Illegal Activities by the Leave Campaigns in 2016

Text of letter I sent to various letters pages in Newspapers and version of a similar letter written to my local MP

I note today there have been comments from David Lammy on social media, highlighting a recent news story that the Met Police have decided not to investigate Leave Campaigns which broke electoral law citing political sensitivities.  Also, this week it has been reported that Jon Thompson, the head of HM Revenue and Customs, has revealed that police have investigated two death threats he received after setting out the potential cost to businesses of post-Brexit customs options. 

Additionally, in recent months there have been comments from senior politicians who seem to think we should put aside our democratic rights to campaign for what is best for the country or be cowed into silence through fear of violence from an extreme minority who think democracy stopped one day in June 2016.

I find it appalling that our institutions and public servants are being stopped from doing their jobs due to fear of the minority who are trying to impose a harmful and damaging Brexit on us. We are not some tin pot republic run by despots riddled with corruption.   This tyranny of silence on those who speak to truth is extremely damaging and in the long term will only feed into further mistrust of governments and institutions as the people will say “why didn’t you tell us we would have our economy damaged and our rights removed?  Why did you all tell us we would be better off? Why didn’t you tell us that people cheated to get the result they wanted in 2016”.

Regardless of how anybody voted, if laws have been broken during the EU referendum campaign and if there has been improper foreign interference helping Leave groups,  this should be properly investigated and the full facts should be laid out starkly to the British public   Additionally parliamentarians have a duty to speak out when the policies pursued by government in their opinion will harm the people they represent.

I have written to our local MP Chris Matheson and hope he and his colleagues will reflect on these matters and will stand up for transparency and raise the matter of the illegal activity during the EU referendum in parliament.   The Met Police should hold an investigation with no political interference and the results should be given to the public and looked at carefully in Parliament.  I would urge everybody no matter where they live to raise these concerns with their local MPs as these principles affect each and every one of us


Voices of the Beehive

In a small room above a pub a group of people gathered together to talk about how Brexit touches and will continue to touch the very minutiae of their lives.  The event was a Beehive run by my wonderful friend Nicky and her foundation Final Say for All, a crowdfunded group who’s stated aims are to keep the UK in the EU and to give a voice to the groups of people who were completely ignored during the referendum.   

Her Beehive project seeks to gather testimonies on video to be shared to a wider audience. People stand up and speak about how their lives are being impacted whether it is because they are EU27 citizens in the UK or whether they are British people living in the EU or whether their livelihood or career is endangered or whether they feel a personal violation at having their European Citizenship removed against their will.  If they agree the speakers are recorded but this is not mandatory to be able to take part.
After the London march in June, many of us were unhappy that the 5 million were not to be represented in the formal speeches at all.  I marched with FSFA that day. We were a big group and a pub had been booked for us all to go and have a drink together afterwards.  So, at the last minute some people were asked by Nicky to stand up and speak about why Brexit is Personal.  This led to several others being moved to get up and tell their personal stories and it was all filmed.  The pub we were in was the Beehive in Vauxhall and so the Beehives were born.
Nicky opened with her personal experiences.  She is a British national who was disenfranchised during the referendum because she has lived outside the UK but in the EU for many years.  She lives in the Netherlands. In fact, not only was she disenfranchised in a vote that seriously impacts her life, but she has not got a vote at all in British general elections either as the vote for life was removed from British citizens overseas some years ago.   If we go ahead and leave the EU she will not be able to vote for an MEP and there is a question mark over whether she will even get a vote in the local elections – as is the right of all EU citizens wherever they are resident in the EU.  For the British in the EU, their disenfranchisement will be complete. This seems to me a completely unhealthy step backwards for our democracy. 

Her quandary does not stop there.  She cares for her husband, a Dutch national who is disabled and she also has elderly parents in the UK who need her help.  In the post Brexit world, she will be finding these two demands on her time difficult to manage together.  Her freedom of movement will have been removed.  It is doubtful her parents could move to the Netherlands or her husband could move to the UK.  Nicky delivers her story very calmly, but you can feel the sense of intense emotion just below the surface. 

Tim then spoke very movingly from the point of view of Northern Ireland.  His direct experiences of growing up and living in Northern Ireland, of the bombings and the conflict and the people he knew who died or were damaged forever by the bloodiness of the divisions there, give him a perspective on the EU that everybody should listen to and actually hear.  The Good Friday Agreement was made possible by people talking together and the EU and our EU citizenship made it possible for the groups on different sides to find a way to work and live together and shun the violence.  This was only 20 years ago.  The pain of the conflict is still fresh in the memory of many people.  Tim’s intensity brought a tear to everybody’s eye.
A couple who didn’t feel confident enough to stand up and speak for the camera nevertheless shared with the group what they had gone through since the referendum.  Out of a fear their status was under threat, they had applied for the Permanent right to Reside, a ridiculously bureaucratic procedure that demanded a filing cabinet full of evidence from their many years in the UK and they wanted to get their daughter a British passport to protect her rights to come back as she is due to study abroad for a spell under the Erasmus scheme.   Although they started with the practical issues, their personal feelings started to spill out. 

They quickly got onto the issue of how it makes them feel, how the atmosphere towards them in the community changed and here we get to the nitty gritty leave voters don’t want to take responsibility for.  EU27 citizens in the UK are angry and have been hugely hurt by the fact that their neighbours and even their families and  friends did not for a moment consider what the real impacts would be on their lives.  Not only that, but this issue continues to be ignored and dismissed as if they are second class citizens, an afterthought. People point to the various proclamations of government that they will be protected but how can we trust politicians on this one issue when they have shown themselves so demonstrably willing to lie and row back on every promise ever made both pre and post referendum. Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. Don’t forget there has not been a single piece of legislation voted through the house of commons which protects the rights of the EU27 citizens or the British in the EU to date.  
I could sense the relief in the room at finally being in a forum where these issues could be fully discussed without somebody trying to shut down the debate with platitudes by saying “it will all be okay” or “what about my rights too”.  I am afraid this goes on in some Remain circles a little too.  The fact is there are 5 million people around the EU and their families who are now uncertain about their status.  How would you feel if you had lived happily in your house for 5, 10, 20, 60 even 80 years and your neighbours voted in such a way that overnight you had to actually ask for permission to stay or return home having been away travelling?  I urge each of you to walk for a moment in the shoes of the people whose lives have been plagued with uncertainty for over 2 years. I think this would change your outlook and your perspective.
There was a kind of round table discussion in the room at this point and several people made some interesting and thoughtful points.  What came out was the shock felt as people learned things they simply had not realised about the details of the impact of brexit. 
It was my turn. I was feeling rather nervous.  It’s been some time since I had to get up and speak before a room full of people, but I wanted to do it having opted out in London.  I had things to say.  Of course, anybody who knows me well will know I always have things to say so I tried not to ramble on for too long.  
As I started to speak, somewhere deep inside me the anger that has driven my intense opposition to 
Brexit flared brightly and drove my words and probably drove me to do rather too much arm waving – my latino dna showing itself.  I found myself speaking about my family history, a history of immigration of course, about the beautiful EU Citizenship umbrella that made sense of the different fragments of my identity.  I spoke about the intolerable interference of Brexit on our lives, on decisions made by families in good faith in the context of our citizenship rights.  I spoke about the outrage and offence I feel on behalf of  honest and hard-working people like my father whenever foreign people are measured as economic units, whenever they are spoken of as if they are a problem to be fixed but never depicted with a sense of the positive, vibrant, colourful and beautiful loving contributions they bring to our cultures and our communities.
The meeting was rounded off with a few brief words from Nicky’s husband about his family history and their connections to the resistance in WWII to Nazi occupation.  This was a very intense and emotional moment for us all.  This reminded me of one of the most important reasons why the European Project came into being and absolutely must continue to thrive.  70 years of peace in Europe have been brought about by the EU, surely a thing that we take for granted but which in fact has improved the lives of millions beyond recognition across the continent.  Dimitri is an artist and musician and played us a  wonderful and uplifiting song he wrote about the campaign to end the meeting. 
From a personal point of view, I felt intense relief after I had spoken, I was emotional by the end of my contribution, and it was liberating to speak of these things aloud.  I would urge people who have stories to share about why Brexit is Personal to them to go to a Beehive if they possibly can and get talking, it’s an intense experience but a worthwhile one. Leavers may learn a thing or two if they go and watch, campaigners will get some valuable insights which they will be able to use on street stalls. These videos will be an important resource as we all bear witness to the effect of this horrible EU Referendum result in the lives of ordinary people.


You can follow @FinalSayForAll and their events on twitter or look at their website for more information on the Final Say for All foundation and their aims and activities

The Defiance of the People

The caffeine desire was strong in me having had a late night at a Peoples Vote event in Chester.  We walked through Lime Street Station heading for the nearest cafe that would satisfy my coffee void but it took us a long time to get anywhere that morning.  Dressed in our Peoples Votes T Shirts, carrying banners and flags and stickers, the people of Liverpool looked at us and wanted to talk to us that day. A group of Italian students and their teacher took photos of us and with us. The teacher explained to the teenagers that we didn’t want to leave the European Union.  We got a beautiful cheer from them. 

People of all ages, both sexes, different accents, wished us well and begged us for the vibrant Bollocks to Brexit stickers which encapsulate so perfectly the strong emotion that most of us feel when we think of how our European Citizenship is being taken away from us against our will – this I believe is at the heart of virtually every campaigner, every so-called citizen of nowhere. An elderly English couple stopped us for stickers which they wore with glee and wanted to chat about their feelings.  A wonderful couple full of warmth and intelligence.  They were baffled and angry at government and opposition alike.  Brexit was insane they said.  The people had been lied to, the people are still being lied to. 

I heard stories that day from families who marched because they were filled with doubt about their future status.  With EU27 spouses what would happen? Why were they being treated as the whipping boys for British discontent with issues which were all in the purview of domestic Governments to fix?  This is of course an inconvenient truth for politicians and none will address this question.  The government’s own investigation into the impact of immigration recently has clearly debunked the myths that were trotted out during the EU referendum.  The pernicious lies about immigration and about Freedom of Movement have gone on for years.  A steady flow of headlines filled with hate and prejudice on the shelves of newspaper stands day after day spreading their toxic damage, spilling over in recent years onto our social media timelines and of course deliberately used on Facebook to trigger people into voting leave.   

Other people walked because of their continuing anger and worry that Brexit is a shambles which is damaging the country and damaging everybody’s lives. They see the pathetic farce that passes for government negotiations and see clearly that the Emperor is stark bollock naked.   

Others have businesses and jobs which depend on the Single Market and simply have no idea if they will be able to continue with their lives as they know them after Brexit day.  Politicians do not have their jobs at risk on Brexit day.  Can the rest of us all say exactly the same? Really, are we sure about that? 

Overwhelmingly the mood I saw on Sunday was defiance.  It was a word that popped in my head as people came to speak to us and stayed with me all day. It was Defiance with a smile on it’s Face.  We marched and chanted as loud as we could with sweet, beautiful defiance.  

We saw it in the faces of the passers by who came up and spoke to us or just begged for stickers.  Liverpool was a sea of Bollocks to Brexit stickers on Sunday.  We got a couple of hecklers along the route and in the street, but I would say 90% of the people we came across that day were either with us already or extremely interested in what we had to say.  The Defiance of the People on Sunday was a beautiful peaceful openhearted but nevertheless deeply entrenched defiance.  It takes a very deep well of belief to make thousands of ordinary British citizens give up their Sunday to walk through a city and shout and chant and wave banners.   People are seeing the shambles, the broken promises, the loss of British influence in the world, hearing the sound of jobs dripping away, thinking about the bonkers technical notices preparing us for no deal and they are saying very clearly STOP, WAIT, WE WANT TO LOOK AGAIN, WE WANT TO THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE BRINGING TO US.  

A warning to Labour and Conservatives alike, you have a massive fight on your hands.  You can either accept that we have a right to examine the consequences of any final Brexit proposition and have a say on that with an option to remain or you can subject this country you claim to love so much to years of marginal governments and the wrath of the voters when they discover we are right and the Brexit unicorns, whether they are blue or red, are simply a figment of the imagination of ambitious self-serving political players.

If this chimes with you come and be DEFIANT with us on the 20th October and tell London, the Government and Opposition that we will not be quietened and we demand a Peoples Vote.

The Defiance of the People will win the day. 

#peoplesvote #finalsayforall.


Face up to the Truth about Freedom of Movement.

Those of you who voted Leave because of immigration I have news for you.  Everything we have been saying to you for more than 2 years about immigration is correct.  Ask the Migration Advisory Committee who have brought some inconvenient facts out into the open.  They were assigned the job of designing an immigration system outside EU membership.  In so doing they made a thorough examination of the impact of EU immigration in the areas of concern.  I have laid those out below point by point in a handy table for you to cut out and keep.   
In short, if you saw the Breaking Point Poster revealed by the leave campaign and Nigel Farage and when its clear and unsavoury message sat in your head, burning the fire of resentment and righteousness inside you, making you look at the foreigners around you with new suspicion or as a group of people who are taking the proverbial, well I am sorry to tell you once again the poster was wrong.  You are still wrong if you believe that immigration or FOM has a single thing to do with any of the things that made you unhappy.  You are still wrong if you think throwing away your (and everybody else’s) EU citizenship and your rights to FOM will make any of these things better.   
If you are fed up of static or low wages, or expensive housing or big queues in the doctor’s surgery, or the lack of growth in the economy, well stop worrying about where your neighbours were born and start looking at our government, who makes the policies which help to address every single one of these things.   You will not be any better off as if by magic on Brexit day – whatever the kind of Brexit foisted on you.  All you will have achieved is the creation of  upset and hostility towards a group of people who have just lived their lives, just like you.  Going to work, paying their taxes, looking after their children, loving their neighbours, running their businesses, looking after old people, looking after sick people, supporting the environment, offsetting the impact of our ageing population on services.     
So now we have this “FOM has damaged us” nonsense debunked by the Governments own findings, can we have a proper conversation about our EU membership please and the genuine benefits of being EU members?  Can HM Opposition finally stop upholding these immigration myths at every twist and turn?  Can we now properly assess the real and full consequences of the outcome of government’s Brexit policy on ALL OUR LIVES PLEASE.
Time for a #peoplesvote with an option to remain.
Little or none
“we found that migrants have no or little impact on the overall employment and unemployment outcomes of the UK born workforce” 
Little or none
“migration is not a major determinate of the wages of UK born workers. We found some evidence suggesting that lower-skilled workers face a negative impact while higher-skilled workers benefit, however the magnitude of the impacts are generally small.”
No Meaningful evidence
“We do not conclude what, if any, impact immigration has had on the economic prospects of the self-employed but do present some descriptive statistics taken from Self-Assessment and National Insurance Number registration datasets. These show that self-employed EEA nationals have lower declared profits than UK nationals on average, likely reflecting differences in the type and duration of work undertaken”
Positive Probably
“the studies we commissioned point towards immigration having a positive impact on productivity, but the results are subject to significant uncertainty.”
“high-skilled immigrants make a positive contribution to the levels of innovation in the receiving country”.  Innovation is hugely important to an economy like our because this is what drives new industries, technologies and skilled jobs.
“no evidence that migration has had a negative impact on the training of the  UK-born workforce. Moreover, there is some evidence to suggest that skilled migrants have a positive impact on the quantity of training available to the UK-born workforce. Any potential impact on the quality of training provided is unknown”
Services Prices
Downward pressure
“We found some evidence that migration, particularly from New Member States (NMS) and non-EEA, has reduced prices of personal services”
House Prices
Upward Pressure
“Our analysis suggests that migration has increased house prices. The impacts of migration on house prices cannot, however, be seen in isolation from other government policies. The evidence points towards a higher impact of migration in areas with more restrictive planning policies in which it is harder for the housing stock to increase in line with demand”
Contribution to public purse
“Our commissioned research found that EEA migrants pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits.”
Health and Social Care
“contribute much more to the health service and the provision of social care in financial resources and through work than they consume in services.”
“no evidence that migration has reduced parental choice in schools or the educational attainment of UK-born children. On average, children with English as an additional language outperform native English speakers.”
Social Housing
None to slightly negative
“Given there is little building of new social housing this is inevitably at the expense of other potential tenants.”
Community – crime
No impact
“migration does not impact crime “
Community – well being
Varies – no real evidence
” no evidence that migration has reduced the average level of subjective well-being in the UK.”

A Letter to Pariliament

Dear Sirs
In a recent letter to Lord Adonis, Jacob Rees Mogg said, ‘I do not believe there should be any special terms for EU migrants,”.  This really is a scandalous position to take and demonstrates the underlying lack of care in the position of the European Research Group – a party within a party who are currently attempting to be the tail wagging the dog. 
EU27 citizens in many cases have been here for decades. My family came to the UK in 1971 when I was 3.  Although I have a British passport (I chose to take one in 2005) I have 2 older brothers who have not.  One lives in the UK, educated here through his teen years has always worked and paid his tax here and has an English wife and son.  My other brother also went to school here and worked most of his working life and paid tax here.  A few years ago, he moved to Spain to follow a work opportunity.  He has an English wife and a grown-up English son here who has just married.   In a post Brexit world, it would seem there is a big question mark as to whether he would have the choice to come back and live in the UK to be close to his family should he want to do that on retirement for example.  Questions are also raised regarding pension rights for the many years he worked in the UK
All the decisions our family have made over the years were in the context of our EU citizenship which made the different fragments of our identities come together to make sense.  You can replicate those decisions 1000s of times up and down the country with even more complex problems and family compositions.   What Brexit is doing is putting unnecessary barriers right in the middle of family life, it is an egregious interference in our lives by government and for no benefit – in fact it is likely to damage the British economy.  I do not believe for a second the vast majority of people who voted leave did so in the knowledge that families would be damaged in this way.  Whilst government has attempted to use the insecurity of our #5 million (EU27 citizens here and Brits in the EU most of him were disenfranchised), HM opposition has been sadly quiet on the plight of the 5 million and the uncertainties thrown at them and I would have wished to see more opposition to the abominable way Brexit has disrupted and will continue to disrupt their lives.  Anybody doubting the uncertainty hanging over the 5 million and their mistrust of government agenda should look carefully at the stories which emerge every day around families caught in in the Home Office’s hostile environment
I would also draw attention to the plight of SME’s.  I run a small business.  We employ 12 people.  3 of those jobs were created on growth on the back of being able to sell across the EU with relative ease and lack of regulation and complexity at a time when growth in our British markets became flat.  This aspect of our business continues to grow.  It seems that we do not even know how we will be affected or what preparations we are supposed to make. The government tells us to prepare for no deal but frankly there are thousands of companies across the country who do not have the resources to be able to game the potential scenarios and it is preposterous to expect us to do so.  In short Brexit has put business especially SMEs in an impossible situation and jobs will ultimately be lost across the country – not just the big companies but small companies. 

In 2016 we did not know what leaving the EU meant, it was an emotional response to a complicated question.  Nothing about Brexit which has unfolded in the last 2 years makes sense, no benefits have emerged, “sunny uplands” have become “it won’t be the end of the world” and it really is time that parliament acknowledged as one voice that given the severe outcomes facing us,  we must be allowed the opportunity to air and examine all the real consequences of the Government’s propositions on our lives in a thorough public discussion.  We need a final public vote with an option to remain.


Pride comes before a fall

The current relationship between the UK and the EU27

Think Carly Simon for the tune

You were partner in our EU project
But you acted like you were always on top
You wore your hat of red white and blue
Your tie in an Oxford Knot
You had one eye on the mirror
And watched yourself gavotte
And the world dreamed that they’d be your partner
They’d be your partner, and

You’re so vain
You probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain,
I’ll bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you?
Don’t you?

So we worked together for these long years
And we developed all the rules
You said we made a pretty team
But your press treated us like fools.
Now you’re throwing away the things you love
And one of them is sense.
You have new dreams, but they’re clouds in your coffee
Clouds in your coffee

You’re so vain
You probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain, you’re so vain
I’ll bet…



This is a thread for my fellow Remainers in the #fbpe movement.  There were some threads yesterday which have caused upset and anger in our community and a shaking of people’s confidence.  Well I awoke his morning with these thoughts on my mind and wanted to get them down on paper.

We have the privilege of having some excellent specialists in their fields fighting by our side, I thank each and every one of them.  But it is by THEIR SIDE.  They know the technocratic stuff and understand the legalities of treaties and trade deals. But all of that on it’s own is not what will get us a peoples vote and our personal opinions, worldview and knowledge and experience should hold equal weight when considering our own positions.

I am no specialist in a technical field, I know about my business, my EU27 family and friends, my staff, my British in Europe friends and my identity which was torn in half against my will on the 23rd June in 2016.  I have not seen a single tweet, article or speech from an MP in two years which has shown me how Brexit is of benefit to our lives.  I only see the benefits that are being ripped away from us.  This has not changed. 

We have fought for two years but not because of the complexities of customs arrangements and trade deals.  It’s important for us to have people in our community giving us the specialist understanding and opinions and we need them.  But what drives each and every one of us is a fundamental belief that a dreadful mistake has been made by the UK.  We will all be demonstrably poorer in both money terms and more importantly in family and cultural terms.  In human terms we are already poorer.

Norway, EEA, all those compromise positions which if adopted early as a goal by government may well have stopped our movement from  growing in the first place were thrown out FROM THE START.  Pilar Gomez from Chester tweeting IN 2016/2017 made ZERO difference to that position taken by government.  The Remain movement has literally been ignored and is only now due to our stubbornness  finally getting traction and MPs are starting to move and back us.  Why only recently?

Well because it is now clear to the everyone there was no plan. Let me say that again. THERE WAS NO PLAN.  Leavers voted for a NON-EXISTENT PROPOSITION.  Govt have had 2 years to lay out a leave proposition but they are as divided as they were in the beginning and have come up with a choice between fudge and no deal.  It was government who publicised that no deal was a distinct possibility not the Remain movement. It was government assessments which discovered we will be poorer not remainers.  

Fellow #fbpe, I refuse to take any responsibility for this shambles created by politicians and I urge you to think hard for yourselves before you lose your confidence in our movement. Our campaigning did not lead Parliament to find themselves in this insane position, it has simply cast a huge magnifying glass on the continuing splits, errors and inconsistency of Brexit and its drivers. Brexit simply cannot work in a way which will leave us in a better position than our already excellent position as equal members of the EU.

In my opinion ultimately Brexit is damaging to our lives and no amount of fudge will hide that, no amount of negotiating will square the circle without setting the economy back.  It won’t in my opinion be a sudden overnight decline even in no deal scenario though clearly that will bring major immediate practical problems.  The decline will be slow – a drip drip drip of jobs moving, small companies closing down because they can no longer get the return they used to.  A continuing weak pound.  A vulnerability to the right taking over and reducing our standards and rights in order for them to profit from our decline.

I don’t believe another year of actual negotiations with the EU would make things any better. All the obvious compromise positions have been thrown out by government. They have left themselves literally nowhere to go.  In my opinion we do need an extension to the A50 so that we can run an unhurried thorough and well explored Peoples Vote on the proposition that will come before us by government – DEAL/NODEAL/REMAIN but we need to secure the promise of one by Parliament before Brexit day.

So I say this.  Forget the wobblers and the people who we think let us down yesterday.  We are not responsible for this insanity we are the magnifiers and we hold Leavers and Government and Opposition to account for their promises and their lies and their obfuscation.  We shine a light on their inconsistencies and ulterior self serving motives.  I for one will not let self-doubt get in the way of protecting my people and the amazing #fbpe people and Peoples Vote street campaigners who inspire me every single day to fight again.

The #5million – a Poem

Dealt a blow
Injured by your Indifference
See our hurt and anger
Even families sought to damage lives
None of us did anything wrong
Free us from this madness
Rid us of anxiety
All our plans made long ago
Now drenched in the toxicity of your mistake
Cowards refuse to look us in the eye
Haters profit from our discomfort
Is this what you voted for?
Senseless direction to be followed
Eyes closed
Damaged Lives

by @redalphababe

Takeovers, Takedowns and Meltdowns.

Takeovers, Takedowns and Meltdowns.

I woke up this morning with my mind on an old customer whose story I would like to share.  I don’t wish to name names, so, as it amuses me, I will call them Dave, Ed & Nick LLP.   They were a customer for the best part of a decade.  I personally looked after their account and every other day would be talking to their excellent general manager John who ran the show for the owners, taking his orders, sorting out his problems, make sure his supplies and equipment arrived when he wanted them where he wanted them, keeping him happy.  A wonderful chap, an expert (yes, I know expertise is so last year), keeping his employer’s ship on a steady course for many years.  John knew what he was doing.   Sometimes he dropped a clanger or would make totally unreasonable demands and I would be swearing and muttering to myself around the office as I tried to figure out a solution that would get him out of a fix.  I always did and often it cost us money and he wasn’t always as grateful as I would have liked, but he always paid the bills and gave a fair price. Our working relationship was both excellent and mutually beneficial.

Then out of the blue the Dave, Ed & Nick LLP partners all wanted to retire and sell up.  John decided to go to pastures new and his assistant, Ben was put in his place.  We were assured there would be no change, we would have the exact same benefits and relationship with the new permutation of the company.  Of course, the inevitable unravelling started quickly.  The calls from Ben were full of unspoken anxiety and stress, you could almost feel him shrinking in the middle of the circle of wagons as he came under siege.   Their accounts department dragged their feet, Ben’s budget was squeezed, customers started to leave them in droves.  I would have to stop supplies until invoices were paid, never happened before.   It turned out that the new owners were not interested in job creation, or investing for growth, they were not interested in the existing staff or the long history of the company.  They had used lies to keep staff on board.  The prize in their sights was the prime property the company owned which was right in the middle of an area of intense redevelopment for buy to let luxury apartments.    They were running the company down for the cashflow whilst they got a developer on board, which they did.  Within a year the company which had operated for 30 years was dead, redundancy notices handed out.  The plaque on the swish new apartments should read RIP Dave, Ed & Nick LLP you served us well but well, we couldn’t be bothered with all that work malarkey and besides we made more money this way.

Why do I tell you this story you ask?  An everyday story of business surely.  Well I am no politician or historian, so I see the world through the lens of everyday life.  I see a parallel in the current body politic. Like my customer it has been broken and taken over by asset strippers and opportunists, people who have leveraged populism to take control.  I am shocked by what has happened in the last 8 years.  The electorate sold its votes to the highest bidders, fed up with stagnant wage growth and self-serving over familiar plastic politicians.  Conservatives under David Cameron bowed to pressure from the extremes within and sold their Tory souls to the UKIP agenda of division and blaming the Other to deflect from the fact that their own policies were woefully inadequate in addressing the post 2008 climate of poor growth and financial crisis.  Now under the cosh of a referendum result which she knows is damaging and makes no sense, May is caught in the death grip of the ERG who are pushing us steadily towards a disastrous Brexit.  The Tory back benchers, mostly remain realists originally, are invested so heavily in the folly of the great Willerthepeople Project that they are refusing to acknowledge we are all at the mercy of a small number of Billionaire disaster capitalists who are pushing their Brexit agenda for personal benefits, the acquisition of money and power, at the expense of millions of people around the country.  These people count their pounds, euros and dollars, whilst most of us will count the cost in pounds, in tax burden, in family lives, in jobs, in closed businesses, in lost family and friends from the EU27 community who are fed up of being depicted by press and politicians alike as a problem rather than a part of our community.  Look at Jacob Rees Mogg talking about the Northern Ireland Border.  He cares not a jot for the ordinary people of the United Kingdom.   Nor does Boris Johnson who has dodged and wavered and lied and twisted direction.  Who would trust him? These people are not our friends, yet they hover malevolently in the background threatening May’s leadership to get their way. 

But what of the HM opposition you ask?  They got a shiny new management too and the launch party was indeed super exciting and remarkable.  People were swept up in the fever of enthusiasm of a new (to them) face who appeared to be speaking so plainly and selling his politics of hope and simple solutions.

Beware though, they are gambling with the Politics of Catastrophe as much as the government is.  They have consistently failed to point out to their constituents what a damaging thing Brexit is.  Most of their supporters know and can see that but these are politically engaged individuals.  The average constituent has no idea and barely an interest in what is in store. The correct responsible response to the referendum result would have been to press for a thorough review of what the result meant, what would be the consequences and if necessary some consensus as to what a desired realistic endpoint to aim towards if it was decided by parliament to trigger the A50. Yet the shadow front bench sat back and let it all happen.  Totally blind, totally clueless they supported the government in triggering the A50.    When challenged they wring their hands.  What can we do?  We have 6 tests.  Will of the People.  Honour the referendum.  We have no say.  Well the six tests have already failed under any kind of Brexit so what now?   What are they doing?  Are they waiting for government to fail and pick up an election win and possibly an opportunity to bring in their own Corbynomics agenda?   

Lib Dems, Greens, SNP, all fully anti Brexit but unless we live in Scotland it’s difficult to feel our remaining options will get us very far, especially given the continuing hostility shown towards the Lib Dems by Labour and their refusal to work together with them effectively against the government on Brexit.  Perhaps we should all move to Scotland.

Young people have been shafted so much by Tories  they will not be joining any time soon in big numbers.  Labour membership Is at healthy levels, but the writing was on the wall for me personally during the 2015 leadership election.  I saw long and frequent threads on Twitter and Facebook filled with vitriolic diatribes towards Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall and a little to Andy Burnham.  Liz got the worst of the abuse.  This was from so called labour members and supporters.  I see some of the same twitter accounts to this day in nasty aggressive threads about anti-Semitism or Brexit telling people to go away and vote tory and how they are responsible for people dying at the hands of Tories by being critical of labour strategies.  I left Labour because of Brexit, but to be honest I heaved a big sigh of relief that I no longer have to be embroiled in these kinds of internal discussions.  They started the tone with this level of aggression towards dissenters and are surprised that it has now come back to bite them in a very public meltdown being covered in the news.  The internal language of labour is now toxic to its core.  I don’t think I am the only one who has been totally turned off by this nonsense.

The Body Politic is broken.  All parliamentarians have contributed to this either by their actions or inaction and it is parliamentarians who must fix it.  New alliances between sensible minded MPs and Peers and MEPs REGARDLESS OF PARTY who believe in doing the right thing need to be forged using their agreement on the Brexit issue to try and defeat these extremes who between them are driving us to the disastrous consequences outside the EU as a third country.  But it’s not just about Brexit, these alliances must push back against the wider implications of these extremes which are creating a political landscape of intolerance, where debate has been replaced by gaslighting and dog whistles and the abdication of personal responsibility.

All I can do is raise my one voice to MPs and potential MPs and say very clearly whoever wants my vote in the future will have to prove to me they have earned it by showing the courage and good sense in standing up right now against this disastrous attempted takeover of UK Plc by ideologues, fools and Wreckers.

I hope you will all use your voices too.


Painting Brexit By Numbers

A Handy Guide
Zero, cero, zéro, null, nada, zip, zilch.  This is the number of plans that the Brexit designers and implementors had before the referendum, after and even now with only 229 days to Brexit day at the time of writing.  40 years of thinking and they came up with … ONE BIG FAT ZERO.  There was and is no plan.  Chequers agreement was the “almost” plan, a dead hatchling – it was a plan they all agreed to but none of them wanted and was full of things they knew the EU can’t actually agree to.

ONE hour is the amount of time MPs are allowed to view the secret Brexit Impact assessment document entitled EU Exit Analysis — Cross Whitehall Briefing, dated January 2018 which sets out the cost of Brexit under different scenarios. There is great security around the document, MPs are not allowed to take any electronic devices in.  Part of it was leaked early this year and here are the much-publicised numbers for the regional assessments.  

South West
South East
East of England
East Midlands
North West
Northern Ireland
West Midlands
North East
As the sharp-eyed without Brexit Beer Goggles amongst us can see, the regions which voted most heavily to leave are amongst the ones with most to lose under all scenarios, the regions in fact who have had the greatest benefit from EU funding and EU membership.  I wonder will those regions be helped in our glorious new isolated world?  Well Tory track record on helping regions is not great as any of us who lived through the 80s will attest.  I will just leave that thought dangling. 

TWO.  That’s the number of days it took for Leave promises to start melting away, like an ill thought out unicorn shaped ice sculpture at a fancy Mediterranean wedding that doesn’t even make it to the speeches in one piece. For many of us, its continuous dribbles and drips of absurdity have created a kind of hideous Chinese Water Torture we wake to every morning.  It’s also the number of years it has taken for the “sunny uplands” to have been abandoned and instead an enticing era of “adequate food” has been conjured up for our delectation.  Even Leave proponents now admit Brexit will cause us damage.  A certain Mr Rees Mogg even surmised in an interview it could take 50 years of pain to get to his great vision of nirvana.

FIVE WAS Britain’s rank in the list of the world’s largest economies.    Phillip Hammond confirmed a slide to 6 in his budget speech November 2017.  As confirmed recently by Mark Carney of the bank of England we have moved from being the fastest growing economy pre referendum in the G7 to the slowest.  The best estimate is that the prospect of Brexit especially the version of it favoured by the ERG fanatics has knocked 2% off what our growth rate would have been without Brexit.
Our recovery after the 2008 banking crisis was painfully slow thanks to a government strategy that concentrated too much on cutting costs, encouragement of investment in property which does not create jobs and not enough on growth strategies and investing in job creating industries.  Brexit knocked us back just at the point we in the business community had painstakingly pushed that elusive ball of growth back up to the top of the hill – and we haven’t even left yet.

TWENTY TWO is the number of months since Mr Fox tried to emulate his animal namesakes and cunningly declared we would use our EU27 citizens as negotiating fodder.  There are many more questions than there are answers.  Some have already voted with their feet to end uncertainty and taken up opportunities in the EU27.  A German friend who has now decided to take UK naturalisation to secure emotional and actual investment here, told me he was very angry.  He could have looked to America or Canada for bigger opportunities in his field but FOM fortunately brought him to us. By voting leave you told these talented young Europeans we don’t want them and we don’t like them. Spare me your cries of “but I didn’t mean those kinds of immigrants”.  One day they are our equals the next day they will have to ask permission to remain in their homes.  No wonder the NHS reports chronic unprecedented staff shortages and difficulty in replacing those leaving. 

The British in the EU have even less information.  What will happen with their access to healthcare, pensions, voting rights, the right to move back to the UK with non-British or non-EU spouses or children or parents? What about the right to move to another EU country in the 27, will they be landlocked?  Will their UK qualifications in their respective fields be valid in the country they are in? Will being outside the single market for services and the digital single market have consequences on their cross EU work?  Tell me how people can make significant plans for their family lives if there is a big dark wall of mystery surrounding their rights and status? Answers on a postcard please.

FIFTY EIGHT is the number of Sector Analysis reports that David Davies claimed had been prepared.  I just couldn’t resist reminding you all of this bizarre and mendacious display from our prominent politicians.  At first, it was a big secret, for Brexit Department eyes only.  After some pressure in December 2017 Mr. Davies finally admitted they were a figment of his department’s imagination.  Mr Davies stopped short of blaming the dog for shredding his homework.  In these bizarre times, it seems that just ignoring being caught out in a whopping big lie is effective in getting away with it.  But why should I be surprised? Are these not the same people who came up with the genius scheme of painting lies and false promises on the side of a bus?

ONE HUNDRED is the number of constituencies who voted Leave and have now switched their support to Remain in a recent comprehensive analysis of polling data by Focaldata.   Most other leave voting areas have now narrowed the gap. 

ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND are the minimumestimates of the crowd at the March for the People’s Vote in June.  It is thought the numbers were much greater than that but regardless,  I was proud to be there in the sea of blue and gold stars, a swell of people determined to bring common sense back to our lives and put an end to this bizarre act of national self harm. 

FOUR HUNDRED AND FORTY NINE THOUSAND AND SEVENTY NINE POUNDS was the overspend found by the Electoral Commission to have been committed by Vote Leave.  Vote Leave broke the Law and has been fined and BeLeave also broke the law and Darren Grimes has been fined accordingly for his part.  The overspend would have bought a lot of clicks on Facebook in the last two weeks of their campaign which is when they spent a large amount of budget.  The DCMS Select Committee published the Facebook ads placed on Facebook by the Leave campaigns through AIQ in the EU referendum. 45% of them were spreading an anti immigration message.   The ads are a mix of scurrilous dog whistles, lies and distortions.  Some of them do not even have the campaign’s branding so people wouldn’t have known who was serving the ad or indeed that it was an ad.  

Most of us remainers didn’t see the majority of those ads because they were carefully targeted to get a certain portion of the vote out or to collect accounts who would be good targets for such propaganda.  Additionally, it turns out the campaigning by Vote Leave continued during the days after the murder of Jo Cox by a far right supporting man, when all campaigning was supposed to be suspended as a mark of respect.

This whole murky world surrounding Vote Leave, Be Leave and other campaigns, relationships with Cambridge Analytica, links to Russia etc calls into question the validity of the final result given the slim margin.  The excellent and heroic Carole Cadwalladr has chipped away at this illegal activity for 2 years bringing us the truth little by little.  I would recommend a review of her extensive writing on this complex subject.

SIX HUNDRED AND SEVEN THOUSAND AND NINETY TWO is the number of people who have signed the Independent petition for a final say as of writing.  You can watch the new signatures ticking in. The petition was only started on the 24th July. 

THREE MILLION & ONE POINT THREE MILLION.  These people all come at the top of my list of Brexit concerns having  people close to my heart in both situations.  None of the 3 million EU27 citizens were given a vote and many Brits living in the EU were also disenfranchised.  If you voted leave YOU have affected the lives of these people. They have been left in limbo for 2 years with little idea of how their lives will be affected.  Worse still they have been unashamedly used as leverage in negotiations by British politicians. Dehumanisation of foreign born people has been a strong feature of the last few years.  Scandalous Vote Leave facebook ads were targeted at people most likely to respond to anti foreign sentiment.  Politicians have spoken about FOM and immigrants as if foreigners a problem and never an asset.  Tabloid headlines smeared  and sneered at fellow EU citizens for years.  An incredibly shocking extension to this is the apparent abandonment of any feeling for the plight of British citizens stuck in a state of uncertainty.  “Why should we care, they moved abroad.   It’s nothing to do with us” I hear.  It seems along with voting leave, people voted to banish empathy from their hearts.
THIRTEEN MILLION registered voters did not vote at all
I know how you feel my friends,  but we can’t avoid these numbers, we have to look at them squarely in the face.  Leavers, you are right, you won we lost.  So why are you still so angry and confused?  If it makes you happy then why are you so mad?  Why do you hurl abuse at those who would hold you to account for your referendum promises and the law of the land and why do you tell judges and parliamentarians they are traitors?  Is it because you know how intrinsically weak the numbers are, how fragile the margin is?    Only 37.4% of registered voters voted to leave the EU.  What did they vote for?  It’s all so mysterious like an Agatha Christie novel – so many motives for bringing a disaster to the door of the UK.  Some say they want to crash out without the single market or the customs union, some want the EEA, EEA plus or minus or Canada whatever, some just wanted to give Cameron and London a good old-fashioned kick in the nuts.  Some believed that £350 million more pounds would be sent to the NHS every week because a big red bus said so.  Many wanted rid of foreigners.  Yes, they did, don’t argue, in bigger numbers than we would like.  Leavers, that is something you have to face up to and look squarely in the eye.  That’s on you, not us. 

Numbers are essential for our everyday decision making in our little business so I am used to following them.   It’s clear to me the Leave margin is fragile and that the British public opinion is moving towards the view we should take the time to think again.  Is leaving the EU really such a good idea given what we have now learned?  

Really?  Here is a handy checklist of questions. 
You want to be poorer?
You want to make your neighbours poorer?
You want to send all your EU doctors and nurses away because they feel unwanted?
You want to get rid of the consumer and market protections that EU membership brings just as they battle against price fixing and cartels on our behalf and focus on finding cooperative solutions for aggressive tax management by global companies.
You want your children to miss out on the fantastic opportunities FOM gives them for their lives, their education, their jobs?
You want to limit your own chances for a little travel or a spell living abroad later in life in one of 28 countries where you can access healthcare and your pension and all the other reciprocal benefits we enjoy as EU citizens?
You want your region to lose its EU regional funding?
Is this what you want?

If your answer is yes, I don’t believe you.  

Democracy is not a snapshot of the will of the people in a particular moment.  It’s not a single answer to a simple question about a  complex 40 year relationship with our trading partners and friends to be interpreted as a decision cast in stone when the evidence shows what a bad decision it is.   If that were true women would not have the vote.  Hell, if that were true, not even working class middle aged white men would have the vote.

@redalphababe  #brexit #peoplesvote #stopbrexit #finalsayforall #eureferendum