You can never trust an emigré

I was going to write this column a couple of weeks ago, but I was unable to find the correct source for the quote that serves as the title. I still haven’t been able to track the quote down properly, so you will have to take this as an unsourced anecdote instead. But one of immediate and urgent relevance to our current state of relations with the European Union.

In the autumn of 1813, Wellington was poised to cross the Pyrenees and invade southern France. He was faced by the decision of where to strike. At this point a group of French Royalist emigrés appeared with inside information that had, they said, come from their contacts inside France. Bordeaux was in a state of turmoil. Royalists had armed themselves and were just waiting for a chance to rise up against the hated Bonarpartists. If Wellington attacked towards Bordeaux, the emigrés claimed, he would have a warm welcome and an easy victory.

It was at this point that Lt Colonel Colquhoun Grant , Wellington’s chief intelligence officer, stepped in to say “You can never trust an emigré”. He suspected, rightly, that these emigrés wanted Wellington to do their dirty work for them, defeat the French forces around Bordeaux and so allow them to move in and exact their own brand of revenge on personal enemies. Wellington listened to Grant, and advanced toward Toulouse instead.

It is, indeed, a truism that you cannot trust those with ulterior motives. Particularly emigrés.

From 1998 to 2002 the American intelligence agencies spent a lot of time speaking to Iraqi emigrés. These exiles poured out a host of stories about how unpopular Saddam Hussein was, how Saddam had vast stocks of weapons of mass destruction and how Saddam was a dangerously unstable dictator who was just itching to invade neighbouring states. The only solution, the emigrés said, was for the USA to invade Iraq and remove Saddam from power.

The US intelligence services did not heed Grant’s advice. They believed the emigrés and only later realised that it was all a pack of lies designed to get the Americans to remove Saddam from power. We all know how well that ended.

And so we come to today. In the Referendum last year, those who wish to leave the EU gained a majority. Since then most of those who voted “remain” have accepted the decision. But a small number of die-hard Europhiles have not. They fondly believe that they are right, that a growing number of British people agree with them and that the referendum decision can be overturned. For the most part they are harmless, but some are not.

Some are men and women who have high level contacts in Brussels, Berlin or Paris. Like the emigrés of old, they are saying what their audience want to hear. “The British people are changing their minds”; “The British economy is in trouble”; “We can stop Brexit with legal challenges”; “Parliament will never agree to go with WTO rules” and so on and so forth.

This is dangerous stuff. If the EU negotiators believe these emigrés  – and from what I have heard some are inclined to do so – then they will seek to impose a punishment deal on the UK in the belief that this will cause the UK to change its mind and stay within the EU.

So those well-connected big beasts with their contacts within the EU machinery are working against the interests of their own country. Like the emigrés of old, they are wanting the EU to do their bidding for their own reasons. They are potentially dangerous, they are certainly wrong. The EU should heed Grant’s advice and “never trust an emigré”.

Photo by dun_deagh

The dark shadow of David Cameron hovers over Westminster

Finally, after a long battle over various proposed amendments, a vote following the third reading of the European Union (notification of withdrawal) Bill saw it passed by 494 votes to 122, a majority of 372. This is slightly down on the 384 majority in last week’s vote, mainly due to an increase in the number of Labour MPs voting against it. In spite of much whinging by a few unhappy Tory MPs, in the end, none of them joined Ken Clarke in the “no” lobby. The full list of MPs who voted against the will of the people can be found here.

The proposed amendments were voted down and the recent announcement by the Government that MPs would have a vote over the final Brexit deal was actually quite astute. It satisfies their demand to have a say but at the same time gives them very little wiggle room. There is no question of MPs vetoing Brexit at the end of the negotiations if they don’t like the deal. The choice will only be about how we leave – either backing the government’s package (whatever it turns out to be) or going for a disorderly Brexit relying on WTO rules only – an outcome that no one in their right minds would support.

So now the bill goes to the House of Lords. One government spokesman said “The Lords will face an overwhelming public call to be abolished if they now try and frustrate this Bill. They must get on and deliver the will of the British people.”  In other words, the Europhile majority must accept the result, just like many of their pro-remain colleagues on the House Commons. A gun is essentially being pointed at their heads and a call by Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone for their Lordships to block Brexit as their “patriotic duty” is unlikely to win many new friends either for her or any peers who follow her advice.

The Upper Chamber can propose amendments, which will then be debated by the House of Commons, but no one can doubt Mrs May’s determination to ensure that the bill will complete its  passage through Parliament in time for her self-imposed deadline next month. For all the huffing and puffing we are likely to hear from the Upper Chamber, it is therefore most unlikely it will amount to anything more than angry noise – just like the sickening behaviour of SNP MPs when following yesterday’s vote, they started first whistling then humming the EU’s “National Anthem” – the Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony – in the Commons chamber. They received a justified rebuke from the Deputy Speaker, Lindsay Hoyle.

Of course, all this would not have been necessary were it not for the incompetence of David Cameron, whose dark shadow must have been hovering over Westminster in recent days. Not expecting to lose, he did not draw up the referendum legislation in a competent manner. Whereas there was no ambiguity about how Westminster was to have responded if Scotland had voted to leave the Union, the Government’s promise in its booklet sent to every household that “The government will implement what you decide,”  carried no legal weight, hence Gina Miller’s challenge and the resultant hours spent debating the withdrawal bill.

Mrs May and her team have stood firm on their commitment to deliver Brexit and for this they deserve our respect and full support. However, the really hard bit is yet to come. Tough as beating down the opposition in Parliament has proved, it will not be nearly as tough as the challenges of negotiating a deal which will see us exit the EU seamlessly in two years’ time.

Death of a parliamentary colleague

Death of a parliamentary colleague – Nigel Spearing

Nigel’s death comes at a turning point in our long and arduous campaign against UK membership of the EU. He was always a strong opponent of the ‘European Project’  to build a United States of Europe without first getting the approval of its peoples. He was one of the first Labour politicians to appreciate there could be no compromise with the Eurofanatics in the British Press and Parliament. The weakness of their arguments was finally exposed in the 2016 Referendum campaign. Until his final illness, Nigel was a stalwart of our long drawn out battle to save the country we loved from an ignominious future as an outpost of a superstate. His work for our cause over several decades, in and out of Parliament should be long remembered

Eric Deakins

Former Labour MP

1970 – 1987

A tribute to Nigel Spearing MP

A Master of Parliamentary Procedure

Mr. Nigel Spearing

Born 8th October 1930 – Died 8th January 2017

A glowing tribute to a man highly respected for his integrity and well known for his boundless energy, enthusiasm and opposition to UK entry to the Common Market and persistent opposition to EU membership

As a Labour MP, Nigel held the Newham South seat from 1974 until 1997 when the constituency was abolished.

A non-conformist Christian, Nigel was my mentor and friend from the days I joined CIB and met him. He was a Vice-President of CIB under Lord Stoddart and Sir Richard Body and before then a well-established elected member of the national executive of our Campaign for an Independent Britain

He was the last Opposition MP to speak before the government minister wound up the debate before the vote was taken to pass the Bill to accept European Communities Act 1972 into UK law, stating at the time that MPs were being asked to sign a blank cheque since the terms of entry had been withheld from them. Nigel made a great play on the Parliamentary democratic bypass still in effect to this day because of Clause 2-1 of ECA 1972. He was without power to have the wording changed from EU legislation being introduced to UK law “without further enactment” to “may with further enactment” to enable full scrutiny and debate by our Parliament. I am quietly proud that I was able to have two films made of Nigel and his Labour MP colleague, Mr Eric Deakin in Nigel’s home, both of them recounting their memories of their opposition to the Common Market in one of the films quoting from Hansard open on their laps. These films can be found on the internet You Tube under Nigel Spearing’s name or in the video section of CIB website here and here. Both films are of historical importance

Nigel was well known for his perilous travelling to all meetings in London on his bicycle as well as his fitness by rowing on the River Thames. Both he and his wife Wendy enjoyed their holidays on their boat on the Norfolk Broads.

I treasure three special memories, including walking the corridors of Parliament with Nigel and being impressed by the way he was so affectionately greeted by older politicians who remembered him. Secondly, I remember as we waited together for a meeting to start he embarked on a long and expert explanation how weather and tidal conditions around the coast of Britain could, and can still, overcome the flood defences and overwhelm London. I wish that day I had a tape recorder with me.

Thirdly, when I was Chairman of CIB Regional Planning Sub-Committee, our meetings were held in an upstairs room in South Kensington in a pub populated downstairs by boisterous Australian back-packers in those far off days. On an occasion the room was packed and I found the meeting difficult to control because of the level of heckling dissenting voices. Nigel sat to one side in the front row listening intently. I noticed his sparkling eyes. Afterwards to my surprise bearing in mind the countless debates he would have attended in his career he told me, ”That was one of the most exciting debates I have ever attended”. In his final years his mind remained focused upon and stimulated by EU matters of great concern to him

Of the e-mails I have received praising Nigel, I have selected a few.

“Nigel Spearing had something of the manner of a benevolent house master. He was very kind and patient with us new boys in explaining the geography, history and procedures of the House of Commons, an institution which he loved deeply. It was this love which drove his resolute opposition to Parliament’s subordination to the EU. He was very generous with his time and advice to all who supported the cause. He was unstuffy and realistic about the way politics worked. He once told me “I was brought up in the Evangelical Christian tradition, so I avoided the scrapes which some of my colleagues got into and the whips never had anything on me”. He used to cycle to our committee meetings in the House of Commons well past his eightieth birthday. He continued as long as he was able. When we knew his mind was beginning to cloud over, he invited us to tell him when to leave. Of course, we never did. As my colleague Stuart Notholt remarked “Nigel is family” and that is how we remember him” – Edward Spalton, Chairman, CIB

I am sorry to hear of Nigel’s death. From what I know about him – mostly of all his tenacity and also the disgraceful manner in which the Labour Party removed him as Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee for no reason other than the things which have turned out in the referendum that he was right – his passing is a great loss to the Labour party and the country.” – Sir William Cash MP

“I knew Nigel from fringe meetings etc, a 100% good man.  Sorry to hear of his death but at least he lived to see his objective within our grasp.” Idris Francis (outstanding political activist)

How sad to see yet another of our fellow-warriors passing away. I too met him in 1999; he sought me out about Corpus Juris, we met several times (he came to Vincent House, he took me to the H o C where he had been an MP and introduced me to another EU-sceptic Labour MP, from Wales, whom I had lunch with, and we met again in Bournemouth).

It was he (Nigel) who provided me with the Parliamentary Report on the Tampere EU summit, where the EU decided to “replace” the Corpus Juris idea of a single criminal code for all, with the idea of “mutual recognition” which led to the European Arrest Warrant. I say “replaced” but actually it was a stepping stone to the ultimate Corpus Juris destination.” T.D. Erikson (Journalist)

I am so sorry to hear of the sad loss of Nigel. He was one of the great parliamentarians, having not only a great knowledge of parliamentary procedures but a great respect for them as well. Having been present in the House of Commons when his colleagues voted away the sovereignty of that esteemed House, he worked tirelessly to recover it. His knowledge and experience have been of immense benefit to the campaign to restore Britain’s sovereignty.”  John Harrison (previous CIB Treasurer)

“I’m very sorry to hear of this news. I know from the videos you provided that Nigel was a very eloquent speaker who made a passionate and principled stand against the Europhiles. I hope he was able to derive much satisfaction at the referendum result of 2016 and deserves recognition and our gratitude for the significant contribution he made in bringing us to where we are today.” Nigel Finnis  (Retired television film-maker)

A memorial service will be held in the weeks ahead at a time and place to be later announced

George West, President

The Campaign for an Independent Britain

 

Supreme Court’s ruling won’t derail Brexit

 

It has come as no surprise that the Supreme Court has upheld the original ruling by the High Court that Parliament must vote on the triggering of Article 50.

However, there was one crumb of comfort – the judges dismissed calls for the Scottish Parliament to have any veto over the deal.

With this verdict widely anticipated, we understand that the Government has already drafted an enabling act designed to provide minimal opportunities for Remain-supporting MPs and peers to table amendments and it is unlikely that Parliament will try to derail it.

There have long been concerns that the House of Lords, which has historically been predominantly Europhile, may seek to block Brexit, but a statement earlier this month from  Lord Fowler, the speaker of the House of Lords, provides us with some encouragement:-

“The Lords recognise the primacy of the Commons based on the fact that they are the elected chamber and we are not… In return most MPs value the check that scrutiny by the Lords provides. We are not here to sabotage legislation – we are here to improve it.” 

In Mrs May’s speech last week, she ruled out continued membership of the Single Market, but did not go into any detail as to how British products could  circulate freely “within”  EU, as she has mentioned several times – or indeed, what the transitional arrangement at which she hinted  might entail

Consequentially, Labour sources have indicated that while they would try to amend legislation in four areas, including  a demand that the Government sets out its plans for Brexit in full, the party would not try to block the triggering of Article 50.

Jeremy Corbyn, interviewed by Sophy Ridge for Sky TV on Sunday was adamant that “We accept the result of the referendum. Parliament must reflect public decision.” and added “I will ask Labour MPs to respect the decision.”

It is likely that the opposition to the enabling act will be greater than the 89 MPs who voted against the earlier vote on triggering Article 50. Nevertheless, for all the concerns expressed in some quarters about Mrs May’s speech, the remoaners’ tactics have won them few friends since June 23rd, which has taken away their credibility, regardless of the legitimacy of their concerns. The latest outburst, from the philosopher A C Grayling, who called for a general strike over Brexit, is all too typical.

So Mrs May’s timetable for Article 50 looks still to be on course. We should be on our way out by the end of March by which time we will hopefully know a lot more about how she plans to extricate us seamlessly from the EU.

People’s Charter pro-Brexit rally

The People’s Charter Foundation, whose recent series of pro-Brexit protests, have featured in the media have announced a new event in collaboration with the Bruges Group. The next pro-Brexit rally will be on Saturday the 21st of Jan as requested by the people.

Our “full Brexit” campaign is non-partisan, welcoming all the 52%. We are bringing together as many Brexiteers as possible for a Pro-Brexit Rally on Jan 21st at the George V Statue, opposite the Houses of Parliament