48 questions for Brexiteers

In response to Tony Blair’s speech last week, calling on us “to rise up in defence of what we believe” (read it in full here), Alaistair Campbell has asked the following 48 questions of the Brexiteers, one for each percentage that voted Remain:

1 Do you accept that many people who voted Leave did so without knowing the full terms of Brexit?

2 Do you accept that it is open to the people to change their minds if they decide Brexit will in fact harm their own and the country’s interests?

3 Do you accept that there is no monopoly on patriotism and that there might be a patriotic case for wishing to reverse the referendum decision, if enough people feel it will be damaging to the UK?

4 Do you agree the government approach can now be defined as ‘Brexit at any cost’?

5 Do you accept that people are entitled to be concerned at the scale of that cost, economically and politically?

6 Do you accept that the financial cost of withdrawal, the UK having to pay for previous EU obligations but not benefit from future opportunities, could be as high as £60bn?

7 Do you agree with the Prime Minister’s and the Chancellor’s former views that maintaining our partnership with the biggest political union and largest commercial market on our doorstep fulfills rather than diminishes our national interest?

8 Is there not something surreal about the Prime Minister and Chancellor now claiming hard Brexit is a huge boon for the country when during the campaign they said the opposite, in Chancellor Philip Hammond’s case with real conviction?

9 Do you accept that politics, not economics or the genuine national interest, is now driving the hard Brexit chosen by May?

10 Are you seriously saying the PM’s vision of Britain as a ‘great open trading nation’ is best served by leaving the largest free trading bloc in the world? Might her vision of Britain as a bridge between Europe and the US be more realistic if we remained part of the EU?

11 In what way will her call for a fairer capitalism be met by moving to a low tax, light regulation economy?

12 Do you accept that if the right-wing ideologues pushing a hard Brexit so Britain becomes a low tax, low regulation, offshore hub have their way, we will need huge tax and welfare changes? Were they voted for in the referendum?

13 Will this approach in fact lead to less not more public money for the NHS? Less not more protection for workers?

14 Is it not the case that the UK government could make these changes now, but wouldn’t because they know they do not have public support for them?

15 Is there any chance at all that Brexit will lead to £350m a week more for the NHS?

16 Please define the ‘big argument’ that Tony Blair says is missing from this pursuit of hard Brexit, and how it will benefit Britain economically.

17 Do you agree that of the many arguments put forward for Leave in the referendum, only immigration and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) are still really being pursued?

18 Do you accept that the Leave campaign deliberately conflated the ECJ and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR)?

19 Can you confirm that that ECHR is not and never has been a EU body?

20 Can you name any laws the UK government has not been able to pass because of the ECJ?

21 Can you confirm that of net immigration into the UK in 2016, over half was from outside the EU?

22 Do you accept that as May wants to keep those EU immigrants who come with a confirmed job offer, and students, this leaves around 80,000 who come looking for work without a job?

23 Do you agree that of these 80,000, roughly a third come to London, mostly working in the food processing and hospitality sectors; and that the practical impact of Brexit on our ‘control’ of immigration is on analysis less than 12% of the immigration total?

24 Do you agree that most of the immigrants we are talking about in this 12% work hard and pay their taxes?

25 Do you think the biggest constitutional, political, economic and social change of our lifetime is merited by such numbers as set out in questions 23 to 26?

26 Do you accept that the immigration most people worry about – that of people determined to challenge our security and way of life, in the name of a perverted view of Islam – is not affected by Brexit?

27 Do you agree that the post Article 50 negotiations are going to be as complex as any we have experienced, covering a vast number of areas?

28 Do you accept, as a matter of fact, that the Single Market covers around half of our trade in goods and services?

29 Do you accept that leaving the Customs Union may adversely impact on trade with other countries like Turkey?

30 Can you confirm that we will need to negotiate the replacement of over 50 Preferential Trade Agreements we have via our membership of the EU?

31 Do you accept that EU-related trade is actually two thirds of the UK total?

32 Do you accept scientific research and culture are both going to suffer as a result of Brexit, and indeed already are?

33 Are you content to have the WTO as a fall back strategy should we fail to reach a satisfactory deal within two years?

34 Do you accept this too has enormous complexity attached to it; that we would need to negotiate the removal not just of tariff barriers; but the prevention of non-tariff barriers which today are often the biggest impediments to trade?

35 Do you agree that the fall in the value of sterling against the euro and the dollar as a result of Brexit is an indication that the international financial markets believe we are going to be poorer?

36 Do you accept that therefore the price of imported goods is up and so will be inflation?

37 Do you agree that the Single Market and enlargement were huge foreign policy successes for the UK?

38 Do you agree that the Single Market has brought billions of pounds of wealth, hundreds of thousands of jobs, and major investment opportunities for the UK?

39 Do you agree that enlargement has enhanced EU and NATO security?

40 Do you accept that in the early 21st century, most countries are seeking to forge rather than break regional and economic alliances?

41 Do you agree we can do more on issues like the environment with others than alone?

42 Do you agree that the route taken on and since June 23 has helped revive the argument about Scotland leaving the UK?

43 Do you accept that the failure to address the question of how to maintain EU freedom of movement without a hard border between Ireland and the UK is destabilising the peace process?

44 Do you accept the government is obsessed with Brexit, and has no choice but to be so?

45 Do you accept that the scale of government focus on Brexit is having a detrimental impact on their ability to deal with other issues, such as the NHS, education, the new economy, crime, prisons – and, er, immigration policy?

46 Do you accept there is a cartel of right wing newspapers skewing the debate in the broadcast media, and whose support for May is contingent on her pursuing a hard Brexit policy?

47 Do you agree that had the business survey mentioned by Tony Blair said the opposite – namely huge confidence in Brexit – it would have led the news because the cartel would have splashed on it, not ignored it?

48 Do you accept Brexit has divided the country across its nations, regions and generations, contrary to May’s claim to have 65 million people behind her?

What use is sovereignty when MPs deny their conscience?

This was the question posed by William Keegan in The Guardian last week, as he reflected on the House of Commons’ vote to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

He quotes Churchill’s definition of sovereignty:

“The first duty of an MP is to do what he [or she] thinks … is right and necessary for the honour and safety of Great Britain. His second duty is to his constituents, of whom he is the representative but not the delegate.”

Given that we know the majority of MPs were opposed to leaving the EU, are the majority of them now guilty of a dereliction of duty?

Our own MP in West Berkshire, Richard Benyon, has told this group that he believes that leaving the EU is a retrograde step and will lead to a worse future for our country. Yet Mr Benyon voted with the government to trigger Article 50: Ken Clarke was the only Remain-voting Tory who voted with his conscience rather than with his party.

Where does this leave our political system: if MPs are no longer voting according to their own ‘thoughts for what is right and necessary for the honour and safety of Great Britain’, then what are they voting for?

Richard Benyon backs Farmers

According to the Newbury Weekly News, Richard Benyon recently met with the National Farmers’ Union to gave his backing to their plans for farming post-Brexit.

Mr Benyon said it’s hard to think of an area where the impact of Brexit will be more far-reaching: “Farming has always formed the bedrock of communities up and down the country and we must recognise its important contribution to the economy, both regionally and nationally.”

Are you a local farmer? What impact will Brexit have for you?

Let us know your stories.

Are you ready to ‘Rise Up’?

Tony Blair is to re-enter the Brexit debate today, in his first speech since the EU Referendum last summer.

In a speech to Open Britain, he will call on Remainers to ‘rise up in defence of our beliefs’. He will argue the people who voted Leave were misinformed and would be right to change their minds.

What do you think about his intervention in the debate?

Do you feel you were misinformed? Are you ready to rise up?

Let us know your thoughts.

Unite for Europe March – London, 25th March 2017

On Saturday 25th March 2017, a group of WBST members will be travelling together to London to take part in the Unite for Europe march.

If you want to travel with us, go to our Facebook page to sign up.

The reasons behind the March can be found on the Unite for Europe website. It aims to highlight how much we value the peace, friendships, relationships, rights, business & academic collaborations, economic prosperity and outward-looking attitude that European Union membership delivers.

It’s also taking place on the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community.

If you believe that we are stronger when we have a close and positive relationship with our nearest continental neighbours, then come and march with us.

Maintaining Security post Brexit

In a Sky News article today, the UK Director of Europol highlights the importance of maintaining our relationship with the agency after we leave the EU.

Rob Wainwright says: “I have seen how threats of terrorism and organised crime have become more global and the need for greater international police cooperation is absolutely essential to keep us safe.”

What are your thoughts on how leaving the EU will affect our security in the UK?

Get used to rising prices

According to the Times yesterday, shoppers need to get used to rising prices as a consequence of the fall in the value of the pound since June last year.

The article reports that car manufacturers and other companies are now adding a sterling premium to their products.

Are you seeing the impact of price rises here in West Berkshire, either personally, for you & your family, or professional in your business?

Let us know by commenting below.


Richard Benyon votes against EU citizens rights

West Berkshire Stronger Together (WBST) was deeply disappointed to learn that Richard Benyon voted against an amendment to the European Union Bill that would have ensured that all EU citizens legally living in the UK on the date of the EU referendum would have their right to stay protected before Article 50 is triggered.

According to a list in yesterday’s Independent, Richard Benyon was among the 332 MPs who voted down the amendment, with a majority of just 42.

At our meeting with Richard Benyon last Saturday, Mr Benyon appeared to agree with WBST that this was an important issue, saying he thought that reassurances should be given to EU citizens. Unfortunately, Mr Benyon’s actions speak louder than his words.

WBST Press Release

Did you miss our ‘Rally For EU’?

Did you miss our ‘Rally for EU’?

Don’t worry: take a look at our photo gallery or watch this video to hear our speakers share their reflections on the current Brexit situation:

  • Paul Field, Newbury Green Party
  • Jonny Roberts, Newbury Labour Party, and
  • Judith Bunting, Newbury & West Berkshire Liberal Democrats.


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