The Tory local election drubbing became inevitable as soon as Brexit was delayed. The loss of over 1300 seats was worse even than suggested in the Party’s attempt to manage expectations. It was thanks to the Brexit Referendum of 2016 that the General Election of 2017 proved such a high point for two-party politics. Numerous voters who had felt disenfranchised for decades thought that finally mainstream politicians were taking their wishes seriously. This faith in MPs was thrown back in voter’s faces and the local election debacle was the consequence.
We attach little significance to the gains made by LibDems and Greens. These were easy voting alternatives for those, including Leavers, who refused to vote for the main parties or even for well-regarded local candidates. The European elections will give a better guide to their real support. With the Brexit party and UKIP likely to claim a third of the vote we can regard the EU elections as a kind of second referendum. However, it will be difficult to know what support for either the Tories or Labour tell us about Brexit, such is the confusion on what these parties really stand for.
The May 23rd election also give us the chance to see Change UK in action, after their much-derided launch. Heidi Allen asserted at the launch that her new party will be based on facts and evidence. It worth recalling that she told one of our editors at an open Brexit meeting in her constituency that ‘no deal’ would be a catastrophe because it would result in an overnight loss of eight million jobs. The evidence, she said, was on her website. It isn’t, and emails have failed to elucidate further information on this bonkers view. https://briefingsforbrexit.com/a-letter-to-remainers-by-dr-graham-gudgin/
The confidently expected Tory humiliation on May 23rd seems likely to bring the rebellion against Theresa May to a head. Rumours abound that senior Tories will insist she sets an exit date probably by the end of June. Of course, we have heard such rumours before, but with the clock ticking down to October, the Tories know that they must act as soon as possible if they want to retain any control over events.
BfB contributor Richard Johnson has written an article for the Telegraph, entitled ‘Corbyn’s great gamble on a second referendum could destroy his one shot at power’, in which he discusses the danger Labour runs in neglecting Leave-voting marginals.
BfB co-editor Graham Gudgin’s criticisms of Corbyn’s ‘impossible’ Customs Union plan have been reported in the Express, as have his criticisms of the BBC for failing to criticize Remainers’ gloomy economic predictions.
Our other co-editor Robert Tombs has discussed the fact that ‘Theresa the Unready’ is ‘damaging our national politics to a degree that is truly historic’ with the Express.
If you fancy a break from Brexit, you might also enjoy Robert’s thoughts on the University of Cambridge’s inquiry into its links with the slave trade, published in the Telegraph.
On the website this week
BfB co-editor Robert Tombs has written an open letter to Rory Stewart, Conservative Member for Penrith and The Border since 2010, and now the (very recently appointed) Minister for International Development. We also publish Stewart’s response, in which he explains why he has made himself a ‘spokesman of the status quo’.
Stewart: “But our basic disagreement is that I feel passionately that we must deliver Brexit in a “smooth and orderly fashion”
Interregnum, by Jonathan Rutherford
Using the works of Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, Emeritus Professor of Cultural Studies, Jonathan Rutherford explains how politics has broken down. The elite coalition of centre-right economics and centre-left culture has failed for years to appeal to the masses of ordinary people, and Brexit has laid bare this disjuncture between the people and politics.
“A party gains popular consent to lead, what Grasmci calls hegemony, by creating an emotional and cultural connection with the everyday life of the people”
Who’s Afraid of Chlorinated Chicken, by Catherine McBride
Economist at the Institute of Economic Affairs Catherine McBride cuts through the ill-informed scare stories distorting discussion of food and Brexit. Poor science, and an even poorer grasp of the importance of consumer choice, are just two of the smokescreens being exploited to try and turn this issue into a stumbling block to Brexit. The contrived panic over American ‘chlorinated chicken’ is the most notorious example, but there are also scares stories concerning the fate of farming in general, and of lamb production in particular.
“Discussion of Brexit and food has been grossly distorted by ill-informed scare stories, of which concerning America ‘chlorinated chicken’ is the most notorious”
How you can help
We urge our supporters to ‘take back control’ in our present confusion. There are thousands of you. Our MPs listen to their constituents. Write to your MPs. Perhaps send them copies of some of our articles (or links to them), especially when they are relevant to your local conditions – for example, in rural areas, on the threat to British agriculture. Better still, make an appointment to see them at their next surgery: they will take notice when people are lining up at their doors. Make you views known where MPs might be wavering, or where they are working to sabotage Brexit, especially in Leave-voting and marginal constituencies, which Richard Johnson listed in his recent article.
Do also keep reading our posts, and to tell others about us. Share links to our quality content so that others can understand how leaving the EU can be good for the UK economy and for our own democratic governance. We aim to educate our critics to think differently and more positively about the long-term impact of Brexit.
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An Oxbridge PhD Student
Dr Graham Gudgin
Economist, Centre for Business Research, Judge Business School University of Cambridge
Professor Robert Tombs
Emeritus Professor of French History, University of Cambridge