An emotionally-charged campaign to overturn the 2016 referendum result is in full swing. We are told Britain is falling apart; that our economy is in crisis and our international reputation is in tatters. And it’s all down to Brexit. Daily the drip-drip of negative stories dominates insidiously biased media coverage. Terms and phrases such as “falling off the cliff edge”, “crashing out”, “a catastrophe”, “a disaster” have become the staple of the anti-Brexit reaction.
An unholy alliance has sprung up between cosmopolitan, metropolitan liberal elites and the ranting, rabid far-left, best symbolised by David Lammy’s outrageously polarising rhetoric. When the Remain ultras are not smearing millions of British people as racists, they are busy trying to scare millions of British people back into the status quo. Project Fear, however, is really just about that: fear-mongering.
It’s a concerted propaganda effort aimed at demoralising the British public and shaking our confidence in the UK’s ability to make success of Brexit. As all propaganda, it distorts facts by presenting a warped view of reality, devoid of any nuance or reflection. One way it does so is by filtering out real facts that do not fit into the prevailing anti-Brexit narrative of impending economic calamity. What follows are some such facts.
For instance, the news in April that the UK has been ranked as the top investment destination in the world, knocking the US off the top spot for the first time ever, comes simultaneously with the latest record-breaking drop in unemployment – now lowest since records began. As the Eurozone teeters on the edge of another recession, Britain’s growth is sustained, stable and is being achieved alongside record-breaking falls in CO2 emissions – the lowest on record since 1888.
Foreign Direct Investment in the UK is at record high. And as the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show, the bulk of this new investment is coming from Asia (a 33% increase in 2017). According to Deloitte, the UK attracted more Foreign Direct Investment over the past three years than any other country in Europe, bringing in more capital investment than second- and third-placed Germany and France combined.
It is a similar story with financial services. Since the referendum, London attracted more financial services Foreign Direct Investment projects than eight other global financial centres, securing 55 inbound projects in 2017 – more than double the number of Dublin (26), Paris (26), Frankfurt (24) and New York (20). London is set to become home to the same number of fintech unicorns as San Francisco, attracting more investment in the sector than any other city in Europe. When I asked a banker friend of mine about him relocating to Frankfurt he replied: “You go live in Frankfurt …”.
Back in February, Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, announced a record-breaking increase in its investment in the UK, raising its “exposure to British companies, property and bonds regardless of the outcome of Brexit negotiations”. This bullish confidence is matched by private investors like Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos recently announcing a £1 billion injection in British oil and chemical industries.
British exports are going through the roof – the UK is the second fastest-growing goods exporter among the top five economies, just behind China, with our goods exports growing by 3.1% to £10.6bn in the year to January. UK exports of beverages alone, such as Scotch whisky, reached a high of £8.3bn in the year to February 2019, increasing by 7% on the previous year.
It’s worth remembering that the bulk of UK exports go outside the EU – the United States is our largest export market, followed by Germany, France, the Netherlands, Ireland, China and Switzerland, in that order. One of the greatest myths created by Project Fear is that Britain trades with the EU Single Market. In reality, Britain mostly trades with just seven of the other 27 member states of the EU. For example, the UK’s annual exports to the United Arab Emirates are worth more than the UK’s exports to Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia and Hungary combined.
The list of our achievements since 2016 can go on. It should not be surprising that there is little media coverage or discussion of these trends – that wouldn’t fit in with the prevailing anti-Brexit narrative. However, they should not be taken as evidence that Brexit is somehow risk-free. For example, UK’s exports to Poland are worth more than our exports to over 40 non-EU markets combined. And it is clear that some businesses across the economy are more exposed to Brexit-associated risks than others.
Some economic news since 2016 should give us serious cause for concern, but the trends outlined here should give us confidence in the underlying strength and resilience of our economy. I campaigned and voted for Remain in 2016 but, like many former Remainers, I’ve accepted the outcome of the democratic process and came to realise that Brexit is complex and requires a deeper, more nuanced understanding. It is a shame that we’ve failed to acknowledge this complexity in our public debate and this is very much down to Project Fear and the wider campaign to overturn the referendum result. It distorted our collective vision of reality, undermined public faith in democracy and damaged national morale. When Project Fear wins, Britain loses.
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It was after I spoke at the Brexit Party’s Durham rally that a burly gentleman came up to me and thrust a plastic card into my hand. “Do what you want with that. You can cut it up if you wish, but I’ll be having no need for it anymore. I’m finished with them.”
I looked down at what he had given me and recognised immediately it was a Conservative Party membership card. He then volunteered that he was now voting for the Brexit Party and had signed up online, paying his £25 as a supporter. I hung on to the card so I could take a photo and let people see this is no invented anecdote.
Since our European Parliament election campaign started in the North East with a street stall in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, I have found similar expressions of disgust, anger and the rejection of Britain’s two dominant parties to be a common occurrence. I have met no one willing to admit to being a Conservative. Not one person, and I have been in leafy prosperous suburbs as well as red brick terraced streets.
Nobody has sought to defend the Prime Minister as “resilient” or having the bad luck of being dealt a poor hand. No, the Prime Minister is viewed as someone who repeatedly breaks her promises – on every significant aspect of Brexit – and she is not being let off with any sympathy. There is a perfectly obvious reason for this – time and again I meet people who tell me they simply want out of the EU. Out. Period.
People of all ages pass our Brexit Party street stall and wink at me or give the thumbs-up to signal they are supporting the new party, but when they stop to speak they are straight to the point: they voted to Leave, they weren’t asked for a deal. They want us to leave now, deal or no deal.
And then there are the Remain voters who tell us they are voting Brexit Party because they want the vote respected. There are plenty of people who think like that turning up at every stall I have done – including some EU nationals who think Britain’s democracy is a beacon of hope to the world and should not be so easily cast aside.
One weakness that I admit to having feared has been put right for me; I thought the fact the Brexit Party is so new it has not had time to help organise postal votes for supporters would put us at a disadvantage – but I am being proved wrong. Time and again an elector will come up to our team and say “You’ve got our vote, we’ve voted already” or “I’ve posted my vote and you’ve got it”. The irony of all those people who have no doubt been encouraged to have a postal ballot by the Labour Party in the past now using the peace and quiet of their own home to give up on a party they have probably voted for all of their lives.
For, make no mistake, in the North East it is Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party that is haemorrhaging votes like a beast at the slaughterhouse. Former Labour voters feel the party that once represented the working class and was necessary to protect their interests has taken them for granted too often and has now abandoned them. I know this because I am told it with the rapidity of a pneumatic drill wherever I ago. Labour, the party of these voters’ parents and grandparents, is now just an artefact of the past like so many of the chimneys that no longer ventilate a coal fire.
To be honest, it’s not just Labour’s unwillingness to deliver a real Brexit that has done it for Labour, it is Jeremy Corbyn too. I have campaigned in elections and referendums since 1979 but never before have I heard Labour supporters so critical of the party’s leader. In particular I have recognised how the North East is very proud of those who serve or have served in our forces; and to those who have, Corbyn is reviled.
Nor have I ever manned a stall, like I have in Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Redcar or South Shields, where so many people have come up asking for a window poster or a leaflet. We have had people offering to buy our publicity and a lovely lady opening her purse offering to donate (I had to politely decline as we have no facility for handling cash).
In short, and despite being on the winning side of many a political campaign, I have never experienced an election where I have been welcomed with such warmth and good wishes.
We keep hearing two things over and over again: firstly, that the result of the referendum must be respected by leaving the EU now; and secondly, the real hurt and anger felt by Leave voters who have been told so often that they were duped, ignorant and too stupid to know what they were doing. The condescending arrogance of Remainer politicians really has upset people and only made them more committed than ever before.
There is now less than a week left until the election and I have many more stalls to do, but if my social antennae and political judgement are at all sound, in the North East the Conservatives face oblivion and Labour is set to receive the most almighty hammering, the like of which will last longer than for just Brexit.
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This week on the BrexitCentral Podcast I spoke to Euro candidate Dan Hannan MEP, who is standing as a Conservative for the South East region. He says Brexiteers shouldn’t use the elections as an opportunity to send a message:
“Who else is going to deliver withdrawal from the European Union in an orderly, timely, and cordial way? I refuse to believe that every Brexiteer is an angry sort of Trumpian who just wants to register a point of view.
“There’s no need to send a message here, the message was sent on the 23rd of June 2016.
“More people voted to leave than have ever voted for anything, so we don’t need to kind of peer into the entrails to discern what the British people really think. We know that, it’s not that we didn’t get the message, the problem is we didn’t get the votes.”
He also argues that without a common allegiance, the EU can never be democratic:
“Democracy isn’t just a periodic right to put a cross on a bit of paper.
Democracy also depends on a certain relationship between government and governed… you have a pretence that there was some kind of pan-European democratic process, but honestly, hand on heart can you imagine anybody saying, ‘well you know I was gonna vote for Weber but I reckon Verhofstadt edged it in the second debate’ – I mean it’s just a nonsense.”
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I have never felt so passionate about anything in my life. The way the public have been treated over the whole Brexit shambles is not only humiliating, it’s exasperating and embarrassing. The world is laughing at the ‘Mother of all democracies’.
As a medical doctor, television presenter and passionate campaigner, I’ve spent the last 24 years of my life fighting the system. I’ve been a vocal advocate for minority groups, patients, carers and families, ensuring their voices are heard by those in power who make decisions.
I’ve campaigned vigorously to clean up our filthy hospitals, successfully lobbied to implement new-born screening for the life-threatening condition Cystic Fibrosis, fought to improve care for the elderly in our hospitals and care homes, pushed the Government to role out the PrEP trial to protect high-risk individuals from HIV and worked with school caterers to ensure that every child in a British primary school gets at least one hot meal a day.
These are extremely important and life-changing campaigns.
But the campaign we are now fighting – to ensure the democratic will of the people is respected – is now paramount.
Having spent three years commentating on TV about the way the Government and the Opposition have been handling the Brexit negotiations, I couldn’t sit and watch the wilful fragmentation of democracy any longer.
Campaigning for the Brexit Party in the North West has been exhilarating. I’ve never been so sure that what I am fighting for is right. There is palpable and tangible anger which the Westminster elite have failed to recognise. This anger and frustration unites people across the political spectrum and all social classes.
Rallies in Fylde and Chester were extraordinary. Speaking in front of 2,000 people who are cheering your every word and sentiment is unlike anything I have ever experienced. The messages of support on social media are overwhelming. The common theme amongst them is that people are relieved that they are finally being represented by candidates such as myself wiling to put their heads above the parapet and fight for them against the establishment.
The political class has done everything it can to thwart the will of the people. We’ve heard doom-laden scenarios touching every aspect of our lives.
One of the most outrageous weapons has been the use of false information about the availability of medicines after Brexit. I’ve read time and time again that we will run out of medicines, hospitals will close and lives will be at stake. It is nonsense and it is dangerous. It is causing fear and panic.
Although we will leave the European Medicines Agency, our medicines will continue to be regulated by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MRHA), as they are now. We already conform to European standards and it is the interests of both the EU and the UK that we continue to have regulatory collaboration.
Big Pharma is not confined to Europe. It is global and flexible. Many pharmaceutical companies have footprints in the UK, EU and around the world. Seven of the top global pharmaceutical companies have a manufacturing presence in the UK.
The majority of our medicines are generic and these are made around the world in India, Japan, Switzerland, Israel and the US. India now makes a third of the world’s generics. By 2050 it is thought that India will make half the world’s medicines.
But what about cost? This is not an issue. If we do move to trade with the EU on WTO rules, medicines will continue to be tariff-free, as they are now.
There will also be added incentive for the MRHA and NICE to become more highly aligned and streamlined, so we can make the UK more attractive to the pharmaceutical industry. We can also carve out a global regulatory role with Canada, Australia and the United States.
In summary, patients’ lives are not at risk. This fear-mongering must stop. Fortunately the public are not stupid and can see through it.
As a doctor, I know the most important commodity you can have is trust. The people were asked a binary question. Politicians on all sides said they would respect the will of the people. The public took them at their word. 17.4 million people voted to Leave. They expected us to leave. We haven’t left. The elected representatives have lost the trust of the people. The message is clear, their time is over.
Next week will be a watershed when we vote with passion and history will be made.
Politics had never been a big ambition for me, but I always viewed it as one of the most effective ways of making a difference for the things that I care about, such as LGBT rights, fighting poverty, supporting refugees and tackling climate change. Which is why getting on the Conservative Party’s Approved List of Parliamentary Candidates was a really big deal for me.
For most people not fortunate enough to be independently wealthy, getting into politics is a passion and a hobby, and making the move onto the Candidates’ List is a big commitment. It costs time, money and energy that people with jobs and families have in short supply. That sacrifice is too great when instead of fighting for what you believe in, you suddenly find yourself being asked to fight against it.
The Conservative Party is explicitly laying the blame for Brexit not being delivered on those MPs who have fought for a Brexit that cuts the legal and financial shackles with the EU that we have already explicitly said we want gone. We are being asked to blame our own people for committing the heinous crime of standing up for what the country asked for, what our party membership believes is the right thing to do and what our Prime Minister committed – time and again – to having had sorted by 29th March 2019.
Like many who campaigned for us to Leave the EU, such was my faith in the strength of our democracy and the inherent decency of those whom we elected to represent us, that once the result was announced I stopped campaigning and decided to let our politicians get on with the job that we asked them to do. The manifesto commitments at the 2017 General Election from both main parties further assured me that there was no point in refighting a battle that we had already won.
That faith was clearly misplaced.
Labour apparently support Brexit but not a “Tory Brexit”; the Conservatives decided that they didn’t want to break bread with Labour MPs who represented some of the most passionate Leave areas of the country until it was too late. Now the only two options being put on the table both consist of us remaining in some form of terminal lock with the EU and all the ramifications which come from that. This is conspiracy, not cock-up, with the end result being that we voted for something and Parliament is refusing to do as it said it would do.
Voting is a binary process. Your vote is either worth one, or it is worth none. Yet it now seems acceptable to openly disparage the equal value that should be afforded to the vote of someone who is white working class on the basis that they are white and working class. It now seems acceptable for the Liberal Democrats, only recently a party of coalition government, to call democracy “bollocks” on the front page of their manifesto. It now seems acceptable to accuse someone who is LGBT or BME or in any other way not part of the standard Brexit stereotype as a traitor, an idiot and a self-hater for standing up and saying that they’re perfectly capable of making up their own mind. Our political class has nurtured and participated in this behaviour because by weakening the validity of our vote it strengthens their ability to ignore us.
It was that concept of democracy acting as our ultimate insurance policy against oppression and inequality that got me involved in Brexit in the first place.
We were told during the referendum campaign that LGBT rights and freedoms came from EU membership and that they would be under threat if we left. It was a lie – and one I felt was pretty crucial to counteract through the Out & Proud LGBT Brexit campaign that I decided to set up. The reason why the UK is one of the best countries in the EU – and the world – to be LGBT is because as a society we support these rights and so we elect politicians who make laws which support these rights too.
I asked myself: “If you do not know where your rights and freedoms come from, how can you defend them if they ever come under threat?”
That question seems ever more pertinent today. If we cannot hold true to the fundamental principle of democracy in this country then every future manifesto or party platform is rendered bogus. Trust in politics is at an all-time low and people are doubting if voting really makes a difference at all. So if we are to salvage anything out of this sorry situation, it must be to send a message to every current and future politician that you play games with our democratic rights at your peril.
I cannot do that as a candidate as it would mean I would have to deliver leaflets blaming those who have stood up for our democracy for the failings of those who failed to deliver on what was expected of them. It feels like a terrible waste after all these years of campaigning for a party that I still fundamentally think has the most to offer this country. But without the guarantee that this is all underpinned with democratic accountability, I feel it is pretty meaningless.
You cannot ask people to vote for you when the message you’ve sent them through your actions is that their vote is only a guise to allow you to do what you’re going to do anyway. And for that, with great regret, I am out.
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In the past three years there have been two constants in the Conservative Party through the Brexit process and the entire political landscape. Those are Theresa May and Philip Hammond. While this level of stability at the top level of a political party and a Government is sometimes a recipe for success, the last three years have been anything but. A total lack of imagination in policy and approach has left the Conservative Party, Brexit and the country’s reputation in an embarrassing state of disrepair.
When Theresa May was ‘anointed’ into office by MPs rather than party members in July 2016, after David Cameron cowardly resigned when he lost the EU referendum, she set about painting an image of a modern Conservative Party. This initially seemed popular with the public as her ‘big statements’ on reducing inequality and rewarding those individuals who work hard resonated with the public – in direct contrast to the clearly unorganised chaos of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn. However, a vital pillar to May’s success was clearly about her delivery of Brexit – something which to this day has failed dismally. Any legacy which she wished to create as a ‘new Margret Thatcher’ will instead be one of failure.
This is in major part because of the approach taken by both the Chancellor, as well as the Prime Minister – both of whom have surrounded themselves with Remainer advisors and civil servants in key positions, who, to the public, are not intent on delivering the Brexit the majority voted for.
The Remain-dominated higher brass only served to reinforce the fatal mistake Theresa May made when she attempted to negotiate the UK’s exit from the EU. She, and those surrounding her, saw the entire process as a means of ‘damage limitation’, in which the UK has the least possible change in its relationship with the EU.
Just last week Philip Hammond said of future customs arrangements that there needs to be as little change as possible. Effectively, he was endorsing and laying the groundwork for a Customs Union/Arrangement – whichever way you spin it, any kind of deal with Labour he can help muster! This is something which couldn’t be further away from the reality of delivering Brexit.
This comes just after the Conservatives have suffered devastating losses in the recent local elections, with the root cause largely coming from a dissatisfaction with the handling of Brexit, and of Theresa May staying as Prime Minister. It seems, despite sky-high numbers of spoilt ballots – totalling over 1,000 in some councils, mostly scrawled with complaints about Brexit being delayed – the Conservative Party leadership is not listening, and continues to plough full speed ahead towards the softest possible Brexit.
As a result, we have seen the Brexit Party continue to rise in the polls for both the impending European election and a future general election. The Brexit Party has now topped the polls with 34% of the vote in a recent YouGov European Election poll – more than double second-placed Labour. Meanwhile the Conservative Party continues to fall, to fifth place on 10% of the vote in that poll.
It appears Theresa May has cocooned herself away from reality. She seems obsessed with passing her Brexit deal – with or without the support of her own Cabinet and the majority of Conservative MPs – at whatever cost to the party and the country. It even looks like she will try and add on a Customs Union in all but name, and perhaps another referendum. By whatever means, she is intent on forcing her deal through Parliament in any shape or form. She seems to believe this is necessary for the Conservative Party to retain any level of electability.
However, many in her own party clearly do not agree with her, and this is likely to dig them further into the grave if they do not deliver a true Brexit for Britain on the global stage.
May’s mentality and isolation from alternatives is only enhanced and encouraged by Philip Hammond. He is a man who has been so evidently anti-Brexit from the beginning, he barely attempts to hide his disdain anymore. Only last month he endorsed a second referendum as a legitimate prospect and idea! The Chancellor has continually pushed for the softest possible Brexit and has done all he can to push back against the idea of a no-deal Brexit, arguably doing more to damage Brexit as a whole than the Lib Dems and Change UK could ever do.
The Prime Minister needs to leave Government as quickly as possible, along with her Chancellor.
There have been complaints of the Treasury holding back No Deal funding for a long time, and regular briefings to the press and business leaders of supposed economic collapse which would occur should we not have a ‘Brexit in name only’. These briefings come from the Treasury, as well as civil servants who continue to peddle the same tired old messages of ‘Project Fear’. Philip Hammond simply picked up from where the former Chancellor, George Osborne, left off. Where May, Hammond, the Remainer hierarchy of the Government and the Civil Service are supposed to delivering Brexit, we actually have a complete and utter failure in the commitment to deliver what the nation voted for in the 2016 EU referendum. By hook or by crook we need to Get Britain Out of the EU as quickly as possible.
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As the first full week of campaigning for the European Elections draws to a close, what have we Conservative candidates been up to? Well, a surprising amount – given that we did not start until we were in what would normally be the GOTV (Get Out The Vote) stage of the election.
Working with our national party the five Conservative candidates in the East Midlands have produced a leaflet for our region with local content and local messaging. Clearly there will not be enough time to get copies to every household, but we are doing our best. Local Conservative Associations are pitching in by going out delivering copies in their patch. If you live in the East Midlands, keep an eye open for one popping through your letterbox. That is, of course, on top of the national freepost leaflet which is going out to all voters.
We have also been knocking on doors. Inevitably we knock on far fewer doors than we deliver leaflets. It is more time-consuming and there are always fewer volunteers for canvassing than there are for delivering. Nevertheless we have managed several sessions, with – it must be admitted – mixed results. In some areas we have been met with what could best be described as apathy – although one of my colleagues termed it ‘voter fatigue’. Elsewhere there was outright hostility and undoubtedly many voters are very angry indeed. I’ve had more doors slammed in my face this week than any other week when I’ve been out canvassing – and that includes the 1997 election. One gentleman did not even allow me to say “good afternoon”. He took one look at my blue rosette, told me where to go and shut the door.
More positively, once we can get engaged in conversation with a voter, they are proving to be receptive to our message. It is, after all, true that it was the Conservatives who delivered on the promise to hold a referendum on the EU back in 2016. Since then, my East Midlands colleague Emma McClarkin and I have worked tirelessly to achieve Brexit and to explain the British position to colleagues, diplomats and business leaders from across the continent. Only the British government can deliver Brexit, and it will need MEPs in Brussels willing to support that ambition. And a vote at this election will not change the situation in Westminster, where the delays have originated. And above all we must not give Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party a boost that will take them closer to Downing Street. We have a good story to tell and when we can find someone willing to listen, they seem persuaded.
We have also been doing a good deal of media interviews and interaction. Emma McClarkin has been leading us there, but I have swept up when she has been unavailable. Two interviews stand out. The first was with Channel Four News who wanted to interview me in a café in Leicester. They chose the patio, which was rather chilly and explains why I am wrapped up in an overcoat. To be fair, we did talk about the European Elections, Brexit and EU policy. However, they seemed most interested in a book that I wrote some ten years ago.
The second came when a reporter and photographer from the German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel came to Northamptonshire. Having interviewed me in another café (inside this time), they announced that they wanted to come out on the doorstep with me. The first door revealed a Labour voter who was going Brexit Party, the second a Green voter, the third a Conservative who was going to abstain, the fourth a young man who had just stepped out of the shower and was annoyed to find a canvasser and the fifth a Conservative voter going Brexit. It was not until the eighth doorstep that I found a Conservative voter who was going to vote Conservative.
“I’m glad that I have got my job, and not yours,” laughed the German reporter as he scribbled away in his notebook.
Bizarrely we have only just started campaigning, and yet are heading towards the finishing post at great speed. There is not really enough time to get a clear picture of the electorate, their hopes, fears and attitudes. The omens are not good for we Conservatives – and the opinion polls are downright depressing; but the opera is not over until the fat lady sings.
Onwards to the final week of campaigning in these most peculiar elections…
The post The omens are not good for we Conservatives at the European election, but we have a good story to tell appeared first on BrexitCentral.
It has been over one thousand days since the EU referendum: over one thousand days since the biggest mandate at a referendum in UK history; over one thousand days since a staggering 17.4 million Brits put a cross next to the Leave option on the ballot paper. Yet over one thousand days later, the United Kingdom is still a member of the European Union and we are still having the Remain/Leave discussion.
It should no longer be a question of Remain or Leave. That debate was settled on 23rd June 2016. It should now be about respecting the result of a democratic process. Democracy is at the heart of British values and to hold another referendum would be a brutal blow to such an important principle and an insult to the people of Britain.
Political apathy is already a problem in the UK: nearly one in three did not cast a vote at the 2017 General Election and if the result of the referendum were ignored, I fear the democratic deficit would only worsen.
I think it is a common misconception by Remainers that Brexiteers fear a second referendum. We are definitely not scared. We just think it would be wrong. In fact, if the referendum was not a big enough mandate for Brexit, let’s not forget that over 80% of current MPs were elected on manifestos saying they “respect the referendum result”.
Of course, the biggest elephant in the room is how on earth we secure Brexit after Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement was voted down three times. However, the truth is that this wasn’t Brexit at all. There were too many unnecessary strings attached — most obviously the backstop issue and that staggering £39 billion divorce bill.
Nearly every Brexiteer is united around the belief that “no deal is better than a bad deal”. However, at this point I don’t think any deal will get through Parliament — partly due to that Remain majority in the Commons of around 300. What did get through Parliament, however, was Article 50. Article 50 clearly stated that we would be leaving the European Union on 29th March 2019, two years after it was triggered — irrespective of whether we got a deal or not. Therefore, the United Kingdom should have left the EU on 29th March. But we didn’t.
The Conservative Party has let me down. I have been a loyal member since I was sixteen, spending many an evening canvassing for my local elections. Theresa May promised she would deliver on Brexit; however, allowing “No Deal” to be taken off the table, any chance of a respectable deal was gone. There seems to be no room for negotiation left. Why on earth would the EU budge on anything once they knew Parliament would not accept No Deal? Regrettably, it has come to the point where it seems to be a choice between Remaining or Leaving with No Deal – and the latter is definitely the better option.
This betrayal has led me to make the drastic decision to vote against my own party at the European election. I will be voting for the Brexit Party. I encourage other Conservative Party members, Labour Party members, people who were on the Remain side of the argument and indeed anyone else who truly believes in democracy to do the same. If the Brexit Party succeed in these elections, the likes of Change UK will be left with no line of argument — after all the only thing they seem to determined to change is the result of the referendum!
Wake up parliamentarians! The British people are strong and resolute. I urge you to join me in voting for the Brexit Party on 29th March. Democracy must prevail.
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The pre-emptive strike by Keir Starmer insisting that a confirmatory public vote must be part of any deal with the Government stems from deep-seated weakness rather than strength; it is a sure sign of panic on the part of those intent on reversing the vote to leave the EU.
His claim that up to 150 Labour MPs would refuse to vote for a deal, any deal, if it doesn’t include a confirmatory vote is as unfounded as Tom Watson’s proclaiming that the Labour’s EU election manifesto will commit to a people’s vote. Both are attempts to bounce Labour into a Brexit policy contrary to that agreed at the last Labour Party Conference; Starmer’s attempt will no doubt meet the same fate as Watson’s.
It is worth reminding those who are thinking of flirting with Starmer’s latest depiction of what Labour’s Brexit policy is of what Labour’s conference resolution actually said. The relevant part states:
Should Parliament vote down a Tory Brexit deal or the talks end in no-deal, Conference believes this would constitute a loss of confidence in the Government. In these circumstances, the best outcome for the country is an immediate General Election that can sweep the Tories from power. If we cannot get a general election Labour must support all options remaining on the table, including campaigning for a public vote.
It is axiomatic therefore, that if there was an agreement between the Government and Labour on a deal to put to Parliament, then that deal would not be a ‘Tory Brexit deal’ and therefore the option of a public vote would not arise. This explains Starmer’s procrastination throughout the talks, complaining of red lines and the failure of the Government to compromise without a single hint of what Labour is prepared to compromise on in return.
Originally, Labour’s policy of a customs union was regarded as the lever to scupper the talks between the Government and the Opposition. While the Government is right to reject membership of the EU’s own customs union, forming a customs union is an entirely different creature. Remaining in the customs union would tie the UK to the EU’s trade policies without any meaningful say in the formulation of these policies. A customs union, on the other hand, is a trade and tariff arrangement between two sovereign bodies, the United Kingdom and the European Union – an arrangement between equals. Neither side can impose its policies on the other; neither side is predominant.
In a customs union, decisions on trade are mutually agreed. There is as much likelihood of the EU imposing its preferred policies on Britain as the UK imposing its preferred policies on the EU. And there is no such thing as a permanent customs union; all customs unions are temporary and once one side finds its interests are undermined by its participation in a customs union, it can and does have the right to withdraw from it.
Having failed to make the issue of a customs union a sticking point in negotiations – after all, some sort of customs arrangement is implicit in the Withdrawal Agreement and the agreed political declaration – Starmer and the hard-wired Remainers in the Shadow Cabinet, in a last desperate attempt to halt Brexit, invented a non-existing condition for an agreement, a confirmatory vote.
Irrespective of the pessimism from Starmer and his Remainer colleagues about the chances of a deal with the Tory Government – a pessimism quickly picked up by a media eager to inflate differences and heighten the political tension – the talks are heading towards a positive outcome.
Following a face-to-face meeting between the two party leaders with only their respective Chief Whips present, a Labour spokesperson explained that Corbyn ‘set out the Shadow Cabinet’s concerns about the Prime Minister’s ability to deliver on any compromise agreement’. There was no mention of a customs union, let alone a confirmatory vote. A text has obviously been agreed, the only concern is delivery – especially since Theresa May would not be there to oversee it. But Labour cannot afford to be too purist about this.
There is pressure on both party leaders to abandon the talks on the grounds that they will taint their respective image in the eyes of the electorate, as if the public is too stupid to understand the necessity for an agreement if Brexit is to be delivered. Once a deal is done, normal hostilities will resume on domestic and international issues. Warnings from both Labour and Conservative MPs of splits are self-serving and highly exaggerated. MPs should be more concerned about the rupture with the electorate than ruptures within their own parties if Parliament fails to deliver on the result of the EU referendum.
As we approach the circus that is the EU elections, it falls for the two party leaders, Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, to shift the talks forward towards an agreed Brexit deal. The public demands it. History would not look kindly at either if they fail.
The post The public expect May and Corbyn to strike a deal that delivers Brexit appeared first on BrexitCentral.
After a quarter of a century of continuous membership and service to the Labour Party, my decision to resign from it has not been easy. Unlike the high-profile resignations of stalwarts like Sir Tony Robinson (aka Baldrick in Blackadder), I’m a relative unknown. I’m just one of those many foot soldiers who has, until now, stuck with the party through thick and thin. But not anymore.
The party’s inability to tackle anti-Semitism and its ongoing dissembling and duplicitousness over Brexit has made it an intolerable place to be. This feels like a stark conclusion to reach about a party that has been my political home since I left school and foster care in the late 1980s.
When first joining, I met some real mentors and like-minded people who believed in Britain; ordinary everyday patriotic people who believed our country could and would be better with Labour. I campaigned for the party in my local working-class community of Nuneaton, where I grew up. And as a student at university, where I ran the Labour Club. Slogging away for the party whatever the physical and political weather had become almost hardwired into my DNA.
After Tony Blair’s landslide victory in 1997, it was a real privilege to be appointed as the national policy officer responsible for education and employment policy, working at the heart of the party’s campaign HQ in London. In government, I was able to work closely with Labour ministers, albeit as a junior staffer, on shaping the New Deal for young people; the introduction of the first ever national minimum wage; and improving skills training at all levels in our society, including the renaissance in apprenticeships. The values that drove these reforms have helped shape my professional life outside of politics where I have dedicated my whole career to improving post-compulsory education and training opportunities for people in this country and overseas.
Until the recent May local elections, I served as a Labour councillor in Brighton and Hove, including a challenging period as the lead member for children’s and social services. This role coincided with the election of Jeremy Corbyn and the transformation of the membership, driven by the leftist policies of Momentum.
In June 2016, I chaired the official Vote Leave campaign in Brighton and Hove and I’ve written for BrexitCentral previously about how this was really a democratic revolution for our country. It was the largest democratic decision in our history. The 52-48 split in the vote belies the fact that in the majority of our market towns, rural, coastal and working-class communities, often more than two-thirds of the electorate voted to end our membership of the European Union.
Two thirds of Labour’s representation in the House of Commons comes from Leave-voting seats. Yet the party’s treatment of these voters by the majority of Remain-supporting Labour MPs and MEPs has been despicable. They have been called thick, ignorant and racist. Leavers are patronised as people that “did not know what they voted for”. The majority of Labour’s MEP candidates in these futile upcoming European elections have actively goaded, on social media, five million Labour Leave voters – telling them that the party is no longer for them. Jeremy Corbyn and senior spokespeople, when asked by journalists whether Labour is a Brexit party or a Remain party, regularly contradict one another. As the socialist hero Nye Bevan once said: “We know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road. They get run down.”
And therein lies the result of the unfolding betrayal of Brexit that the “constructive ambiguity” policy, pioneered by Keir Starmer. Remain zealots in the party will simply not rest until Article 50 is revoked. Leavers in the party, meanwhile, come under pressure to compromise on a Brexit-in-name-only approach as Starmer plots to anchor the UK permanently within the orbit of future EU-made laws. You only have to look at the party’s incoherent commitment to a permanent customs union with the EU, to see it has no interest in the United Kingdom becoming an independent self-governing nation again.
Rather, the party of Keir Hardie and Clement Attlee now seems content to allow unelected bureaucrats in Brussels to make our future trade policy — setting tariffs, taxes and regulations for whole swathes of the British economy — without any real say in how these rules are made. Labour is living in cloud-cuckoo land to think that the EU would grant a non-member state a seat around the table when negotiating future trade deals. In fact, what is most likely to happen is that large swathes of our public sector, like the NHS, would be open to privatisation, while German manufacturing and French agriculture would continue to sit behind a protectionist tariff wall.
At one point, I was sympathetic to Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson’s attempts at a compromise, by pegging the passage of any deal in Parliament to a so-called “confirmatory referendum”. The problem with this approach in practice, however, is that if it were to come to pass, there could be little faith in the Establishment or the Electoral Commission to allow that the choice of a clean WTO Brexit to even be on the ballot paper. Instead, the choice would likely be between Theresa May’s terrible withdrawal deal and remaining in the EU. This is the real agenda of the People’s Vote campaign. It is not to compromise over Brexit, but to nullify the 2016 referendum result by rigging a future contest.
The recent local election results and the loss of Labour councils and councillors in the Midlands and our Northern heartlands demonstrates that the party is continuing to allow itself to be defined and run by the interests of metropolitan London elites; socialist conspiracy theorists; and by a predominantly student, retired and public-sector profile of membership that resides mainly in our big university towns and cities.
No wonder the Brexit Party is now surging in the polls. People have really woken up to the fact that following the 2017 manifestos of both the major political parties, they were lied to. Both Conservative and Labour leaderships said they would respect the referendum result and take the country out of the institutions of the EU on 29th March 2019. As a result, Nigel Farage’s previous insurgent party, UKIP, was all but wiped out.
As the next set of elections approaches, there is so much more to fight for than Brexit. We have reached a point in this unfolding national crisis where the whole question of whether we actually live in a democracy is now at stake. In 1991, the late Labour legend, Tony Benn, said:
“Some people genuinely believe that we shall never get social justice from the British Government, but we shall get it from Jacques Delors; they believe that a good king is better than a bad Parliament.”
The salient point about where the country finds itself is that we have a ruling political class that lacks any real confidence in taking back control of our laws, borders, money and trade. That is, after all, fundamentally what the Brexit vote was all about. Instead, we appear to have some MPs and fellow travellers who are content to be merely supplicants of Brussels: a bad Parliament subservient to an even worse king.
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