Submitted to letters pages 6th Feb 2019
It causes me great alarm that our news reports seem to be full of Vox pops of people on the streets of the UK brushing off concerns and promoting a view that they are so fed up with the Brexit issue they think we should just fall out of our membership on the 29th March with no deal. Even more alarming are the polls I see which imply a proportion of people selecting no-deal as a desired option think this means we carry on as we are.
We really liked the look of it as the seller weaved ideas for us and wooed us with his magic words. It had so many possibilities. We could give up our jobs and build a little business in the grounds. Perhaps a guesthouse. The inside had evidence of damp in the walls after being empty for a few years, but with a little work it looked manageable.
The price was fair for the promises the bungalow represented, so we had a long talk as a family and decided to buy it and we felt happy as we looked with pleasure at the windows glinting in the sunshine of a brighter future.
We did our due diligence, we hired a lawyer and ordered a survey and we went on with our lives looking forward to the day when we could make our plans for the little bungalow in the sunshine.
All was not well though. It turns out when the paperwork was examined, and the searches were done that the house had been built without any qualified person signing it off. In fact, part of the property did not even have the planning permissions it was advertised with. Nobody had ever checked to see if it had been built to the required standard. The ceiling was full of asbestos, the ground riddled with rat holes. We had no idea if it was a money pit or an accident waiting to happen. On closer inspection still, the damp was rising, we could see light through the roof and the windows rattled in the wind. The property was worth only half of the asking price.
The people who had wanted us to buy the bungalow tried to gloss over the problems. They told us everything would work out just fine. When we carried on voicing our doubts, they told us we had agreed to the purchase and there was no getting out of it. When we still looked unhappy, they threatened us with unpleasant consequences and the ire of the vendors if we tried to overturn our own decision. There was to be no re think or second chance to consider the consequences of our purchase, they said. To do so would be overturning the will of the family, they said.
We argued for months. What should we do, what was a fair compromise? Which deal was the best risk moving in as it was and take our chances with the leaky roof or borrow some extra money to do the work? Should we rent another house whilst the remedial works were completed. What if it took years? Our family was split, we even took it out on our neighbours and blamed them for making us unhappy in our current house in the first place, though actually none of us could really remember what it was about our home we disliked now we came to think of it. Of course, our friends couldn’t understand why we were being mean to them and feeling very hurt, they drifted away from our lives. The shifty people who tried to sell us the house looked on at the chaos smiling. Pretty soon they would reap the benefits to their bank balance of their lies and our bad decision.
But one day in the midst of a shouting match, we realised we couldn’t go on and that what we thought we were buying didn’t exist, it was a dream, a mirage, an impossibility. We might, after a lot of time and elbow grease and money be able to make the bungalow a habitable home for us in the end, but as we looked at our existing house with it’s comforting fireplace and beautiful bay windows, it’s interesting neighbours and its proximity to the heart of a beautiful town and all its delights, we realised the price we would have to pay was far, far too high.
We realised that with a little tweaking and renewing we could make more out of exactly where we were without having to pay any removal fees. It was so simple, we could just change our minds.
To be sure we wrote out the pros and cons and risks, our existing house versus the bungalow. Then we carefully absorbed those points and discussed them calmly, fact checked and read experts advice and then had a family vote. The will of the family had changed. We patched up our rows with the neighbours. We told the shifty salespeople we were staying put, we didn’t want the substandard bungalow anymore and we would be building a brighter better future exactly where we had belonged all along.
2 years suspended
A life of broken plans
A Home with a bolt on the door
Who will slide it open? Will they unlock it and when?
Aged old friends too embarrassed to think
Too frightened to look lest they feel the burn of personal responsibility
Sops and platitudes rain down as
cold projectiles of hail
fueling grieving resentment freezing forgiveness
Slowly dwindling to silence then distance
‘We didn’t mean you’
Too proud to admit your error
You hide behind these words with your fake tans and polished smiles
Your Marks suits and empty eyes.
An open horizon beckons its hope to excited people
A reflection in the sunlight of potential new fates
Children learn languages
Parents, new skills
Beautiful girls learn words of passion whispered by lovers on strange moonlit shores
Students pack sweet memories in their rucksacks, currency for their life ahead
We can breathe in our freedom
We can drink it’s energising adventure
We pack our bags with glee undiminished by our pasts, undeterred from our future possibilities
We remove freedom from those we would punish for bad choices
yet we have done no wrong – so why send ourselves into solitary confinement
As the dramas unfold in parliament, it is clear there is no agreement amongst our parliamentarians on the deal that Mrs May has come back with which has taken 2.5 years to negotiate and no agreement as to how to resolve the impasse. It is an appalling deal. We will have had our voice and vote removed completely when we should be in the heart of Europe continuing to shape it with our partners.
What are you getting back for throwing away your EU citizenship and that of 3 other people who did not want to? It had best be something really good. What are you saving the nation from?
Its time for you all to spell out the consequences of Brexit to your constituents and remind them we don’t have to do this. We can choose to REMAIN and keep our rights as citizens of the EU.
I spent my Saturday this weekend with 700,000 plus 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 and the deal (or no deal) which the government intend to finally put through parliament for a meaningful vote. Parliament is deeply divided on Brexit, there is no viable vision of Brexit which does not make each and every one of us losers ultimately. We stood for 6 hours on the streets of London, shuffling along unable to make headway for a couple of hours because there were so many of us.
Each of us carried the names of our friends and families who could not be there but wanted to be because of work or economic circumstances so you can probably double or triple the numbers of people who are sufficiently concerned about Brexit to make an active stand to get a people’s vote.
It is incredibly disappointing that the Labour Party, as the main opposition, saw fit to actively ignore our march and seems unwilling to recognise that many of the voters in that march will carefully consider the part the Labour party will be seen to have played in the final reckoning on Brexit day on the 29th March 2019. I would urge you to raise this with your colleagues and given how short of time we are I would ask you to seriously consider whether it would not be in everyone’s interests for you to add your voice to those of your Labour colleagues who are openly supporting our campaign.
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