Overturning Referendums – it’s the European way.

Sometimes I don’t know how they do it, these politicians. They stand there with straight faces and say things that are not true. They know they are not true, we know that they are not true. And yet still they expect us to believe what they are saying.

Just recently we have seen a great deal of this. One after another pro-EU politicians have queued up to tell us that they are now reformed characters and that they have no intention at all of trying to keep the UK inside the EU. Oh no, of course not.

“There is no serious chance that the House of Lords will block Article 50” Yvette Cooper tells us. Nicola Sturgeon says she is interested only in protecting the rights of the Scottish government. Gina Miller, who launched the Article 50 court case, assures any one who will listen that she is concerned only to establish the proper process for the move.

You can believe them if you wish. Personally, I do not.

Let’s look at how the EU élite have reacted when previous referendums have gone against them.

In 1992 the Danish voted NO to the Maastricht Treaty on European Union. Everyone agreed that democracy was paramount and that the result would stand. Then the EU promised to give Denmark some opt-outs. The slavishly pro-EU Danish government then held a second referendum, which it won.

In 2004 the EU panjandrums agreed the grandly named “Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe”. This sought to sweep away all previous treaties and replace them with a single, unified constitution. That would be a constitution like any other unified state has.

Ratification got under way with Parliaments in several countries pushing it through with big majorities. Spain held a referendum that approved the treaty. Then France held a referendum, which ended with a vote of 55% NO, followed by the Netherlands which gave a resounding 61% NO. Referendums were promptly cancelled in Poland, Portugal, Ireland the UK and Denmark. EU leaders promsied to “respect” the referendum results and called for a “period of reflection”.

That period of reflection ended with the Lisbon Treaty, which was virtually identical to the failed Constitution. This time it was pushed through the French and Dutch parliaments without a referendum. So much for respecting the results.

Then the Lisbon Treaty ran into trouble when referendum in Ireland saw a 53% NO vote. In June 2008 the EU Parliament held a debate on the Irish result. Speaker after speaker declared that they would “respect the result”. But of course, they did not. Just a year later the slavishly pro-EU Irish government held a second vote. This time the EU leaders issued a series of high sounding promises about legal guarantees. This time the Irish voted YES.

So we can see the pattern. If a referendum produces a result the EU does not like, the élites issue high sounding – but utterly worthless – statements about respecting democracy. They they announce a few cosmetic changes and hold a second vote.

I have no doubt at all that this is what is being planned by the Europhiles who were so aghast at losing the British referendum in June. The key difference is that in Denmark, Ireland and elsewhere the national government was obbsequiously pro-EU and could be relied upon both to hold a second vote and to assure their populace that the vague changes were truly wonderful.

Britain in 2016 is different. We have a Prime Minister who has declared that “Brexit is Brexit”. Like her or not, Mrs May and her pro-Brexit administration is all we’ve got to stand a chance of enssuring that our referendum result is not only “respected” but also implemented.

 

Mrs May calls the remainiacs’ bluff

David Cameron bequeathed a tough job to his successor. He had not expected to lose the referendum and had forbidden the Civil Service to produce any sort of Brexit plan. It did not help that the various leave groups had not managed to unite around an agreed plan either.

This meant that, having won our amazing victory against all the odds, we have tasked Mrs May’s government and the Civil Service with the challenge of working through a huge number of extremely important issues relating to Brexit virtually from scratch.

With so much information to digest and to turn into a viable exit route within a tight timescale, the relative silence from the government is understandable. It is wise indeed not to give a running commentary as the complexities are analysed and options evaluated. Nor is it a good idea to reveal your negotiating hand prematurely. The odd hint has crept out, such as the “Have cake and eat it” memo which caused such a stir last week, to be followed very quickly by a denial that it was any indicator of official government policy.

There seems very litle point bothering readers with idle speculation based on what at this stage can only be guesswork. However, whatever the Supreme Court decides about the role of Parliament in triggering Article 50, there is much to be said for our MPs being given some sort of briefing before Article 50 is finally triggered so that they know the escape route the government plans to take.

A motion by Labour calling for the government to publish its plans on Brexit is not therefore particularly unreasonable in and of itself as long as the party accepts that there are good reasons why it is taking some time for the plans to be ready for publication. Unfortunately, Wednesday’s debate revealed that many of our elected representatives are not up to speed on a number of EU-related issues including, for example, the interface between the Single Market, the European Court of Justice and the EU’s customs union.

The government had put forward an amendment confirming that the House of Commons will respect the view of the British people expressed in the EU referendum and call on ministers to start the Article 50 process of exit by the end of March. Although both the motion and the amendment are essentially symbolic, the amendment turned out to be an excellent way of smoking out the troublemakers. There are thankfully few of these among the Tories; although the majority of Conservative MPs voted for  remain, much of the Parliamentary party has rallied round its new leader in respecting the vote and seeking to get the best possible deal.

On the Labour benches, the rude awakening on June 24th that many voters in their heartlands had chosen to support Brexit has meant that a good few MPs were supportive and will not resist the triggering of Article 50 as long as they can be reassued that it will not  result in economic suicide.

With the vote passed by 448 votes to 75 and the Government amendment by 461 votes to 89, we can take some encouragement that the lower house will not derail Brexit. As the Daily Telegraph commented, “The vote….gives MPs a chance to show that they too acknowledge the primacy of the people on Europe. Those who refuse to back the amendment will be making a public declaration of contempt for the voters.”

Of course, Brexit has pulled away a traditional safety net for career politicians whose ambitions are thwarted. If you lose your seat in Westminster, there will usually be some sort of position available for you in Brussels. Indeed, if you manage to fail spectacularly, like Neil Kinnock or Peter Mandelson, you might end up as  Commissioner with a six-figure salary and without even going through any democratic process to get your new job.

For this reason,  the opinion of the electorate perhaps counts for more than it did before, for if you lose the support of your constituents and thus your seat, there will be one less alternative career option open to you.

So when the vote was finally taken, it was a relief that only 89 MPs voted against the government’s amendment, with the majority of Labour MPs siding with the government. After all, whatever the legal niceties about whether or not the referendum was binding, the government’s infamous booklet couldn’t have been clearer:- “This is your decision. The government will implement what you decide.”

Well, we made our decision to leave and as even the Guardian admitted last week, “Remain is still losing rather than winning support. There is no appetite for a second referendum.” It is time for the 89 MPs listed below to wake up and smell the coffee.

Conservatives(1):

Ken Clarke

Labour (23):

Helen Hayes

Meg Hillier

Peter Kyle

David Lammy

Chris Leslie

Ian Murray

Barry Sheerman

Tulip Siddiq

Angela Smith

Catherine West

Daniel Zeichner

Rushanara Ali

Graham Allen

Ben Bradshaw

Ann Coffey

Neil Coyle

Stella Creasy

Geraint Davies

Louise Ellman

Jim Dowd

Chris Evans

Paul Farrelly

Mike Gapes

Lib Dems (5): 

Nick Clegg

Sarah Olney

Mark Williams

Alistair Carmichael

Tim Farron

SDLP (2):

Alasdair McDonnell

Mark Durkan

Plaid Cymru (3):

Liz Saville Roberts

Hywel Williams

Jonathan Edwards

Green (1):

Caroline Lucas

Independent (2): 

Michelle Thomson

Natalie McGarry

SNP (51):

Hendry, Drew.

Stewart Hosie

George Kerevan

Calum Kerr

Chris Law

Angus MacNeil John Mc Nally

Callum McCaig

Stuart McDonald

Anne McLaughlin

Carol Monaghan

Paul Monaghan

Roger Mullin

Gavin Newlands

John Nicolson

Brendan O’Hara

Kirsten Oswald

Steven Paterson

Margaret Ritchie

Angus Robertson

Alex Salmond

Tommy Sheppard

Chris Stephens

Alison Thewliss

Mike Weir

Catherine West

Eilidh Whiteford

Philippa Whitford

Corri Wilson

Pete Wishart

Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh

Hannah Bardell

Mhairi Black

Ian Blackford

Kirsty Blackman

Philip Boswell

Deirdre Brock

Alan Brown

Lisa Cameron

Chapman. Douglas

Joanna Cherry

Ronnie Cowan

Angela Crawley

Martyn Day

Martin Docherty-Hughes

Stuart Blair Donaldson

Marrion Fellows

Margaret Ferrier

Stephen Gethins

Patricia Gibson

Patrick Grady

Peter Grant

The tyranny of the majority

(This letter was sent by our Chairman to several local papers in the Midlands)

6th December 2016

Sir,

“The Tyranny of the Majority” is Sir John Major’s complaint of the EU referendum result. He, Tony Blair and friends are seeking to overturn it by the old EU trick of sending people to vote again until they give the “right” answer – that is, one favourable to the EU, which then becomes our lord and master for another forty years or so.

Looking across the Atlantic, we see the remarkable victory of Mr. Trump. The Albany Atlas and Argus once described a presidential candidate as “a slang-whanging stump speaker of which all parties are ashamed”. But that was Abraham Lincoln!

Mr. Trump won in spite of such widely held opinions about him. He did not win a majority of popular votes but a majority in the Electoral College where votes are apportioned to states so that the influence of the most populous states is moderated in this enormous country. It is one of the checks and balances which the Founding Fathers built into the constitution. They also provided that each state should have two Senators – from the smallest to the largest.

Considering all the fuss which the Americans have since made about spreading democracy around the world – often at the point of a gun – it is remarkable how little their Founding Fathers had to say about it. They were classically educated men and knew that all previous democracies had ended in dictatorship or disaster.

So to them “democracy” was a politically incorrect word, meaning more or less what “populism”means to Guardian readers today. As John Smith of Roanoke Virginia put it “Too democratical a constitution and we have but exchanged King George for King Numbers” . Sir John Major appears to agree. Except he does not want King George but Emperor Jean-Claude Juncker, his heirs and successors to rule over us.

Most people agree that Tony Blair politicised the civil service. He also did the same to the administration of justice to fit the EU mould. Nobody was clamouring for a Supreme Court but our previous arrangement with Law Lords, who also sat in the House of Lords, did not fit the Napoleonic model. New Labour aspired to “ continental-style Ministry of Justice” and simply imposed it. But our Supreme Court is, in fact, subordinate to the so-called European Court of Justice.

Long live Emperor Jean-Claude! His predecessor, Senhor Barroso ( the erstwhile Marxist now promoted to glory with Goldman Sachs) said the EU was an empire and he was in a position to know! Major, Blair and company are its faithful subjects.

Yours faithfully

Edward Spalton

The Richmond Park slaughter

If you think the government is confused when it comes to Brexit, Sarah Olney, the new Lib Dem MP for Richmond Park is in a league of her own, as Rev Peter Mullen explains.

O joy, joy and more joy! Here’s a treat rarer than any blue moon: A radio interviewer with brains, articulate and sharp enough to ask the killer follow-up question to any politician’s fumbled reply. They can’t do this on The Today Programme. But is it perhaps not can’t but won’t for fear that such an intelligent approach might pierce the fog of cliché in which the BBC usually manages to conceal its modus operandi of obfuscation and prejudice?

Sarah Olney, the newly-elected MP for Richmond Park, came on TalkRadio to be interviewed by the very sharp Julia Hartley-Brewer. Julia was noteworthy among radio journalists for her ability to think sequentially and to speak in sentences. From the very beginning, she was on top of her game – which is more than you could say for the flaky Ms Olney.

She began, “When are you going to hold the second by-election?”

The flummoxed Olney stayed flummoxed.

 “I mean, you want a rerun of the referendum on our membership of the EU. That was won by the Leave campaigners with a bigger majority than you got.”

Waffle punctuated by squirming silence.

 “Fewer than 50% of the Richmond electorate voted for you. Leave got 54%. But you want a second referendum. Why not a rerun of this by-election?”

“There wasn’t a clear result to the referendum.”

“Yes there was!”

 A very long silence.

“If you can’t answer a few simple questions, people might wonder if you’re up to the job of being their MP.”

 An even longer silence.

 Enter Olney’s spin-doctor:

 “We have to go.”

 “No you don’t!”

 “Sarah has another interview to do.”

 “But how can she? This time was booked with us”

Exit Ms Olney, pursued by her quavering minder. Leaving Julia to speak the closing soliloquy:

 “She doesn’t feel she’s up to these questions – which is a bit of a shame, isn’t it?”

(If you want to hear this amazing interview yourself, you can listen to it here.)

Remainiacs – a view from outside the bubble

If you are reading this  article, chances are you are a strong supporter of the UK leaving the EU. You were probably active during the recent referendum campaign and have been following every twist and turn of events since the June 23rd vote.

Your friends and family are probably fully aware of your passion for politics and often raise the subject of Brexit in conversation. You watch or listen to the news, read a newspaper and follow a few blogs on the internet. Something crops up about Brexit every day.  It is THE issue of our time.. perhaps.

…..or perhaps it’s time to step out of our bubble for a few minutes.

Less than a week after the Brexit vote, I had to go to London. As I walked down the Thames embankment what struck me was the normality of life. Such snippets of conversation as I caught revolved around all manner of topics but not the European Union. It hardly seemed like we had just seen a radical change to the whole future shape of our country.

And this is precisely the point – the EU has never been a big issue for voters. Ask anyone who has stood as a UKIP candidate in a General Election. It was always a big challenge to convince people on the doorsteps that our very future as a sovereign nation was at stake. A survey by YouGov, taken just over a year before the Brexit  vote, put “Europe” well down the list of voter priorities.

What is more, after four months of intensive campaigning, following Mr Cameron’s decision to  forced the EU to the top of the list,  27.79% of eligible voters  – nearly 13 million – didn’t cast their ballot. Remain and leave campaigners alike emphasised that this was the most important vote the electorate was ever likely to cast. Over a Quarter didn’t bother.

Even among those who did vote, many had an abysmal knowledge of what the EU project was actually about and certainly didn’t view it as a life and death issue. Of course, this was precisely Cameron’s strategy. A short campaign would work in his favour. As we know, his strategy failed. In spite of a campaign in which neither of the official organisations covered themselves with glory, the tireless dedication of rank-and-file leave groups up and down the country managed to convince enough of their fellow countrymen that the EU was sufficiently bad news that they should vote to leave it.

But now the vote is behind us, the level of interest in the EU among our countrymen has dropped dramatically. For most of them, whichever way they voted, the issue is behind them. In a recent conversation with an educated man, he told me that he was surprised that people were still working for organisations like the Campaign for an Independent Britain. He seemed to think we had already left the EU and was quite shocked when I told him otherwise.

The point I am making is that for all the talk of a second referendum, there is just no appetite in the country for going through it all again. John Major is living in a fanstasy world if he really believes he is somehow the “voice of the 48%.” A YouGov poll found that by almost two to one, the electorate believed that the result should stand and opposed a second referendum.  What is more, unlike the Danish Maastricht referendum and the Irish rejection of the Lisbon  Treaty, there is no pressure coming from Brussels.  We ned not therefore worry too much about the recent statement by Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, that she might support a second referendum.

This is not to say that we’re home and dry. There are malign forces seking to undermine Brexit. Thankfully, so far Mrs May has stood firm, but mischief makers like Richard Branson and Mark Carney would love to derail Bredit if they could.

Even within the government, Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, needs to be watched. He has recently claimed that  he is not using the UK’s military clout to get a better Brexit deal. Some informed opinion suggests that on the contrary, he wants to integrate us as closely as possible with the EU’s future defence strategy. This is not acceptable and we will keep you informed with any developments on this front.

In summary, it is clear that further campaigning needs to be focussed on informing and pressurising our MPs rather than on the general public. The better the deal we end up with, the more the guns of the hard-core remainiacs will be spiked and calls for a second referendum stifled. However,  we are still unclear as to what deal Mrs May is seeking,  while opinion among MPs  is divided on all manner of issues. Vigilance therefore remains the order of the day.  The country does not want a second referendum and we need to ensure they do not get one.

What would leavers have done if we had lost?

The spectacle of the Remainers behaving like cry babies in the wake of the Referendum result on 23 June was pretty unedifying. One of my favourite memories from the night came at about 4am when Dimbleby at the BBC cut to the Remain HQ expecting their reporter there to introduce one or two senior Remainers to give their reactions to the unfolding events. Instead the place was empty as everyone had gone home rather than stay and face reality.

Once the disbelief had worn off, the Remainers moved on to blaming uneducated plebs for not understanding the issues, fighting like rats in a sack over who to blame and now seeking to overturn the will of the people by judicial means and in the House of Lords.

Now we see pretty much the same happening over in the USA. The same mix of Establishment figures, intolerant lefties and those living off government funds are reacting to the loss of a Clinton president much as our Remainers did here. Lots of abuse, insults and worse. The disbelief is still rife there, and there have been some very nasty calls for Trump to be assassinated and his wife to be raped.

In both cases the issues at stake were big, very big. So that has led some Remainers to point the finger and say that we Leavers would have behaved the same. Well, as Head of Campaigns at Better Off Out I sat in on some meetings where exactly this question was raised. What would we do if we lost?

Obviously I cannot speak for everyone, but the consensus seemed fairly clear to me. First, we would accept the result in that the people of Britain had voted to stay in the European Union. Second, most intended to take a break and see their families. Third nearly everyone was going to gird their loins and return to the fray.

There is bound to be a new EU Treaty in five or ten years’ time. Assuming that this would include drastic changes, we intended to argue that those changes needed to go to a referendum as it altered the relationship between the EU and UK approved by the people in 2016. Then we would campaign against those changes in the following referendum campaign (again assuming that they were serious enough).

What nobody ever even suggested at these meetings was that we should seek to go to law to overturn the referendum result. Nobody suggested that we should use Parliamentary procedure to slow down or halt the normal day to day business of the EU in the UK. Nor did anyone suggest a second referendum to ask the In-Out question again. Everyone was prepared to accept that we would have lost this battle, then prepare for the next.

It is against this background that we should view the behaviour of the Remainers. They are making little secret of the fact that they aim to overthrow the Referendum result. Using legal quibbles and delaying tactics in Parliament they hope to frustrate the will of the people. And these folk claim to stand for tolerance, inclusion and democracy?

The people have spoken. It is time to get on with it.