The new year has brought a new energy into the campaign for a Final Say referendum. There is some encouraging evidence that the tide is turning rapidly with many more people now questioning whether Brexit is turning out to be what they were promised. There are lots of analogies around, such as buying a car without looking under the bonnet or a house which when the survey arrives turns out to have subsidence. My favourite though is from Lord Lisvane. He asked his fellow peers about his nervous aunts who made a democratic decision to go to the cinema only to find out that the films on show were Reservoir Dogs and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Should they stick by their democratic decision or change their minds?
There has also been an increase in pressure on Labour to clarify their position and to spell out how it is possible to achieve a jobs-first Brexit while leaving the single market and customs union on which so many jobs depend. My Labour colleagues in the European Parliament are working hard with the TUC to move Labour's position on this. And if Jeremy Corbyn is really in favour of listening to his party's members then he should be supporting the Final Say referendum as well.
Bad Boys of Brexit
Last week I launched a website to expose the unholy alliance of men behind the campaign to leave the EU. The Bad Boys of Brexit website contains details of the coalition of far-right ideologues, climate change deniers, tax-dodging foreign billionaires and specialists in voter manipulation who successfully persuaded a majority of the public to vote to leave the EU. When brought together in this way it makes for frightening reading. But I also want this knowledge to be empowering and hope the information will strengthen our resolve to demand a Final Say on the deal with the EU, with an option to reverse Brexit and remain a member of the EU.
Further details here
See also my article here published by the i paper explaining why I have launched this website.
Those impact assessments…
For months I have been trying to get the government to release their studies into the economic impacts of Brexit. I believe we all need to know what the potential impacts of different courses of action are likely to be on the UK economy. I wrote letters and made Freedom of Information requests, all to no avail. Then, together with Jolyon Maugham of the Good Law Project I sought to force the government’s hand through the courts. While our request for judicial review has so far been refused we have now been listed for an oral hearing on March 6th which will allow us to make our case in court for a judicial review.
Meanwhile, the studies we think we were after were leaked to Buzzfeed last week, destined for sharing in one-to-one meetings between officials and government ministers. These showed that under every scenario, Brexit would hurt the economy, and that the regions who voted most strongly for Brexit are those that will take the biggest economic hit from the UK leaving the EU.
But rather than take any responsibility for the damaging shambles they are creating, the Brexiteers turned their fire on the Civil Service. Brexit minister Steve Baker rubbished the work of his own civil servants in the House of Commons and then, in an even more sinister move, Jacob Rees-Mogg questioned the independence of the Civil Service.
Because of the total lack of clarity over what studies have been carried out I am proceeding with legal action so that we can find out exactly what documents exist and, crucially, which it would be in the public interest to disclose.
Read my article in Left Foot Forward here about the secrecy and lies shrouding Brexit and how this is seriously undermining our democracy.
The Customs Union
The government has announced that it will seek to leave the customs union after Brexit. This will be hugely damaging to UK manufacturing industry and both the TUC and CBI are united in their belief that the UK must remain in the customs union. Labour seem as divided on this as the Tories. But 56% of potential Labour voters want the party to remain in both the customs union and the single market, with only 13% opposed.
See my Guardian article here in which I urge Labour to change tack.
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Molly Scott Cato