The Defeat of Thatcher’s Brexit Army


On Thursday afternoon, some 6 hours into the House of Lords filibuster on Yvette Cooper’s bill, I looked across from me and thought I was reimagining a scene from the 1980s. But when I rubbed my eyes, I realised that what I was seeing was indeed real. There sat Nigel Lawson, Norman Lamont, Michael Howard, and Peter Lilley, most of the surviving Thatcher cabinet, filibustering for Brexit.

It is the perfect depiction of Brexit. The Thatcherite ideology of austerity and centralisation decimated British local communities and caused the backlash that drove Brexit, and now its architects are staging a reunion to try and force us into a no-deal Brexit to finish the job of economic calamity.

But the Lords held fast, and after 12 hours, the filibuster was broken. As I argued in my speech, the right thing for the country now is to bury Brexit and bring our national nightmare to an end.

On Friday Theresa May heeded the key point of the bill which is to rule out a no-deal Brexit by requesting a further extension, but in classic fashion wrote to Tusk asking for the exactly the same short extension to June that the EU rejected just a couple of weeks ago. As I argue in the Guardian this Friday, this is utterly contemptuous and demonstrates that May is now systematically undermining the national interest.

Fortunately, the EU is having none of this, and is starting to rally behind the “flextension’ plan that I proposed a few weeks ago, where the UK is given a long extension of a year but can cut this short if it resolves Brexit at any point before that. Once this has happened a second referendum is certain. As I said in the Lords on Friday, this is because the country now faces Sherlock Holmes’ principle that “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” The impossible, in the form of no deal, May’s deal, and variations of May’s deal, is now eliminated, and the only option remaining is to put May’s deal, the best deal that can be negotiated, back to the people.

So, prepare for the electoral fight of our lifetimes and join the pro-EU ground army by becoming a member of the European Movement. If you need any motivation, just remember those arch-Thatcherites on the other side.

This week I spoke in London, Southampton, and Cambridge, and tomorrow I will be addressing a European Movement rally in Islington. Next week I will be speaking in Vauxhall on Thursday, in Harrogate on Friday, and then finally in Rotherham and then Leeds on Saturday.


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