Posts Tagged ‘elections’

Why Change UK may turn out to be neither democratic nor a force for change

Lea Ypi explains why Change UK – The Independent Group appears to be aligning itself to a very different tradition of thinking about the relationship between citizens and representatives.

Modern democracy, wrote one of the great political scientists of the past century, is inconceivable – save in terms of party government. If that is true, when democracy is in crisis, a new political party might in principle offer opportunities for a way out. The newly created Change UK/Independent Group sees itself as a fresh political force breaking the way old politics works. It wants to occupy a space in the centre that traditional party divides are accused of having left void. It urges people to make change happen.

Except Change UK is not your standard political party. It has no manifesto, no popular base, no memory of struggles, victories and defeats. Instead of being a movement in search of political representation, it is a group of elected representatives in search of a movement. Instead of being the many represented by a few, it is the few urging the many to get involved.

Elections are arguably one of the most important moments in which a political group consolidates its principles and identity. It is how a new political force gathers the popular support that legitimises its demands for change. But Change UK is not that interested in elections either. If members were interested in popular mobilisation – campaigning to persuade fellow-citizens for the need to change, deliberating with supporters over principles – they would seize the first opportunity to confront their adversaries in by-election campaigns. Instead, they argue, fighting a by-election would “crush the birth of democracy”.

Change UK may not have a manifesto but it must at least have a vision of democracy. Except, on closer inspection, it turns out to be not very democratic. The birth of democracy, to return to their favourite formulation, is associated to rule by the many. In the Greek polis, the many ruled themselves by making direct decisions in the Athenian assembly. In modern societies, the many are too many and too diverse to speak directly for themselves. They speak through representatives in parliament. The extent to which the relation is democratic depends on the degree of proximity between representatives and represented. When that relationship is not subject to ongoing scrutiny it is not clear who the representatives speak for. Or what they speak about.

The more democratic a representative relation is, the more likely it is that the voice of the represented is heard in parliament (and not just on election day). Maintaining a close relation between professional politicians and the people who elect them is the only way to ensure that the voice of the many is continuously heard. For radical democrats, the purpose of democratic politics was to ensure that powerful people with more money, knowledge, and means to access public office were kept in check by the masses; that the few were constantly scrutinised by the many. To this effect they advocated a number of measures: mass membership in political organisations, imperative mandate, mandatory reselection, mechanisms of deselection of MPs, rotation in office, and so on. This is what democratic theorists call “the delegate” model of representation.

The Labour Party’s recent moves to expand membership along with proposals to change the relationship between members and MPs are part of this tradition. MPs are seen as only one of the links in the chain of democratic participation, they are by no means the most important one. Every MP and every decision made by them must remain accountable to party members at every step of the way.

Labour party leaders are often accused of authoritarianism. But if Labour really had been in the business of silencing criticism and undermining democracy, it should have discouraged rather than encouraged the delegate model of representation. The current Labour Party may have many flaws but a lack of democratic commitment is not one of them.

The same cannot be said about Change UK. The expressed refusal to fight by-elections and the arguments given to motivate that refusal signal its alignment to a very different tradition of thinking about the relationship between citizens and representatives. Members of Change UK insist that there is no reason to subject their views to democratic scrutiny since their values have not changed. But even if that were true, MPs are not selected only for the values they embrace but also for how they interpret those values in public life, and for the policy proposals they generate on that basis. A cursory look at CHUK’s statement of values in connection to particular public policies reveals sharp differences between those policies and the manifesto of the Labour party on the basis of which its former Labour members were elected. The only argument in their defence is given by a view of representation where MPs retain independence from their constituents: what is often called the trustees’ model of representation.

Historically, the emergence of the trustees’ model is associated to an explicitly anti-democratic attempt to isolate politicians from the power of the many. Its origins are in the explicitly moderate (we might say ‘centrist’ thought) of authors like Sieyes, Constant or Madison. The trustee model seeks to conceive of the representative relation as one in which political institutions are authorised by the masses but isolated from them. The argument is essentially an elitist, technocratic one: since modern life is about division of labour, only those with accumulated knowledge, expertise, and the right degree of wealth or skill are in the best position to make decisions about common affairs. The point of political authority is to guarantee the minimal amount of security that enables particular individuals to pursue their private affairs. The institutions that work best are, as in CHUK’s statement of values, those where “well-regulated private enterprise can reward aspiration and drive economic progress”. Disagreements of principle are reducible to disagreements of policy.

On the trustees’ model of political representation, once representatives are selected, their link with the represented is essentially a fiduciary one, like the link between a bank manager and the people who put money in a bank account. Once money is in the bank, you trust the bank managers to do their job. Once elections are over, you trust politicians to represent the people. While that model is much more pervasive in the electoral systems and political institutions of Western liberal democracies, the divide between professional politicians and ordinary people on which it is premised is arguably at the heart of what citizens resent the most in contemporary liberal politics.

To revive democracy, one has to depart from the trustee model of representation and consolidate the radical democratic one. Change is needed and change is coming. But it won’t come from a group of politicians whose democratic antipathies go so deep that they resent confrontation with ordinary citizens at every level, including in by-elections, the most basic level of representative accountability.


Note: a shorter version of the above was first published in the New Statesman.

About the Author

Lea Ypi (@lea_ypi) is Professor of Political Theory at the London School of Economics and Political Science and co-author of The Meaning of Partisanship.


All articles posted on this blog give the views of the author(s), and not the position of LSE British Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

News review – Tuesday 23 April 2019

News review – Tuesday 23 April 2019


Tory leadership

THERESA MAY could be booted out as PM by furious Tory MPs in mid-June under radical plans to be considered by senior figures today. The Sun can reveal the Conservative 1922 committee is expected to vote on an extraordinary proposal to rewrite party rules to allow a new no confidence challenge just six months after the PM survived the last one in December. It would only be allowed if 92 Tories – or 30 per cent of MPs – submit a no confidence letter to backbench ‘kingpin’ Sir Graham Brady. Currently, the PM cannot endure a new challenge for 12 months – meaning she is ‘safe’ until the end of 2019.

Theresa May will be told by her own MPs to name the date of her departure or face being ousted in June after the Conservative Party’s patience with her finally ran out. Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, will tell the Prime Minister that the party is preparing to change its rules to make it easier to throw out unpopular leaders if they refuse to go. Backbenchers have already set June 12 as the date Mrs May will be forced out if she does not comply – exactly six months on from the day she fought off the last attempt to depose her through a confidence vote in her leadership.

A TORY grassroots plot to force Theresa May into quitting has secured enough support to trigger an emergency party meeting for a no-confidence vote. The Prime Minister’s failure to secure Britain’s exit from the European Union has unleashed a furious uprising in the party. Last night the threshold needed to demand an extraordinary general meeting of the party’s national convention, the most powerful body representing the rank and file, was reached. Sources involved in the plot said the petition had been backed by at least 65 constituency association chairmen after the Prime Minister’s “spectacular failure to deliver” Brexit.

A Tory plot to oust Theresa May over Brexit ramped up dramatically today after activists won a bid to trigger an emergency summit. The powerful National Conservative Convention is poised to hold an Extraordinary General Meeting within weeks after grassroots Brexiteers handed in a petition under party rules. Leave-backers – who are furious with Mrs May’s decision to delay Brexit to October 31 and enter ‘soft deal’ talks with Labour – had been pushing for the meeting so they can stage a vote of no confidence in the Tory leader. They used rules which say the Convention must call an EGM if at least 65 chairman of local constituency associations demand one in a petition.

Conservative MPs are today launching a new move to oust Theresa May within weeks even if her Brexit deal has not been ratified by parliament. Members of the party’s backbench 1922 Committee will meet this afternoon for an emergency session to discuss the prime minister’s leadership. Last night Nigel Evans, the committee’s joint executive secretary, said that he would use the meeting to demand a date for Mrs May to go.

Sky News
MPs are returning to Westminster after an 11-day Easter break with Brexit still deadlocked and Theresa May facing a double threat to her leadership. Senior government ministers are resuming their talks with leading Labour figures in a bid to reach a deal, but the two sides remain a long way from a breakthrough. And the prime minister is facing two new moves to accelerate her removal from Downing Street, from senior Conservative MPs and from pro-Brexit party activists.

ITV News
Theresa May could face an unprecedented vote of confidence in her leadership after 70 local association chiefs signed a petition supporting one, according to reports. They have called for an extraordinary general meeting of the National Conservative Convention to discuss the Prime Minister’s leadership of the party. A non-binding vote is expected to be held at the meeting, which would – if it showed a lack of confidence – put pressure on the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs to find a way of forcibly removing the PM from office.

Theresa May is facing an unprecedented push to remove her as Tory leader, with a petition by local party chairmen having triggered an extraordinary general meeting for a vote of no confidence. The Conservative Party is very much a top-down organisation, with the mostly Remain-supporting Conservative Central Headquarters (CCHQ) having much more control over parliamentary candidate selection (and deselection) than local associations and ordinary members, and the parliamentary party having a similarly dominant role in appointing the party leader — and, in effect, the Prime Minister, in times when the Tories are in government.

EMBATTLED Theresa May was facing a triple assault on her leadership today amid growing dismay over her handling of Brexit. She is expected to be told she must step down as Prime Minister by the end of June or Conservative MPs will change the party rules and force her out. Mrs May could also be challenged with an unprecedented vote of confidence this week as Tory grassroots anger boils over. Plans for a major Government re-shuffle also appear to have been abandoned, leaving the PM at the mercy of Remainer Cabinet members.

Boris Johnson is the Tory grassroots’ favourite to be the next Conservative Party leader and now has a 17 point lead over his closest rival, a new survey has shown. The former foreign secretary was backed by almost one in three Tory members to take over from Theresa May as support for him surged by 10 per cent in less than one month.   Support for Mr Johnson – now at 32 per cent – is at its highest level since last August as Eurosceptic activists appear to have swung in behind the leading Brexiteer, according to the work done by the ConservativeHome website.

Boris Johnson is streets ahead in the race to replace Theresa May as Tory leader and has an 18 point lead over his nearest rival Dominic Raab, a poll of party supporters revealed today. A survey on the influential Conservative Home website shows 33 per cent of people want Mr Johnson to take over as party chief. He enjoys twice the support of his nearest rival Dominic Raab on 15 per cent, followed by Michael Gove on eight per cent, Jeremy Hunt on six per cent and Sajid Javid on five per cent. The poll, published today, shows Jacob Rees-Mogg, David Davis, Matt Hancock, Esther McVey and Penny Mordaunt on just two per cent.

Theresa May’s mishandling of Brexit is damaging faith in her to such an extent that the majority of Conservative Party members not only want her gone, but are planning to vote for the Brexit Party at the EU Elections next month. At least that’s according to two surveys of Tory members conducted by ConservativeHome, who found that a whopping 79% of Conservatives now want Theresa May to resign. Just 219 in a survey of 1,132 were against May announcing her departure.

Cross party talks

Talks on a cross-party Brexit deal between Labour and the Conservatives will resume today, amid pessimism that substantive progress can be made. The two sides are due to meet face to face for the first time since MPs broke for the Easter recess ten days ago. The talks are expected to involve David Lidington, Theresa May’s deputy, and Gavin Barwell, her chief of staff. For Labour Seumas Milne, Jeremy Corbyn’s strategy and communications director, is also understood to be taking part with Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary.

The Brexit crisis will gasp back into life on Tuesday as the Tories plunge head-first back into talks with Labour to find a way forward. Theresa May finally enjoyed a tiny break from months of turmoil last week, munching on packed lunches while she walked in Snowdonia. But her Easter truce will shudder to a halt as her warring Cabinet meets on Tuesday morning – followed by her deputy, chief of staff and Chief Whip all descend on the Cabinet Office for a summit with Labour.

BBC News
The government will resume Brexit talks with the Labour Party as MPs return to Westminster following the Easter break. Cabinet ministers, including the PM’s de facto deputy, David Lidington, will meet senior opposition figures in an attempt to solve the Brexit impasse. But the resumption of talks has provoked anger among a number of Tory MPs, with senior backbenchers meeting later to discuss their next move. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Theresa May will chair a cabinet meeting.

Brexit negotiations between the government and Labour will resume on Tuesday as Theresa May launches a fresh bid to break the deadlock in parliament and quash new attempts to oust her from office. The prime minister’s deputy, David Lidington, and the Brexit secretary, Steve Barclay, will lead talks with Labour shadow ministers, including shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer, in a new effort to find a cross-party solution to the current crisis. They will be joined by government chief whip Julian Smith and Ms May’s chief of staff, Gavin Barwell.

Brexit talks between government ministers and Labour are due to resume on Tuesday amid distinctly limited expectations of a breakthrough, with the political focus likely instead to shift on to renewed Conservative efforts to oust Theresa May from Downing Street. The executive of the 1922 Committee, which represents Conservative backbenchers, is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, with its chair, Graham Brady, reportedly planning to tell the prime minister she must depart before the end of June. In the Brexit talks, a government team including David Lidington, May’s de facto deputy, and the Brexit secretary, Steve Barclay, is to meet Barclay’s Labour shadow, Keir Starmer, the shadow business secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey, and others at the Cabinet Office.

Irish backstop

THERESA May has asked officials to look again at a rival plan by Tory MPs for the Irish border to escape the disastrous Brexit deadlock. Senior Tory Brexiteers are lobbying the PM to use the new six month delay to mount a fresh push on the EU to adopt their ‘alternative arrangements’ model. The development comes as Theresa May will today come under renewed pressure to call time on stalled talks with Labour for a cross-party exit deal. But replacing the controversial Irish backstop to keep the border open with the ‘Malthouse Compromise’ formula of stand off customs declarations and checks is still the only way she can win a Commons majority for one, the group insist.


The UK’s first-past-the-post (FPTP) parliamentary election system is broken and outdated and can no longer be relied upon to keep out extreme elements and encourage moderate, consensual politics, a thinktank has said. A report by the Constitution Society said an increased concentration of support for the two main parties into defined geographical areas meant there was less and less direct competition between Labour and the Conservatives, negating a need to appeal to the middle ground. Instead, the report said, the dominant voice of members and the limited viability of smaller parties meant both the Conservatives and Labour had moved away from the centre and were dominated by internal arguments such as Brexit.


Any kind of Brexit will hurt the British people, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has claimed, in an interview in which he also praised Angela Merkel as a “lovable work of art” and recommended her for a top EU job once she steps down as the Chancellor of Germany. “Nobody knows how Brexit will end,” the European Commission chief remarked, telling the German Funke Media Group there was still a possibility of Britain having a clean, No Deal exit from the bloc, despite Theresa May agreeing another delay of up to six months before Article 50 negotiations expire and the country actually leaves the bloc.

EU unity has been one of the great surprises of Brexit: the bloc’s 27 remaining member states have managed to hold a united front in public in a way the UK – a single country – could only dream of.  But with the UK’s departure delayed until October – crucially, after the EU elections – that unity is being tested as never before, and the results are surfacing in the European parliament itself.  Guy Verhofstadt, long adored by British Remainers for mocking Brexiteers and championing citizens’ rights, surprised a few of those campaigners when he stood up in the European parliament on Wednesday.

BRITS have filled nine out of 10 new jobs created in the UK since the Brexit referendum, the Government announced. The number of EU nationals seeking work in Britain has plummeted to fewer than 35,000 following the vote to leave the bloc in 2016. And there are more than one million extra people in work. In the two years before the referendum more than 410,000 EU citizens joined the workforce. Since then they are responsible for just 5%. Businesses are “clearly adjusting” to lower European immigration, said Employment Minister Alok Sharma.

Nearly all new jobs created in the United Kingdom since the 2016 European Union (EU) membership referendum have gone to British workers, a distinct change from the period before the vote when nearly half went to EU migrants. The number of EU nationals who joined the British workforce — either getting a job in Britain for the first time, or returning to work after a period of absence — was 35,000 since the 2016 Brexit referendum. This is less than a tenth of the number who joined in the two years running up to the vote, when the figure stood at 410,000.

Four day week

The poorest 50% of households could see 13% boost in income by 2030 with 4-day week and higher minimum wage. It is part of a radical plan to solve the UK’s ongoing productivity crisis devised by thinktank the New Economics Foundation who are in favour of gradually reducing time spent working while raising minimum wages faster than planned. Britain is now in its tenth year of feeble labour productivity growth and politicians have so far failed to tackle the crisis. Their research shows that moving to a 4-day week by 2030 while lifting the national living wage to around £19 per hour rather than an expected level of £12 per hour would result in a rise of disposable income for the poorest 50% of households by 13% on average.


The NHS spent more than £13million helping thousands of women from abroad give birth last year. So far less than half of that money has been claimed back after it was spent on health tourists giving birth on maternity wards in England. And one hospital trust, Barts Health, racked up a bill of £1.7million caring for 232 women who had their children in its hospitals, The Sun revealed. Critics called the expenditure ‘ludicrous’ after it was revealed less than half the money has been claimed back. It can cost thousands of pounds for a woman to have her baby delivered in an NHS hospital if she isn’t a UK resident, and extra care costs even more.

More than a quarter of NHS doctors suffer from mental health conditions, a survey indicates, as leading medics say many refuse to seek help for fear it will ruin their career. The British Medical Association (BMA) today warns of a mental health “crisis” among the workforce, with 27 per cent having received a psychiatric diagnosis. The union says long hours and heavy workloads fuelled by rota gaps and increasing patient demand are pushing thousands of doctors towards “burnout”.

A quarter of doctors and medical students have been diagnosed with a mental health condition, it was revealed yesterday. Stresses of the job have pushed many into depression, anxiety and problem drinking. A survey of more than 4,300 medics found 27 per cent have been diagnosed with a mental health condition. Two in five are facing psychological and emotional problems, including stress, depression, anxiety and emotional distress. Women struggle more than men, while consultants, GP partners and those working more than 51 hours a week are most likely to blame their job for their health problems.

Gagging orders for whistleblowers will be banished from the NHS, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has promised, after a radiographer had her non-disclosure agreement overturned. Mr Hancock said he was “determined to end” the injustice of making health service staff choose between speaking out to protect patients or keeping their job. “Whistleblowers perform a vital and courageous service for the NHS and I want more people to feel they can put their head above the parapet,” he told The Telegraph.

The health secretary has vowed to end the use of non-disclosure agreements that prevent would-be NHS whistleblowers speaking out. Matt Hancock said he wants more people to feel they can “put their head above the parapet”, and described settlement agreements that infringe on people’s rights to voice concerns as “completely inappropriate”. “We stand with whistleblowers,” Hancock said. “Making someone choose between the job they love and speaking the truth to keep patients safe is an injustice I am determined to end. “Settlement agreements that infringe on an individual’s right to speak out for the benefit of patients are completely inappropriate. Whistleblowers perform a vital and courageous service for the NHS and I want more people to feel they can put their head above the parapet.

Gagging orders for NHS whistleblowers will be banned to encourage more staff “to put their head above the parapet”, the health secretary has pledged. Matt Hancock said that he wanted to outlaw non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) that silence staff who raise safety concerns or complaints of sexual harassment or workplace bullying. Sue Allison, 57, a radiographer, successfully argued that she had been asked to sign an NDA without legal advice after raising concerns at Morecambe Bay NHS foundation trust.


The government should support and fund choirs to help dementia sufferers cope with their fading memories, Line of Duty actress Vicky McClure has said, as she speaks of caring for her grandmother. McClure is hosting new television show Our Dementia Choir, which offers those with dementia music therapy as they train to perform as a choir in front of an audience of 1,000 people. The Line Of Duty star joins forces with specialists from the fields of medicine, music therapy and performance for the BBC One two part series.

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Leafletting – why are we still doing it?

Leafletting – why are we still doing it?

The May local elections across the country has got people out and about sticking leaflets and postal voter letters through letterboxes in their hundreds of thousands.

This presents the erstwhile campaigner with all sorts of problems not least of which is leafletting hands. Yes, this is a sad but necessary result of the modern-day lettter box. Mind you the old-fashioned brass-plated very strongly sprung ones are a real and present danger to the leafletter as well. You stick your fingers through these at your peril. If you haven’t got a free hand to hold up the front flap your knuckles are gonners.

The modern-day letterbox has inside it very strong plastic brushes and these are the equivalent to a guillotine for the fingers. You have to be quick, very quick. Now before the readers of this article who are experienced campaigners start shouting ‘spatula’ or ‘wooden spoon’ to push through the missives you wish to deliver, I can tell you these tools are for the individual, they are brilliant for some but a real pain in the … for others. I fall very squarely in the latter company.

Oh, what is like that brief but all-consuming feeling of euphoria when a potential voter has been very very kind to us and put a post box on their gate or next to the door … only to be countered in the most evil way with the now thankfully illegal letterbox in the bottom, the very bottom of the door!

We also do not take any notice of signs that tell you of a clear and distinct wish by the householder not to receive junk mail, clothing bags or leaflets: no, your leaflet is a political message of the greatest importance which will change the occupants’ lives for ever so they must at all costs receive this leaflet!

Driveways are the death of legs on occasions when they are three- mile long to one single house. Not often three actual miles of course, but it sure feels like it! Your heart says don’t bother but your head says no, this could be the one vote, that one vote that gets you over the line – so off you yomp to the door. It is my experience also that these long drives often lead to a hidden post box: surely, they must be made to have an arrow pointing to where it is?

Steps that go upwards are just as bad as those that go downwards, the upwards steps, usually a minimum of fifteen, are also death to the legs; those that go downwards are usually very steep and often broken to just heighten the chance of a trip or fall. One thing for sure is that if you do go sprawling, no one will see you – but make sure you have a good look around to be certain.

They say they are man’s best friend but to the leafletter dogs are the dragons of Westeros (‘Game of Thrones’ to the uninitiated): silent but deadly ones await your fingers, salivating as they hear you posting three doors away. They lie in wait and count down from ten as you open the gate and approach, they know the timing perfectly, like a computer-controlled intercept missile they wait, and wait, and wait – then: chomp, they have your fingertips at their mercy, they give no quarter.

Their brothers in arms are less than stealthy, they let you know they are there well before you have even got out of your car, they are amazing hunter-killers, they await your entry through the gate to which no dangerous dog sign is attached, no ‘dogs running free – beware’ warning anywhere. Once through that gate, these murderous snarling eaters of leafletters have you, as far as they are concerned all legal compliance has been satisfied: you are in their garden, their territory has been invaded, trapped by the gate, and your are fodder to satiate their lust for biting, barking and mauling.

You would normally, as a candidate, love to talk to your future electorate – but not when delivering your promises. If you get talking it holds you up and it can be really inconvenient. At 100 leaflets per hour for eight hours to get a ward delivered, a ten-to-twenty-minute talk about how bad things are seriously ruins the day.

Why are we still leafletting in 2019? I have used facebook and boosted posts very well, there is a science to this, and it takes some trawling through, but it can be done. Postal services are very expensive and need serious planning to ensure maximum success for your expenditure.

Surely there must be a better, more convenient way to get the message through? It has to come via the one thing we all have, the one thing we all never go anywhere without: the mobile telephone. An App or other elections methodology needs developing – and for the sake of my feet, legs and fingers: the sooner the better!   



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I have just watched the video showing the launch of The Brexit Party (TBP) in Coventry. None of the presentations mentioned UKIP. I think this is good, as I will explain.

However there was a question: “What is the difference between UKIP and TBP?”. In his answer Nigel said, amongst other things, that UKIP now attracted a “loutish” and “thuggish” element. This sort of language is frankly not exactly helpful to the cause of getting us out of the EU. Here’s why:

Unless the High Court declares that the extensions are illegal and that we did actually leave the EU on 29th March, we will most likely be facing EP elections next month. 

This will surely be read as a de facto “2nd referendum”.

It will be a count of the votes of LibLabConSnpGreenPlaid vs the votes of UKIP+TBP.

If the former add up to more than the latter, the establishment will feel entitled to say “The People Have Changed Their Minds and Don’t Want To Leave Anymore”. They will then proceed to cancel the Article 50 notice. And we will be locked into the EU irrevocably for another generation or more.

I know that most of the Tory and many of the Labour traditional voters want us to leave, but a vote for these parties will be counted as a vote for their leaderships, and both leaders want us to remain.

Our side will not be given much air-time by a generally hostile MSM. We must not waste it carping at the other pro-Leave party. We must at all costs avoid headlines such as “Farage and Batten go to war over EU elections.”

We must use such airtime as we are given to get this message across, putting firmly into the minds of all the voting public:

“If you want us to leave the EU, vote UKIP or vote TBP. Under absolutely no circumstances vote LibLabConSnpGreenPlaid.”

Those who want to leave the EU, and who have long admired the efforts of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Dan Hannan, must realise that if they vote Tory this time that vote will be counted as a vote for the Party of Theresa May the Remainer, and a support for her policies, for her falsely-labelled “Withdrawal” Agreement which will leave us in a state of subjugation as a voteless colony of Brussels.

Indeed Jacob’s own sister, Annunziata Rees-Mogg, has realised this and is running as a candidate in Farage’s new The Brexit Party! Let us hope that Jacob, and Bill Cash, Mark François, Owen Paterson, and all the other Tory leavers also realise this and speak out to support her.

Those who want to leave the EU, and who have long admired the past efforts of Kate Hoey, John Mills, the Labour Euro-Safeguards Committee, and indeed the late Tony Benn, must realise that if they vote Labour this time, that vote will be counted as a vote for the Party of Jeremy Corbyn the Remainer, and a support for his policies, for keeping us shackled in the Customs Union, and under permanent servitude to Brussels.

Distinctions for Tory or Labour Leave voters will be swept aside as the numbers are brutally added up.

In this campaign, the essential thing is for all those Brits who want us to be once more a free, independent, country, in charge of our own affairs, owing allegiance to no other, to realise that they will have to vote either UKIP or The Brexit Party (which of the two is of secondary importance).

Clearly in the campaign between now and May 23rd, the MSM will want to get UKIP and TBP to bicker and to quarrel. If they succeed in this, if all the interviews on air are distracted into a focus of getting the leaders of these two parties to criticise each other, people will be put off voting for either of them.

So the temptation to snap and peck at each other must be strenuously resisted by both TBP and UKIP. It is a trap into which we must not fall.

We must realise that we are on the same side in this fight, just as Nye Bevan and Winston Churchill stood side by side during WWII. Nye Bevan had called the Tories “vermin”, and Churchill was a hard-line right-wing conservative, yet both took a statesmanlike stance, sank their differences, stood together for the duration, and led the nation through to victory. Only then was there a general election, where they could turn on each other, as indeed they did!

I am certainly not suggesting that Gerard and Nigel should become blood brothers. But it is essential for them and their followers to realise that their votes, taken together, should add up to at least 50% + 1 of the total votes cast, as in a real referendum, to reconfirm the referendum result of 2016.

And, by collectively beating the old legacy political establishment, to show the country, and the world, that the face of British politics is now changed beyond recognition.

During the campaign, both Nigel and Gerard and all the candidates in these two parties should refrain from making derogatory remarks about each other, but focus single-mindedly on beating the other side.

Luckily the EP election is run on a type of Proportional Representation system, so every vote counts and can be counted, unlike with the First-Past-The-Post system used for Westminster, where splitting the Leave vote would indeed be fatal.

Two Brexit parties better than one?

Actually, the fact there are now two Brexit parties is therefore not such a bad thing for the EP election. Indeed, collectively the two may well gather in more votes for the Leave Cause than if there were only one party.

The British voting public might be fairly divided into two main groups: those who would never under any circumstances vote Labour, and those who would never under any circumstances vote Tory.

With our FPTP voting system, in order not to waste their vote on a candidate who will certainly not be elected, many if not most voters will vote for the candidate who they reckon has the best chance of defeating the one they dislike or fear the most. This means that Labour-haters will vote Tory, and Tory-haters will vote Labour. It does not mean that they are wedded to supporting the Tories or Labour respectively.

This attitude (“We gotta vote for the nasty party to stop the even nastier one from getting in”) may be one of the factors that have kept those two parties going so far. However it is now crystal clear, at least to the 17.4 million who voted Leave, that neither of these two Parties are any longer fit for purpose.

Just as, 100 years ago, the Labour party supplanted the Liberal party as the chief alternative to the Tories, so now both Labour and Tory parties may be supplanted, in future, by UKIP and TBP.

During the EP election, the existence of two pro-Brexit parties may well be an advantage. Northerners who voted Labour may find it more congenial to vote for UKIP, indeed with Tommy Robinson and his appeal to the working class, and Home County dwellers who voted Tory may feel more at home voting for Nigel’s TBP. Together we must work to break free from the EU. The next month will be decisive.

Then once out and free, we can fight each other to our hearts’ content, sitting in future, I’d hope, and expect, on opposite sides of the House of Commons, cutting and thrusting at each other across the despatch box…

I hope this helps.


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What’s next in Brexit, the neverending story?

LONDON — The decision to delay Brexit until, potentially, October 31 temporarily lowered the temperature of the U.K.’s exit crisis.

But while MPs’ Easter break will likely see the issue put on the backburner for a few days, the House of Commons drama will ramp up again as soon as they are back in Westminster April 23.

Meanwhile, U.K. political parties are making last-minute preparations for a European election they never expected to take part in, and which Prime Minister Theresa May is still hoping — perhaps optimistically — to avoid by somehow passing a Brexit deal between now and May 22.

Here’s how the next few months of the tortuous Brexit process are likely to play out.

Now until April 23: Easter recess

Now on Easter break, the House of Commons will not sit again until Tuesday April 23.

In the meantime Government officials have indicated that talks with the Labour Party will continue.

The aim of the talks is to find either a compromise proposal on the post-Brexit future relationship to put to the House of Commons or, failing that, to agree on a short list of potential future relationship options to put to the Commons. Unlike the indicative votes held last month, these votes would be binding.

This latter scenario would require a pledge from both the government and Labour front benches to abide by the decision of the house if one of the options gets a majority.

Why is this important? Because the legislation implementing that decision — the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (known as the WAB) — will require a stable majority to complete its passage through parliament. The government does not want a Brexit option to pass narrowly in the initial voting, only for the WAB to fail to win parliamentary approval.

April 23 to May 22: Last chance to avoid the European election

During this period, May’s government will try, one way or another, to get a Brexit deal approved by parliament in time to avoid the U.K. having to take part in the European election on May 23.

May said in the House of Commons on Thursday that “if we were able to pass a deal by 22 May, we would not have to take part in European elections and, when the EU has also ratified, we would be able to leave at 11 p.m. on 31 May.”

May speaks to the press at the European Parliament in Brussels | Tribouillard

This is the importance of the “flextension” part of the EU27’s agreement at their summit on Wednesday. Their conclusions state that if the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified by the U.K. and the EU before October 31, Brexit will take place on “the first day of the following month.”

That means ratification by both sides before the end of May could mean departure at one second past midnight on the morning of June 1, Brussels time (or 11 p.m. U.K. time on May 31, as the prime minister put it).

The Withdrawal Agreement Bill

Government officials say that when May talks about “passing a deal” by May 22, she means not only having MPs’ approve a way forward, but that the entire WAB legislative process should have been completed, and the European Parliament has ratified the deal.

That raises the probability the government, in order to beat the clock, might try to bring the WAB forward soon after April 23, even if the Labour talks have not yet yielded a compromise.

The law states the government must win a meaningful vote on its Brexit deal and pass the WAB to ratify the deal. But it does not state in what order that must happen, so there is no legislative barrier to the WAB coming forward — just a political one (May doesn’t have a parliamentary majority).

A demonstration featuring a paper mâché Theresa May | Jack Taylor/Getty Images

May appeared to touch on this in her statement on Thursday, suggesting the WAB could become “a useful forum to resolve some of the outstanding issues in the future relationship.” MPs will almost certainly try to amend the WAB to shape the way ahead. For example, second referendum supporters could try to amend to legislate for a public vote.

The problem for May is the same one she’s had all along: To pass the WAB she will need a majority for one kind of Brexit or another. And there’s no sign of one. Unless that changes, her bid to avoid the U.K. taking part in the European election will fail.

April 25: Deadline for MEP candidates

According to the Electoral Commission, political parties must submit their nomination papers and lists of candidates for the European election by 4 p.m. on Thursday April 25.

Each political party has its own procedures for selecting candidates, but because the U.K. elects MEPs on a regional basis, all parties will have to submit their regional lists by that date (except for the South West region, which must file a day early because of public holidays in Gibraltar, which is considered part of the region).

May 2: Local elections

Town hall elections across England and Northern Ireland (there are no local elections in Scotland or Wales this year) will provide an important stress test of the impact the Brexit crisis is having on support for the main parties. Results will be clear by the afternoon of Friday May 3.

Some Conservative MPs say a poor result for the Tories could be the trigger for a move against May, but there is no formal mechanism by which the party can remove her until a year has expired since the last confidence vote, which was in December 2018.

May 23: European election in the UK

Assuming May is unsuccessful in her bid to complete ratification of a Brexit deal by May 22, then the U.K. will have to take part in the EU ballot.

May 26: European election results

While the U.K. vote count may be complete by the morning of Friday May 24, all EU countries must hold back their results until the evening of Sunday May 26, when all countries have finished voting. Watch out for breakthroughs from new parties on either side of the Brexit debate: Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, and Chuka Umunna’s Change U.K., which advocates for a second referendum and staying in the EU.

May 27 to July 1: Stop those MEPs!

Even if the U.K. has elected MEPs, May’s government will hold out hope that a Brexit deal can be approved by parliament soon enough to ensure they never have to take their seats in the European Parliament, or if they do, to leave promptly thereafter.

“We want to ensure any British MEPs that are elected never have to take their seats in the European Parliament by ensuring this is all done well before the new European Parliament convenes,” Chancellor Philip Hammond told the BBC on Friday.

July 2: New European Parliament

The new European Parliament sits for the first time, with U.K. MEPs if Brexit has not happened yet.

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