17 November 2017
13th November 2017
Rt. Hon. David Lidington M.P.
House of Commons
Dear Mr. Lidington,
Sitting on the Brexit fence
You may recall that we were out campaigning together in support of Remain during last year’s Referendum. Given the present circumstances and your pro-European credentials, I was rather hoping that you would take a more active and constructive role in the present shambolic approach to the Brexit talks. Not only do you have your pedigree as former Minister for Europe to enable you to put forward the positive advantages of being a part of the EU, challenging the lies regarding the costs set against the huge economic advantages that the UK has enjoyed, but now (as Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor) you are almost uniquely positioned to be able to ensure that the concerns over the funding of the Leave campaign are fully investigated. Not only was the Referendum flawed, it increasingly seems likely that it was corrupted by foreign money. As you know, the Electoral Commission announced on 1st November that it had begun an investigation into whether Arron Banks and the Leave campaign had breached campaign finance rules. Given the massive impact of the outcome of the Referendum on this country’s future, it is surely right to pause the process of departure and, ideally, to re-run the Referendum on a more transparent basis, with confidence in the integrity of the process.
At present, however, the government is failing to confront the Brexit extremists led by the so-called Foreign Secretary Johnson. Their undermining of the government’s attempts to make progress in Brexit talks with the European Union is deeply damaging, arguably unconstitutional. Never before has collective Cabinet responsibility broken down as spectacularly as it has in 2017.
I have recently returned from a trip to France. My friends there, a number of whom have close business and personal links with the U.K, are aghast at the government’s approach to the Brexit negotiations: the failure to reassure EU nationals of their future status, the risk of trade chaos, erection of Customs barriers etc. My friends in Ireland expressed similar sentiments earlier in the year and were particularly concerned about the impact on the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland. Johnson is viewed with a mixture of disdain and bemusement at his ridiculous, but dangerous antics. There is not much more respect for the role that the hapless David Davis is playing in his less than impressive negotiations with Michel Barnier.
If this was just theatre, we could all perhaps enjoy the black humour of the situation, but these extreme Brexiteers are playing with people’s lives and the future of the country. They wish to deprive young people of the advantages that they enjoyed in their careers of being able to move freely around Europe and threaten to drive away essential workers in the health and caring services as well as skilled workers who are vital to the economic future of the U.K. Trade and investment, not to mention the weak pound, are already suffering. Their idea of the future for this country seems to be based on a deregulated economy, with less social protection, that serves the very wealthy whilst subjecting ordinary people to lower standards of living and to a precarious working life.
How much more damage are you prepared to allow these extremists to do before calling them to account?
c.c. Bucks. Herald