Today we reach the anniversary of the reckless triggering of the Article 50 process. As your representative in the European Parliament, I am more concerned than ever about how Brexit is working out.
The Prime Minister's cheerful rhetoric about a bright future outside the EU is nothing but empty words that fly in the face of the evidence of the severe economic cost. Meanwhile, so many of the promises that were made during the referendum campaign have been broken that the mandate for leaving the EU has been seriously weakened.
In the past couple of weeks we have also seen exactly how the referendum was won - the victory was based on breaking funding rules and spending vast amounts of money on companies who specialise in propaganda and electoral manipulation. Behind these companies and this process lurk shadowy, anti-democratic figures like Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer.
I know that Brexit has become complex and divisive and that it is tempting to hope for the best and avoid the tough politics. But I would urge you to do whatever you can to resist the pressure for such a damaging course and to get involved in the various campaigning groups that are fighting Brexit (see ideas below). It is the most fundamental change to our political system in my lifetime and none of us should stand aside.
Read more about my reflections one year on from the triggering of Article 50, here.
Vote Leave: a dark and tangled web
The allegations of illegal behaviour and electoral manipulation swirling around the EU referendum have become complex. They fall under three main three main headings:
- Theft of data from Facebook to enable creation of individual voter profiles
- Micro-targeting with fear-based messages and military-informed psyops
- Breach of spending limits
I have attempted to untangle all this here. What is clear is the narrow victory for the Leave side is far from robust and our case for a people’s poll on the final deal is greatly strengthened.
In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal which revealed that millions of Facebook users have had their private information harvested I wrote an open letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg challenging him to turn Facebook into a real social network by handing ownership it over to those who invest their personal lives in it. Read this letter here.
Challenging the result of the EU referendum
I have written to the Electoral Commission to question the legitimacy of the EU referendum result. I have asked them to clarify if their on-going investigations into whether Vote Leave breached campaign finance rules will now extend to looking into the latest revelations about voter manipulation. I want to know what would make an election illegitimate and what steps they will take if the EU referendum is considered illegitimate. More on this here.
European Parliament votes for level playing field
MEPs have voted overwhelmingly in support of a resolution on the framework of the future EU – UK relationship. This makes clear that a deal between the UK and EU will only be supported by the Parliament if it guarantees a ‘level playing field’.
Examples from the text:
This has sent a clear message to the UK government that Brexit cannot be used as an excuse for a race to the bottom. Only if Britain complies with EU standards can it hope to achieve a comprehensive free trade deal with the EU27. You can read the full framework here
South West rally - a display of unity against Brexit
It was as great to join around 2,500 people at the March and Rally for Europe in Exeter last Saturday, part of a national day of action with rallies across the country. It was encouraging to share the stage with members from Labour, Lib Dems and Conservative Parties, as well as European citizens, student representatives and farmers. The event was organised by Devon for Europe, part of the Britain for Europe network of regional groups. Check out your local group! Best for Britain is another group worth looking at. You can use their website to write to your MP to demand a final say on the Brexit deal.
It is exciting to see an emerging political alliance against Brexit. For instance, a cross-party group of 19 UK MEPs recently wrote to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to complain about the use of ‘utterly inappropriate language’ by government and the press in relation to Brexit negotiations. Read about this here. The three South West pro-Europe MEPs – myself, Clare Moody (Labour) and Julie Girling (Conservative) – also wrote to the European Commission expressing our concerns about Russian interference in the EU referendum. You can find out more here.
Molly Scott Cato
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