With senior Conservatives like Richard Harrington and Philip Hammond now speaking out in favour of a public vote as a way to break the Brexit deadlock, Harpenden for Europe decided to send a very special gift to our MP this week in the hope that he may follow in their footsteps.
We invited local residents to write messages to Bim on our giant 'Put it to the People' banner in the town centre on Saturday morning. The response was unprecedented. In just 2 hours, nearly 200 people aged from 5 to 89 signed the banner and read the heartfelt messages that others had written.
On the same morning we also asked local residents to complete our Brexitometer poll and once again the response and results were extraordinary. 335 people took part and the most popular option by some distance was to Revoke Article 50 and stay in the EU. This gathered 65% of the vote, with a People’s Vote the second most popular choice at 22%. Leaving the EU with No Deal was the third most popular option with 9% of the vote. Theresa May’s deal, a softer Brexit and a General Election each struggled to get more than a handful of stickers.
Our action days have over the last year been a valuable way for Harpenden for Europe to gauge changes in the local mood about Brexit. This latest campaign shows that worries and fears over Brexit are stronger than ever, and that local residents now overwhelmingly support Revoking Article 50. This is supported by the fact that 16,000 local constituents signed the online petition to Revoke Article 50.
Many of you will have seen the open letter published by our MP Bim Afolami on 27th March following Parliament's Indicative Votes, attempting to explain his actions.
Shortly thereafter, Harpenden for Europe and North Herts for Europe formally responded to this letter. Please read and share. You can also download the letter in PDF format here.
This is a public domain document. We look forward to Bim’s response.
People’s Vote organisers estimate that over a million people hit the streets of London on Saturday 23rd March to demand that the Brexit deal be "Put to the People". Thanks to everybody who joined our group or worked selflessly to make the march such an outstanding success. An inspiring day to give us all energy and hope as we face the next three weeks (and more) of political crisis. The scale of the march is evident in this incredible footage.
As we marched, a record-breaking petition to Revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU hit a staggering 4 million signatures, and is now fast approaching 6 million, demonstrating the overwhelming frustration the public are feeling with the whole Brexit process. You may wish to add your signature to that of the 16,000+ who have already signed in Hitchin & Harpenden.
We hear people complaining that the positive case for Remain is not clear. Preparing for a BBC Three Counties Radio contribution this afternoon, I wrote six things down. The journalist didn't ask me in the end, but here they are. Seemed a shame to waste:
Since the EU's alternative deadline emerged, it seems the Common Market 2.0 variant is gaining traction amongst the chattering classes. I decided to take a closer look, and have prepared the following short briefing note.
Common Market 2.0. Who's behind it?
It's also been referred to in some quarters as Norway Plus, and it is often associated with Nick Boles and Stephen Kinnock. It is promoted by a website betterbrexit.org.uk.
What is Common Market 2.0?
It has the following key features:
Why do people support it?
The promoters of Common Market 2.0 claim it has majority support amongst MPs, and so should May's deal fail on Thursday 28th, it becomes the front runner to satisfy the April 12th deadline.
Its promoters also claim it can be quickly swapped in for May's deal as it can run under the same Withdrawal Agreement, but just needs a change to the Political Declaration. They also claim that the transition period is easily managed as there are less things that need to change, and we are just seeking a "modular" switch to a pre-existing set of models.
Remainers might look at Common Market 2.0 and say it isn't all that bad actually. We pay less money to retain the most important benefits of what we have now (free trade and free movement). Our farmers might not be happy, but we should be able to replicate positive parts of the CAP if we wish. The Remain reaction might well just boil down to a question "What's the point?"
Why do people dismiss it?
What might Harpenden 4 Europe's reaction might be?
We should encourage our MP to reject May's Deal, then accept Common Market 2.0. It is possible that the Kyle Wilson amendment would be tacked onto a Common Market 2.0 vote, and there are perhaps stronger arguments that the People's Vote this calls for should be accepted, since the proposition is more different from the Leave promise and likely to face stiff opposition from ERG/UKIP. It would, however, very strongly argue for a 3-way referendum with No Deal on the ballot. Bim should support the KW amendment.
If all of this goes through, we then see a crystal clear choice between Remain and a Common Market 2.0 which avoids the horrors of May's deal, but has very little to offer that is positive over Remain. It puts us in a position where the argument for Remain can be very focussed on all of its positives.
Personal opinion of course, rather than an officially adopted H4E position. I look forward to discussing it with colleagues on the tarmac of Park Lane on Saturday!!
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