Parliament is for the 66 Million

There has been much anger and recrimination this week in the world of politics and the use of inflammatory language came under the spotlight during Boris Johnson’s deeply divisive speech to the House of Commons. His constant use of the word surrender and terms such as traitor bandied about by his ERG MPs and the Brexit/Tory press echoes the kind of language used in death threats to MPs around the country, MPs who either support a peoples vote or have voted against the government. Even MPs such as Antoinette Sandbach have had death threats and abuse simply for opposing a no-deal Brexit having voted for Theresa May’s Deal on every occasion.

Let’s just get rid of the “both sides argument”. It’s absolute nonsense. Only a few months ago Anna Soubry was harassed by a group of men who surrounded and followed her shouting at her. She was prevented from speaking at a rally recently because of threats.

There have been several incidents where street campaigners for the #PeoplesVote and pro EU movement have been verbally and physically abused. 2 personal friends of mine alone have had to endure such incidents and we have seen various other cases caught on camera. Pro EU group SODEM, have campaigned outside the House of Commons for 2 years but it has only been since just before Christmas when far right groups started to appear in small but vocal numbers when we have seen these kinds of incidents against MPs and even journalists start to ramp up.

This group of men and women also, having fashioned themselves with little self-awareness on the french Gilet Jaune movement, were filming themselves having a go at people, getting in their faces, trying to provoke, then using those videos to raise money for themselves, winding up a small group of people vulnerable to their messages into parting with hard cash and using all those terms, traitor, nazi, etc for that end. This all echoes the language used by a man who did in fact murder an MP because he didn’t like what she had to say. No wonder MPs now have panic buttons in their houses.

However, thankfully, all these acts are committed by a very small number of people who are in effect massive anti-democrats despite their protestations to the contrary. The overwhelming majority of people coming to our street stalls are on the whole polite and respectful even when they disagree passionately with us. They recognise we are exercising our democratic right to campaign for something we want to change.

The biggest irony is these other anonymous cowards who throw bricks through windows or write poison pen letters are angry because MPs are doing the very job we pay them to do. The people are not 17.4 million people who put a cross against a binary option in what was, legally speaking, just an opinion poll in 2016. This is a complete nonsense and I am extremely tired of the use of this number to try and silence us. It will not. The people are #66Million and the job of Parliament is to scrutinise and approve, or not, legislation which is in the best interest of the 66 million. ALL the people regardless of what or who they voted for. Their interests are protected by their MPs who are chosen to listen and research the evidence and understand it and vote accordingly, not to to be their delegates.

Something else undermines the 17 million argument. In 2017 the public saw fit to remove the Conservative majority. This was an indication that they did not approve wholeheartedly of Theresa May’s approach and red lines. If they had they would have returned a Tory majority wouldn’t they? Yet we ended up even more confused about what the will of the people was, not less. But Theresa May pressed on regardless and here we are with a multiple of people claiming they know what the will of the people is. Who knows what people voted for, it changes with every day which passes if you listen to the ERG and the Poison Pens all of whom love to move those goal posts.

So what can we cling to? We can rely on our democracy which allows groups like those of us in the Remain Movement to campaign peacefully to make the arguments that are at the core of our unity. We campaign for what we believe is in the interests of 66 million but we do so by following the rules, by making the arguments that make sense, by using evidence, by lobbying our representatives. We campaign in good faith and peace and yes in passion too but never in violence.

But there is something else we must cling to. We must continue to support our parliament in trying to find the best route which is in the interests of the entire population. We must stop dividing the people and most importantly, politicians must stop dividing the people and we must encourage them to this end. Their job is to put the good of their entire constituency foremost in their decision making process.

There are many, many MPs who are now doing their jobs properly. They are scrutinising the executive, an executive who now wants to overstep its authority in order to bully them into following it’s will – not the people’s will, the ERG will. Yes parliament voted against May’s deal but this is because considering everything, they deemed the deal was not right. Even the ERG voted against it. This is not a parliament blocking brexit, this is a parliament doing it’s job. If what the executive is trying to do threatens the well-being of their constituents their responsibility is to stop this, not enable it, and it doesn’t matter what their constituents voted for or whether they voted at all in 2016.

If the executive are unable to offer an acceptable brexit route, that means the executive’s solution is poor, below par, substandard. Politicians should be able to carry out parliamentary business in light of this without fear of danger so they can serve us all. They should also be able to do that without commentators like Brendan O’Neill appearing on a BBC news programme inciting riots for Brexit. They should be able to do that without being pursued down the street by threatening men representing Leave means Leave. Even as I write this, the radio plays the voice of men talking up the idea of rioting by people who voted leave. This has no bearing on the reality around the country. Remain events attract 100s of 1000s of attendees with no trouble and no arrests. Leave rallies attract a few thousand at most, often only a few hundred, and the only violence has been seen from a tiny proportion of men and women of violence in their fringe groups. The country cannot be held to ransom by this tiny group of extremists. Likewise we as campaigners should be able to work using the rules and all democratic means in the interests of 66 million, which is the abiding emotion that binds us and drives us, without fear of abuse.

If MPs, whose full time job it is to study and understand the detail of proposed legislation cannot actually agree which version of Brexit is in the interests of their constituents after 3 years, this begs the question “Is there a brexit which is good for their constituents?” If they still can’t agree on that, they must be allowed to determine a path or mechanism which will resolve that question, taking into account the best interests of the entire population, preferably and unfortunately a referendum. On the other hand if we allow MPs to be bullied or frightened into voting or supporting a particular piece of legislation by government which will damage their constituents and the country, that will be the day democracy dies.

The people are #66million.

A Life in Business, Tomb Raider and Brexit – Revisited

I wrote this in August 2018. Not a great deal has changed. We are still in the EU and long may it continue. For many people it is already too late. businesses have moved. $1 trillion is leaving Britain because of Brexit. I personally know good people who have already lost their jobs and are struggling to get work in the supply chains for the automotive industry. I know people who have sold up or retired because they just can’t face the coming storms. I wrote this to give you some understanding of what it is like to run a small business and updated some information on the numbers of businesses in the UK from the Governments statistics. It’s interesting to note that numbers HAVE dropped since 2017.

I sometimes think a life in business is like playing Tomb Raider.  It’s a strange analogy, I know.  Having spent more hours than I should have sneaking onto my son’s computer in the noughties there are some similarities so bear with me whilst I try to explain my logic.

When you start, the first couple of levels seem easy.  You are well signposted, there are plenty of instructions, there’s lots of information available to guide you and give you some clues about which direction to explore in.  You can, if you have been cautious, afford a few false starts before you have fully committed yourself heart and soul into the game ahead.  Most importantly, you get a huge buzz out of every problem you solve and feel happy as you work your way up, around and through and over all the obstacles towards your goal.

It’s not long before you get on to the harder levels.  There are fewer pointers here. You have an idea of where you want to go but in the words of Oasis, “all the roads we have to walk are winding, and all the lights that lead us there are blinding “.   Every new level brings with it unfamiliar territory. The problems are harder to solve, the obstacles trickier. There are sabre toothed tigers and baddies with pistols around the corner threatening to end your game. Along the way you acquire new skills and weapons.  You make mistakes you lose a life you try again having learned from your mistakes.  But here is where the analogy departs for a while because suddenly your business is your life, it has become  almost your entire life and now you are immersed the consequences of the decisions you must make are very real.   

I am not an academic or an expert or an economist.  All I can offer are my personal thoughts having been a co-director of a small business for 20 years.  In fact, I have been involved in small businesses since I left university in the late 80s.  During all those years we have seen many things. I have experienced dealing with bailiffs at the door and conversely been in the fortunate position of being able to help when others were at a similar low point. There have been times when we had to sell everything we could to help us through cash flow squeezes or borrowed heavily on credit cards to make month end and times when making money was easy and we have been able to happily reinvest in the business to expand and move it forward.  We have had the privilege of building a team of people who do their best for us every day. We have been able to borrow to invest and taken many risks and chances, always calculated but sometimes dicey even so.  Some paid off some did not.  This is life. We make decisions, some are right, some are wrong, some work out, some not so much.  Just as in a computer game though, we only have so many business lives.  Unlike Lara, we can’t reboot and replay the game once all our chances have gone. 

Here is the thing I have learned.  However stable a business is, nearly all companies are really only 3 to 6 months away from annihilation.  From time to time paperwork will cross my desk from a liquidator winding up a customer or supplier and I always notice the same thing.  The implosion after the crisis point is pretty dramatic and rapid.  

There are several reasons why a crisis can occur.  Bang – a change in government policy.  Slap – a loss of an important contract. Biff  – the most profitable product is now out of fashion.  Punch – a miscalculation of stock.  Crash – a sudden dramatic move in currency exchange rates. Kick – a rise in interest rates when over-borrowed.  Zap – a stupid misjudgement on an expansion plan.  

This is not an exhaustive list but any of these things can happen to any SME with fatal consequences for their business.  The liquidators move in.  Suppliers switch to self-protect mode.  All the value everyone thought was there ebbs away and dissipates like Lara’s energy bar, as the customer base drifts off to competitors, stock is marked down, customers find reasons not to pay their outstanding bills and the accountants and bankers who make their living out of the dead bones of SMEs take their cut.  Long standing contacts distance themselves uncomfortably, embarrassed to admit a superstitious fear that failure could be catching.   I look at the updates from these liquidators and I shake my head with sorrow as it could be any of us.  I doubt I am the only one who sees it this way. 

So you see, the life of a small business is  fragile.  We plan, we build reserves, we look at the prevailing conditions, the things out of our control, and we try to make sensible decisions, we hedge against our vulnerabilities where we can, we look for opportunities to get ahead and hope they pay off.  Here is where I come around in a roundabout way to Brexit.  The fragility of SMEs means we are heading for some extremely difficult times with Brexit looming. Remember my list of potential obstacles?  Well for a proportion of the 5.7million SMEs and even some of the large businesses, Brexit, any flavour of Brexit on the menu, will mete out a number of those blows simultaneously.  The companies affected won’t so much be rolling with the punches as knocked unconscious before they have had a chance to even buy gloves.  We could do some contingency planning, we are doing what we can, but when there is a finite amount of time and resource and personnel we need to know roughly what we are planning for otherwise we may as well just buy a lottery ticket.  

If you voted Leave, you – yes I do mean each and every one of you –  have helped to put my business in harm’s way, but not just mine.  A great many SMEs will face existential challenges because of a direct effect on their EU sales, disruption in the supply chain, an increase in their input costs or less directly because of a downturn, which will most definitely come, leading to cuts in their customers spending in the short to medium term.  2 years on and I still have not seen a convincing reason which explains why we are voluntarily following this insane path.  There is no benefit to me and mine, my staff or my business and after asking the question multiple times, nobody credible has ever been able to cite a specific example of a benefit to my business or my life.

My partner and I are both from working class backgrounds, we started out with no contacts and no capital but lots of bravado.  Over the years we have adapted, diversified  and changed our business model to suit changing business environments.  We have battled and fought and sought the tenacity we needed to keep ourselves in the game.  We have reinvested our profits, taken chances, learned from our errors, some of them bad ones.  Some days I look at the uncertainties ahead and the idea of giving up, selling what we can and going away somewhere regardless of the consequences crosses my mind for a moment.  But I know we are not quitters and we will fight on, one problem at a time, one obstacle at a time.  

For many in business however, Brexit might just become like one of the nightmarish corridors in Tomb Raider Level 20 with the jets of fire, a sword of Damocles and a giant boulder rolling behind. There will be too many obstacles coming together in too short a time to negotiate successfully and no amount of stockpiled medi-packs will get us through to the next level.  Don’t be surprised if some players decide to just quietly turn the computer off and take up yoga.

Disaster Capitalism, takedowns and takeovers revisited.

I wrote these words over a year ago as part of a longer piece which was an analyis of the then situation with the two main parties both of who had succumbed to populist forces, but looking at the stories about Johnson’s cronies betting against the economy today I think this story perfectly illustrates #disastercapitalism.

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.   Without telling anybody who would be affected 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, no profit, no customers, 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.

Bland Men Toxic Lies

I wrote this as one of the speeches to be delivered today by my friends at the Chester for Europe demo today 7th September 2019.

I watched some footage today of a bland faced politician being confronted by an angry French woman.  With tears in her eyes and defiance in her heart, she explained to him exactly why she stood with a stop Brexit banner with her British friends.  She has been in the UK for 21 years, longer than she lived in France.  Her husband is British, as are her children. 

The Bland Faced Man tried to present his Brexit as a difference of opinion, like you would discuss what you think about porridge or boiled eggs.  The woman let rip and demonstrated the passion felt by every single person who has been adversely affected by that vote on June 23rd 2016. 

5 million people denied a vote on their very futures remain unsure what will happen to them.  Settled status means nothing certain and there is no protective legislation so a no-deal offers them nothing.  The British in the EU likewise have little to go on beyond unilateral guarantees made in individual member states.

A friend of mine and her husband moved into her daughters spare room this week thanks to a job loss directly linked to Brexit.  Her husband is struggling to find a new job, as an EU27 citizen combined with his area of expertise, Brexit is having an ongoing effect on his employment prospects. My friend said “I know I should be grateful I have somewhere to go but right now all I feel is anger and distress” The poor woman even feels guilty at feeling her justified and righteous anger.

I saw a man on twitter share his distress, the Coroner had confirmed worry about brexit was one of the factors in his EU27 citizens wife’s suicide. 

Imagine that? Imagine having to live with that?

Politicians have created a divide.  In our Families, in our communities, in our country.  For what? What is so good about a future outside the EU? 3 years of asking this have never yet yielded a satisfactory answer from the bland men who sold us their lies in 2016. It’s unforgivable what they have done to our great nation.

And meanwhile, what of our cross border families? These people are YOUR friends, your colleagues, your neighbours, your own families.  Our government cares not a jot about them.  These people with no voice are OUR responsibility, Brexit has diminished their status from being less than equal and this is wrong.  They have stood by our sides for all these years contributing to our communities.  It’s now time for us to stand side by side with them.  

Stop Brexit,

Equal Lives No Longer

This week has been full of turmoil. Boris Johnson and his special adviser, the unelected Dominic Cummings have engaged in a war of attrition against Johnson’s own party and summarily chucked out 21 MPs for voting against their plan.

They have pretended that the British Government is busy negotiating some kind of deal whilst the EU have confirmed that in fact nothing new has been put to them at all, in fact I don’t think anything has been put to them at all. As per the last 3 years the Tory government seeks only to negotiate with its own party and by extension the Brexit Party, in this, May and Johnson are the same though Johnson remarkably has been somewhat less successful having now fired his majority. There is something deliciously absurdly brexity about that particular act of foot shooting isn’t there?

As campaigners, we in the Remain Grassroots have been busy fighting the spectre of no deal. We must continue to do that. Although Parliament has successfully flexed its sovereignty muscles and pushed through the Benn Bill, there are still many holes in the road that we can fall through. It’s not inconceivable with a certain chain of events we could be back to facing another cliff edge. It all depends on the order of play.

Ideally we need Brexit to be settled first before we go into any multi issue general election. After all, if we are to have a general election just about brexit why not just have a referendum specifically addressing it? If we do go into a general election with Brexit as the central question we cannot stop debunking no-deal in the starkest and toughest way. So this aspect of our work, informing of the calamity of no-deal must be kept up regardless of the Benn Bill unless and until we know we are truly safe from it.

Having said all that on strategy, I have been reminded too, this week, of all the core reasons I started to campaign and they have not changed. I hate to quote Theresa but let me be clear, let there be no confusion. I reject all types of Brexit. The opportunity for bringing remainers along to a compromise passed 2 years ago. There has been no respect shown from Leave proponents for the lives and realities that people face. If within the first few weeks, months even, some attempt had been made to firstly immediately secure the rights of EU27 in the UK and British in Europe and secondly create a cross party commission to investigate and thrash out a workable approach which got broad agreement , our remain movement would never really have grown, Thats on the May Government and the No-dealers.

To turn the oft quoted phrase thrown at Remain back to the fence sitters and deal makers. We are where we are. You didn’t manage that, you did not successfully get parliamentary agreement on any deal. Three and a half years on and we are no closer to defining Brexit beyond the catastrophe of no-deal. We have wasted billions on fridges and lorry parks and ferry companies, we have neglected the domestic agenda and still nobody can better the terms of our current EU membership in any way whatsoever. Remember they said it would be better. Not worse.

But the contradictions of Brexit aside, the real cost of the last 3 years has been entirely emotional. Let’s start with the 5 million excluded from a referendum, the result of which was to impact their lives in the most personal and egregious way. As the promises on their security made pre referendum by the Leave campaigners who now sit in government where shredded on the floor of the House of Commons, their initial bafflement and mild concern has turned into fear and fury blistering fury and rightly so. They have been insulted and demonised and discriminated against. The settled status scheme is throwing out stupid decisions to people who have been here for decades. We see fresh new insane stories of filing cabinets full of ancient paperwork demanded so people can finally feel secure. I feel extremely worried of there being a scandal similar to windrush perpetrated on our EU27 friends. The hostile environment in the Home office is still alive and kicking as our friends from outside the EU will attest.

More fundamentally than the procedures imposed though, the enactment of the referendum result reduced the status of the 3 million. As EU members we are all equals under UK law. We were the same. The Leave voted turned EU27 citizens into people who are NO LONGER EQUAL. Their rights have been removed. They or their parents came here exercising treaty rights or came before that with indefinite leave to remain. They have now been told they must justify their presence in the UK. Their history by our sides in the UK has been downgraded in importance. Imagine having to justify your life?

The British in Europe face similar problems. In a way their issues are even worse because the removal of FOM also removes their right to move easily from their current residence to another EU27 country. For some this is already creating business and or employment problems. Whilst some individual governments have laid down laws to protect their British residents, others are looking to confirm reciprocal arrangements and cannot guarantee what will happen without a deal.

So many British are not clear exactly on their continuing rights to healthcare arrangements, pensions, exporting of benefits etc Nothing is certain. But again at the core the argument for me is that these rights have been removed by the British Government against their will. They are now less than equal to their neighbours in their country of residence. The EU can no longer protect them.

Remember in the early days the EU proposed in a document protections for the 5 million with reciprocity but the British refused to sign up to this and preferred to use their lives as chips in their political gaming.

What of the rest of us? Yes, we too are being stripped of rights to work and study and move around freely on the journey our lives may take us. Of course we will be able to try and jump through the immigration hoops that will be imposed on us instead of Free movement but we will be a third country. That means less experimentation, less access to opportunity. Why would an EU company hire a Brit as a member of a third country and mess about with visas and work permits when they are getting qualified applicants for the same job from 26 other countries. The best of the best (and the rich) will always get opportunities but the rest will just have another barrier to get over keeping them from their desired future.

Aha, but what about opportunity elsewhere in the world, I hear you ask. Well I don’t know about you but I haven’t exactly seen any countries coming along offering free movement to the British people in the last 3 years. You would think we would remember that.

We have stripped ourselves of rights and freedoms we previously had, it doesn’t matter if some individuals never exercised or benefited from those rights. I have never been arrested but I wouldn’t want to strip people of their right to a fair trial on the basis I never benefited from that. The point is I might one day, or my family or my friends or my children or my grandchildren. The Leave Vote has diminished our rights and so diminished the individual.

Which finally brings me to some of the minority of Labour people who still think there is something feasible about some kind of Brexit. What are you doing? You are supporting a policy which removes rights. This seems to me something totally alien to your movement? When did you stop supporting progressive enhancement of rights and start supporting removing rights? Get off the fence!

Brexit has divided families, communities neighbours at the deepest emotional level. Loss of rights and the real life consequences of that is felt so deeply by so many people that the anger and determination continues to build every day. This week we have seen the pressure that can be brought to bear with teamwork to stop no-deal. Forget fantasy deals. We are where we are, the public is moving to remain, the time for unicorns whether blue or red has passed. Imagine what can be done when our oppositions parties unite to fight the wrongs of 2016 and take the right steps to stop Brexit.

The TakeOver – Don’t Wait too Long,

Without a doubt, we are seeing that the entryism into the Conservative Party by Brexit party and UKIP supporters, to push through the ERG and its agenda for the hardest of hard Brexits, has now taken hold.

How can Conservative MPs stand by and watch 21 of their colleagues, some of whom are extremely well respected across the country beyond party allegiances, be summarily ejected from their own party and feel forced to stand down from their jobs. How can they stand to do and say nothing? What is a party for if it is no longer reflecting a set of values which you can subscribe to. Even his own brother has felt compelled to remove himself from responsibility for what is being done.

Jess Phillips MP accused MPs of complaining in the tea rooms whilst saying nothing where it counts. Some of these same Tories consistently take every opportunity to attack their labour colleagues for splits and other problems and failures in the opposition party but now when their own BIG test has come, they have failed, failed failed.

Any Tory MP against No-deal who does not speak out now against what Johnson/Cummings are doing – successfully completing the takeover of the authoritarian-loving , populist right of the party, fail to fill the primary duties of their public office. Even if they don’t consider putting country first, they are not even putting their own party first. They are aiding and abetting it’s metamorphosis into something much darker and alien to the genuine values of moderates everywhere.

This is a warning you must heed. When you have given your tacit approval with your silence to what is being done in your name, further down the line you may come to a point you cannot,with clear conscience, cross to follow your leader, and you will feel compelled to speak out and take a stand. Don’t leave it too late. Soon there will be nobody to back you up or defend you. There will be nobody left with any power to speak out for you!

Moreover the public, your constituents, won’t be taken in forever. Sooner or later they will ask you why you failed THEM. They will be far less polite than the man who said Please Leave My Town.

The time to speak the truth is NOW.

Imagine

Imagine This.

It’s the 31st December. The Prime Minister has failed to get a deal through Parliament by the 31st October. The Opposition Parties have been so busy scrapping with eachother they forgot to do a deal in time to stop us falling out of the EU without a deal.

The Tory No-deal Architects rubbed their hands in glee and have made a fortune in their currency speculation activities. Their hedge fund investments which gambled against economy have grown exponentially so they are smiling to themselves when they get up in the morning.

The pound has plummeted. The FTSE is all over the place. Big business triggers it’s contingencies. Prices go up. Wages don’t. Small Business has rising costs and poor access to the supplies they need which is hampering their ability to function. Spending by consumers has plummeted as people are worried about their jobs and incomes.

Lorries started stacking up in Kent immediately we fell out of the EU. After the initial madness a system was cobbled together but goods are still extremely slow to get through and despite the stockpiling there are problems in most supply chains in most industries. The remaining car manufacturers in the UK trigger their final contingency plans and start issuing the last of the redundancy notices.

On the 1st of November the PM’s office immediately had to dispatch a massive team of civil servants and diplomats to negotiate emergency access to all the frameworks that we have fallen out of but not yet built for ourselves. This work is ongoing. The news reports there is still more to do.

Parliament is in uproar. There is no business being done or debated which is not to do with Brexit. Every cabinet meeting is only talking about the problems directly associated with brexit. 50% of our civil servants have been despatched around the world to try and do quick deals with countries. This work is also ongoing.

Northern Ireland is frightened. Scotland is furious. Wales is baffled at the part it played in this unholy shitshow.

Some things haven’t changed. There are still people living in tents in shop doorways. There are still food banks which are a bit short of food donations due to shortages in shops and personal stockpiling. Disabled and sick people are still being badly assessed for PIP. Wages are not going up in line with living costs. The NHS has not been able to address any of its staff shortage problems. The Care System sees no end in sight. The new immigration rules are not helping to get their positions filled from anywhere in the world when migrants can do better elsewhere. The brain drain which had quietly started over 3 years before is now openly visible as parents wish their most talented young people well and help them find solid opportunities elsewhere. There is no parliamentary or government activity to address any of these areas in any meaningful way.

Racism is still alive and well. The far right have been emboldened and the brexit party is planning to stand candidates in the next election to further empower themselves. More angry powerless people means more people vulnerable to their anti immigrant message. The vicious circle works in their favour. This is lowest common denominator politics in full flow.

The news every night is about brexit. Why did we brexit? What will happen next? How is the government going to solve the brexit crisis? What about the supply problems? When are we going to see a stronger pound. When is the USA going to give us a deal. How many years of negotiations are ahead of us? Every documentary is about some aspect. Government ministers fill our screens with the brexit platitudes and keep repeating the mantra that this is the will of the people so now they are just getting on with it.

Nobody with any power is talking about climate change.

100s of 1000s of people take to the streets in rage. There are protests every day somewhere in the country. The only contingency planning that was properly completed by government was security planning in the event of riots. There are a few riots. They are stomped on by government heavy handedly as, given the numbers, they daren’t let it get it get worse as brexit keeps on biting and hurting more and more people’s lives. The opposition parties are baffled when the anger is equally directed at them. Every night on the news their message is that this is the will of the people and they tried their best but they weren’t in power so what could they do? This isn’t washing with folk though. Politicians cry it’s labours fault, its Lib Dems fault, its Greens fault, its change UKs fault its the Tories fault. Their shameless appeals to vote for them are just like pointlessly poking at the electorate with a sharp stick.

We clink our glasses to see the new year in with heavy hearts and fear about the continuing degradation of our political system which has completely forgotten it’s there to solve our problems not to make them for us.

Its all a Nightmare right? Well Now Imagine this instead!

It’s the 31st of December. On the 31st of October sensible people in parliament worked together and forced the government into revoking Article 50. Instead the government has set up a 2 year commission to work out if there is a kind of brexit that could be advantageous to the UK and that can be realistically negotiated and implemented without damaging our interests and thoroughly evidenced to this effect. If they find one there will be a referendum suggested. It’s a small team put on this commission. Any referendum would be existing membership versus whatever vision it comes up with. The new PM had failed to get any meaningful concessions on the WA and had failed to get any existing withdrawal agreement through parliament.

In response a few tens of 1000s of people turned up to protest in London. There were pockets of nastiness and violence but the numbers weren’t big enough to stop the overwhelming majority of citizens around the country from heaving a huge sigh of relief.

The moment Revoke was announced the pound soared back upwards. The FTSE stabilised and on the whole strengthened steadily. Companies and government stopped stockpiling and gradually all supplies of medicine and goods went back to normal flows. Brexit was no longer on the news every night.

There was a huge media feature on homelessness. The Government announced a cross party initiative to address the issues of housing needs in the UK. There is work being done on how to improve economic growth, training and recruitment in the NHS and they are once again busy talking about inequality, equality in the workplace, taxation and foreign policy. Parliament is once again working actively on all the issues which affect peoples lives.

Our MPs, after an initial flurry of angry letters from people who wanted no-deal or some other kind of brexit are now gradually starting to see more normal post bags and are able to concentrate on helping their individual constituents more effectively. The feeling of constant crisis and heat has been removed completely from our political environment. There are still some extremely abusive emails but these are now easy to report and ignore. They are also getting many more thoughtful letters on a wide range of issues, as more people have woken up to political engagement and want to communicate with their MPs to make the UK a better place.

Investment decisions which were on hold are finally made. All sense of business uncertainty has been lifted. Whatever else happens politically in a general election with taxation or change of government etc compared to Brexit this will only every be something that business can easily adapt to. The entire basic framework on which business is done day to day will remain roughly the same. They have bigger fish to fry anyway. Structural problems in various sectors can be viewed and addressed by business with clarity, without the constant white noise of brexit interfering with their thinking.

Yes many people were and still are angry and threaten never to vote again. But as the weeks go on, and people around them are starting to smile again and they don’t hear the word brexit on the news and new jobs are announced as firms feel able to invest in expansion plans instead of contingency plans, they start to feel secretly relieved too. They laugh at the self deprecating jokes along with everybody else and they don’t know it yet, but this time next year they will quietly wonder why they voted for brexit in the first place.

The racists are still there of course, but the unexpected power that Brexit gave them has been undermined. Their voices are still loud but their platform is broken. The toxic right of politics is still attracting certain kinds of people who’s view of the world is rather narrow, but as the population ages, just as with the Conservatives, their most fertile and effective audience at the ballot box will decline. We are starting to patch up the damage done to our relationships with the EU27 citizens amongst us who have been treated so appallingly.

The EU is doing work on the climate change crisis. We are proudly playing our part in that with our partners. Via the EU we are also continuing to address the problems of Tax Evasion and money laundering. The Revoke decision has given a new sense of energy and hope to the progressive parties and their voters right across the EU. Politicians are keen to embrace the optimism.

Life is getting back to normal but a new mass of motivated, politically engaged, intelligent people, experienced in campaigning for change are looking at ways of how they can support a our democratic systems so the entire population is better represented in parliament and extremes cannot be foisted on us again. We must remain alert to the continuing dangers of the far right and nationalism across the world.

We clink our glasses to see the new year in with a profound sense of relief. We are optimistic for the future. We see the battles are not over but we understand now that complacency is the enemy and our generation will not make this mistake again. We must no longer look away from our problems but seek to solve them together.

That’s more like it.

Imagine this, see this, make it happen.

We need to keep on putting our messages out there. We don’t have to damage ourselves. We can change our minds and Stop Brexit.