This is the email that will make the Lords battle a Hard Brexit
PUBLISHED: 08:25 18 February 2017 | UPDATED: 08:49 18 February 2017
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I am a peer in the House of Lords preparing to fight Article 50
The Brexiteers know that time is not their friend.
Vote Leave campaigners were as surprised as anyone when they narrowly won the referendum last June, none more so than Nigel Farage. But, much as they feared, recent polls reveal that the support for Brexit is slowly ebbing away as the consequences of it are gradually dawning of the public.
So the extreme Brexiteers are in a hurry, anxious to rush through some sort of deal, any deal, before the penny drops with too many of their former supporters that they were sold a pup.
Does this explain why Theresa May has allowed herself to be bullied into seeking the hardest of Brexits by the European Research Group, a little known but very effective pressure group of Tory MPs who are Brexit-zealots.
The ultra Hard Brexit that May has been persuaded that she wants is notable for its brutal simplicity and therefore how quickly it can be negotiated, compared to the more complex but more sensible alternatives. No need to bother talking about free movement and immigration, because there would be no obligation on the UK to have any of that after Hard Brexit.
But the downside of this approach is massive, and the Brexit zealots are in total denial about it. Falling out of the single market and the customs union are two of the worst possible outcomes for the UK and they are completely unnecessary for achieving Brexit, unless you are rabidly anti European.
But anyone who tries to raise these problems or suggest an alternative is brutally labelled as a Remoaner or is said to be trampling on the “will of the people”. Brexiteers are not interested in any debate about what is the best way to achieve Brexit, they just want it done quickly.
Well, 48% voted against any Brexit, and a large percentage of those who voted Leave did not do so expecting or wanting the dire consequences of leaving the single market.
So there is no mandate whatever for May’s Hard Brexit. At best, around 30% or so of those who voted are in favour of squandering our country’s and our children’s economic future with Hard Brexit.
So later this month Liberal Democrat peers will be fighting hard to amend the Article 50 Bill so that Parliament can properly assess the eventual deal on offer (if there is one) and be able to reject it, if necessary, without the threat of the country going over the cliff as a result.
We will also be fighting to protect the rights of EU citizens already here.
And we will demand that no deal can be confirmed before the British people have had the final say on whether it is good enough.
As a peer I usually receive relatively few letters and emails from the public, far fewer than MPs receive. But recently, such is the strength of feeling about Brexit, my inbox has been stuffed with messages urging me to do all I can to amend the Article 50 Bill as it passes through the House of Lords. I’ve had none whatever arguing the other way.
One, from a 51-year-old lady whose name I have promised to withhold, seemed to sum up all the messages I had so well that I put it out on my Twitter feed.
The response from the Twitter community was astounding and it has been retweeted about 1,500 times. Hundreds of people tweeted me to say that they wish they had written it because it expresses exactly what they think.
So I thought I would share it with readers here. The sender asked me to point out that she did borrow a few lines from another writer, so it’s a bit of a collaborative piece. These are their words, not mine. See what you think.
Lord Strasburger is a Liberal Democrat peer. He was elevated to the peerage in 2011. Follow him @lordstras
sTHE EMAIL THAT SUMS UP WHY I’LL BE FIGHTING IN THE LORDS TO OVERTURN HARD BREXIT
I am writing to you as a British citizen to ask for your help.
We are in a situation that I would not have thought possible a year ago. We have an unelected, near-dictator as PM who is doing her utmost to evade Parliamentary scrutiny, and an Opposition not worthy of the name.
MPs are openly stating that Brexit will be a disaster, yet lack the moral fibre to oppose the Government. Former Remain MPs are widely choosing to hide behind the ‘Will of the People’ mantra, while conveniently ignoring the advisory nature of the referendum. Similarly, the fact that we live in a Parliamentary democracy that mandates MPs to act in the country’s best interests, to show judgment and leadership and not simply function as delegates, gets brushed aside.
Our PM insists that the outcome of the referendum was clear when in truth it was anything but; the country was almost equally divided and the Leave campaign has openly admitted its narrow win was only achieved by lying to the electorate, a situation which Mrs May seems happy to overlook.
In pursuing the hardest of hard Brexits, at whatever cost to the nation, Mrs May is demonstrating that she puts loyalty to the Party above loyalty to the country. She insists — wrongly — that the whole nation is united behind her and that she has a mandate for what she is doing. In this she is grossly mistaken; it is utter propaganda.
Mrs May asserts that we will leave the Single Market and that this is what we voted for. This is a fabrication; the question on the ballot paper made no reference to the Single Market and indeed both Vote Leave and the Conservative manifesto promised we would stay in the Single Market.
Likewise, we did not vote to leave the Customs Union, nor did we vote for WTO rules. This is an interpretation imposed upon us by the Government alone.
Moreover, we did not vote to destroy our currency, to lose Sterling‘s reserve status and to lose our Triple A rating.
We did not vote to become a tax haven and see our employment rights destroyed, to see the few gain at the expense of the many and to witness the destruction of the NHS.
We did not vote to break up the United Kingdom, nor did we vote for EU citizens living in Britain to be used as ‘bargaining chips’ and be subject to racist abuse.
We did not vote for our government to cosy up to dictators and threaten to remove our human rights, nor did we vote in see our environmental rights whittled away.
We did not vote for Government policy to be dictated by our rabid, tax-avoiding tabloid press.
We did not vote for the Government to treat us all, but especially our academics, scientists, business leaders and experts, with utter contempt.
Mrs May, as you are doubtless aware, threatens to destroy anything that has the audacity to question her authority. She is out of control.
I implore you, as a member of the Upper Chamber, to do your duty to save the country from this insanity, and amend, delay and block Article 50 where at all possible.