For­mer Leavers lead­ing the march back to re­al­ity

The New European - - Letters -

I vol­un­teered as a mar­shal at the

Peo­ple’s Vote march. It was peace­ful and well spir­ited with hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple of all ages and back­grounds com­ing to­gether in a unity that has been miss­ing since 2016.

Three things sur­prised me as the marchers passed me in Park Lane:

1. The sheer scale of pub­lic outcry against Brexit.

2. The num­ber of peo­ple over the age of 60. The press would have you be­lieve it was all young peo­ple; that is a fal­lacy, the ma­jor­ity were older. It’s cer­tainly made me ques­tion whether the gen­er­a­tional di­vide on this is­sue is ac­tu­ally as preva­lent as first thought.

3. The num­ber of peo­ple present who voted Leave in 2016. I met many who felt an­gry and mis­led by politi­cians about what Brexit re­ally means. Peo­ple spoke to me specif­i­cally about the prom­ise of more money for the NHS, and how be­trayed they felt. I ad­mire their hon­esty and their drive to cor­rect what they see as a big mis­take.

It hit home to me at the march quite how much of a mi­nor­ity the no-deal Brex­i­teers re­ally are. Not all 17.4 mil­lion peo­ple voted for the same rea­sons or with the same be­liefs. This should make un­com­fort­able read­ing for those con­tin­u­ing down the Brexit path with­out the fog­gi­est idea what peo­ple ac­tu­ally want. The only so­lu­tion is com­plete hon­esty from politi­cians on what ac­tu­ally is achiev­able, with a fi­nal say from the peo­ple on what, fac­tu­ally, is on the ta­ble. Matthew Blake­more Hat­field, Hert­ford­shire

I spent my Satur­day this week­end with some friends from Ch­ester and with hun­dreds of thou­sands of other peo­ple from up and down the coun­try on the streets of Lon­don to make a peace­ful re­quest of all par­lia­men­tar­i­ans that they al­low us to have an op­por­tu­nity to ex­am­ine the ap­palling con­se­quences of the vote from 2016. We stood for six hours, shuf­fling along un­able to make head­way for a cou­ple of hours be­cause there were so many of us. Those of us who were at the June march all know that this was many times big­ger. Sup­port for our cam­paign is grow­ing ex­po­nen­tially.

We are not ask­ing to stop Brexit with­out an­other demo­cratic ex­er­cise. We sim­ply want an op­por­tu­nity for a vote on the deal (or no-deal) ver­sus Re­main which is fair, open, truth­ful, trans­par­ent and in­formed. Pi­lar Gomez

Set­ting Sun

If fear can be mea­sured by the doses of vit­riol in­jected into a news­pa­per ar­ti­cle, then the Sun’s col­umn on the morn­ing

of the Peo­ple’s Vote march re­vealed sheer ter­ror. I was in ab­so­lute stitches af­ter read­ing it. In the mother of all rants, it not only re­gur­gi­tated the ex­pected ‘re­moan­ers’, ‘treach­er­ous’ and ‘against democ­racy’, but also threw in ‘hissy’, ‘sanc­ti­mo­nious’, ‘mass tod­dler tantrum’, ‘latte-sup­ping”, etc, for good mea­sure.

Now that their hys­te­ria has sub­sided – at least, for their sake, I hope so – here are a few help­ful cor­rec­tions to that col­umn’s con­tents: The Peo­ple’s Vote march was part of an ad­mirably demo­cratic process; Leave vot­ers are not “thick” or “racist”, but were just lied to, time and time again; you are the “hate­filled” and “in­sanely dan­ger­ous” ones, not Peo­ple’s Vote cam­paign­ers. Paul Smith

Zero-sum losers

I used to think I un­der­stood pol­i­tics. It was all about eco­nom­ics. How should the govern­ment en­cour­age eco­nomic growth? How much of the na­tional in­come should be spent on pub­lic ser­vices? How should wealth and in­come be dis­trib­uted be­tween dif­fer­ent so­cial groups?

Then I be­came con­fused. How could peo­ple sup­port a pol­i­tics that was clearly not in their or their coun­try’s eco­nomic in­ter­ests?

Now I think I un­der­stand the rea­son. These peo­ple look at the world though a

dif­fer­ent prism. It is not about eco­nom­ics, it is about na­tion­al­ism and power (some­times called sovereignty). Whereas in the pol­i­tics of eco­nom­ics it is pos­si­ble to pro­pose win-win so­lu­tions, the pol­i­tics of power is a zero-sum game. Ev­ery­one who is not in your tribe is a foe and some­thing that dam­ages your tribe is still a step for­ward if it dam­ages an­other tribe more. Hence it is pos­si­ble to ‘win’ a trade war in the same way that it is pos­si­ble to ‘win’ a mil­i­tary war. You ac­cept that your tribe will take losses as long as you think you can in­flict greater losses on your foes.

When it is said that no one voted in the Euro­pean ref­er­en­dum to be poorer, I don’t think this is true. I think those who look through the prism of na­tion­al­ism and power would be happy for Bri­tain to be poorer.

But the con­se­quences would be worse than that. His­tory teaches us that pop­ulists start with trade wars and end with mil­i­tary wars,

The chal­lenge is not to con­vince the Brex­iters that Brexit will make Bri­tain poorer. They know this al­ready and don’t care. The chal­lenge is to ex­pose this dan­ger­ous ide­ol­ogy! Adrian Waite

Leav­ing home?

When Leaver friends ar­gue they voted that way be­cause of im­mi­grants my wife and I tend to tact­fully re­mind them that we are im­mi­grants too. Their stan­dard re­ply is along the lines: “yes, but we do not mean you”. As we know about 100 Brexit sup­port­ers, does that mean that the other 17,410,642 Leave vot­ers, who do not know us, would rather see us go back to Hol­land?

We have lived in Bri­tain for 46 years and al­ways felt wel­come un­til the ref­er­en­dum. We were just Dutch, liv­ing in this part of Europe. We know what Clarence Michel (Let­ters, TNE #114) went through when she de­cided to re­turn to France.

We have also had the house val­ued to see what we could af­ford back ‘home’. But we have chil­dren and grand­chil­dren in Bri­tain. Not an easy de­ci­sion af­ter all this time and, like Clarence, we love liv­ing in this beau­ti­ful coun­try.

Our hopes are set on a Peo­ple’s Vote, even if we are not al­lowed to take part in gen­eral elec­tions and ref­er­en­dums. If there is any logic in ex­clud­ing ex-pat

Brits of over 15 years away, per­haps we im­mi­grants of over 15 years should be in­cluded? Hen­drik Buzink Rock

El­derly rebels

Mark Bar­rett and Jon Cleary (Let­ters, TNE #115) draw sim­i­lar con­clu­sions about the ef­fects of ag­ing on at­ti­tudes to Brexit. Whilst I do not fun­da­men­tally dis­agree with the premise, I feel there are other fac­tors to take into ac­count.

An age-re­lated ten­dency to con­ser­vatism (de­lib­er­ate small c) is a slow process. The Brexit process is a much faster one and will be un­likely to be af­fected by two years of ag­ing. This is, I think, demon­strated by the re­sult of the last gen­eral elec­tion, where a re­quested man­date for Brexit was clearly de­nied by the elec­torate, who, if they are any­thing like me, voted to in­di­cate lack of sup­port for Brexit rather than real sup­port for the op­po­si­tion.

I think there is an­other fac­tor to con­sider. I am of the im­me­di­ate post-war gen­er­a­tion. I may be wrong, but I have al­ways thought that our gen­er­a­tion was rather more re­bel­lious in a quiet sort of way than pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions or than many since.

It could just be that many of us who reached ma­tu­rity in a time of strug­gle for civil rights and anti-racism are not too happy to see the forces of pop­ulism en­cour­ag­ing a less tol­er­ant and more self­cen­tred so­ci­ety. There just might be a much re­duced ten­dency to con­ser­vatism in this gen­er­a­tion of oldies. John Bates More­cambe It is very im­por­tant that the older gen­er­a­tion are in­formed that Leave’s promises for the NHS were false and that the NHS is now find­ing it very hard to re­cruit the nurses and doc­tors re­quired from Europe be­cause of

Brexit. They must also be made aware that so­cial ser­vices, sup­port in the some for the el­derly and old peo­ple’s homes rely enor­mously on staff from Europe. In­deed, the gen­er­a­tion that will suf­fer most from Brexit is the el­derly. David J. Hogg Nailsea

Don’t miss the vote

With dis­cus­sion of a Peo­ple’s Vote now firmly es­tab­lished in both main­stream me­dia and par­lia­men­tary de­bate, there is an in­creas­ingly strong prospect of an­other ref­er­en­dum. In prepa­ra­tion, it is vi­tal that Re­main cam­paign­ers fo­cus on en­cour­ag­ing voter regis­tra­tion.

It’s es­ti­mated that since June 2016 we have 1.5 mil­lion peo­ple over 18 who are now el­i­gi­ble to vote. Un­der re­cent elec­toral rules, stu­dents who have moved away to univer­sity and young peo­ple rent­ing and work­ing away from home, will need to ei­ther reg­is­ter or re-reg­is­ter to vote. We must help give them the op­por­tu­nity to have a voice.

Given the time frame any UK/EU agree­ment is un­der pres­sure to meet, a sec­ond vote on the out­come of ne­go­ti­a­tions will more than likely be called at short no­tice. There is usu­ally a tight dead­line be­tween voter regis­tra­tion and the cut off date to reg­is­ter so it makes sense for all Re­main cam­paign­ers to build and pro­mote this, as from now, via the web­site uk/reg­is­ter-to-vote. We can make this hap­pen. Gail Brack­ett Lon­don NW3

Bad taste

We read that the USA Ranch­ers and Farm­ers Al­liance is lob­by­ing Pres­i­dent Trump to do a trade deal with the UK right now on USA stan­dards so that hor­mone-pumped beef and chlo­ri­nated chicken, amongst other things, can be ex­ported to the UK on USA stan­dards.

Re­cent re­ports, also on the pub­lic record, state that there have been 200,000 in­ci­dents of sal­mo­nella in the USA against 5,000 through­out the whole EU dur­ing the same re­ported pe­riod. Is this the sort of deal that UK min­is­ters are ad­vo­cat­ing, bla­tant dereg­u­la­tion?

These ques­tion­able prod­ucts may of course re­place Scot­tish and UK prod­ucts in our su­per­mar­kets.

With re­gard to a sole UK/USA trade agree­ment, what will the USA buy from the UK that it does not al­ready buy? My opin­ion is that the USA will be only in­ter­ested in sell­ing, on their terms and on their stan­dards. There’s one thing that Trump can be re­lied upon and that is ‘Amer­ica First’; the rest of the world, in­clud­ing the UK, sec­ond.

Michael Clarke


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