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The National Tour Continues

Parliament has completely shut down due to Brexit. The House of Lords is being asked to agree a record 19 complex No Deal regulations next week - almost the entirety of its business. Non-Brexit government and legislation has virtually ceased. So this week I got out of London and continued my tour of the country, travelling to Hereford, Salisbury, Maldon, Chester, Oxford and Chipping Barnet. These packed meetings all over country show that there is now a significant ground movement for a People’s Vote. They also show that young people are now leading the drive to stay in the EU - In a straw poll of more than 100 people discussing Brexit at Maldon, Essex last night, all but 5 supported votes for 16 & 17 year olds in future Brexit referendum & general election. There is more to come: I will be speaking in Chichester on Saturday 9th, and Halton then Northwich on Sunday 10th. In my New European column this week I argue that the latest Brexit banner of a ‘WTO Brexit’ is really the ‘Wrecked Trade Option’. Nigel Farage’s claim that Article 24 of the WTO treaty gives us a right to “up to 10 years of tariff-free trade while we sort out new arrangements” is also a lie. Any interim WTO deal on EU trade would have to be agreed with the EU itself, requiring the same process of negotiation and agreement as Theresa May’s existing deal and any future trade deal. Why would the EU agree better terms through the WTO than they would have agreed bilaterally? There was also more talk about a new centrist party being formed. As I explained in an interview with Channel 4, I was in the SDP when it broke with Labour in the 1980s and know how hard it is to do this and so my view is that this will not happen unless Brexit happens, and if it does, both Labour and the Conservatives will split.

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