Representing Stratford-on-Avon in Parliament with Britain4Europe

Mark Cunliffe, Stratford4Europe Supporter was selected to represent our constituency and joined guests of over 60 similar groups from around the country.  He tells us of his day:

You might be aware that last month we were invited to Parliament and I was the lucky one who went. 

The day started with me arriving and already nervous as hell turning up early to do my first stint at the Sodem daily protest outside, 5 minutes after my arrival about 25-35 EDL types turned up. Steve Bray (main guy you see on the news) walked straight over the road to confront them, I was ready to run the other way!

Towards the end of their visit we were all singing the national anthem at them! The police were now keeping both parties on each side of the road, not surprisingly they were all white males who were very angry, this wasn’t made any better as we resorted to winding them up with taunts of “there’s 2 for 1 on gammon up the road at Wetherspoons” etc at them. Very childish I know but what do you do when confronted with those types. Made the police laugh, they loved it as our smiling laughing faces saw off this group of angry white men. 

They were there for about 25 mins, we were there all day! Steve told me in the 2 years he has been there they have never turned up before, I was lucky! As the day went on more and more of the 60 groups from across the country came with many joining the Sodem protest before our visit. As time drew nearer I joined Bremain in Spain, Herefordshire 4 Europe and Bath 4 Europe in a little tour of Parliament before the more serious work began. 

Elspeth of Bremain In Spain has written an excellent account of the day and takes over the story from above.  Read her blog here!

What a fantastic privilege it was to represent Stratford4Europe and to be invited by Open Britain, Britain4Europe, Caroline Lucas, Tom Brake and Chuka Ummuna.

I’ve also attached below a few rough notes of the day with details of the Q & A session. I think really the day was about thanking all the groups for the hard work to date but to get people geared up for the Peoples Vote.

Notes from #PeoplesVote event in Westminster, Tuesday 5th June from 6pm

Hosted by

Scott Daniels – Britain for Europe
David Gwyther – Open Britain
Hugo Dixon – Open Britain

Introduction from all three. Thank you to campaigners.

This event and campaign is happening thanks to the efforts of all the local groups who put their foot down and said no to Brexit and two years later won´t give up and are still fighting.

The common goal is to campaign for a #PeoplesVote (PV) and that requires putting aside our differences.

#EuropeDay was a massive event.

Current focus is on promoting the 23 June march.

Big work lies in getting MPs on board to support the PV.

The campaign will be ramped up towards summer with PV rallies to be announced after the march.

We need to embed the idea of PV in local communites as the #finalsay for the British people.

Q&A with MPs

Tom Brake MP for Carshalton and Wallington

Caroline Lucas MP for Brighton, Pavilion

Chuka Ummuna MP for Streatham (arrived later from meeting)

Apologies and thanks sent by Anna Soubry MP for Broxtowe who was unable to attend because of another engagement.

Q. Is it possible to carry out more extensive surveys on feelings of electorate?

TB CL: Polls usually are of 1000 voters.

Open Britain will look into possibility of larger polls.

Q. Question on June 12 debate about Lords amendments to EWB

CL – Debating 15 sessions in one sitting is ludicrous. Cause for rebellion and anger amongst MPs. PM is treating parliament with contempt. As each vote takes 15 minutes this situation is an excellent ad for electronic voting.

The PM has miscalculated and there will be anger.

TB – Debate will start at 12.30 on Tues with a 12 hour debate (UPDATE: on 6 June Tory whip announced that debate will be over two days but still only 12 hours).

Not yet known what format the debate will take whether each amendment debated individually and voted or whether grouped together. The gov may accept some amendments (possibly Dublin amendment?)

Lords A 19a refers to PV. Is it in order? Not the same as on the order paper. The chair of ways and means can declare the amendment to be of too wide a scope…

Q. What is the mechanism for how the PV will #StopBrexit?

TB: It would be by some kind of further amendment to the EWA.

Would need legislation and that needs time.

Q. What about Deal/No Deal scenario? Option to Remain on the ballot paper? Will it be a wider electorate than Brexit Referendum (16/17 year-olds and disenfranchised UKinEU)?

Lib Dems and Greens: A very clear answer YES to this question.

CL- On expanding the electorate, although their policy is very much to do that on this occasion may be seen as ‘moving the goal posts’ and we do not want to give anybody further excuses not to go for PV. Not a repeat of the original referendum. This is a different vote on the government deal.

TB- Could be counterproductive to widen the electorate and make it more difficult to garner support from MPs.

David Gwyther Open Britain: His response was a bit fudgy… Really would like to get option to Remain on the ballot paper but the priority is to take  MPs and public with us and get the PV first and then get option to Remain on the ballot paper.

Q. How best to lobby MPs who insist on saying that the people have already had their say?

CL and TB:

Quote David Davis 2012 speech on the EU:  “If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy”.

Democracy doesn’t stand still. New facts are on the table about the reality of Brexit.

MPs have independent thought. Remain MPs should not hide behind the ‘will of the people’.

The PM has no other reasons for delivering Brexit except for ‘it’s the will of the people’

CL: The government is saying that it will deliver Brexit knowing that it will make British people poorer.

Q. Which amendments should we focus on?

CL: all of them are important. Very difficult to choose but

European Economic Area EEA

The environment (I have to say that!)

But all environmental groups are saying how Gove’s proposed environment watchdog is absolutely toothless and environmental protections would be substantially weakened.

TB: customs Union stands a good chance. EEA but doesn´t have Lab front bench support.

PV is amendment 19a

Q. How to tackle Leave areas?

CL: We have to listen to why people voted Leave. It is easy to forget that if we get a PV, we’ve still got to win it!!

How do we win them over? We need to address the real issues and show why EU is good. We need an offer that appeals to Leavers to get them on board.

Take a look at https://www.anothereurope.org/

David Gwyther: We need to do door-to-door campaigning and survey how they feel.

TB: Then we need to do something with that info gathered.

Q. Why not go for a General Election rather than a PV?

CL: The process began with the people and needs to end with the people. It should be the people that revises that result. It shouldn’t be overturned ONLY by MPs or we run the risk of the claim being made that the result was robbed by parliament.

We are now having the debate about the EU that we should have had 2 years ago. A PV would need an independent arbiter to ensure that campaigns are fair and to ensure safeguards in place.

CHUKA (CU) ARRIVES LATE FROM MEETING.

CU: STOP THIS DAMN BREXIT!

(He had just come out of Labour meeting when new amendment tabled.)

A big thank you to all the campaigners for standing up and saying NO to Brexit.

We are now in a better place. We are beginning to win the arguments.

We are not dealing with Project Fear but Project Reality.

The buying a house analogy… After you make an offer if the survey finds the house to be faulty, without foundations then you can retract your offer. And nobody forces the buyer to go through with the sale.

Q. What is the contingency plan if when ‘final deal’ is reached Northern Ireland border and immigration have not been sorted?

TB and CL: We should have final deal by Oct-Dec.

PM’s strategy is to get past March deadline by any means. Logically we wait to see full horror of what we are voting for but it would be too late.

TB: Realistically, we could be 5 years away from knowing what the FINAL deal is. PM just want to cross the March finish line whatever.

We can gain time by extending Art 50.

We know that the EU will not grant an extension to resolve Cons party infighting. (Not for Boris and Hammond to agree on Customs Union).

But the EU are likely to grant an extension if they see the UK close to an agreement

Q. How do we deconstruct Jeremy Corbyn’s constructive ambiguity?

Chuka: We have to put the country first.

For me, the EU is more important than Jeremy Corbyn.

Make sure your MPs know what you think.

Write letters, emails, telephone and go to your MP’s  surgery. Don´t mention that you want to discuss Brexit.

Q. Will there be a General Election?

Chuka: Don’t think so.

The only way to break this impasse is for the people to step in.

Many Tories just don´t have a backbone. They just cannot duck and dive and serve their own political ambitions and keep hiding behind the ‘will of the people’

The EU is the best supranational structure we have ever had.

We must Remain and Reform.

CL: Reform of the EU is necessary but Remain and Reform.

Take a look at https://diem25.org/

We need the EU for the environment and for the peace project.

Visit your MP’s surgeries.

Some constituents report  that as soon as they mention the B word, there are no appointments left in some surgeries so don’t say that you want to talk about Brexit.

LABOUR IS LETTING US DOWN.

JEREMY CORBYN HOLDS THE KEY TO STOP BREXIT.

He is a good man and wants the best for the many and not the few but supporting Brexit and making the country poorer IS NOT THE WAY TO DO IT.

– Close –

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