In those days an angel appeared to the British government as it sat round the squaring-up table in the cabinet office. “Hwyl” said the angel, which surprised the cabinet. They did not know angels speak in Welsh because they live in God-zone country.
“Hwyl” said the angel again (hiccups). “I bring you news of great import/export. The end of the world may be nigh and heaven wants to know if you wish to remain or leave.
The cabinet makers looked at each other with suspicions and the Prime Minister looked at them with a heavy heart. Statesmen play chess, politicians play draughts. Here were all politicians, ambitious and mostly tied to constituency pasties. They would choose Remain and/or Leave, ever ready to bend or be bent.
The Beleavers would be for going. “Have faith!” they would cry. “We can walk on water, channel or sea,” and “Britain will be great again” – their trump card. The Remainders would claim lorries and ships were more secure than wings or walking on water, and best to stay with our customary unions. Faith or experience? The Cabinet. Tensions starting to rise round that squaring-up table.
A brilliant idea entered the PM’s mind, but finding nowhere to settle passed on. A second thought followed, of second class brilliance. “Let the people choose! Evade party divisions. Let the people speak, squeak, squeal, roar and rant.”
Solemnly the PM intoned “We shall have a referendumdum.” The Cabinet shuddered and splintered “A referendumdum!” “With a simple choice of Leave or Remain.” “Yes, Prime Minister.” And so it came about. Out on the roads went the gold Leaf bus with its promise of life happily ever after, and the red, white and blue bus with the promise of more NHS funding, no austerity and more leisure time.
The people came to visit the buses wherever they went. They appeared on TV and even learned to squeal bite-sized comments with their brakes. “Straight from the buses’ mouths” the people would claim as they tired of the repetitions of political speeches (not many ways to say Remain, Leave) and collapsed into repeating slogans.
Time passed quickly, from plenty of time to no time at all in just over two years. Remain and Leave stayed always confident of winning the popular vote and surveys indicated they would both win and that it was too close to call.
Heaven watched in amazement. Britain might choose to remain? And as the days tumbled towards eternity the people of the world also watched, in bewilderment. How could the divided United Kingdom doubt Jacob, Ian, Bill and Boris? Why wouldn’t they accept the sensible advice of Nicola, Amber, Anna and Yvette?
The Day of Referendumdum came. The world held its breath, some of the politicians their noses, and the votes were cast. The result was too close to call. All had won, all had lost, and the Cabinet returned to the squaring up table in the office.
The angel lost its job.