that calling every little thing remotely to do with leaving “something-exit” would have revolutionised the English language, akin to the great vowel shift of the 15th century, and it wouldn’t have become tedious in the slightest. The book sells poorly, with just 300 copies shifted – 299 of which were bought by Sarah Vine, and the other by unknown MP Andrea Leadsom.
The new series of Sherlock comes out, and it’s awful in this universe too.
The referendum result has bolstered the Lib Dems – they now favour “hard remain”. Under their new leader Herman Van Rompuy, they hold press conferences exclusively in Esperanto, only pay for things using euros and declares that they’ve gone “full metric system” – they refer to Miles Davis as 1.60934km Davis, and call the former 1980s Labour leader Michael 0.305m. The result has also helped Ukip, who still have a reason to exist – their narrow defeat has just made them resolve to work harder. They’ve declared Clacton-on-Sea a free state, independent of the UK, where everyone must start every conversation with “I’m not racist but …”. Parliament is more polarised and angry than ever: the Lib Dems declares that finding an agreement is like getting blood from a 6350.29g.
Hilary Benn becomes Labour leader, running on a campaign of proper leftwing policies, like bombing countries and being the son of someone famous. He vows to take the fight to Boris Johnson at PMQs, but sadly no one notices because Boris is wearing a particularly sparkly tie. Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity soars as a radio DJ thanks to a particularly sick verse he lays down for JME and Stormzy, where he muses on the benefits of universal housing underneath a quality trap beat.
18 April 2017
Boris Johnson, bored with life and frustrated that it isn’t like the fun referendum campaign that he got to gloriously lose last year (instead of shamefully win), calls a snap election. During campaigning he gets out the bus, repainted now to say that we should give £700m to the NHS every 15 minutes because that’s what the EU is taking from us, dammit. In an effort to find where the EU are hiding all this stolen cash, he drives the bus into the back of a Polish shop, setting a rubbish bin on fire in the process. The rubbish fire becomes the talk of the election – it gets its own Twitter parody account – while Johnson is savaged in the media. Fearing the worst, the Tory party sacks Boris as leader and instead nominates the On Fire Rubbish Bin. The polls immediately jump in its favour.
17 May 2017
France elects a new president, but because the one rule in French politics is to do the exact opposite of what Britain and the US do, they elect Marine Le Pen. She declares France will leave the single market and will put up a hard border with Ireland – which means they’ll have to build a bridge to Ireland over the sea, then put a wall up in between. British political experts get to be really smug to the French and marvel at our own completely foolproof political system. The On Fire Rubbish Bin increases its lead over Hilary Benn by 20 points.
23 June 2017
The present day. The On Fire Rubbish Bin has suffered a humiliating reversal of fortune and now needs to do a deal with the DUP in order to stay on. Fortunately, the DUP quite like bonfires – and 12 July is just round the corner – so a deal is signed immediately. The Tories declare they will be the bulwark against French populism, and will work with Angela Merkel to solidify and strengthen the eurozone. After all, the will of the people demand it. It’s been quite a year, and the uncertainty of the future is clear. Hopefully, with a strong and stable leader, Britain can get through it all. Re-elect On Fire Rubbish Bin 2022.