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Remain Voices Go Unheard at Conservative Party Conference

It’s proving to be an eventful few days in Manchester Central. With hundreds of talking points, soundbites, stats and gaffs to digest, one thing that’s becoming alarmingly clear is that voices advocating a ‘No Brexit’ option are being drowned out by the sheer volume of the party line. 

Despite Mrs May stating, in her Tuesday morning BBC interview, just how much she values having “a team of people of different voices around the table, so you can discuss matters,” this openness to discourse seems to only extend as far as her Cabinet members. Attendees at the Conservative Party Conference 2017 with a less favourable view of Brexit would be hard pressed to find any space or time given to their concerns.

With only 50 minutes of platform speech time allocated to discussing Brexit, the Conservatives seemed determined to freeze out the views of a huge portion of the voting public, and could do so at their peril.

And they’re not alone in attempting to brush aside the important questions and concerns many have about the process, and its long-term implications for the country:

“Both major parties seem desperate to avoid a serious debate on Brexit, but the public is not going to be fooled by attempts to say everything is going well,” says Eloise Todd, CEO of Best for Britain.

“The more desperate the political elite become to shut down debate about Brexit, the more panicked they look. The more urgent their calls on us to be ‘patriotic’ and avoid difficult questions, the more the whole thing looks like a conspiracy by the powerful to shut the rest out,” comments Eloise.

“How can it be right for the party of government to limit debate on the biggest issue facing Britain in sixty years to just 50 minutes of set-piece speeches?”

“The Tories paid a high price in the election campaign for their extreme pro-Brexit position. Now they want to close down debate as though ordinary people surrendered their right to an opinion in the referendum. Such arrogance will come with further damaging electoral consequences.”

 

 

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Our Poll Reveals How Public View Motivations of Key Brexit Figures

Our latest poll, run by YouGov, has revealed exactly how the public view the actions of PM Theresa May, David Davis (Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union) and Boris Johnson (Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs ), as they work to negotiate the UK’s exit from the EU.

Participants were asked if they believed the actions of these key Brexit figures were motivated by personal political, or party political interests. Or if they believed these individuals were solely motivated by the best interests of the country as a whole.

The results should make uncomfortable reading for the Government, with half of all voters believing Boris Johnson’s approach to Brexit is motivated primarily by concern for the his own interests, while less than a quarter of the 1602 people questioned (23%) think Prime Minister Theresa May’s views are primarily motivated by concern for the national interest.

Even amongst Conservative voters, there was a distinct lack of trust, with less than half (48%) of Conservative voters convinced that Mrs May’s views are driven primarily by the national interest, and with around one-third thinking the same for Boris Johnson (33%) and David Davis (30%).

In what might be a sign of the impact of Conservative party divisions over Brexit dividing Conservative supporters in the country, even 40% of Tory voters say they think Mr Johnson’s views on Brexit are driven principally by considerations of personal interest.

Commenting on the findings, Best for Britain’s CEO Eloise Todd said:

“Boris Johnson’s antics over Brexit impress nobody. Yet it is his escalating and ever more immoderate demands on the Prime Minister that are setting the tone of the UK’s Brexit negotiations.

“We are being driven towards isolation to satisfy Mr Johnson’s need to appeal to extreme anti-Europeans in Conservative ranks. That is why we must have the option to say ‘no’ to whatever deal Tory ministers sign up to in Brussels and instead be able to make a real choice, including having the option of staying in a reforming European Union.

“No Brexit is better than a bad Brexit. And a Brexit designed to deliver for Boris Johnson at the expense of jobs, prosperity and opportunities would be the worst sort of all.”

The polling data also shows that voters have a flexible and pragmatic view on freedom of movement issues, and appear willing to back its continuation if the right to move in search of work is balanced by the responsibility to leave if no job is found.

The poll shows slightly more Conservative voters (69%) support freedom of movement under such terms than voters as a whole (64%). Less than a quarter (24%) of Conservative voters oppose freedom of movement under such an approach.

Eloise Todd commented:

“The British government has the powers to restrict freedom of movement in this way already, it does not require any new European law or treaty change. These figures show that freedom of movement is not a deal breaker when it comes to the UK staying in a reforming and modernising EU: if that is what people decide is a better option than accepting whatever deal the Tories sign up to.

“Ministers have no right to dictate to the people over issues like this. We and our elected representatives should have the final say on a choice between the terms they agree and the best offer we can get for continued EU membership.”

And our research has already made the news, with key findings quoted in the following articles on the Evening Standard website:

Philip Hammond slaps down Boris Johnson four times over Europe

Brexit trade talks this month are unlikely, senior minister admits

Want to find out more? You can view the results in full here.

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Theresa May’s speech on Brexit in Florence

Eloise Todd, CEO of Best for Britain – which campaigns to keep all options about Britain’s future relationship with the European Union open – commenting on Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech in Florence, said:

“Mrs May had no new offer to make. She seems to have spent many thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money to fly out to Florence to merely restate her well-know positions.

“But where’s the detail? Where is the clarity? Above all what is the reason why we should risk economic and social stability by leaving the European Union? She has to supply a concrete and realistic answer to that question and she is not doing so.

“The only thing Mrs May has confirmed today is that she is not softening Brexit in any way. It is surely time that politicians and others in Britain got the option of remaining in the European Union on the table as we negotiate a Brexit deal. Having that fallback available is surely a common sense option that should be supported across the political spectrum.

“No Brexit is better than a Bad Brexit and unfortunately Mrs May is still failing to guarantee that Brexit will be anything other than bad.”

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Download Campaign Resources

In order to support our Best For Britain activists on the ground, we’ve got tons of  helpful documents to get you – our local campaigners – started fighting to get a No Brexit option on the table. Click the links to download these incredibly useful resources and check back often as we’ll be adding additional tools.

1. Campaign Handbook –  A practical guide to all aspects of political pressure: how to have persuasive conversations, how to plan campaign activities, and more. There will be frequent updates to this handbook, so check back soon for even more practical advice!

2. EU Withdrawal Bill Campaign Pack – This is a pre-prepared toolkit designed to help you organize your own petition campaign in opposition to the Government’s rushed, undemocratic EU Withdrawal Bill. The pack contains a print-at-home flyer that directs people to Best For Britain’s online #NoWithdrawalBill petition–which already has over 10,000 signatures–as well as checklists and logistical advice to make sure that your petition campaign is a success. We’ve also included a print-at-home petition sheet so you can get signatures in person and send them back to us for processing.

3. Templates and Flyers Pack – Provides valuable tips on writing to your local paper, including a letter template, as well as a set of print-at-home Best For Britain flyers and a #NoWithdrawalBill petition flyer.

Feel free to share these resources with other activists, and don’t forget to join your local B4B Facebook group to connect with other campaigners in your region! If you’re not on Facebook and you’re not inclined to join, you can pop your details into this form and a regional coordinator will be in touch to keep you in the loop.

 

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Join Your Regional Best For Britain Facebook Groups

Following the success of our Barnstorm-style training event in Kensington on Monday, we are delighted to unveil the next step in connecting local campaigners across the country: regional B4B Facebook groups! We will use these groups to distribute resources to activists including our campaign handbook, information about Best For Britain events, and additional support.

These groups are also here to facilitate on-the-ground coordination between local campaigners, so you can organize your own market stalls, MP surgery visits, and other campaign activities to further the cause of keeping all options on the table during these chaotic Brexit negotiations.

We don’t want to reinvent the wheel or undo anything you’re already doing.  Instead, our aim is to provide tools and resources as well as a space to engage more people by listing your activities  and doing regional training events.

Find the area where you live in the list below, click on the link, and join the group to connect with other Best For Britain advocates in your area!

If you’re not sure which region makes the most sense, you can check our region-delineated map.

England:
Cornwall and Devon
Somerset/Bristol/Wiltshire/Dorset
Worcestershire/Gloucestershire/Herefordshire
Sussex and Kent
Surrey/Hampshire/Isle of Wight
Oxfordshire/Buckinghamshire/Berkshire
Suffolk/Norfolk/Cambridgeshire
Bedfordshire/Hertfordshire/Essex
West Midlands and Cheshire (Warwickshire, Birmingham, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Cheshire)
East Midlands (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Rutland, Leicestershire)
North Yorkshire/East Yorkshire/Northeast Lincolnshire
South and West Yorkshire
Merseyside/Greater Manchester/Lancashire
North and North East (Cumbria, County Durham, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear)
West London (Hillingdon, Hounslow, Harrow, Ealing, Brent, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea)
South West London (Richmond, Kingston, Wandsworth, Merton, Sutton, Lambeth, Westminster)
South East London (Southwark, Lewisham, Croydon, Bromley, Greenwich, Bexley)
East London (Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Newham, Redbridge, Barking and Dagenham, Havering)
North London (Barnet, Enfield, Haringey, Camden, Islington, City of London)

Scotland:
Borders and Eastern Scotland (Borders, Lothians, Fife, Falkirk, Clackmannanshire, Stirling, Perthshire, Dundee, Angus)
West of Scotland (Dumfries, Galloway, Glasgow, Ayrshire, Lanarkshire, Motherwell, Renfrewshire, Dunbartonshire, Inverclyde)
North of Scotland (Argyll, Highland, Aberdeenshire, Moray, Orkney, Western Isles, the Shetlands)

Wales:
North Wales (Anglesesy, Gwynedd, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Wrexham)
South Wales (Powys, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Bridgend, Vale of Glamorgan, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Merthyr Tydfil, Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen, Newport, Monmouthshire)

Northern Ireland

Don’t forget to download our campaign resources, which contain valuable advice on how to have persuasive conversations and organize actions with other Best For Britain activists!

Note: We are aware that not everyone is on Facebook. If you’re not inclined to join you can pop your details into this form and a regional coordinator will be in touch to keep you in the loop.

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New tenner already devalued by Brexit

Eloise Todd, CEO of Best for Britain, which campaigns to keep all options for Britain’s future relationship with the European Union on the table, commenting on the launch of a new £10 note today (14 September) said:
“The new tenner is 15% physically smaller than the old one, but when it comes to purchasing power, Brexit has gone one better and stripped it of 16% of its value.
“Since the referendum on 23 June 2016, the pound has lost 16% of its strength as measured against Britain’s main trading partners. So today’s new tenner is only worth £8.60 of pre-referendum money on the international markets.
“When it comes to what we can buy in Europe, the decline against the euro is even more dramatic: down to under £8.40.
“This represents much more than a squeeze on spending money for a family holiday. The Ministry of Defence is planning to spend £19 billion on equipment priced in dollars and £3 billion on equipment priced in euros over the next decade. The Brexit devaluation means either getting less – potentially leaving our forces under-equipped – or paying more, so starving other projects of money.
“The exposure of the NHS to the costs of the Great Brexit Devaluation is almost certainly even greater. The British Medical Association says that Brexit is already having a ‘negative impact’ on the NHS and poses ‘serious risks’ in the future.
“In other words, today’s new tenner will buy Britain’s NHS, Britain’s armed forces and millions of British holiday makers £8.60’s worth of pre-referendum goods and services.”
Eloise Todd noted that steps could be taken to limit or even reverse the impact of the Great Brexit Devaluation:
“The events of the last 18 months have shown that the pound strengthens every time there is a sign that Britain is pulling back, even slightly, from the cliff edge of Brexit, and weakens every time there is a hint that we are accelerating towards a chaotic Brexit. That surely means acknowledging No Brexit is better than a Bad Brexit and keeping our options open makes good economic sense.
“We could even deliver a much needed shot-in-the-arm for millions of hard pressed family budgets by stepping back from the crazed ideas of the Brexit fanatics.”
Concluding, Eloise Todd, said:
“The new note features a picture of Jane Austen, one of the greatest of British novelists.
“When Austen was at the height of her powers, Sterling was worth about four times more than today. No decision to keep the option of No Brexit open is going to take us back to that, but it might do something to end the economic slide that has seen our trade gap widen, inflation rise and public services face even greater cuts because of the rising cost of purchasing essentials.”
—-
Contact: Adrian McMenamin 07812 766017
Notes:
1. On 23 June 2016, the pound’s trade weighted index (2005 = 100) was at 87.9268, on 7 September 2017 it was at 75.2882 (figures from the Bank of England) – the equivalent of £10 being devalued to £8.56.
2. On 23 June 2016 the spot exchange rate between the pound and the euro was 1.3039, on 7 September 2017 it was 1.0918 (figures from the Bank of England) – the equivalent of £10 being devalued to £8.37.
3. In January 2017 the National Audit Office reported on the MoD’s 2016 – 2026 Equipment Plan (see paragraphs 3.17 – 3.19): https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/The-Equipment-Plan-2016-2026.pdf
4. The BMA commented on the risks Brexit posed to the NHS on 26 July 2017: https://www.bma.org.uk/news/2017/july/brexit-takes-toll-on-nhs-balance-sheet?imgdoctors=
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Here we go…

This is your chance to sign up and become part of the wider Best for Britain team! We’re starting our training and get-to-know-you sessions online and in person over the coming weeks.

If you want to get more involved, be connected with fellow supporters in your area and learn how we’re going to work together over the coming months, sign up below.

Best for Britain members span across every corner of the UK and we want to bring this fight to everyone everywhere!

Our objectives are to change public opinion on Brexit and ensure there is growing support for No Brexit as an option. A new deal for Britain within the EU is possible. We must make our voices heard with politicians, businesspeople and more to make sure they have the confidence to speak up against Brexit.

For people across the UK, we’re running online strategy and Q&A sessions that everyone can hop onto and get stuck in. At these sessions we will:

  • Tell you about our plans
  • Get your feedback and input
  • Work out together the next steps for your region

We are going to try and do the training sessions by region, click here for dates and times. Don’t worry if you can’t make the time for your region, it’s not a dealbreaker, sign up for the one that you can make instead!

If you’re in London or visiting next week, we’ll be doing out first in-person training sessions, in the evening on Wednesday 30th and Thursday 31st August, in the Covent Garden area. Please sign up and secure your place here.

We must not lose our voice, and it only takes one voice to change history, imagine what many could achieve. The general election gave us a lifeline on Brexit, now it’s time to use it.

[First published 25th August 2017]

By Atalandi Dixon

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No Brexit must be a real option

Best for Britain is gearing up for an interesting and active next few months and we want all of you to be involved! We thought we’d take a minute to bring you up to speed with our developments….

First, let’s rewind. The June 2017 general election was a game changer for Brexit. Theresa May broke her word and called an election. She called this election to secure a mandate with the aim of allowing her to single handedly decide the outcome of Brexit and the fate of this country. Her gamble didn’t pay off. The election results not only show that Brexit is the most important issue facing our country, but also that the British electorate do not agree with the government’s path towards Extreme Brexit. This government has no mandate to railroad the country into a bad deal – it’s time for No Brexit to be a real option.

We believe that Parliament must have real choices in the Brexit process. Both the Labour and Conservative party have pledged to deliver the country the ‘exact same benefits’ from any Brexit that we enjoy under our current EU membership terms. We must be able to reject all deals that don’t measure up to our current terms and have the option of a deal within the EU. It would be negligent for our politicians to knowingly pursue a Brexit that would leave us worse off. All options must remain on the table, including No Brexit.

In our eyes:

  • No deal =  no Brexit: we cannot allow Theresa May to take us off the cliff edge
  • Bad deal = no Brexit: because No Brexit is better than a bad Brexit
  • Any deal = real choice: the country needs a real choice between  Brexit and No Brexit

Many of our supporters can’t see any prospect for a ‘good Brexit’. We agree. But what’s most important is public opinion across the country – and more people are beginning to doubt whether a ‘good Brexit’ is feasible. With your help we want to bring in those people that are doubting Brexit, maybe for the first time, and work together to give our country real options, including the chance to press ‘eject’ from Brexit.

To do this we have to resist, organise and act. We must move past the binary ‘Leave’ and ‘Remain’ camps. We must actively seek out people who voted leave, people who didn’t vote and people who are having doubts about Brexit. We must have respectful conversations and aim to understand people’s concerns. We must bring those together who are questioning whether Brexit is worth the risk. We must aim to bring people in from all walks of life – everyone has a stake in our future.

Please make sure you have signed up to campaign with us in your constituency! We are coming to you soon with our plan, and we’re building a dedicated team to help build our movement.

By Atalandi Dixon

[First published 18th August 2017]

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“Brexit is a catastrophe”

As the weeks pass and March 2019 fast approaches, more people are questioning the merit of Brexit. The conversation is beginning to shift, it is no longer about which type of Brexit but people are starting to talk about whether Brexit will happen at all.

At Best for Britain, we’re fighting to keep the door open to EU membership, and for that to be one of the options on the table in the coming months. If what we get from the negotiations isn’t better than what we already have, we shouldn’t do it. Theresa May and her fellow Brexiteers are in chaos, and Brexit is a mess. It’s clear which way this is going.

Stunningly today saw ex-DExEU chief of staff, James Chapman, publicly criticise Brexit. He said:

“Past time for sensible MPs in all parties to admit Brexit is a catastrophe,  come together In new party if need be, and reverse it”

Until the election, Chapman’s job was to facilitate and execute Brexit. Chapman is just another example in an increasingly long line of those regretting their backing of leave – remember Dominic Cummings, the chair of Vote Leave, who said a few weeks ago that the referendum was a “dumb idea” and Brexit “is shaping up to be ‘guaranteed debacle”?

While key Brexit supporters are changing their mind, key figures are calling for the single market, freedom of movement and the option of staying in to be on the table. First, today a group of Labour MPs geared up to change the Labour line on the single market. Second, last week, several prominent politicians, including Clive Lewis MP and David Lammy MP, key trade union figures and Momentum organisers signed an open letter urging Corbyn to ensure Freedom of Movement continues in the event of Brexit. The letter said:

“Migrants are not to blame for falling wages, insecurity, bad housing and overstretched public services…On the contrary, migrant workers have been on the frontline of fighting for better pay and working conditions. Labour is the party of all working people – regardless of where they were born.”

Third, Sadiq Khan gave more hope to Brexit being stopped, saying in response to a question, that the only way to override the previous referendum is to have a new vote, and that in the event of another election, the Labour party could make a manifesto pledge to not go ahead with Brexit, or when elected, trigger a second referendum.

With March 2019 fast approaching, next month marking 6 months since the triggering of Article 50 and the shambolic state of the negotiations, doubt is seeping into the Brexit debate. Not only are unexpected figures, like Chapman and Cummings, coming to the fore and abhorring Brexit, pro-European MPs are defying the party whip to do what’s best for Britain. We expect this is just the beginning.

The direction of travel is clear, and we want to work with you to show MPs around the country that there is support, constituency by constituency, for No Brexit to be a real option for our country to choose.

To help us get organised on the ground, if you haven’t already, please sign up here. We’ll have more news on getting our on the ground groups going this month.

By Atalandi Dixon

[First published 9th August 2017]

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Brexit is the most important issue facing our country!

This year’s General Election was triggered by Brexit, people saw it as the ‘Brexit election’ and Brexit was the most important issue for people when casting their vote.

While many other issues consumed the election, including the NHS, the economy and the threat of terrorism, Brexit remained top of people’s minds. Since June many commentators have questioned the importance of Brexit during the election and in turn, its influence on the result.

 New research, published this week, by the British Election Study (BES) reaffirms the importance of Brexit in this year’s election. The BES is a unique study, surveying the same 30,000 people over an extended period of time. Unsurprisingly, over a third of people polled said Brexit was ‘the most important issue facing our country’. Brexit was trailed by the NHS, in third place, and the economy, in fifth. This study corroborates and builds on analysis we have been doing ourselves, which highlight similar trends. We will share more on this soon.

While the study presented Brexit, the NHS and the economy as separate issues, they are incredibly interconnected. Our already ailing NHS stands to lose big because of Brexit. The NHS is dependent on EU citizens. Presently 7% of nurses and 10% of doctors are EU nationals. With Brexit looming, we have already seen a significant decrease in EU nurses registering to work for the NHS – it is down by 83%. Turning to the economy, since the referendum, we have seen the pound lose its value, inflation increase, wages decrease and this week, the Bank of England said, our already stunted economic growth would continue. The ongoing uncertainty brewed by our government’s cavalier and callous Brexit path will only exacerbate these economic concerns and evolving realities.

As ever, continue the conversation with us on  Facebook and Twitter!

By Atalandi Dixon

[First published 4th August 2017]

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