This meeting was organised by the People’s Vote campaign team, part of the European Movement, but a separate campaign.
- The speakers were Andrew Adonis and members of the PV team in turn. The meeting began with everyone in the hall (about 200) saying where they were based. I have set out the main points that were raised but not necessarily in chronological order.
- Andrew Adonisexplained that there is panic in Parliament as both TM and JC believe a referendum would cause a serious 3 way split in their parties. That is why they are so opposed. TM is saying “my deal or no deal” and she will keep trying (even with bribery!) but EU have said no to any changes on backstop and will very likely not change their position as they are looking after Ireland as it is an EU member. Therefore the Brady and Malthouse amendments mean nothing, although the EU have said the backstop can be viewed as theoretical, something that will hopefully never need to be used. TM will keep presenting her deal with MPs tabling amendments. If this passes before 29th March then it moves on to the transition stage. If it does not pass then there will be either a no deal or an extension will be asked for from the EU. The EU may well ask on what grounds an extension is being asked for and it is then that a PV or a GE may be called to give legitimacy to the request. If the TM deal does not go through, the PV could be seen as the least worse option to go forward and this might be the best and most realistic hope for a PV.
- Statistics– a new set of statistics will be circulated by PV soon. There is a slight but consistent lean to “wrong to leave EU”. There has been a slow increase in favouring remaining in the EU but still a quite an even split on issues. In a lot of the groups the “don’t know” was fairly high. There is roughly a three way split over the EU – one third for strongly remain, one third for strongly leave and one third that waver.
- The transition deal will take 21 months plus an extra 2 years if needed. TMs deal has nothing definite in it, except the backstop! So if people are fed up with stringing it out they could be made aware that TM’s deal will continue the process while a PV with a Remain win, or unfortunately a no deal, could end the whole thing.
- The push for a PV needs to be timed right because if it is turned rejected then that might be the end of the PV campaign.
- There is an option of a Norway style deal but it is not popular.
- Along with his belief that the EU is all about money, JC believes that nationalisation cannot happen within the EU but that is definitely not the case. There have been plenty of governments that have nationalised industries within the EU. Changing the minds of wavering Labour MPs is seen as a priority area.
- Campaigning– We need to push for a PV and target MPs for specific amendments, maybe just choosing one or two, and targeting particular constituencies, about 24 of them, with MPs that can be influenced (probably not the IW then!) We need to 1. Turn strategic (plan well) 2. Have focussed action days 3. Election preparation 4. Marching.
- Lots of people just want “Brexit” to go away and the case for TMs deal might become more attractive for that reason but actually the TM deal prolongs the process.
- Saying the Leave Campaign was corrupt and they lied, even though it is true, is found consistently insulting by leave voters who believe you are calling them stupid. It does not win them over.
- Importantly, we need to present the case positively for Europe and not fight the Leave argument on their ground. We need to find our own voice and our own way of getting our messages across with positive European messages and slogans.
- There was a recognition that the delaying of the vote on TM’s deal and the lack of amendments that got passed took the wind out of people’s sails but that enthusiasm was returning and there is still everything left to work for. The
- YEM(youth) president gave a great speech about how the EM has grown to such a large movement. She was very positive.
- My question– I made the point that although we ourselves want the deal we have now there is a very good case to be made for the final deal to be worked out by a cross party team and that process could be informed by similar groups in our communities. If we are calling it a People’s Vote then should we not back this up with a People’s Deal? I was pointed towards the People’s Voice initiative who, at a grassroots level, want to get Leavers and Remainers talking.
- Last points– There was a recognition that although it was great to see such a large European movement, in may ways it was apathy and complacency that brought us to this place. The team were all young and enthusiastic and had given up a great deal to lead this campaign. A lot of questions were asked and people were focussed, determined and upbeat. Every PV action day that was held was bigger than the previous one. The next march date will be announced as soon as the final details are settled. This should be very soon. It would be good to contact the YEM, ‘Women for Europe’ and ‘People’s Voice’.
- My thoughts– what I took away from this meeting is that things are not over yet, far from it. Our movements are still growing and we are still learning and improving our campaigns and there is a huge amount of enthusiasm and positivity. Considering where we all were 2 and half years ago and all the gains we have made we should feel very proud and hopeful. I believe that the UK as a modern European country with strong moral values, a tolerant liberal attitude, leading the way in human rights, environmental concerns, technology and creativity, is a great vision for the future and one worth pursuing.