A warm welcome to the first joint newsletter from Islington In Europe and Camden For Europe (for more about who we are and our objectives and strategy, see below). We have teamed up to bring together the latest developments on what’s happening where and when, info on future events and how you can get involved, and discussions on Brexit related issues.
The newsletter appears every two weeks, normally on the Friday or Saturday, and relies on contributions from readers: so please send news and views firstname.lastname@example.org (next issue deadline 8 am on Saturday 29 October) – and many thanks to readers who have contributed to this issue. Please forward this to anyone you think might be interested.
We asked for ideas for a slogan in the last edition. So far we have had one: “We are the 48%.” Comments and other ideas please.
1. Who we are, objectives and strategy
2. Upcoming activities
3. Recent activities
4. What’s going on elsewhere
5. Discussion: The Potential EU resident’s vote, The English Identity Problem, Lessons from the Campaign: Look North
WHO WE ARE, OBJECTIVES AND STRATEGY
We are two informal, non-party political groups that emerged from local branches of the Stronger In campaign. However, we are not affiliated to Open Britain (the successor to Stronger In); instead we are planning to affiliate to Britain for Europe, which we think is the most promising national group campaigning for UK membership of the EU. This will require us to set ourselves up as unincorporated associations with members and elected officers. (Camden will do this in early December and all readers will be invited to join for free ahead of this).
Since June, we’ve been keeping the flame alive, writing letters to our MPs and to local newspapers, meeting with our MPs, organising a number of events with thought-provoking speakers and running street stalls. We also turned out for the London’s March For Europe event in September, and more recently for the London Day of Action. We are in regular contact with other emerging groups in London and the wider UK, and we recently organised that we and 23 other groups wrote a letter to all 27 European leaders who met at the Bratislava summit, reminding them that 48% in the UK voted to remain part of the European Union and were still actively campaigning.
Recently there have been some significant political developments and this has helped both groups to clarify an outline campaign strategy. This involved considerable discussion and is primarily a practical tool designed to help us campaign more effectively. A draft is set out here.
|“We believe that the decision to stay in or leave the European Union must reflect the settled will of the British people. This is not the view of the Government: it wants to use the Royal Prerogative to issue a notification of the UK’s intention to leave as set out in Article 50, and it wants the notification to be irreversible, regardless of what the British people think once the terms of exit are known.
Our first campaign objective is to ensure that the notification is conditional on the British people approving the exit terms negotiated by the Government through a referendum. This will ensure that this huge decision does indeed represent the settled will of the British people. This requires a majority of Members of Parliament to vote accordingly. Hence we need to try and persuade MPs to do this. We are now working on the messaging and organisation required.
We believe that the UK should remain in the European Union. We recognise that this can only happen if a significant number of those who voted to leave change their minds, and either vote against it in a referendum or, if a referendum is not achieved, persuade MPs to vote against it.
Our second campaign objective is therefore to persuade people to change their mind.
These two objectives are quite separate. Even if you believe in Britain leaving, you may well believe that the decision should depend on a genuinely democratic process.
The two campaigns are national, hence our plan to affiliate to a national organisation, most probably Britain for Europe.”
We would very much welcome comments on this, particularly on the ‘messaging and organisation’ needed for our initial campaign – please write email@example.com.
17 and 18 October, Royal Courts of Justice. On Thursday an important legal case started at the High Court in the Royal Courts of Justice (The Strand, London) and it will continue on 17 and 18 October. This will challenge the Prime Minister’s insistence that she can invoke Article 50 without a vote in Parliament. Details are here:
To show our support for and to gain publicity (media will be there), Britain for Europe would like people to be outside the Royal Courts of Justice at 9am on the 17th and 18th. You will be free to leave by 10 a.m. Please bring EU flags. (This will not be the last word – the verdict will be appealed and the Supreme Court will hear the case in December).
Tuesday 18 October, 7.30 pm. A public meeting on the EU and Brexit organised by Camden MP Keir Starmer, with the panel also including Sarah Hayward, Leader of Camden Council and the other Camden MP Tulip Siddiq. If you require any further information, or if you would like to raise specific concerns about the EU referendum result and next steps, you are invited to contact Keir Starmer’s office on 020 7219 6324. It will take place at St Pancras Church, Euston Rd, London NW1 2BA. Click on the link below to register.
PRO-EUROPE CHRISTMAS CARDS!
We have received the following announcement:-
Alba White Wolf with Creative Campaigning for EU bring you pro-EU Christmas cards, packaged in packs of ten cards and in six different designs. Buy these collectively as a group to send to friends and to your local MP, or to sell for group fundraising. The minimum order is 12 packs for £36 inc. P&P to a UK address. The price per pack is lower on larger orders (24, 36 or 96 packs). Profits to be donated to Britain for Europe.
Please note: orders received by 7 pm on Saturday 22 October will only be processed if the target sales level is achieved (around 1800-1900 packs of cards). If this target is reached, a higher stretch target will be revealed. Packs will be delivered to funders during the last week of November.
The next meeting of the Camden steering group will be on 3 November. If you would like to get more actively involved in the group please firstname.lastname@example.org.
BRITAIN FOR EUROPE SECOND NATIONAL MEETING
We will send delegates to the national meeting planned for 5 November to build on the private discussions we have already had (see under Recent Activities).
MEETING WITH OTHER GROUPS
Discussions with Britain for Europe and Common Ground. Following the national meeting on 24 September, Philip Richmond has had further discussions about both overall campaign strategy and formal structure with representatives of Britain for Europe (BfE) and Common Ground. There is some hope that a strategy broadly similar to the Camden and Islington strategy can form the basis for co-operation between these national groups, and also make it more likely that the London Pro-EU Forum will become the London region of BfE. For more details contact Philip – Philipnw5@gmail.com.
DISCUSSION AND SOCIAL EVENT – TRADE POLICY
Professor Alan Winters of Sussex University spoke on Trade Policy and the ‘Future of UK relations with the EU’ at Camden for Europe’s highly successful first discussion meeting – 50 attendees were seriously impressed by Professor Alan Winters’ remarks and the quality of the debate. With the EU accounting for half UK trade, negotiating relations with the EU will be the ‘big game’ with a great deal to play for, said Winters. (E.g. For every 1% of exports to the EU lost, a 25% increase in exports to Australia would be needed to compensate.) European attitudes suggest a ‘soft Brexit’ would likely require the UK to leave the Customs Union and conclude sector-specific agreements – involving awkward tradeoffs for the UK. E.g. Where would the May government make sacrifices to achieve ‘passporting’ for the City? ‘Hard Brexit’ based on WTO rules or a free trade agreement would have serious disadvantages since border checks would slow movement making exporting much less free than currently the case. Winters advocated smart diplomacy to buy time / negotiating transitional arrangements based on the status quo for three years to enable trade relations satisfactory to all parties to be sorted.
STREET STALL AND ACTION DAY
Camden held a street stall on 1st October and three on the 8th October (the latter as part of a London wide Day of Action) and recruited somewhat under 200 supporters.
Islington also held two stalls on the 8th, using the banner “We need to talk about Europe.” Volunteers asked passers-by open questions, such as “How do you feel about Brexit?” 8 volunteers at each stall were in conversations with people for an energising two full hours, with a mixture of strong Brexiteers, Remainers who feel we need to move on and those who are glad to see groups on the streets again. Respondents were also invited to sign a petition asking for Parliament to have the final word on whether we should proceed with Brexit on the terms that emerge and219 signed. The petition also worked well as an engaging point. Many people took the new brand-new business cards, and signed up to this newsletter and 40 people responded to a survey on Brexit (on the Islington web site). Finally, there was interest from non-Brits in a guide on how to apply for permanent residence and British citizenship. Volunteers’ feedback was positive and that this is a good way of reconnecting with Remainers, ‘liberal Brexiters’ and those who felt they were left behind.
WHAT’S GOING ON ELSEWHERE
How Article 50 really works. There is much confusion about how Article 50 works. This paper by Andrew Duff published a few days ago sets out to clarify the situation.http://www.policy-network.net/publications/6141/After-Brexit
Meeting of the left anti-Brexit movement. 450 people attended an event on 8 October co-organised by Another Europe Is Possible, Open Democracy, the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025, and the LSE Human Security and Civil Society Research Unit. The subject was: What went wrong and what next?’ A declaration was agreed committing Another Europe Is Possible to a series of progressive campaigning priorities in the Brexit negotiations, and to work towards an agreement to join forces with the Democracy in Europe Movement, with a further conference called in January. For more details see http://www.anothereurope.org/what-went-wrong-hundreds-join-conversation-at-brexit-britain-event/
Voluntary dual citizenship? Bristol for Europe has suggested that should Brexit happen, British citizens who want it should be offered European dual citizenship on an individual basis, with representation in the European Parliament. Seehttp://www.euractiv.com/section/uk-europe/opinion/tuesday-give-brits-voluntary-dual-eu-citizenship/.
THE POTENTIAL EU RESIDENTS’ VOTE
From Monica Threlfall:
For more details contact Monica on M.Threlfall@londonmet.ac.uk
THE ENGLISH IDENTITY PROBLEM AND BREXIT
Kenneth McArthur builds on Alastair Bruton’s contribution to the last newsletter
As Alastair says, where people are confident about their identity, they’re more relaxed about – and indeed welcome – difference. We see evidence for this in London and in Scotland, where Scots have long emphasised their Scottish identity, and where we saw Remain win with a higher share of the vote than in London.
However, many have described the EU referendum as an essentially English referendum, and the differential turnouts across the four nations of the UK would seem to support that analysis. (Scotland’s turnout was 6% lower than England’s – and almost 20% lower than that in the 2014 independence referendum – while Northern Ireland’s was more than 10% lower.)
Anthony Barnett writes eloquently in “WHAT NEXT: Britain after Brexit” (https://unbound.com/books/brexit/excerpt):
“The first [reason for the strength and energy of the vote to Leave] touches an uncomfortable nerve of voice and identity. Brexit was essentially an act of the English. But most English people define themselves as English by saying they are British. At the same time most show complete indifference to Scotland, without which the country cannot be Britain. Yet as a result of Brexit, Scotland is likely to go its own way. Whereupon we English will have to be ourselves. Alas, for many of us this is not a happy prospect as it releases forces of denial, repression and discomfort bound up with illusions of grandeur, alarm over becoming a ‘small nation’, and the country’s peculiar class and social system. This complex, and its failure to find a healthy voice in the way the Scots and Irish mostly now have, lies at the heart of the culture of Brexit.”
I would contend that until the UK is remade as a federation, with England having its own national institutions and distinctive political outlet and identity – just as Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales do today – a large part of England will never be comfortable enough in its own skin to support involvement in projects like the European Union. Treating Englishness and Britishness as more or less the same thing is something of an insult to people in the UK’s other three constituent countries who also identify as British – but, more importantly, it results in an English nation insecure in its own identity and, as a result, ill-at-ease with the perceived threat to identity which inevitably results from globalisation and the involvement of supranational institutions in its national life.
LESSONS FROM THE CAMPAIGN: LOOK NORTH
From Colin Penn
It is just over 100 days since the Brexit vote in June and often that is a moment to pause and reflect about progress and trends since a significant event. Certainly over the course of September there has been an intensifying pace of announcement, review, surmise and opinion.
It is also becoming obvious there will be no advantageous trading arrangement with Europe after Brexit, no automatic right to travel to Europe, live and work in Europe and have our health looked after under a European wide insurance scheme, all of which benefits were anticipated would somehow continue to exist post Brexit.
Financial and business commentators are uniting: they are indicating that trading and specifically financial services organisations no longer think existing trading links and passporting will endure after Brexit; that those businesses, institutions and manufacturers are beginning to reassess their UK domicile and where they will need to go instead, simply to overcome the intensifying atmosphere of doubt and uncertainty and get some solid planning going for their future.
However there are lessons from the Referendum campaign everyone involved do well to bear in mind. The Bremain campaign failed: parts of our country were left out of account. Those concerned punished the Bremain campaign in their areas: that swung the vote. The result was lost outside London and the South of England.
Recently, too, a lot of data is emerging about, frankly, the underlying plight of many in our country. Outside that prosperous South and East of the country, the reactions against the European project translated into a vigorous rejection of our continued link with Europe.
The Bremain narrative needs to pick up, therefore, not from where it left off in June, but start by acknowledging its campaigning deficits. By this I mean specifically our borough needs to look North: not scorn the people who swung the result in Sunderland and elsewhere as somehow misguided. Instead we need to look at the reasons why things are that dire for those people.
Indeed it’s not just them: recent GDP analysis is beginning to show that for a lot of people in the UK the impact of economic and structural change has been poverty and joblessness.
Another survey demonstrates that young people, the so-called “z” generation, under thirty, are actually less well off than predecessor generations. Quantitative Easing, which is so comfortingly sustaining the economy at the moment, is doing so through asset price inflation. That means basics, like a home, is now unaffordable for this category of young people.
Meanwhile, company results demonstrate Mike Ashley and Phillip Green’s new on-line venture, My Sale, is now going rather well. How is that happening?
Ultimately, for the Islington group we feel that this data fuels our conviction that the UK needs to collaborate in Europe to see it through ugly social and economic circumstances the consequences of which will be dire if we cannot avert these by a joint effort. This is the only way to reset our country’s path towards a secure, safe and prosperous future for everyone.
After all, 100 years ago, the countries that now collaborate in Europe were at war with one another: 1916 saw terrible consequences for the European population from conflict. We don’t want to go there again.