Take Back Control


I’ll bet some of those who backed leaving the European Union liked the slogan: “take back control”.  It was a false prospectus but the words had a ring to them.  Who doesn’t want to be the master of all they survey?  Even if I know that, not only beyond my garden fence but inside it too my local council will have a say if I want to build an extension to the house.

Now, to me it’s shocking what the Governments has revealed as their proposal for how they’ll change Britain’s laws to leave the European Union. The Government want to bypass the British Parliament and write new laws behind closed doors.

Who wants Brexit to mean we swap open and transparent law making in Brussels for murky backroom law making by the Conservatives in Westminster?  This is bad news.  The proposal on the table would give the Government the power to change the laws that affect all of us, without proper Parliamentary scrutiny.  It seems obvious the results will be murky deals between Conservative Ministers and their supporters with the interests of the public being a minor consideration.

If you really want to take back control there’s a way to do it.  Why should we be beggars with the ballot in our hands?  The next important vote is the local elections on May 4th.


Published and promoted by G Southall on behalf of John Vincent and Reigate Liberal Democrats, all at  37 Tanyard Way, Horley, Surrey RH6 9PE

Looking ahead


Patriotism, being a patriot, being patriotic.  Mud is being slung around between English people as if there was a religious war going on.  Last year’s monstrous referendum, that divided Britain has set people on each other in a way that hasn’t happened since the 17th Century.

It makes me angry when a few people try to systematically bully, intimidate and delegitimise others who don’t agree with their narrow world view.  That way of doing politics is deeply un-British and is harming the Country.  Fundamental British values are: democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith.

Before anyone comments; that’s a democracy without intimidation and where free speech is cherished.

I am so proud to stand with the over 16 million British people who voted Remain.  Those opposing Brexit, they are the patriots.  They are brave and strong enough to accept that a mistake has been made, ready to turn back and take responsibility.

It is patriotic to do everything possible to prevent the Brexit calamity.  Not only that but it’s time for the Brexit error to be a catalyst for a rebirth of the European dream.  I believe, the best thing we can do is to learn from our mistakes.  That action, in the end is how we will succeed as a Country.

Not Normal


Strangeness is a part of the make-up of Brexiters.  Foolish though I am, I read posts that flow from articles on Europe.  Inevitably in the agreement with negative statements and the disagreement with positive statements there’s a “justification” that takes a distorted view of history.  Several themes are common.  One is: Britain stood and stands alone against evil, folly and sloth.  Another is: Collapse, chaos and catastrophe happens on the Continent.  Yet another is: “they” need “us” more than we need them. 

Underlying this are nostalgic fictions, separatism and an exceptionalism that is out of touch with reality.  It’s like Brexiters cover their eyes for the love of a dream state that doesn’t have to address practical day-to-day concerns. 

In this dream state calling for a new Royal Yacht Britannia, blue passports or a return to pounds, ounces, feet and inches when the UK’s health and social care services are straining every sinew, doesn’t seem so crazy.  In this dream state branding any view you disagree with as “project fear” or somehow traitorous is standard.  In this dream state deflecting blame for anything that goes wrong is quite normal. 

The longer that we take to wake up from this hallucination the more harm will be done.  The seeds of change are in the air but we may need a good shaking before our eyes are opened.  Expect a rocky year. 


Weekend Sunstroke

IMG_1076What on earth do most British people make of this sabre rattling?  Within days of declaring a wish to exit the European Union (EU), brash right-wing politicians want to send the gun boats to Spanish waters.  Such talk is the height of insanity. 

Atypically EU Regulations have had statements referencing Ministerial meetings with Spain.  So, the law applicable in the UK has recognised dialogue with Spain on Gibraltar for a long-time.  This is nothing new.  Spain has had a say on the subject during the UK’s membership of the EU. 

So, seeing reference to a dialogue on Gibraltar, in an EU letter should have been a non-event.  However, the UK news media has gone into overdrive this weekend.  It’s the sort of sexy story many editors like to big-up to make the blood boil and kick-off as many angry voices as possible.  This sells newsprint. 

Saner voices will look away from this noisy diversion.  As has been commented; the negotiations ahead are complex enough without making them even more complex. 

I’m not a conspiracy theorist but, if I was, then I might think someone is trying to provoke a crisis.  What the purpose of such provocation may be is open to speculation.  Could it be that May’s Government see failure looming and need an escape path?  How convenient it would be if a major crisis distracted public attention away from the day-to-day ups and downs of complex negotiations. 

Divided Nation

IMG_1582This week Theresa May has invoked the European Article 50 and the formal negotiations to leave the European Union have begun. So, this Prime Minister is now marching her troops out to the battlefield of intense negotiation. However, before even stepping on this turbulent pathway she has effectively given her game plan away. By turning the clocks back towards a Hard Brexit, the amount of wiggle room she has at the table is minimal.

On the other side of the table is a well-prepared and methodical European Union. These extensive negotiations will be some of the most complex to ever take place in a short period. Consequently, it’s likely they will exceed the two year window the Treaties currently allow.

The Conservatives are determined to pull us out of the European Single Market. In my view, it was ludicrous to make this case even before the formal discussions begun. This position has had the impact of dividing a dived Country even more than it need be. There is the real undesirable possibility that this will take the UK down a dangerous path of isolation.

I fervently hope that pragmatic minds will prevail as these negotiations will require compromise, flexibility and skill. The “no deal” scenario cannot be an aim. The simple foolishness of such an approach does not require explanation. Just imagine doing that in any relationship you may cherish.

The UK remains a divided nation. This is not a time to throw salt on the wound. To arrive at a new relationship with Europe the Prime Minister needs to quell the noisy right-wing guns and offer the hand of friendship. Brexit has done nothing to unify a divided country. Great leadership, on all sides, must now act to rise above vitriol and distrust that spewed out during the referendum campaign.

Hand withdrawn


The joining of hands is such a symbolic emblem.  That’s what we did in 1973.  I’ve got one of those 50p coins that celebrates this holding of hands.  I shall put it in a prominent place today.  Pulling our hand away from that European partnership is not just an economic issue, it’s an emotional one too.   

Today, the European Article 50 is to be triggered.  The tearing up of half a century of work will have significant consequences.  Deep rooted consequences spreading across the generations.  

I hope we think about where we, Britain and the EU, want to be in a decade.  Classic British short-termism will be disastrous in this situation.  The discussions and negotiations of the next two years will need visionary thinking.  Looking over the current horizon. 

Control of our borders and sovereignty may be in the public mind.  That said, at the end of this debate this island will be no less or more immune from the ebb and flow of international events than it has ever been.  It’s going to be frustrating for those hard-line isolationists when they wake-up from their dream. 

#Brexit will continue to dominate the domestic news but as a real phenomenon rather than a theoretical concept.  It’s like the difference between seeing a storm on a weather forecast map and the experience of flying into it.  As we emerge out of the other side of the storm there will be a new direction set.  That’s the time that the British people must be given a say.  A second referendum is a basic democratic right. 

If you are planning to vote for a Party with a positive European vision, there’s the Lib Dems, at the local elections on 4th May.