Tag Archives: eu

Just Say No…

Ben Johnson, Olympic sprinter, had to give his gold medal back. He had won by the narrowest of margins but had cheated. He had gained an unfair advantage and the result could not stand. 

Boris Johnson has recently celebrated the narrowest of victories. You can see where this is going already….

It is not just Boris. Gove, Hannan, Grayling, Duncan-Smith and the rest of the Leave campaign misled the public. From the moment the Leave campaign crested the tape at the finishing line they have let slip their vision of Brexit. Hannan has made it clear that immigration will not significantly be reduced. Duncan-Smith turned promises into visions of possibilities. 

Johnson made the position clear in his Telegraph column. It is worth quoting substantially from it:

“I cannot stress too much that Britain is part of Europe, and always will be. There will still be intense and intensifying European cooperation and partnership in a huge number of fields: the arts, the sciences, the universities, and on improving the environment. EU citizens living in this country will have their rights fully protected, and the same goes for British citizens living in the EU. 

British people will still be able to go and work in the EU; to live; to travel; to study; to buy homes and to settle down. As the German equivalent of the CBI – the BDI – has very sensibly reminded us, there will continue to be free trade, and access to the single market. Britain is and always will be a great European power, offering top-table opinions and giving leadership on everything from foreign policy to defence to counter-terrorism and intelligence-sharing – all the things we need to do together to make our world safer. 
The only change – and it will not come in any great rush – is that the UK will extricate itself from the EU’s extraordinary and opaque system of legislation: the vast and growing corpus of law enacted by a European Court of Justice from which there can be no appeal. This will bring not threats, but golden opportunities for this country – to pass laws and set taxes according to the needs of the UK. 
Yes, the Government will be able to take back democratic control of immigration policy, with a balanced and humane points-based system to suit the needs of business and industry. Yes, there will be a substantial sum of money which we will no longer send to Brussels, but which could be used on priorities such as the NHS. Yes, we will be able to do free trade deals with the growth economies of the world in a way that is currently forbidden. “

Putting together everything the Leave Campaign have said after the result shows that the campaign was based on lies. Their pledges/promises/possibilities could not represent their vision of the future for the UK after a withdrawal from the EU. 

Instead of “taking back the £350 million we send to the EU every week and spending it on the NHS” the pledge should have been “still sending money to the EU as the price for membership of the single market and probably getting little change out of £350 million pounds per week but if we do we might spend the bit we get back partially on the NHS. Maybe.”

The pledge “taking back control of our sovereignty, our laws being made by our sovereign parliament” just needed the caveat “apart form the EU regulations necessary for free trade, which are quite a lot.”

And the big one, the taking back control of our borders. The end to freedom of movement. But look at what Boris says above. He is talking about freedom of labour movement and pledges we will still be able to live, work and settle down in the EU. So we are taking back control of our borders, save for what we have to agree to to allow you to have freedoms which will probably mean agreeing the same rights for our trading partners. So they can come here to live, work and settle down….

Far from being free of the EU, Boris, Dan, Michael, Iain and Chris intend to pay money to the EU, be subject to EU regulations that relate us to trade and allow significant freedom of movement. 

What they have done is taken back control of reality. Their campaign was turbo-charged by the steroid of deceit. The reality has all the honour and pride of a failed urine test. 

Am I just a whinging Remainer wanting another Referendum? No. 

The Remain campaign were guilty of equally galling hyperbole. This was a two horse race where everyone was cheating to one extent or another. The sort of race where you just nullify the result, award no medals and ban the participants. 

I do not ask for a second Referendum. Had the Leave campaign been more honest about their vision, my choice at the ballot box would have been more difficult. I can perhaps live with their vision of the future, if it is allied with the protection of fundamental rights currently only protected by EU regulation. 

I may have decided that the economic impact was not worth the tinkering that that grand Brexit plan actually represents. I may have taken the view that incredibly complex process of extricating ourselves from the EU and then grafting ourselves back on to it is a waste of time and resources. Look at Boris’s words; “the only change”. Independence Day became As You Were Day. 

I am pretty certain that there were more Leavers disappointed by Boris’s vision of post Brexit life. I would not be surprised if one or two of them exclaimed “is he on drugs?”. Only the drug of PR and the lure of easy, populist policies. 

I bet I don’t feel half as cheated as the Leavers do….

I Remain

Remainers are terribly bad losers, so we are told. Repeatedly. 

I confess I hoped that, had the vote been to Remain, we would have seen the last of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson and they would have disappeared from public life. I never once, in even my wildest dreams, thought it would actually happen (those are not actually my wildest dreams but this is a family blog). In fact a tiny piece of me would have been a bit disappointed had Farage packed it in. That is hardly a hallmark of commitment to the cause.

It would not have been an affront to democracy for UKIP to carry on; to carry on campaigning for what they believe in, for a withdrawal from the EU and for controls on immigration. This would not be to ignore the Referendum, it would not be the antithesis of democracy. In fact it would have promoted democracy. Opposition to the majority view, opposition to Government policy is vital to keep the public informed and to keep the policiticans honest (reasonably so). 

As time moved on I would not expect every change made by the EU to have been meekly accepted. I would expect to see and hear Eurosceptics be true to their beliefs and point out the failings of the EU at every opportunity. 

So why do Remainers have to be good little boys and girls? Victorian boys and girls at that, seen but not heard. Repeatedly I see and hear Remainers, who are only expressing reasonable views, being told to shut up. Many seem to be of the view that the Referendum was the definitive and last word on the subject. It very much is not. 

I am not calling for or suggesting a second referendum. The course of action that the referendum set is the course that the country should follow but there is a long road to travel. Despite the headlines, we remain members of the EU. We have not given notice to quit and we have not begun to address the legislation withdrawal requires. Remainers are entitled to have and express a view about the nature of our changed relationship with the EU. Being on the losing side is not a gagging order. Inevitably that view is going to include a repetition of arguments tendered in advance of the referendum. The answer is not “you’ve said that once and lost”. The debate still continues. 

So, I believe access to the single market is vital. I said so prior to the referendum and continue to say so now. Boris Johnson seems to agree with me. Someone with a contrary view is entitled to express that view, but not to try to shut down my view because I was one of the 48% and not the 52%. 

We also need to recognise that the referendum is not law. It is advisory. I stress, it should be followed by the Government. I am afraid it has not locked us into that course of action. This process will take time. There will be many a bump in the road. Circumstances may change, particularly economic factors. 

As a Remainer I will make my case for what should happen. I will continue to make my case for the benefits of the EU. I will do so to persuade others who may have a different view. Where appropriate I will point out the lies that were told to mislead people into voting one way or the other. I will argue for why what is happening is wrong. 

The first step towards unity is not shouting people down, it is listening, engaging and debating. That is the conversation that the nation needs to have. And a conversation has to have more than one voice. 

Boats, Votes and Quotes

I think I have fallen down a rabbit hole, popped through the back of a wardrobe and been carried from Kansas on a hurricane. I do not know whether I am in Wonderland, Narnia or Oz but I do not recognise the landscape surrounding me any more. 

I do not know what my brave new world is going to be called. I don’t know whether it will be Remania or Leaveland. I have no idea who will be Prime Minister next week, next month, next year. Dave? Boris? Nigel?!?

But things have already changed, even before the vote. And it’s all got a little bit weird. 

Yesterday, to a predictable soundtrack of Rule Britannia, the Vote Leave campaign took to the Thames to add an aquatic element to the debate. This flotilla was met by a boat from the Remain side, with Bob Geldof on board, firing broadsides of taunts and hand gestures at Nigel Farage. 

None of this was particularly edifying. None of it moved the debate on one bit. It was the physical manifestation of how ridiculous and polarised this debate has become. The competing stunts achieved nothing in educating and assisting the electorate.

It did bring home to me how strange things have got. Nigel Farage had this to say “we (that is UKIP) used to be a party of protest against the Establishment, now the Establishment come to protest against us.”

I just had to give my head a shake again. So that is Nigel Farage, ex-stockbroker, public school educated, MEP, describing himself as anti-Establishment and complaining that the Establishment had been represented in their protest against him by Bob Geldof, an ex-punk rocker. 

Even in Wonderland, the Establishment did not sing “I don’t like Mondays”.

Just to make sure we were thoroughly confused, some of the Ukipper/Brexiteer contingent responded to Bob Geldof with taunts suggesting he needed a bath. So he is both the Great Unwashed and the Establishment. 

That Farage is the personification of the anti-Establishment and Geldof is the Establishment is remarkable. Next you will be telling me that Michael Gove thinks that decision impacting on the economy should not be based on expert knowledge, Boris Johnson wants to spend every penny he can on the NHS and that Iain Duncan-Smith has shed a tear or two over those in receipt of benefits. 

What’s that you say? No….surely not….

A Tweet of Contempt

When the analysts sit down to work out the secret behind the so-called rise of UKIP or the reason why turnouts at elections continue to tumble they need to look no further than Chris Skidmore MP for their answer.

Now it may be that Chris Skidmore, MP for Kingswood since 2010, is a splendid constituency MP and all round good egg. It is not really Mr Skidmore that is the problem it is the Tweet that he, or someone on his behalf, posted last night.


If you cannot make out what it says, he Tweeted “South Glos Euro results – Lab pushed into distant 3rd: Con 20,043, UKIP 24847, Lab 11827, LD 8162, G 5811”.

This is an example of exactly the sort of cheap political point scoring that is turning off the entire nation from taking part in the democratic process. It is also the sort of transparent spin that causes every one of us to mistrust our political figures.

This Tweet, however, goes to the heart of the problem in just 140 characters. Mr Skidmore sought to deflect attention away from the Conservative Party’s defeat by focussing on Labour’s position. As I say, a bit of a cheap political point. A cheap political point clothed in contempt for the electorate.

We can all see that the Conservatives came second. We do not notice that any less because Labour also lost. The fact is that UKIP won. However look at the little things the Tweet contains. The Conservative tally is the only one that contains a comma. The number just looks a little bigger that way. It may be a mistake, it may be the result of the limit of characters on Twitter but a remarkable coincidence that it only appears in the number of votes cast for his party.

And then there is the order of the parties. You will note that Labour is listed third, their position in the election. The Lib Dems and Greens are correctly in fourth and fifth place. It is only the Conservatives and UKIP that have been transposed. UKIP won, yet appear in second place (with their comma-free number). The results are not listed in correct numerical order or alphabetical order. Just in an order that may lead the casual observer to think the Tories won.

This is political spin that says “the voter is so stupid they may just fall for this”. It is not just deflection, it is a cheap shot at deception. A deception that is predicated on the basis that we, the humble proletariat, cannot count, cannot read and cannot think.

This Tweet says everything which is rendering the nation more likely to vote for a dancing dog or the new lead in an Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical than we are to vote for those who will make the big decisions. It is the 140 character representation of every politician who answers for their own failings by pointing out the failings of their opponents. It is every bent statistic traipsed out by a Minister to justify another cut.

We are sick of it. Sick of the meaningless utterances. Sick of the point scoring. Sick of the avoidance of responsibility. Sick of the falsehoods. Sick of being treated with such utter contempt.

I would never vote for a politician who so clearly thinks the citizens that they wish to represent are stupid enough to fall for such cheap tricks. Sadly no politician recognises this. Not Tory, Lib Dem, Labour or UKIP. From ministers making profit from policy, to broken promises to cling to power, to members of the opposition failing to oppose, to casual racism excused by exhaustion the political class believe they can act with impunity because we will not notice.

Well, we notice alright. That is why less than 40% of us turned out to pop an X in a box. It is so often said that people fought to give me and you the right to vote. Those same people fought so we would have leaders better than this. If Milliband, Cameron and Clegg want to know what they have to do to fight off Farage all they have to do is stop treating us like idiots and start earning our vote.

Perhaps we can just start with Mr Skidmore. And a Tweet that says “we lost, we will try to do better by you.”