A Local MeetingWell done to our local MP, Sir Christopher Chope, pictured right at the opening of Highcliffe Post Office in November 2017. Despite all the anger or tiredness, or even enthusiasm – depending on your point of view – about the ongoing Brexit situation, he bravely held a public meeting at West Parley Memorial Hall on Saturday, 12 January. Sir Christopher said that, ‘No deal is the best way forward for the country and the only way to deliver a full Brexit.’ Bearing in mind the strength of feelings this meeting was quite a courageous thing to do, and though I was unable to attend, the sold-out event became boisterous, even aggressive at times! I have printed three comments from the Echo below. As I write there are 171, and many of them are just rudely abusive, so I have been selective. You are welcome to read all of them using this link. You will see much of the bad feeling displayed there: much of it is not pleasant reading.
- ‘We attended this meeting this morning which was introduced as democracy at work in the Christchurch constituency. It soon became clear that democracy was the last thing on the mind of many attendees. Any views different to the Hard Brexit view were shouted down. It is the responsibility of the Chairman of a meeting to ensure that all views were given a proper hearing. This did not happen. We also noted that very few people under 50 years old were present who will be affected most by the outcomes of the Brexit discussions. Why not? It does not matter what views a person holds about Brexit, but we pride ourselves in being a democratic country where Freedom of Speech is paramount. This did not happen at this meeting. We were left none the wiser of actual facts about what will happen after Brexit. All we heard were personal opinions.
- ‘I was present at this meeting and was absolutely disgusted at the threatening behaviour made by some of those that were in attendance, If this is an example of those that are fervent Chope Followers I’m glad I’m not one of them.’
- ‘You must be living in cloud cuckoo land! Breaking an agreement that is legal and binding means that you have to pay penalties. If you contract to sell your house, the contract is binding – if you changed your mind when it’s a firm contract, you pay financial penalties. Fact.’
Christchurch Times, 31 January – Strong words from our MP Christchurch MP Sir Christopher Chope claimed some members of the Cabinet had undermined the Conservative Party manifesto with treacherous comments on Brexit. Sir Christopher asked the Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, if she would hold an early debate on collective Cabinet responsibility and its meaning in the current circumstances. He said, ‘Will my right honourable friend undertake to lead that debate, so that she can explain to the House the frustration that we all feel at having the 2017 Conservative party manifesto, which she supported on the Today programme this week, undermined by treacherous comments from our own Cabinet colleagues?’ Ms Leadsom said the Cabinet was in absolute agreement that the referendum result would be delivered.
18 February: Boris Strikes Again!As I was photographing the sign by the bus stop near Stony Lane, I was impressed with how much consternation and intrigue it had caused. Across the road a family of five, including youngsters, had even stopped to admire (?) and discuss it. So what is it about? According the The Echo, this, and others around the country, have been posted by a group called Led by Donkeys. Here is a more complete excerpt from Boris’s speech: ‘We are taking the machete of freedom to the brambles of EU regulation, and we are in the process of creating something immensely positive for both sides of the Channel, a new European partnership between a strong UK and a strong EU. Believe me, that’s what people of this great continent want to achieve. ‘In the words of our great prime minister, they understand that Brexit means Brexit and we are going to make a titanic success of it. (‘It sank,’ said former chancellor George Osborne, who was presenting Johnson with his award.) ‘Well, the Titantic exhibition in Northern Ireland is the single most popular attraction in the province. We are going to make a colossal success of Brexit.” It is not just Boris – there are others from this group, of course. Another one is shown below, just click it to go to that page. Finally, another picture, showing the complete poster. Apologies for the pole which is in the way. It would have been illegal to saw it down!
9 March: Esther McVey and Sir Christopher Chope at a Brexit Dinner This took place at the end of February at Hoburne Holiday Park. They were discussing our withdrawal from the EU and what could happen in the house of Commons. Mrs McVey had resigned from her Cabinet position as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on November 15. A staunch Brexiteer, here is part of her resignation letter: ‘We have gone from no deal is better than a bad deal to any deal is better than no deal. ‘I cannot defend this and I cannot vote for this deal. I could not look my constituents in the eye were I to do that. I therefore have no alternative but to resign from the Government.’ She is in full agreement with Christopher Chope on this. In this meeting she said that, ‘To these MPs who have lost their nerve at the moment, asking for wriggle-room and weakening the Prime Minister’s hand as she goes in to negotiate, I would say hold your nerve.’ She agreed with Sir Christopher that leaving without a deal would not lead to a cliff-edge.
Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con)
In following the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford), may I tell him that the people of the United Kingdom will not be kept in the European Union against their will? I hope that he will support and respect that.
In June 2016, the people of the United Kingdom demonstrated our collective common sense and self-confidence by voting to take back control of our national destiny and to reassert our parliamentary sovereignty. The people’s vision expressed in the referendum result was that of a strong United Kingdom, holding its head high, free from the shackles of the European Union, while promoting international free trade as the key to future national prosperity and the best antidote to global poverty.
We should be expecting to leave the EU in 15 days and there should be an air of excitement about all this, but I detect a certain gloom, because today Parliament is being asked to endorse what is no less than an act of national humiliation—to renege on the decision it took two years ago triggering article 50 and to repeal or amend the Act it passed last year to leave the European Union on 29 March. By dishonouring the decision on article 50 and the result of the referendum, the Government motion before us is a gross betrayal.
As a member of the Exiting the European Union Committee, I have witnessed at first hand on our visits to Brussels the extent to which the Government are now a laughing stock. The most serious criticism of the UK is focused on our Prime Minister for signing up to a deal that she has subsequently disowned. They see that in Brussels as an act of bad faith, which is one reason why they have refused to make changes to the withdrawal agreement.
My amendment (g) is on the Order Paper. It has not been selected for debate, but had it been, it would have allowed the Government to seek to agree with the European Union an extension of the period specified in article 50(3) until 22 May, for the specific purpose of replacing the United Kingdom negotiating team. We need to replace our current team because it has gone back on so many of its promises to Parliament and to the people. The only way to regain self-respect is to have a fresh team of negotiators. I include among that team its head—none other than the Prime Minister.
Two years ago the House endorsed the Prime Minister’s negotiating approach as set out in the Lancaster House speech. The Prime Minister contemplated a scenario of the European Union imposing a punishment deal on us. That is why at the time she waxed eloquent about the benefits of no deal over a bad deal, which included delivering our freedom to negotiate trade deals and, ultimately, enabling us to set out our own economic model to deliver prosperity and growth.
The Prime Minister promised that the divorce settlement and the future relationship would be negotiated alongside each other, that nothing was agreed until everything was agreed, and, on the substance, that we would leave the single market, the customs union and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. None of that is guaranteed in her deal. For all her protestations, the Prime Minister’s deal does not meet her own criteria, and her negotiations have sadly resulted in the punishment deal that she feared. Her insistence that her deal is a good deal is not accepted by the House; indeed, the House has overwhelmingly rejected it on two occasions. But instead of accepting the verdict of the House, she is stubbornly continuing to assert that her deal is a good deal, and now she is holding a pistol to our heads by threatening that we will lose Brexit altogether. It is intolerable that the Prime Minister is asking those of us who oppose her deal to tear up our manifesto commitments, and to break our word to our constituents and electors.
I agree with the hon. Gentleman’s analysis that the Prime Minister’s negotiating position and skills have been pathetic. If the Opposition table a motion of no confidence, will the hon. Gentleman vote for it, because it is the logic of his position?
Frankly, I would seriously consider that issue. I expressed no confidence in the Prime Minister when we had a vote within our own parliamentary party and my considered opinion now is that, were a similar vote to be held, there would be an overwhelming vote against the Prime Minister and an expression of no confidence in her. One then thinks about the logical extension of that. I am not going to make any promises to the hon. Gentleman now, but obviously it would need the Leader of the Opposition to initiate such a move. I think that Government Members who felt that they were being betrayed would then actually look at the implications flowing from that.
Obtaining a parliamentary majority for the Prime Minister’s deal is now beyond reach. It is pure fantasy to think otherwise. The Prime Minister’s deal does not even satisfy the requirement, for which the Prime Minister herself voted, of replacing the backstop. Nor does it provide a legal answer to the Attorney General’s concern that the Prime Minister’s deal would leave the UK with
“no internationally lawful means of exiting the Protocol’s arrangements, save by agreement.”
Who would want to sign up to that? It means that we would have less ability to leave the agreement than we have at the moment to leave the European Union. How can the Prime Minister think that we are seriously going to support that?
Our current negotiating team no longer enjoys the trust of Parliament, the European Union or even many members of the Government, as was graphically illustrated last night. The feeling on the Conservative Benches now is really strongly against the Prime Minister and her team. She has lost control, and at this most critical moment in our modern peacetime history, we need to change the general. If we were to change the Prime Minister now, there would be a case for a short extension to article 50, but in no other circumstances.
ooo000oooFinally, an article about this in today’s Mail Online. The comments at the bottom are very interesting and give an indication of general feeling.
Guess Who’s Coming to Highcliffe!It is reported in today’s Echo online that Ann Widdecombe will be at a public meeting at Highcliffe Castle on Thursday, May 16 at 7pm. In fact it is not just Ann Widdecombe: all six MEP candidates for the South of England and Gibraltar will be there. The elections are taking place on May 23. Looking at the comments on the Echo page, many of them are as unpleasant and vitriolic as usual. She is standing for the Brexit Party, and that is their raison d’être, especially as – probably!!! – we will be leaving the EU soon. I admit that I have only scanned some of the comments. They became repetitive. There are no details on the Highcliffe Castle website, but I will update when there is some information. Note that I have enabled comments below but please – nothing like some of those in the Echo!
The Campaign Begins!Note that all literature received will be scanned and presented without comment 11 May, 2019 – The Brexit Party
15 May, 2019 – The Labour Party
15 May, 2019 – The Green Party
17 May, 2019 – UKIP