EU Matters‎ > ‎

More thoughts on writing to your MP

posted 15 Mar 2019, 05:00 by European Movement Hampshire   [ updated 15 Mar 2019, 06:00 ]

 In my view, this should never have been put to a referendum in the first place. Such a vague question could not possibly have given the government a clear strategy for the immensely complicated matter of rearranging our engagement with the EU.

 I think it is fair for me to say that your position closely follows that of the Prime Minister, which is that

  • ·         All 17.4mn people who voted Leave wanted, and continue to want, a hard Brexit with no freedom of movement, no membership of the Single Market or the Customs Union, both things that seemed quite possible to retain during the campaigns, and were in no way certain consequences of the vote in June 2016.
  • ·         That the views of the electorate have not changed at all in nearly 3 years since the referendum, despite polls showing the reverse to be true, particularly in the light of the broken promises and fantasies sold to the public by the Leave campaigns that neither you nor the PM were part of. The failure to deliver on any substantive trade deals, while the EU has concluded others including Japan reinforce the argument against Leaving. We were promised it would be easy. We are weaker in isolation.
  • ·         That the views of 2mn young voters who have joined the electorate since 2016, who to a high degree want to remain in the EU are not relevant. They are the ones who will pay the highest price for a Brexit they don’t want.
  • ·         That eventually MPs can be bullied into supporting a deal that has broken all records for Parliamentary defeats, for a broad spectrum of reasons if it is put to them often enough. I await with interest the ruling of The Speaker on that.
  • ·         That you were elected on a manifesto pledge to implement the result of the referendum, but you achieved that with a minority of votes cast, and had to make large cash pledges to a small party that does not represent the majority view of their Province to get you anywhere near the position to do so, who have in turn pushed for a more extreme Brexit out of all proportion to their political mandate.

 Views which are suggested by the PM’s strategy, which may not be yours, are

  • ·         That the views and wishes of the DUP and the ERG are paramount and strategy is completely driven by them and their tax avoiding friends, including the owners of the right wing tabloids who clearly want to escape the Tax Avoidance Directive.
  • ·         That the views of the 16.1mn people who voted to Remain are of no consequence and can be disregarded. They certainly have not been reflected in the Prime Minister’s approach at all. Her pleas for the country to come together behind her extreme view of Brexit are actually quite offensive.
  • ·       That public faith in democracy will be destroyed if the government does not deliver on the government’s questionable interpretation of a deeply flawed referendum fails to recognise the division caused by rejecting completely the views of 16mn+ Remain voters, and others who have since swelled their numbers. You must be aware that the millions who are being ignored and are having their rights and freedoms denied in this way have very much lost faith in democracy?

 I vehemently believe that the Prime Minister’s deal is wrong for Britain. It may be the only one that she can get from the EU, but that is because of all her red lines. As an aside, I don’t think Labour would fare any better as they want all the benefits without freedom of movement, which the EU will not buy either. I do not consent to having my rights as an EU citizen stripped from me and millions like me.

 The governments’ own figures show that every Brexit scenario makes us poorer. But this was branded as Project Fear. Do you really think the majority of voters wanted to make us poorer, or that public opinion has not moved on in three years, in the face of the reality of options now before us?

 We need freedom of movement. We have an aging population and we need carers for them and workers to contribute to our economy. The EU shortfall so far has simply been made up by non EU migrants, but the government’s proposals on minimum wage levels for migrants rule out nurses, for example.

 In an increasingly unstable world we need to be at very top table for international collaboration, not excluding ourselves from the world’s largest economic group. We used to lead in Europe, and we should continue to do so.

 The DWA is of course nowhere near the end of delivering Brexit, as the negotiations regarding the future relationship have not even begun and will take years. Even I hadn’t expected the ineptitude of Davis, Fox and co. We haven’t even started talking about Gibraltar. The Mail and Express readers will have fun with that!

 The pressing of charges over the Bloody Sunday massacre and recent bombs remind us all of the Peace the EU has guaranteed in Ireland, that we play politics with at our peril. Staying in the EU takes care of that.

 If MPs can vote more than once, and still not reach a decision, then it has to go back to the electorate, who may well have changed their minds, having seen the reality of what Leaving means to jobs, to Society and to the NHS amongst many more. We even had a GE in 2017 that we didn’t need, because the PM didn’t like the result of the previous one. The People need a Final Say

 The objection in Parliament to giving voters a Final Say appears to be down to a lack of support amongst MPs, but polls repeatedly show that it is favoured by the majority of the public. Making it a Final Say, on the options which are now well known does not entail a series of Neverendums; it is just that, a Final Say.

 And if the people decide that Brexit is not what the majority want after all, then that is the promptest way to end the tragic fiasco that Brexit has brought on us, and we can start to tackle the ills of inequality and austerity, which are the real cause of the discontent that produced the Leave vote.

 To the government’s current dilemmas, I’m afraid I can suggest nothing. It is an attempt to fix the wrong problem in the wrong way. It is all of the government’s making and it is fundamentally wrong for the country. If the PM does manage to bludgeon her dreadful deal through, we will be paying the price for decades. It needs to stop, and the people can deliver that. And if you can’t? Wednesday's vote suggests that it is beholden on the government to revoke Article 50 if they cannot get their deal through. I cannot see why the EU would agree to extending Article 50 for the PM to continue flogging the same dead horse. The one sensible lifeline would be for a much longer extension that would allow time to consult with the electorate, to ensure that it is the wishes of the people, and not the ERG that are determining the future of our country.

The fight for Brexit is the last war. It was the last gasp of an ageing population, many of whom had been cynically manipulated by a right wing press to believe a litany of gross untruths about what the EU is and its importance to our future. It is very clear from all analysis of voting demographics that it was overwhelmingly the older demographic that voted Leave, while the middle and lower age groups, the future of this country, voted to Remain, as indeed did you, no doubt with the interests of your young family as well as the country at heart. Nearly half the votes cast were for Remain, but the PM’s ‘deal’ disenfranchises them completely. I more or less qualify for the older demographic, as part of a significant minority. The fight has moved on, and it is about Britain’s future, not the past which clearly motivated a lot of older Leave voters, trotting out old and debunked arguments.

 As to the 2016 referendum, it was a very complex issue, reduced to a single question which could not possibly do justice to the diversity of issues, beliefs and wishes. While Leave voters had a broad range of views about a future outside the EU, Remain voters broadly agreed on a status quo. On the most important constitutional decision for decades, it did not have adequate safeguards for its validity built in, such as requiring a minimum threshold of the eligible electorate to vote for a change. It was also legally non-binding, but has been prosecuted as though it was. That left significant numbers free to vote Leave in the belief that it wouldn’t happen but they could metaphorically give Cameron or the government a bloody nose.

 Finally, there is the unresolved question of the blatant breaches of electoral law involved by the Leave campaign, the blatant misrepresentation in the Leave campaigns, and the unresolved question of the source of Arron Banks’s millions, both currently going through our courts. It was therefore deeply flawed.

 Nor was an adequate case made for Remain, either by Mr Cameron’s government, nor the Opposition, where the leadership was decidedly non-committal. It therefore left the result wide open for interpretation by Mrs May, who chose to pursues her anti-immigration theme which she had employed to so little effect at the Home Office.

 It is in the nature of our democracy that we leave the old battles behind. We have fresh elections and voters get to change their minds.

 A Final Say would be an entirely different proposition. The options would be much more clearly defined, there would be much more careful scrutiny over funding, and it could be legislated as binding on Parliament, should they so choose. The outcome would be clear and final. Critics taunt ‘best of three?’ but I have dealt with that. On the other hand, the PM appears intent on pursuing ‘Worst of Three’. Do you not see any contradiction or irony in Parliament being made to vote repeatedly on the same question, but the electorate being denied the opportunity to decide on clear choices ? It is certainly very clear that while nothing had materially changed between the first and second votes never mind the third in Parliament, the choice before the electorate has changed fundamentally. We now know what the options really are, and they are very different from what was presented in 2016.

The indicative vote on a second referendum on Thursday needs to be seen in the context of it not being supported at this point in time, either by the Opposition (who whipped MPs to abstain) or even the People’s Vote campaign. It was therefore completely trivial and meaningless on that day, as I am sure you are aware.

 It may be that a Final Say referendum would produce a vote for the PM’s deal over Remain. From the polls I think that is unlikely, and is a risk I am ready to run and campaign with. I could better live with a valid and safer vote to Leave, based on the facts before us, without the lies and fantasies of the Leave campaign, with closer scrutiny of foreign intervention and funding, made by the current electorate, than the deeply flawed and unclear result of 2016. It would be a clear and powerful exercise in democracy, compared to the unclear and unsafe exercise in 2016. I support that, because I believe in democracy; democracy as a process, not as an event rooted in the past. And it gets Parliament off the hook. 

 You might argue that in 2017 your government was returned on a manifesto to implement the referendum result. But barely so. You no longer had a majority in Parliament and had to rely for (paid) support on a minority regional party that could in no way be considered representative of the wishes of the people of the United Kingdom. Your government then had a weaker mandate to implement the referendum than to call it.

 The final point on democracy is that the electorate of 2019 is not the same as the electorate of 2016. Millions of young voters denied the opportunity to vote in 2016 have joined the electorate, and inevitably millions of the demographic that predominantly voted Leave have died. Pursuing the unsafe and unclear result of the 2016 referendum is yesterday’s battle. The people of 2019 deserve a say on the reality of today, not the fantasy of the past. The details have changed and so have the voters. And polls show a growing majority of voters want a Final Say, especially as Parliament is unable to decide.

The Prime Minister urge us to “come together”, but offers Remain supporters nothing but capitulation. That will not do.

 Every Conservative Prime Minister from Macmillan has supported and striven for our role in the EU. The Single Market was perhaps Mrs Thatcher’s greatest contribution. You may be familiar with her speech to Finchley Conservatives when she said “To enter into commercial obligations and treaties is an exercise of sovereignty, not a derogation from it.” Unfortunately, as the Conservative party’s fortunes have declined in Parliament, the voices of the extreme right have gained the upper hand, and seek to pursue their own ends rather than the tradition of “One Nation”. Somebody needs to take that back. Maybe you?