The hounding of Kate Hoey MP

A Principled Independence Campaigner under attack from her own party.

Kate Hoey gave us an inspirational speech at our CIB rally of 2016, a little more than a month before the referendum  So it is sad to report that her Vauxhall constituency Labour party passed a vote of no confidence and wants the Labour party to withdraw the whip from her. Forty five party members out of a branch membership of 2,300 turned up for the meeting and only three abstained from the vote. The other forty two voted in favour.

Kate told the Independent “ Not a surprise – my local party activists are solid EU remainers, I will always put my country before my party and helping my constituents is a priority . After 29 years as an MP I am quite relaxed about the vote and it won’t influence me in any way how I vote in the future”.

She was one of four Labour MPs to vote with Theresa May’s government on a crucial vote that resulted in the prime minister narrowly avoiding defeat. She was also one of the 42 Labour MPs who actually voted in support of Jeremy Corbyn as leader.

Kate will no doubt be looking ahead with her usual firmness and vigour to deliver what people voted for in the referendum. We also owe her a considerable debt for deliverance from one of the nastier projects of the European Union some twenty years ago.

A principled independence campaigner for all her political life, Kate is particularly remembered for her part in frustrating the attempted introduction of the uniform EU legal code Corpus Juris in 1998 which would have abolished long-held British rights such as jury trial and habeas corpus. Kate was a Home Office Minister at the time and promised to veto it. Labour MEPs  supported the new legal system in Strasbourg, Tony Blair did not have the stomach to disown Kate publicly but she was later moved to Sport. Neither did Blair endorse Pauline Green MEP (Labour) the leader of the European Socialists who contrived a motion in the EU Parliament to “welcome” this appalling denial of British freedoms*, a motion which was also supported by Conservative MEPs, contrary to the stated policy of their own party.

We hear that another principled Labour supporter of independence and democracy, FRANK FIELD MP is facing similar action from his constituency party.

All friends of freedom will wish them well.

* For the full background to this vital and still continuing threat, please see Torquil Dick Erikson’s articles at . The European Arrest Warrant (EAW), so beloved of Mrs May, is an offshoot of this alien philosophy, achieved by a totally unjustified “Mutual Recognition ” amongst the very different legal systems used in EU states, in particular as between our system, derived from Magna Carta and the systems used on the continent, largely derived from the Inquisition via Napoleon.

Wishing us to fail?

If you have read the Bruges Group’s latest Brexit paper What will it look like?, you will be aware of the scale of the challenge Mrs May’s team will face in negotiating a seamless exit from the EU within the tight timescale imposed by Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. It will be intense – a very hectic time with the potential to go wrong – but the stakes are high on both sides. It’s neither in our interest nor that of the EU to reach Independence Day – possibly the end of March 2019 – without some agreement in place enabling trade to flow smoothly.

It is now over eight months since June’s memorable vote and since then, the UK economy has defied the gloomy predictions. Anyone signed up to the daily news briefs from Global Britain will be well aware of how well the business sector is doing.  Only yesterday, for example, the news brief carried reports of Boeing’s decision to establish its first European base in the UK, factories in Plymouth thriving and 500 new jobs being created at the University of St Andrews, including an enterprise centre.

It’s a far cry from the doomsday scenario painted by George Osborne. Thankfully, some remain voters who decided leaving the EU carried too great a risk have graciously admitted that they got it wrong. For instance, Andy Haldane, the chief economist at the Bank of England, said that the worst predictions may turn out to be “just scare stories” and that criticism of economists was a “fair cop” after they failed to predict the financial crisis and were wrong about the impact of the Brexit vote.

True, there has been some negative fallout from the Brexit vote. The fall in the value of sterling, while a bonus for exporters, has caused a rise in inflation, which is not welcome for consumers. This still needs to be put into context, however. At 3%, Spain has annual Consumer Price inflation running at a much higher level than in the UK  – indeed, the UK’s current inflation rate, 1.8%, is still below the Bank of England’s target of 2%. For most people in the UK, in spite of the inconvenience of rising prices, the Brexit vote has come and gone and it’s time just to get on with life.

There are the exceptions, however, the most prominent of which are politicians. Following on from Tony Blair’s intervention, Sir John Major’s speech at Chatham House rightly infuriated Mrs May’s ministers. Major did mention that negotiations were going to be a tough, which is a reasonable enough comment to make. However, the tone of his remarks were very different from the Bruges Group’s paper. He called the Brexit vote “an historic mistake” and sought to dampen down the optimism of Government ministers. “The hopes of those who favoured leaving the European Union are sky-high. We are told that countries ”are queuing up to do trade deals with us”. That ”our best days lie ahead”. It all sounds very enticing. And – for the sake of our country – I hope the optimists are proved right. But I’m not sure they will be… If events go badly, their expectations will not be met, and whole communities will be worse off.”

It is one thing to say that some Brexit supporters, including even members of Mrs May’s team, may have underestimated the challenges of the negotiations, but is there almost a wish for Brexit to fail? Are there some people who would positively like to see us slip into a calamitous recession if it means we bottle out and end up stuck in the EU?  Take the Guardian’s Polly Toynbee. Last November, she wrote, “Sooner or later, {Philip} Hammond will have to stop pretending the economy is OK.” What was the truth? The economy was doing much better than expected at the time and three months later, the picture hasn’t changed. One comment on the article said “significant inflation is already building up due to this mad plan to leave the EU.” As we mentioned above, the UK inflation rate is well below Spain’s or Belgium’s for that matter, but never mind the facts. It’s as if the unspoken message is “oh good – the more it hurts economically, the more chance there is of people reconsidering their decision.”

But it’s not just columnists and people who haunt the comment sections of on-line newspapers who seem to be willing a recession. In his recent speech Blair admitted that there was “no widespread appetite” for the referendum result to be reversed, but added that he wanted to “build support for finding a way out from the present rush over the cliff’s edge.” Oh wouldn’t it be lovely to have a catastrophe!

Assuming Mrs May manages a successful Brexit, that would be the end of any talk of staying in or rejoining this failing project, which is why, reading between the lines, Blair not only expects but seemingly hopes she will fail. If the secret wish of the hard core remainiacs is that thousands of people should be put out of work, lose their homes and endure poverty because it is the only way so we might be stopped from taking a step forward to freedom and self-determination, all we can say is that these people are merely acting true to form.  Perhaps the best comment on Blair’s intervention in tbe Brexit debate came from his former sports minister, Kate Hoey. “Why doesn’t he just now go and find himself a job?”

Why not indeed? It’s time that Blair recognises that his dream of becoming Europe’s Emperor Tony the First died a long time ago. The rest of the EU just wants us gone, Blair and all. There are few in Brussels who want a U-turn now. “This bus has left,” said one senior EU diplomat. “No one is happy about it. But we have moved on and the last thing anyone wants now is to reopen the whole issue.”

Photo by Eoin O’Mahony

Bad losers and incompetent management

Many of us will have been appalled by the pro-EU demonstrations in London which have taken place on both Saturdays since the results were announced.  The sight of our fellow-countrymen waving EU flags and proclaiming “I’m not leaving” and “EU we love you” is so utterly sickening that we have commisisoned Chris McGovern of the Campaign for Real Education to write a calm, dispassionate appraisal of this subject rather than our venting our spleens on this website. We hope to publish Chris’s piece later this week.

One brief comment, however, is that democracy is a precious thing. It seems as though there are plenty of  young people who have yet to appreciate its value.

A more sinister challenge to the result was launched by law firm Mishcon de Reya. This article merely says that the action was brought “by a group of clients”. Their identities are not revealed, but a piece in the Financial Times suggests that the backers are large companies who supported remain.

While the referendum was technically a consultation rather than a legally-binding vote, for anyone to ride roughshod over the result on which so much was staked would be politically unacceptable. Tom Harris, writing in the Daily Telegraph, points out that It has, until now, been assumed that the British prime minister (whoever she may be) can trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty by executive authority, submitting a formal letter of intent to the president of the European Council. Nothing that Mishcon de Reya has said suggests this is not the case; declaring, pompously, that such executive action would not be “constitutional” is just something that lawyers say when they want to attract some media coverage.”

Mr Harris ends his piece by reiterating the point we have made above – that some people are all too ready to despise the opinions of ordinary voters if they deliver a result which a certain élite does not agree with: “Much has been written about the mistake David Cameron made in allowing the plebs even to have a say on such an important issue in the first place: we’re a parliamentary democracy and referendums are too easily exploited for the wrong ends, goes the argument. Let MPs make the big decisions using their big brains – don’t task the peasants with decisions too large for their tiny ones.

Yet I’d rather run the country by unending referendums than submit to the tyranny of the lawyer acting on behalf of an unrepresentative, wealthy and entitled élite.

If our new prime minister wishes to trigger Article 50 by passing Donald Tusk a Clinton’s card with the inscription, “We’re off now – it’s been fun! Love and kisses xxx” then that is her prerogative.

And this goes to the heart of the legal challenge – that these mysterious clients don’t like the fact that the government has the competence to invoke Article 50 without the consent of Parliament.

It does, however, remind us that the majority of MPs supported remain. As we pointed out recently, nonetheless, there are grounds for believing that most remain supporters in the Conservative Party are driven more by a desire not to rock the boat than any love for the EU project and the party seems, at least on the surface, united around the principle that the referendum result must be respected.  It is unfortunately a different matter with Labour.

Kate Hoey, the pro-leave Labour MP for Vauxhall, who spoke at our annual rally in May, has faced calls to resign on the grounds that she was out of step with her constituents.   The London Borough of Lambeth, which includes her Vauxhall constituency, voted by over 3 to 1 to remain. On the other hand, it must be mentioned – and Kate has made this very point – that by the same logic, many of her pro-EU Labour colleagues in the Midlands and North ought therefore to tender their resignations too, as they found themselves on the opposite side of the debate from the majority of those among their constituents who voted in the referendum.

In Doncaster, which includes most of the constituencies of both former party Leader Ed Miliband and former Europe Minister Caroline Flint, leavers outnumbered remainers by more than 2 to 1, yet no one is calling for their heads on a charger. In fact, even Sheffield, where the former Lib Dem leader and arch-Europhile Nick Clegg retained  his seat in last year’s general Election, voted to  leave.

So any legal challenge, which looks pretty unlikely to succeed anyway, would pose a moral dilemma for quite a few pro-remain MPs.

Another development for which we need to be prepared is the possibility of poorly-performing companies blaming their woes on the referendum result. Professor Tim Congdon has warned that some banks in particular which have been facing difficulties for some time may seek to cast Brexit as the villain in order to disguise the poor performance of their senior managers.

Tim remains positive about the economic prospects for our country on leaving the EU. Much of the scaremongering is overblown, he maintains. For instance, on the subject of the City of London losing its pre-eminent position as the world’s currency trading centre, he writes:-

“The most traded currency “in the City of London” (but in fact over phone lines and between trading desks in numerous centres) is the dollar. But Britain is not a state in the United States of America, and has not had to become the 51st state in the American union to maintain its high share of international financial business denominated in dollars. Securities issued in many nations and in over 100 currencies are bought and sold in London, and that will continue after Brexit. It needs to be remembered that the Eurozone’s share of world output has fallen heavily in the last 20 years. It is now only 15 per cent and is still declining. With the UK again able to tailor financial regulation to its own needs, the City of London can prosper outside the EU.”

Furthermore, for all the efforts of Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, to talk down the economy, Tim is adamant that the current turbulence in the markets will be short-lived:-

“The notion that there could be any dramatic change in the way of life because of that is plainly absurd. And if stock-markets and so on have a major movement the day afterwards then that also is absurd and will, over time, simply vanish. Most of the world’s countries don’t belong to the European Union. They have stock markets and currencies, and the value of these stock markets and currencies are not effected by the fact that they are not in the European Union.”

Much is talked about the country being in political chaos. With both the Conservatives and UKIP looking to elect a new leader and Labour in a state of complete disarray, let’s remind ourselves that the House of Commons begins its annual summer recess only two weeks on Friday as usual. Life always carries on throughout August without the sky falling in and life has carried on remarkably normally since the referendum result was announced.  In fact, the weather has improved – at least marginally – since 23rd June! The economy will soon follow suit and with negotiating teams being lined up on both sides of the Channel to begin negotiations, we remain confident  that, regardless of student unhappiness, whoever becomes our next Prime Minister and whatever the machinations of Mishcon de Reya, Article 50 WILL be invoked before too long and we will be on our way out.

The Left of centre case for leaving the EU – new Video

Following on from Brexit the Movie and Flexcit the Movie, we can now announce the Lexit the Move – making the Left of Centre case for leaving the EU.

It lasts just over an hour and can be watched here. It features archive footage of the late Tony Benn and  more recent interviews with Kate Hoey and George Galloway. It highlights the long-standing tradition of left-of-centre withdrawalism and mentions that some trade unions, including the Bakers’ Union and the RMT, support Brexit. Helle Hagenau (pictured above), a long-standing friend of CIB, points out that in Nordic countries, EU-scepticism is very much a centre-left phenomenon.

It is good that we are hearing a strong left-of-centre pro-withdrawal voice in this debate. This video has come at an ideal time, with John Cryer announcing his decision to back “leave” only yesterday. It is ideal to show to any left-leaning voters who support remain or are still undecided. It has a long way to go to catch up with “Brexit the Movie”, which has been downloaded over 1,200,000 times already, but the more views it receives, the greater likelihood that we will see a decent “leave” vote next week.

Fishing for Leave bests Geldof’s motley crew

Earlier this year, the Campaign for Independent Britain published a booklet by John Ashworth of Restore Britain’s Fish entitled The Betrayal of Britain’s Fishing to the European Union. It was based on a series of articles which appeared on our website a couple of months earlier.

John, who spent his entire working life in the fishing industry, has been advising the Fishing for Leave group, who were organising a big demonstration to highlight the damage which the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy has done to our fishing industry.  Yesterday was their big day. A flotilla of fishing boats from several parts of the UK assembled at Southend at 5AM to sail up the Thames. They arrived at Tower Bridge (which had to be raised to accommodate some of the larger larger Scottish vessels) at 10AM.  It was a very moving moment when the fishing boats appeared, some of which had travelled hundreds of miles to make their point about how the iniquitous CFP has damaged their livelihood.

After mooring the larger boats by HMS Belfast, seven smaller boats, headed by a contingent from Ramsgate, sailed off via London Bridge to Westminster to make their protest outside the Houses of Parliament.  Their presence would have made David Cameron’s statement at Prime Minister’s Question Time (which was going on at the time) that the UK’s fishing industry was “much better off today than it was five years ago” ring very hollow.

There was a good crowd on London Bridge as the boats sailed past while Westminster Bridge had something of a carnival atmosphere as hundreds of people jammed the pavement to show their support for our fishermen. John had travelled down from his home in Yorkshire with a suitcase full copies of the booklet, which were all received gladly, both by passers-by and fishermen’s groups who were part of the crowd. As an East Sussex resident, I was particularly pleased to meet a group of Hastings fishermen who enthusiastically accepted a few  copies to take back with them. “This booklet will make you very angry, ” I warned them!

Besides the UK press, a considerable number of  foreign radio and TV stations were present. Arron Brown, the Scottish fisherman who had organised the event, was inundated with request for interviews and John Ashworth was interviewed by TV channels from  Sweden, France and Russia. Danish and Polish press teams were also present. They would all have come away under no illusions about our passion to leave the EU and in particular, the depth of support we feel for our fishermen.

Of course, those of us watching from the shoreline were only partly aware of the shenanigans going on with Bob Geldof’s pro-remain counter-demonstration. Even as the first boats passed under Tower Bridge, a few little dinghies flying their “in” flags could be seen bobbing around between the fishing boats. I can’t claim to be unbiased, but they really looked pathetic. Quite frankly, it was an insult to people who work so hard for their living in very adverse conditions. I had the chance to  spend a few minutes on board one of the larger vessels which had come down from the North East of Scotland and was made very welcome by the crew, but even without being given a full conducted tour of the boat, it was obvious that this was no luxury craft as far as accommodation was concerned.

The showdown between Geldof’s boat and that carrying Nigel Farage and Kate Hoey likewise did nothing to enhance the “remain” cause. One could not but consider the white flags they waved saying “In” looked like a flag of surrender. I couldn’t make out what the cacophony blasted out from his vessel was all about. Only by reading the press coverage of the event afterwards did I discover that it was a 1960s song which I had never heard of, entitled  “In with the In Crowd” and quite frankly, I don’t think from what I heard yesterday that my previous ignorance about this musical masterpiece has been any great loss.

A correspondent informed me this morning that the skipper of the vessel which Geldof hired may face prosecution. Certainly, their behaviour, in particular making rude gestures at Mr Farage, won them few friends. Owen Bennett, a reporter who saw things close at hand, reported thatOne man on a fishing boat was almost shaking with anger as he shouted across to us how the quota system was destroying his industry. He didn’t want to be lectured by Geldof, who seemed more intent on calling Nigel Farage a w***** than expressing a genuine interest in the fishing industry.

And this is what has wrong-footed the Remain campaign. Geldof and the like fail to appreciate that, in John Mills’ words, “The EU may work for the metropolitan élite – but it doesn’t for most working people.” Our fishermen yesterday illustrated this truth in a particularly graphic  and moving way. It was a privilege to have been there to support them.

The report of yesterday’s events on the Fishing for Leave website is well worth reading.

The Clyde demonstration planned for this morning has been cancelled as a mark of respect for the murdered MP Jo Cox. Fishing For Leave has stated on its website that it was not in the interest of public safety to proceed with the protest in the Clyde following ‘viable threats’ from Remain campaigners who claimed there would be “Armageddon” at the demonstration.

CIB Annual Rally – Saturday 14th May

CIB A4 Flyer Inster for Newsletter April 2016-page-001


two Parliamentary Veterans of the 1972 Debate
which took  us into the EU by a mere 8 votes will also be speaking

Forty four years on and still fighting!

There is no charge for this event, but a collection will be taken up to cover the costs.