The remoaners aren’t giving up – yet

Life in the remoaner bubble remains as surreal as ever.  The Guardian newspaper has publiushed an article by David Cameron’s former tutor Vernon Bogdanor, claiming that “A second Brexit referendum is looking more likely by the day.”  Wishful thinking perhaps? As we have pointed out on numerous occasions, Mrs May and the Tory Party dare not row back on their commitment to deliver Brexit. Not only would it be as good as handing the keys of No. 10 to Mr Corbyn, but it would precipitate the worst crisis the party has faced since the split that followed the repeal of the Corn laws in 1846. What Bogdanor fails to take into account is that now Article 50 has been triggered, we are on the way out. Even EU sources  have suggested that it may not be reversible. Furthermore, Mrs May shows no sign of conceding a second referendum, not to mention the fact that no one in their right minds would want to go through that gruelling campaign again, especially given the lack of interest among the general public

Still, it’s the silly season aka the Parliamentary summer recess, so editors have to be a bit more creative in trying to fill the columns. The Financial Times, another bastion of remainiacs, is no better than the Guardian. In a piece entitled Brexit reveals Britain’s enduring flaws, Simon Kuper claims that the idea of leaving the EU was hatched in the Oxford Union in the 1980s by the likes of Michael Gove and Boris Johnson, because “This generation of mostly former public schoolboys didn’t want Brussels running Britain. That was their caste’s prerogative.” No better proof of the decline in the standards of journalism can be found than this once respected newspaper  giving space for such utter tosh. Is Mr Kuper completely unaware of the long-standing opposition to EU membership within the Labour Party? Or of the Campaign for an Independent Britain, which was set up in 1969 to oppose our accession – before Boris Johnson or Michael Gove were old enough to go to school?

True, both articles acknowledge that the Brexit talks are not going as well as David Davis and his team had hoped, but widely-reported differences of opinion within the Cabinet over the “hardness” of Brexit does not mean that Brexit isn’t going to happen. Whether it is seamless is another matter, of course, but happen it will. I wouldn’t normally quote Jean-Claude Juncker approvingly, but he does seem to have the measure of the mood in the UK (including the government) and has distanced himself from those Brexit sceptics who are expecting  a big back-pedalling “My working hypothesis is that it will come to Brexit”, he said.

Meanwhile, our attention has been drawn to a piece by Jonn Ellidge in the New Statesman, which claims that a recent YouGov survey proves that Brexit voters hate their own children.  The reason for this astonishing statement  is  because:-

A healthy majority of Leave voters, it found, claimed that ‘significant damage to the British economy’ would be a price worth paying for Brexit: 61 per cent, compared to just 20 per cent who disagreed. More bizarrely, when the question was made more personal, and respondents were asked would it be worth “you or members of your family” losing their jobs, 39 per cent still thought Brexit was totes worth it – slightly more than the 38 per cent who, like normal, sane people, replied ‘obviously not’”.

So QED, Brexit voters, which the author equates to retired baby boomers “who are prepared to crash the economy because they don’t like Belgians” are a selfish generation who must hate their offspring because “when asked directly whether they’d swap the wealth and security of their own children for a blue passport and the ability to deport Polish plumbers, they said yes in huge numbers.

As blogger Samuel Hooper says, Ellidge’s claims are “vile” and totally ignores the real reason why a significant majority of older voters supported Brexit. “Does he not realise that the counterfactual, unrecorded by YouGov (who did not bother to probe more deeply) is that perhaps these older people – rightly or wrongly – thought that by voting for Brexit they were preserving some other vital social good for their descendants, something potentially even more valuable than a couple of points of GDP growth? I would posit that the supposedly hateful Daily Mail-reading generation of grey haired fascists scorned by Jonn Elledge actually do not have any particular desire to inflict economic harm on their children and grandchildren, but simply realise – through having lived full lives through periods of considerably less material abundance than those of us born since the 1980s – that other things matter too. Things like freedom and self-determination, precious gifts which were under threat during the Second World War and the Cold War, and which the older generations who remember these difficult times therefore do not casually take for granted.”

Absolutely, but no amount of debunking is going to stop the blinkered fanaticism of the remainiacs. Among the chief of these is the European Movement, which is ramping up its campaign to stop Brexit altogether, linking up with other  like-minded groups including Scientists for EU, Healthier IN the EU and Britain for Europe to try to stop Brexit. I debated with a few members of the European Movement and although I didn’t always win, it was fun to embarrass them by mentioning the funding they received from the American CIA during the 1970s. A recent e-mail has encouraged recipients to join this iniquitous organisation which sees itself as able to “represent the groundswell of opinion against departure from the EU.”

Sorry, European Movement, but the ground isn’t swelling round here. If even I, as a political “anorak” and long-standing opponent of our EU membership, am getting fed up with all the debating about how badly the cabinet is divided, how much we will have to pay to leave, trading arrangements and so on, Joe Public is even less interested. He cast his vote a year ago and whichever way he actually voted, he was never really very excited by the EU, never really understood what we had joined and just wants the country to move on. Hopefully on March 29th, when we finally leave, the European Movement and its fellow-traveller remainiacs will move on – preferably to well-deserved oblivion – but I’m not holding my breath.

 

So we’re all stupid racists?

It’s over a year since the referendum but some remoaners just will not give up their belief that a group of ignorant racists bear the prime responsibilty for our leaving the EU. As stubborn as the most ardent flat earthers, no amount of evidence to the contrary will shake their convictions.

Last August, our Chairman debunked the claims of an alleged increase in racist hate crime, showing how easily the statistics can be manipulated.  Undeterred, Channel 4 thought they had struck gold when featuring Sivalingam Rajan, a Sri Lankan-born shopkeeper from Swindon, who suffered a racist attack after telling a customer that she didn’t have enough money to pay for her purchase. The offending girl was interviewed by the programme and asked about Brexit, no doubt in anticipation that she had voted to leave the EU.  Instead, she replied, “I didn’t watch it, things like that I don’t get involved with – nothing to do with me.”

You would expect better things from the respected Nature journal but sadly not. Last January, we highlighted an article by Colin MacIlwain of Edinburgh who called Leave voters “a loose coalition of dissenters, doubters and right-wing jackals.”  Undeterred by its descent into the levels of the gutter press, Nature subsequently published a piece by a certain Jane Green who claimed that “voters with less education cast ballots consistent with populist waves.” So there you have it. We’re all thickos. Richard North, with a PhD to his name, the trilingual Daniel Hannan MEP with his history degree from Oxford, the multi-millionaire inventor and businessman Sir James Dyson and Cambridge-educated Dame Helena Morrisey, one of the most influential women in the City of London are all complete numbskulls because they supported Brexit.

OK, perhaps on average, a higher percentage of remain voters may have had degrees, but there is a world of difference between having a good brain and actually using it!

 

 

Photo by LauraLewis23

Danger – Handle with care

When the current Parliamentary session ends on July 20th, we will enter what has long been  called “the Silly Season” when newspapers dredge up all sorts of far-fetched stories to try to keep readers’ interest.

It seems that some are already getting into practise, particularly those who specialise in “biff-bam” Brexit stories,  many of which have a only very tenuous relationship with fact. Among the e-mails greeting me this morning were several communications from concerned leave supporters who had spotted seemingly worrying articles in the press over the weekend.

Two articles in particular were the focus of concern. The first concerns an ancient charter granted by Charles II in 1666 allowing 50 fishermen from Bruges “eternal rights” to fish in English waters as an act of gratitude for the hospitality given him by the city during the 1650s when he lived in exile.  The headline is much more lurid, however:- “Belgium says 1666 royal charter grants its fishermen “eternal rights” to English waters.” Not quite the same as 50 fishing boats from one Belgian city! Let’s unpack things a little more.

Firstly, a discussion my colleague John Ashworth of Fishing for Leave revealed that we technically have similar fishing rights off the Newfoundland Coast going back even further – to the period shortly after its discovery by John Cabot in 1497. Have we sought to upset the Canadians by exercising them at any time in the last hundred years? Almost certainly not. Furthermore, in 1666, Belgium did not exist as a country, being part of the Spanish Netherlands. Then, what is meant by “English Waters”? In the 17th Century, by convention, this meant only the sea within three nautical miles of the shoreline. Things have changed significantly since then, with territorial waters being expanded during the 20th century. Any attempts therefore by fishermen from Bruges to fish within three miles of the English coast after Brexit on the basis of this charter would open a legal Pandora’s box.

But are there actually any vessels that would be entitled to do so? The charter mentions “Fifty herring boats.” The historic town of Bruges, which in its heyday saw considerable maritime traffic along the  canals linking it to the North Sea, is no longer a major port. The fishing industry in that part of Belgium is centred on nearby Zeebrugge (literally “Bruges-on-Sea”) which is, in fact, the largest fishing port in the country, with a substantial fish market in the town. Yet in 2013, it only boasted 43 fishing boats in total. Given that Bruges lies on a canal 8 miles (or 12,87 kilometres) inland from Zeebrugge and its fish market, the likelihood of there being any fishing boats (let alone specialist herring boats) based in the part of the city which existed in 1666 is almost certainly zero.

In other words, when the Flemish prime minister Geert Bourgeois unrolled a copy of the charter on a Belgian television news show, it was a piece of grandstanding and nothing more.  It does, however, indicate just how much grandstanding we are likely to face as the Brexit negotiations get under way. Belgium, along with other EU member states who fish in the North Sea, has been upset by the decision by Michael Gove to denounce the 1964 London Fisheries Convention. Even this, however, is a considerable over-reaction. The wording of this agreement is vessel-specific and therefore was unlikely ever to have been put to the test as none of the boats specified are likely to be in commercial use 53 years later. In other words, Mr Gove’s action was merely a precautionary measure to avoid possible complications.

It’s not only politicians on the other side of the channel who are grandstanding.  I also received a couple of e-mails about an article claiming that Vince Cable reckons that Brexit will never happen. Once again, let us examine the facts. The Lib Dems campaigned in the recent General Election to be the so-called “party of the 48%”. They went up from 9 MPs to 12 only courtesy of the SNP slump in Scotland, so it can hardly be said that their campaign was a success, but hope springs eternal!

Cable is wrong because of the dynamics of the two main parties. The Tories did unexpectedly badly and are licking their wounds. The majority of Tory MPs campaigned for Remain but most Tory activists and a significant minority of MPs are solidly pro-Brexit, so to backpedal would be suicide, provoking the worst crisis in the Conservative Party since 1846. (See more on this here – principally the last three paragraphs.)

But Corbyn has been strengthened by the election result, even though he didn’t win. As a consequence, he is revealing his true Brexiteer colours. He and his right hand man John McDonnell have never been keen on the EU but when he won the Labour leadership campaign, he initially faced immense opposition from the majority of Labour MPs, who didn’t want him as their leader. He was thus unable to take an anti-EU stance publicly. This has now changed as Corbyn was quite smart in the election campaign, pitching to floating Brexit supporters who were either moving on from UKIP or who didn’t like the Tories. Now his own position is strengthened, he is coming out increasingly strongly for Brexit. This in turn adds further pressure on the Tories not to backpedal.

None of this is to ignore the complexities of Brexit but the Lib Dems are now no more than little pygmies shouting from the sidelines. The media may feel obliged to report the words of the man likely to be the next leader of the UK’s third party, but no one need take much notice of his wishful thinking. We are basically into a period of two-party politics. It may not last for long, but at the moment, neither Mrs May nor Jeremy Corbyn show any signs of trying to stop Brexit and no other party leader’s opinions matter very much.

I hope that this debunking of two articles will help reassure concerned readers. Politicians remain the least trusted profession in the UK, but journalists run them pretty close, being even less trusted than bankers, estate agents and trade union officials. There are some exceptions and we are thankful to those members of the media who do seek to maintain high standards and report facts accurately, especially when it comes to Brexit. Based on what I found in my e-mail in tray this morning, however, all too many journalists are guilty of sloppy reporting, poor research and sensationalism. Their offerings, especially lurid headlines in the forthcoming “Silly Season”, need to be handled with extreme care.

 

The biggest losers

Following Mrs May’s response to the London Bridge terrorist attack, Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former spin doctor, posted a tweet saying that “Mrs May is happy enough to tolerate the extremism of the Brextremist Lie Machine newspapers spewing hate day after day.”

Several newspapers picked this up, expressing horror that Islamic State-supporting terrorists should be equated to sections of our national press. Indeed, such was the storm of protest that Mr Campbell subsequently deleted the tweet, saying . “Previous tweet deleted. Agreed it was over the top”

But over the top or not, the damage has been done. We now know the truth. Such is the vitriolic loathing felt by remoaners like Campbell towards Brexit supporters that in his eyes, some of us are almost as awful as the men who committed the terrible atrocities in Manchester and London recently.

Mind you, there is perhaps good reason from Blairite remoaners to be feeling a bit miffed at the moment. Although unreported by the Press, one of the interesting asides of this general election campaign is that, whatever the result, the last few weeks have significantly damaged their chances of a comeback.

The Campaign for an Independent Britain, being a cross-party organisation, does not fly the flag for any one political party and has encouraged people to vote for fully-fledged Brexit candidates whatever their allegiance, but we can be quite unequivocal in our opposition to the Blairite faction within the Labour Party, which remains one of the biggest strongholds of irreconcilable remainiacs.

When Mrs May called a General Election in April, received opinion expected Labour to suffer its worst defeat since 1983, if not longer. The uncompromising Socialist agenda would deter most voters, Jeremy Corbyn would be forced to resign and Labour would tack back towards the so-called centre ground.

Things have not gone according to plan, however. Three days before polling day, a raft of opinion polls put the Tory lead between 12% and a mere 1%  – nowhere near the 20% differential at the start of the campaign. Averaging these out, Mr Corbyn looks highly unlikely to be marching into 10 Downing Street on Friday, but he could end up with a higher percentage of the vote than Ed Miliband in 2015 – certainly high enough to justify remaining in office and his party thus avoiding a third leadership contest in less than two years.

From the point of view of withdrawing from the EU, it is significant  – and welcome – that Corbyn has never made any statement during the campaign indicating that he will seek to challenge or reverse the Brexit vote.  Before becoming Labour’s leader, his anti-EU credentials were actually quite impressive and his pro-EU speech during last year’s referendum campaign was distinctly lukewarm and lacking in conviction.

Whatever one’s views of his position on other policy issues, we must therefore be thankful that his better-than-expected performance looks likely to leave the Blairites sidelined for a while – hopefully long enough to see us out of the EU. If these people equate a perfectly reasonable desire to join some 180 or so nations in being a sovereign nation once again with the murderous ideology of Islamic State, the sidelines – or worse –  is the best place for them.

Photo by University of Salford

Rise up? Throw up more likely!

Politicians rely on people’s short memories and none more so than Tony Blair, who must rate as one of the most deceitful, despised characters ever to have been Prime Minister. So his recruitment to the Europhile cause, trying to get people to “rise up” and overturn the democratic decision to leave the EU, is most welcome to independence campaigners.

Even Simon Jenkins in the Guardian has said Blair should “butt out”, adding that “former Prime Ministers do not campaign against the people”  Our President, my colleague George West, agrees. “It is time for the people of Britain to rise up against Tony Blair, a man who promised to take the UK out of the EEC if elected to Parliament.He should remember his promise  and stop blethering on about trying to keep us inside the European Union.”

Let us remember, he is the man who sent our troops into Iraq, ill-equipped on the strength of a dodgy dossier which was later found to have been plagiarised from a student’s thesis on the internet. The Weapons of Mass Destruction did not exist. Many better men than he were sent to their deaths or disablement on the strength of his deceit.

He now pretends concern that the controversy over Brexit could lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom, yet he and his government bear the greatest responsibility for this. Devolution in Scotland and Wales was quite deliberately “asymmetric” – that is unbalanced and unfair, creating bad feeling between people in different parts of the kingdom.

Blair’s deputy, John Prescott, set about completing the process of dividing Britain by trying to create elected regional assemblies in England. The people of the North East rejected that soundly. Had the programme succeeded, the whole country would have been balkanised into regions of around 5 million people with their own representation in Brussels – bite-sized chunks for easier digestion by the EU. Scotland and Wales are, of course, EU regions.

The ideology for this was set out in a report on British identity by the Runnymede Trust which Blair commissioned. It was chaired by Lord Parekh and came to the conclusion that we now were “a nation of communities” and that the very terms British and Britain were so laden with racism that their use should be discouraged and, if possible, discontinued. On that account, the report considered a completely new name for our country but, in the end, made no recommendation.

These are the sort of people who will be backing Blair and who have made the very name “Blairite” one of the most deadly insults possible within the Labour party and its former supporters. David Cameron, of course, aspired to be “the heir to Blair” and the country gave him his marching orders with the referendum. Their day is done. With challenges as well as opportunities, we are on our way to being a free country now.

Project Fear 1975 style

We have already highlighted the fear tactics used in Norway’s 1994 vote on EU membership. In the 1975 referendum campaign in the UK, similar tactics were used, just as they are at the moment. Here is Peter Shore’s stirring speech at the Oxford Union debate 3 days before the 1975 referendum debunking “Project Fear”. Well worth a listen, according to our President, George West.

(image courtesy George Libbet, the Guardian)