There’s No Business Like Brexit Business

Since my previous blog, then there has been a period of calm or, if you prefer, a period in which Brexit matters were briefly absent from the headlines whilst the various opposing factions got down to some serious plotting.

The peace process – Chequers style

Mrs May, presumably hoping to get her retaliation in first, convened an all-day cabinet gathering at Chequers on July 6.

Her objectives in calling the meeting were reported as being:

  • To spell out her plans for Brexit to her cabinet colleagues.
  • To bounce her cabinet into accepting her plans by the time-honoured tactic of giving them very barely enough time to read the plans, much less the time required to grasp their implications and consequences. This latter objective was said to apply especially to the perceived usual suspects.

The arrangements for the Chequers meeting appeared to your aged blogger to be based on the away days much beloved by bullshitters masquerading as managers with all the apparatus normally associated with such fraudulent gatherings.

It would appear from the copious leaks that emanated from the proceedings that great pressure was applied throughout to spell out the serious consequences of failing to unite behind her banner. Of these the most horrifying was that “Corbyn will get you,” a warning sufficiently terrifying as to subdue all but the most determined of her critics.

Those emerging from the day-long ordeal indicated that the outcome was that a united cabinet was now united behind a sound plan and that the next step was to present the said plans to our enemies in Brussels and, then – just like that – dictate the terms of a final agreeable Brexit.

The Sunday papers were full of praise for the latter day Thatcher – she had routed her internal fifth column critics and she was now about the to apply the same treatment to the pesky nuisances in Brussels (‘Iron Lady May has crushed the egos and the weasels’, trumpeted Dan Hodges in the Mail on Sunday). All downhill from now on.

Well – up to a point, Mrs May.

I awoke on the morning of Monday, July 9 to learn that Mr David Davis had resigned sometime around midnight. Good to see that our politicians are busy even at that unlikely hour.

This development had not been on the hymn sheet that the crowd of spokespersons clustered in No 10 were consulting, and there was confusion as the May team sought to minimise the problems arising from the departure of Mr Davis. To aggravate matters further Mr Davis made it clear in an interview on the following morning with John Humphreys that he had no intention of going quietly, by mounting a spirited and rational and plausible defence of his resignation on the Today programme.

So much for the overture.

As the day wore on, rumours began to circulate that BoJo had taken the day off – rather in the manner of his long trip to Afghanistan to avoid the Heathrow debate.

It emerged early in the afternoon that BoJo too had resigned and had poured petrol on the fire by noting in his tear stained resignation letter, a doleful despairing document etched in bitter tears, his grief at the betrayal of his beloved Brexit dream.

This development did indeed fox me – sorry about the pun, Liam – because I had always understood that the one consistent political principle pursued at all times by Boris was to advance the political career of Boris. It just shows how wrong you can be.

It has to be said that the timing of the BoJo resignation letter was masterly, because Mrs May was occupied and preoccupied with the formidable task of preparing to defend her Brexit plans to a House of Commons that was not wholly persuaded of her case and her cause. BoJo evidently holds firmly to the principle that you wait until your opponent is down before you kick them – nice work, BoJo.

The press coverage the following day broadly reflected the predilictions of the organs in question. True to form, Richard Littlejohn’s Daily Mail column urged the resignation of Mother Theresa (“She has repeatedly misled the British people and forfeited the trust of being our Prime minister”). Conversely, a Times leader opined that “The foreign secretary’s resignation is neither unexpected nor unwelcome. He has been a disruptive cabinet member and Mrs May has greater authority without him”. Meanwhile, in the same newspaper, Rachel Sylvester’s column argued that “The fantasies promoted by Leavers have led us to the cold reality of a government in chaos and a PM no one dares to kill”: not exactly a ringing endorsement of Mrs May.

Brexit – What next?

Sadly, much of the Brexit debate will continue to focus on the survival prospects of Mrs May in No 10, rather than on the most important issue to arise in the politics of the UK since 1945: namely, how can the absurd Brexit fiasco be jettisoned to enable the UK to reverse the outcome of the 2016 referendum and return to the comparatively sound and sensible political, economic and social arrangements developed over tens of decades throughout the EU?

We Remainers note with glee (and BoJo notes with gloom) that the Brexit dream (for dream read nightmare) is dying.

What political actions will kill it off?

Holdenforth suggests that a combination of the following developments should do the trick.

1. Mrs May to be forced out of No 10 by either losing a vote of confidence in the Commons or by a successful leadership challenge. Holdenforth can assert with confidence that Mrs May will not opt to follow the action of Neville Chamberlain in May 1940 and go voluntarily – it will have to be the old heave-ho.

2. The ensuing general election will be in effect a re-run of the referendum in all but name.

3. The outcome will be that there will be a majority in favour of the Remain cause as the voters belatedly grasp how they were conned the first time round.

4. No need at that point for any delay – just a brief note from HMG to the senior management of the EU to apologise for any little local problems triggered by Brexit – a spot of meiosis would be appropriate here, our application to invoke article 50 to be withdrawn and that as from now – its back to business as usual between a penitent UK and the EU.

It should also be observed that the great majority of the current crop of MPs understand only too well that Brexit was and is a huge national error but, as is the way with MPs, timidity, and looking after Number 1, take precedence over the national interest. In the Brexel 2 campaign, the Remainers should stop making obeisance to the sacred result of June 2016 and bellow out that the voters were conned by the insidious combination of the stupidity of David Cameron, the mendacity of Mr Farage and the astounding duplicity of BoJo.

Their campaign slogan should be “Goodbye Brexit: Hello, Bremain!”

The realistic possibilities continue to be as follows.

1. The likelihood of an attempt to dislodge Mrs May via a successful leadership is gathering support mainly because of the increasing exasperation among Tory MPs about her perceived hopeless political performance.

2. The other and rather more plausible possibility is that the resolute Tory Remainers – the dirty dozen according to Paul Dacre – would prefer to see Mrs May lose a vote of confidence, thus triggering a general election under her leadership.

Holdenforth is as confused as you are as to what the outcome will be.

What we do hope for and will use our limited resources to demand is the latter option, that of a general election.

Were that to happen a whole new game would come into play.

Why so?

An election called in these circumstances, clearly a second Brexit referendum in all but name, would see a significant re-alignment of the parties and crucially, the re-entry into the fray or rather into the political vacuum that is now so prominent a feature of the UK political scene, of former senior politicians: Tony Blair, Nick Clegg, Gordon Brown, John Major, George Osborne and the Miliband brothers,

Holdenforth says – Bring it on!

In this election (let us refer to it as Brexel 2) the only issue would be: does Brexit go ahead or not.?

Failing this, we would hope that Theresa May will write to Donald Tusk requesting that we return to the status quo of the UK remaining within the EU, and apologizing profusely for any inconvenience cause over the past 2 years.


Brexit: The Show Must Go On (and On, and On)

The latest episode of the Brexit saga which ended on June 20th, centred mainly on the Tory Parliamentary Party with Labour MPs in the roles of spectators, gazing at the confusing proceedings with a mixture of bewilderment and torpor.

The setting was the House of Commons and the Leavers in the Parliamentary Tory party had gathered in strength to seek to reverse the attempts of the House of Lords to put a series of spokes in the Brexit wheel.

The threat to Mrs May came from the dozen or so declared Tory Remainers in parliament, and, lest anyone might be any doubt as to their identity, the Daily Mail published a rogues gallery of the dissenters.  

In the event, the Lords’ amendments were reversed, although not without the deployment of a good deal of traditional carrot and stick tactics by the Tory whips. The stick was just that – follow the party else or else. The carrots consisted of a series of understandings arrived at between Mrs May and the dissidents. Sadly, as I write, there appears to be some misunderstanding as to the precise nature of the understandings.

A week or so ago there had been a not especially adept rebellion by Mr Ian Blackford, the leader of the SNP in Westminster, and his colleagues. So transparently simulated was the Scottish indignation that the sympathy of most of the neutrals was with the speaker, Mr Bercow, not normally the most popular figure in and around the Commons.

The parliamentary members of the Labour party awoke from their collective slumbers to produce an internal row of their own, although its origins and substance were so obscure as to baffle the neutrals.

Anything else to report before Holdenforth gets down to looking at the “What happens next?” prospects for Brexit?

Well yes – one or two minor matters to report.

In no special order of importance:

* The G7 conference convened to discuss the various trade problems triggered by the unilateral imposition of massive tariffs by the USA on a range of products and the retaliatory tariffs imposed by the countries singled out for tariff treatment. This G7 conference, convened to repair broken fences, finished up as the G6 + 1 group, with the USA refusing to endorse the most modest of end of conference communiqués and the remaining 6 members issuing peevish denunciations of the disruptive Yanks. Holdenforth simply notes at this point that this development did little to advance the Brexit case to abandon the EU.

*The refusal of Mr Trump to sign the final G7 communiqué was swiftly followed by a dramatic meeting of those two giants of the global show business scene, Messrs Kim Jon Jung and Mr Trump. We, the great mystified British public, were advised that Mr Trump is happier in a one on one meeting where his well-honed deal making skills are easier to deploy than is the case where he is merely one of a larger group. The outcome of the Trump – Kim Jung Um summit was a communiqué every bit as devoid of content as the G7 / G6 gathering but with the significant difference that Mr T was writing the script.

* There was an unseemly disagreement between Italy and Malta about which of the 2 countries should accept a boat crammed with refugees from sub Saharan Africa. The matter was resolved when Spain agreed to accept the migrants, but clearly Europe will come under pressure to accept refugees as long as the conditions which trigger the exodus from their respective countries persist – a major headache for the EU

Back to Brexit  — What happens next?

Sadly the Brexit debate has tended to focus rather too much on the survival prospects of Mrs May in No 10 and rather less on what will be the situation when the various boisterous Brexit debates within the Tory party and between the various Westminster parties have ended and the dust has settled.

Crucially the key discussions – hereinafter referred to as negotiations – between the UK Brexit team and its counterparts from the EU are continuing and the reports emerging from these negotiations hint that the EU team sees the position of HMG growing steadily weaker.

An Iain Martin article in The Times on June 21 stated that, “The Commission’s bad faith behaviour has become so appalling that even some Remainers have now woken up woken up to the implications” and concluded, “A the fog of negotiations clears and it becomes obvious that the country is being stuffed, will feelings boil over into some sort of revolt”?

Holdenforth does not go along with this absurd view. Holdenforth has consistently argued that the deplorable state affairs triggered by the Brexit affair was and is the product of an appalling initial misjudgement by David Cameron to hold a referendum, the predictable jump by Boris Johnson onto what he saw as an opportunity to advance his political prospects and the consistent but wholly misguided efforts of Mr Farage to undo the commendable vision of the EU project to replace bellicose nationalism with civilised cooperation.

Holdenforth believes that:

*The stuffing of the UK – and, yes, there has been a lot of stuffing – has been largely the malign work of Mr Cameron, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage.

*The sooner that the UK wakes up to the true nature and purpose of Brexit, and puts the Brexit engine into reverse and politely requests of the EU authorities that HMG accepts that Brexit has been a huge mistake and that the UK begs to revert to a Business as Usual basis, the better.

For its part, the EU sees this ill-assorted trio as putting a wholly illusionary national interest ahead of all other considerations and sensibly refuses to do anything to assist the venture.

In his regular Times column published the day before the Martin piece Lord Finkelstein discussed with his customary clarity the formidable problems facing Mrs May and her cabinet as they attempt to steer the good ship HMG between the competing hazards posed by the Scylla of the Brexiteers and the Charybdis of the Remainers, each with their alluring sirens.

If this were simply a dilemma facing the Tory party then we, the great uncommitted, could sit back and enjoy the show.

But sadly that is not the case.

Lord Finkelstein seemed to me in his column to be so anxious to be scrupulously fair, to list all the competing forces and assess their relative strengths in various permutations and combinations, that he lost himself in the sheer exuberant variety of possible outcomes.

His final paragraph expressed his dismay perfectly:

 “To leave the EU without a clear idea of our future trading relationship would be lamentable, but to leave without a withdrawal agreement would be catastrophic.”

Holdenforth can do better than this. To leave the EU would be lamentable and catastrophic, and any other apocalyptic adjectives that come to mind – – no need for the accompanying qualifications.

How long can the great survivor stagger on?

Francis Elliot, the Political Editor of the Times, recently argued that “The PM has walked a fine line between equally unhappy Brexiteers and Remainers but can’t put off judgement day for ever. “

Mr Elliot lost no time in pointing the finger at those he saw as being responsible for the current shambles – Mr Cameron and Mrs May.

He wrote amusingly about what the public enquiry that will in due course be set up to review how we got into this fiasco. The enquiry will work along the lines of the Chilcot enquiry into Iraq, it will drag on for years and will decide that all those responsible were acting from the best of motives – expect a report around 2030 by which date I for one will have kept an appointment with the Grim Reaper.

Sadly Mr Elliot was woefully vague when he looked at short term issues and possible solutions.

HF will step in where Mr Elliot feared to tread – our readers rightly demand rather more snap and sharpness from our perusal of our crystal ball – so here goes.

Let us assess the prospects between now and the end of the party conference season in early October.

The realistic possibilities continue to be as follows.

* The likelihood of an attempt to dislodge Mrs May via a successful leadership is gathering support mainly because of the increasing exasperation among Tory MPs about her perceived hopeless political performance.

The logic from this quarter  is that if say Boris Johnson were to emerge as our new PM that he would be well positioned to take on and defeat Mr Corbyn in the subsequent general election.

On this latter point pundits of all political tendencies and of none were said to have been shaken by the reported 7 point lead by the Tories in the polls. If Jezza can’t lead Labour into a poll lead now – then when can he?

*The other and rather more plausible possibility is that the resolute Tory Remainers – the dirty dozen according to Paul Dacre – would prefer to see Mrs May lose a vote of confidence thus triggering a general election under her leadership.

Holdenforth is as baffled as you are as to what the outcome will be.

What we do hope for and will use our limited resources to demand is the latter option, that of a general election.

Were that to happen a whole new game would come into play.

Why so?

An election called in these circumstances, clearly a second Brexit referendum in all but name, would see a significant re-alignment of the parties and crucially, the entry into the fray of former heavyweights, people like Tony Blair, George Soros, Nick Clegg, Andrew Adonis, Gordon Brown, George Osborne, the Miliband brothers and so on and so on.

Holdenforth says – Bring it on!

In this election (let us refer to it as Brexel 2) – the only issue would be: does Brexit go ahead or not.?

A word on the current balance of parliamentary power

The government of Mrs May is balanced precariously on a base built on quicksand and another shaky material the name of which escapes me.

No-one is more aware of this than Mrs May – after all her poor judgement in the summer of last year triggered Brexel One the outcome of which added significantly to the problems of the Tory government.

As I write the Conservative party consists of:

*A substantial number – but still a minority – of diehard Brexiteers. Let us refer to them as the Bill Cash Group.

* A dozen or so diehard Remainers. Let us refer to them as the Anna Soubry group. This doughty dozen are said to be prepared to risk the consequences of voting against their own party in order to keep alive the aim of reversing the leave outcome of the June 2016 referendum

* The silent majority of Tory members of Parliament who simply hope that the Brexit issue will go away – it isn’t going to. This group, with no ideological preferences either way, will be watching the polls, studying the media, and chatting amongst themselves. Their motives as regards stay or go will be determined by one simple consideration – what outcome is the most favourable for my career, with my mortgage to pay and the kiddies to feed – all significant factors.

Meanwhile, within the Labour Party, there is a similar spread of opinion as that which exists in the Tort party but without the intensity.

But as Lord Finkelstein has pointed out “The objective of the Labour leadership is only this – to bring down the government and defeat it in an election”

This factor, a second order factor, will make life difficult for Mr Corbyn and his colleagues as the media hawks come in for the kill.

We also have the Lib Dems – Dr  Cable and his tiny band. This group is committed to putting the outcome of the referendum to a test but lack the numbers to exercise much influence.

Sinn Fein – their long standing refusal that they owe any allegiance to the UK parliament rules them out of consideration.

DUP – the jokers in the parliamentary pack.

How about an injection of a spot of transparency – a favourite word these days – into the confusion?

The key Holdenforth assertion is that most MPs would, if the choice were available to them, vote to reverse the outcome of the June 2016 referendum.

* The Brexit victory in the June 2016 referendum was NOT a clear demand by the British to leave the EU, but rather the outcome of an appalling error of judgement by Mr Cameron in agreeing to the referendum in the first place compounded by the squalid opportunism of Boris the bounder and Farage the cad. By the way: what exactly is the difference between a bounder and a cad?

* The Brexiteers, led – or rather misled – by that blond bloated bladder of wind – BoJo – are now all too clear that their day has come –  and gone.

* It was reported that Lyndon Johnson said of one of his tiresome colleagues that it was difficult to decide if it was better to have him inside the tent pissing out or outside the tent pissing in.  BoJo has established a third category – he is inside the tent and pissing inside it – a practice that has not endeared him to his colleagues in the tent. The long suffering UK voters will have noted his inept performance as Foreign Secretary in the past 2 years.

* Mrs May’s switch of allegiance following the referendum merely added to the catalogue of disreputable political actions perpetrated by the Brexiteers.

* On an oh by the way basis – if Mrs May, who ought to have known what was going on, can change her mind, why can’t the rest of us: we, who were bemused by the tsunami of mendacity, respectfully request a second opinion.

So what happens next?

More than two thousand words down the line and I still have no idea. Trying to make sense out of the Brexit chaos can be compared to trying to extract excrement from a rocking horse.

But rest assured: Holdenforth will stay on the case to the end, an end which we hope will be happy rather than bitter.

I hear you ask – what is the policy of Holdenforth as regards Brexit?

We hope that matters will proceed as I suggested in my recent blog, “Brexit, Boris & Snappy Electioneering”: namely, that Mrs May will write to Donald Tusk requesting that we return to the status quo of the UK remaining within the EU, and apologizing profusely for any inconvenience cause over the past 2 years.

BrexEl – The Theresa May Brexit Election

“ I have been very clear —– I have been very clear ——- I have been very clear —-” repeated ad nauseam  by Mrs May, and especially since her re-location to No 10

“ Oh FFS. Not this shitshow again”  – Deborah Ross-The Times – April 20, 2017. (An unseemly but understandable optional response to BrexEl. I can only guess at the detail of the FFS acronym.)

Just after 11 am on Tuesday April 18 Theresa May emerged from No 10 Downing Street to announce to the waiting and bemused media throng that she had decided to call a General Election on June the 8th.

She went on to outline her reasons for taking this decision, and, given that she was making a 180 degree turn from her previously stated position, it is worth noting these reasons.

She quickly stressed her ongoing commitment to implement the will of the people as embodied in the June 23, 2016 referendum, and then proceeded to outline her concerns going forward.

“The country is coming together but Westminster is not..   In recent weeks Labour has threatened  to vote against the deal we reach with the EU. The Lib Dems have said that they want to grind the business of government to a standstill.  The SNP say they will vote against the legislation that formally repeals Britain’s membership of the EU . Unelected members of the House of Lords have vowed to fight us every step of the way.

“Our opponents believe that because the government’s majority is so small , our resolve will weaken and that they can force us to change course. They are wrong.”

“The House of Lords is not the watch dog of the constitution – it is Mr Balfour‘s poodle  — Lloyd George 1908″

For some of us the resolve of the House of Lords to “fight us every inch of the way” marks a refreshing change from its position not so much that of a poodle but rather that of a bulldog in its fierce support of conservative administrations down the  centuries.

Now Mrs May will know how Mr Asquith and later Mr Attlee felt about the House of Lords.

The Welsh connection 

Like Mrs May I recently walked in the Welsh hills. Unlike Mrs May I did not use my foray to reflect on grave national and global matters. For my part as I struggled during the long ascent from Talybont to the top of Waun Rydd  I was preoccupied with the thought that I would be pleased when I got to the top.

I saw  a lot of sheep during my walk and I suspect that Mrs May also saw a lot of sheep during her walks. It might – just might – have crossed her mind to draw comparisons between the behaviour of the docile grazing sheep and the attitude of the great majority of MPs from across the political spectrum – anything for a quiet life.

So – why not shake them up now in order to acquire a greater degree of control post June 8 over the flock – show them who is the Shepherd  and who are the sheep.

The opening Theresa May speech deconstructed / translated according to taste. 

In The Times (April 19) Philip Collins translated her speech from Downing Street speech into language that you and I can understand.   Others have rushed into print and onto the airwaves and into social media to create a tsunami of interpretation.

You pays your money and you takes your choice – one of the many benefits of living in a free enterprise economy.

“Well, now they’ve got the second referendum they wanted – dressed up as General Election” Richard Littlejohn — Daily Mail April 19

In his article Littlejohn argued that we are facing not a General Election as rationally understood but simply a re-play of June 23rd 2016, and that  “they” are the remainers who have been individually and collectively hoping, like Mr Micawber, that something would turn up.

Well it has now.

In the last 18 months or so Tribune has published 2 pieces by me in which I argued the case for the UK to remain in the EU. My views have not changed and in the following notes  I suggest how the opposition parties and Tory remainers might react to and confront the shabby opportunism of Mrs May.

The one fact to emerge from her announcement – the point which fully justifies her claim to consistent clarity – is that she has called the election to allow herself to move into a political comfort zone, a zone which gives her much more scope to deal with dissenters.

The dissenters vary from those who want her to speed up the Brexit process to those who would like to reverse the Brexit process.

This election is a single issue election and that issue is how most effectively to implement our departure. I believe that the most effective response by her opponents will be to take her at her word – on this occasion – and to take the opportunity afforded during the next few weeks to restate the case to reverse the outcome of June 2016.

A  stroll down memory lane

Nothing has happened in the past 10 months to persuade me that the June 23 referendum was not a poor advertisement for the UK brand of democracy – an unseemly amalgam of mendacity and squalid opportunism, with both elements prominently on show with  BOJO and Michael Gove.  BOJO was duly rewarded for his treachery by acquiring some – not all – of the Foreign Office whilst Gove was awarded the consolation prize of honorary poodle for Mr Murdoch.

Mr Paul Dacre continues to hurl insults at those who refuse to accept that the outcome of the referendum was good for Britain.

So – how should the remainers approach the June 8 election?

More to the point – what should their objectives be, how should they campaign most effectively to achieve these objectives and how and on what basis should they cast their votes?

In practical terms –  I suggest that they  treat the June 2017 General Election in exactly the same way that Mrs M has been and is treating it, namely as an opportunity to replay the June 2016 referendum.

Mrs May is seeking to strengthen her position as she prepares to engage with the 27 countries wishing to remain.

In so doing she has put into the hands of the remainers a weapon of considerable potential strength – they should use it!

In short – as Mr Micawber would say  – Mrs May sees the June 8 General Election as a single issue election. She is asking the British people to facilitate her task in the coming months and years AND years.

I see June 8 in the same terms but with a diametrically opposing objective – to use this replay of the 2016 referendum as a golden opportunity to rip up article 50, to apologise to the other 27 and to return to business as usual with our EU friends.

What might this approach mean in voting terms?

This could not be more simple – it would require that every candidate in every constituency would be asked to state their position with regard to Brexit  with – to coin a phrase – great clarity.

Views expressed would range from:-

  • At the one extreme  –  The UK to leave the EU as quickly as possible – speed of departure to be a crucial aim, even at the expense of  waiting a little to secure better terms .
  • At the other extreme –  The June 2016 referendum result to be put into reverse and the UK to return to the status quo ante

The tricky bit – with the views of the candidates having been secured – voters to be urged to support the candidates most committed to the remain camp. This support to take precedence over all traditional party loyalties with the overriding aim of securing the future of the UK within the European Union.

In short  – all those seeking to reverse the June 2016  result  should treat the June 8, 2017  election as a second referendum on remain or leave and to vote accordingly.

United we stand – Divided we fall (Well – up to point, Lord Copper)

*  UK referendum about our EU membership in June, 2016- stay or leave

Stay – 48%

Leave – 52%

* USA Presidential election

% for Trump – 46

% for Clinton – 48

* Turkey – Erdogan referendum to retain the status quo or to cede extra powers to the President

% for no change – 49

% to accept the Erdogan plans – 51

Poll of outside experts questioned about the likely outcome of any referendum held in North Korea about the popularity of the leader Mr Kim Jong-Un

% who believe that he is the man for the job – 100

It would appear that Mrs May is uneasy about her membership of the very low 50s club and would like to edge up the league table towards the enviable position of Mr Kim Jong-Un.

A word about unintended consequences

A number of issues have surfaced since June 24, 2016, some more serious than others, but all to some degree falling into the category of unintended consequences.

They include :-

Difficulties over the out status of Ulster and the in status of The Republic of Ireland.

  • A perceived readiness by Spain to lay claim to Gibraltar. On this matter the readiness of those old sea dogs Michael Howard and Michael Fallon to growl at would be trespassers did little to foster international good will
  • The possibility – to put it no stronger- that key personnel required by various sectors of the UK economy would not be allowed to come here.
  • Another even more unfortunate possibility is that some key people already here and holding down important jobs might not be allowed to remain. The status of this group of unfortunates is that of hostages caught up in a conflict not of their choice.
  • Nicola Sturgeon, wholly predictably, is proving immune to appeals to “Be British” and is working tirelessly in pursuit of her goal of an independent Scotland – and who shall blame her for doing on a small stage exactly what Mrs May is doing on the larger stage.


Some commentators argued before and after the June 2016 referendum that Immigration was the main issue that determined the outcome, and that the no vote was in large measure the outcome of decades of ignoring the concerns of those who were uneasy about large scale immigration  and saw the referendum as a one off opportunity to express their concerns in the only way open to them.

There is clearly some truth in this assertion and the remainers can and must do better than simply label this group as racists.

The fact is that there is scope to reach a compromise between the Free Movement of people of people within the EU on the one hand and closed borders on the other.

Some sections of the Labour Party and especially within the Trade Unions recognise that in practice the free movement policy has been used to erode employee terms and conditions in the UK,  and that the sort of generous relocation expenses available to those at the top are simply not there for those at the bottom.

The weaknesses of the EU – with or without UK membership

Remainers should recognise the valid concerns of many in the UK – and throughout the EU – about the democratic shortcomings of  aspects  of some EU institutions.

Sadly some critics tend to lump their concerns together under the general heading of “Bloated Bureaucracy – a valid but vague criticism. Why not take the extra step of spelling out what ought to change and why in order to bring about greater accountability and a leaner institution.

I suggest that remainers should examine the strong case for:-

  • A European Union where power is devolved to local level to the maximum possible extent.
  • This point to apply even to legal matters, indeed especially to legal matters.
  • Work to end the system of MEPS being elected on a party basis. Electors to vote for named individuals rather than for parties.
  • Remainers to ensure that the MEPS elected to EU parliament are constantly reminded of the need to tackle – not address!- the  corruption in EU institutions

Closing points

  • I urge the electorate to take the opportunity generously afforded them by Mrs May to reverse the June 2016 result.
  • I  urge them to grasp that the case to remain in the EU  is more important than the fortunes of any political party, however strong the traditional loyalties and ties.
  • If Mrs May can change her mind with such breath taking insouciance – why should the rest of us not follow her lead?
  • The UK would recover more quickly from a spell under Mr Corbyn and/or Mr Farron and/or Ms Sturgeon than it would in the post Brexit chaos under the collective thumbs of Mrs May and BOJO and Mr Murdoch and Mr Paul Dacre.
  • I hope that the British electorate will take this heaven sent opportunity to bring about a return to stability and relative domestic tranquillity.

An abbreviated version of this article first appeared in Tribune in May, 2017