Yesterday the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill received its Second Reading in the House of Commons, an important step towards becoming law.
This bill is a necessary part of our leaving the EU. When passed it will repeal the European Communities Act of 1972, the Act of Parliament that first took us in (without any referendum), while maintaining continuity with existing EU regulations, incorporating them into British law so they can be approved, amended or repealed by our own parliament.
The Labour Party voted against this necessary bill, under a “three-line whip” – strong internal pressure on MPs to toe the party line. Only seven Labour MPs defied that whip; Mark Hendrick was not one of them. Perhaps that goes without saying: he always does what his masters tell him, and his masters are the Labour whips, not Prestonians. So his failure to act in the interests of the country and his constituency is not a surprise.
But the terms in which he did so are remarkable. He doesn’t often speak in the Chamber, but he did so last night. You can read what he had to say in Hansard, and watch him at parliamentlive.tv He protests that he accepts the referendum result (although his speech makes it clear that he still doesn’t, really – just listen to it) but says “the Leave campaign told a pack of lies”. Extraordinary! I’d like him to substantiate that slur, and the implicit slur on those of us who he thinks fell for these “lies” and who he thinks will come to what he thinks are our senses some time in 2019.
To finish, the magnificent seven are Ronnie Campbell, Frank Field, Kate Hoey, Kelvin Hopkins, John Mann, Dennis Skinner, and Graham Stringer. (source: The Sun)
I didn’t attend the UK against Hate march in Manchester recently. But Rachel Booth did, and was suspended from her job as a dinner lady at Moor Nook Primary School as a result. I have signed a petition to Suzanne Clough, Headmistress at Moor Nook, asking for Rachel to be reinstated and for an apology to be made to her and to her children, some of whom attend Moor Nook School. I hope you will sign it, too.
Update at 8 o’clock, Thursday evening:
…when he says There is no soft or hard Brexit:
I do not know how many more times I have to argue the obvious. There is Brexit, or there is staying in the EU. The EU has made it crystal clear you cannot stay in the single market without accepting freedom of movement and paying contributions, two things the people clearly rejected in the referendum and again in the General election. You cannot stay in the Customs Union if you want to have free trade deals with the rest of the world.
The Labour Manifesto in 2017 stated they accepted the decision of the referendum. They set out policies to negotiate a range of new free trade and investment agreements with non EU countries that assume we are leaving the single market and the Customs Union. The Manifesto talked positively about a new trading relationship they wished to negotiate, again assuming the current one stemming from single market and customs union membership had gone. Their document stated that “freedom of movement will end when we leave the EU”. The Conservative and DUP Manifestos also made clear we will be leaving the single market and Customs Union and looked forward to new free trade deals around the world.
So we have overwhelming agreement, endorsed by 86% of the voters in the election, that the UK will run her own immigration policy and her own trade policy on leaving. People in the UK have to grasp that arguing amongst ourselves about what our negotiating position should be, when the government has already set one out, can only help those in the EU institutions who wish to harm the UK. Fortunately most of the member states want access to our market and want good relations with us for a wide variety of reasons. Fortunately also the Lisbon Treaty has in Clause 8 a clear legal requirement that the EU itself seeks an “area of prosperity and good neighbourliness” with us. We know how keen Commissioners are to stick to the law of the Treaty.
I am optimistic about the negotiations. It would help our country if more people got behind the government’s stance. After all what the government wants is what all say they want – good access to the single market, and many collaborations and joint workings based on bilateral agreement. To change stance now would undermine us. We negotiate with the rest of the EU, not amongst ourselves!
Things are a bit quiet here while I catch up with a backlog of work, but I did find time to speak to That’s Lancashire yesterday and explain how UKIP is needed as much as ever and how Brexit must be delivered.
A few weeks ago I signed up to notifications from the Labour Party. I wanted them to let me know when their manifesto was published. Of course I’ve been spammed by them ever since, with a range of amusing begging letters. They’ve just sent me this:
There it is. It’s been an incredible effort today and we’ve done
everything we can. All that’s left to say is….
…thank you Simon.
Thank you for all you’ve done for this campaign.
When this election was called we knew it would be tough — the Tories wouldn’t have called it otherwise. But together, in less than eight weeks, the Labour movement has achieved so much.
Because no matter how high-tech and well-run this campaign was, we couldn’t have done it without you.
Record breaking donations, huge crowds and thousands of members and supporters campaigning for the first time. We left no stone unturned.
So thank you to the thousands who knocked on doors today and throughout the campaign. The thousands more who made calls, organised campaign centres and helped people to polling stations. Who shared our message online, reminded friends and family to vote, donated and campaigned for what we believe in.
You’ve done the Labour movement proud — both today and over the past 51 days — and we can’t thank you enough for that.
Here’s my reply:
Dear Labour Party,
The time has come for me to reply to your spamming and let you know that my aim over the last six weeks has been to unseat your candidate in Preston, Mark Hendrick. It’s a tricky thing to do in six weeks; Preston has been a Labour sinecure for seventeen years or more.
I used be a member of the Labour Party, but haven’t supported you for a long time, not since some point between the death of John Smith and the beginning of the Blair Terror. I can’t imagine what could possibly convince me to vote Labour ever again; the party no longer represents the ordinary people of Britain. You are irresponsible and dangerous, for Britain and for the world.
Yours very sincerely,
I’ve just seen, or at least heard, Mark Hendrick on my street (in Preston constituency, of course) for only the second time in 17 years. The first time he was in a posse of canvassers during an earlier general election campaign (it must have been 2001, I think). Just now we heard his disembodied voice as we sat down to tea. “Mark Hendrick… Mark Hendrick… today is polling day”. Rushing to the window, there was a white car – looked like a minicab – at the junction at the end of the street, pulling away. Of course I shook my fist and shouted “boo”, but it was too late. And I’m not sure whether it was really him, or just a recording. (I didn’t actually see him, but I’ve come to recognise his voice, of course.)
That is very encouraging. It suggests a level of concern. We’d just been discussing whether yesterday’s attack ad in the Evening Post was significant. In the conversation, someone had said “he must be worried”, just before we heard him, and that person is convinced of it now. It was also pointed out that the Labour Club opposite our house hasn’t put up its usual “vote Labour” posters this year.
So go out and vote UKIP, if you haven’t already. There’s a couple of hours left.