Richmond Park by-election, an insider’s view

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I am writing this for my neighbours in Richmond Park. Tomorrow this constituency has the chance to do something important, to send a strong message to the Brexit theocracy that has usurped power that there can be -and will be- resistance to their incompetent tumble towards a hard Brexit.

I urge all of you not to miss this chance. To go out and vote.

By-elections do not greatly matter usually, they are symbolic affairs where the parties try to get a feel of what the public thinks, or local affairs, decided on local issues. Indeed it is a local issue that sparked this election (Heathrow expansion), but as all candidates are anti-Heathrow, this is not the defining factor at the ballot box.

Still, why does all this matter on a national and European level you may ask.

If Zac (the incumbent MP) is re-elected, it will verify Tory dominance in the face of a defunct opposition and a nascent LibDem revolt. A Zac win will make little in the way of news and will not bother Theresa May in the slightest. He is a Tory, will vote with the Tories, will vote for Article 50. He is supported by UKIP. He ran a disgraceful racist campaign for mayor. He will achieve nothing in preventing a Heathrow expansion. Do you really want to reward his stunt and allow him back into the Commons?

A win for Sarah Olney however (the Liberal Democrat candidate) will make national headlines and international news. It will be a strong message to Theresa May that her shambolic, devious and incompetent administration will face resistance in Westminster and the ballot box. She will be one more MP to vote against Article 50.

Do not miss your chance to send this message.

The Greens and progressives in the borough support Sarah. Labour has betrayed its supporters, offers unconditional support to Brexit and does not represent the constituency’s interests. A vote for the Labour candidate is a wasted vote, a vote of support -at worst- or acquiescence -at least- to the plans of the Brexiteers in No.10.

Resist, take your chance, say no to the disaster of a hard-Brexit.

Vote LibDem tomorrow.

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@iGlinavos

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Why Hard Brexit is now impossible

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An unexpected thing happened today, the High Court in London passed judgment on a case involving the correct process of starting the British withdrawal from the European Union.

The court said that the government can only activate Article 50 (and thus start the 2 year countdown to exit) after Parliamentary approval.

What does this mean and what are the options Theresa May is faced with now?

The short of it is that the hard-Brexit trainwreck has been delayed, perhaps even postponed indefinitely. Why so?

In the current Parliament there is no majority for Brexit. This is both because the majority of MPs in the Commons stood for Remain, and because the Lords are likely to be strongly opposed to the idea.

Now, this does not mean that a majority of MPs cannot be found to vote in favour of activating Article 50. In the current circumstances, as the majority of constituencies in England voted in favour of Leave, it would be political suicide for most sitting MPs to vote against Article 50 activation.

An indication of how the Commons votes on Brexit issues is given by the failure of the proposal to protect the rights of EU citizens already resident in the UK recently. A narrow majority of MPs voted against common sense and decency. Why? Because they are afraid of their Leave voting constituents.

Is all this struggle in favour of Parliamentary involvement for nought then? Actually no. Saying that MPs will not want to openly defy the will of their constituents is not the same as saying that the majority of MPs will go along with May’s apparent desire for a hard Brexit.

From the point of view of an MP, suicide now (by voting against Brexit) against suicide after (once the consequences of a hard-Brexit begin to bite) is not a great choice. A better choice is to vote for Article 50 when given the chance, but with caveats that make participation in the Single Market a requirement for negotiations.

The logic behind this is that Brexit does in fact mean Brexit, but without meaning the utter destruction of the country’s economy. This is a sensible compromise between the public’s democratically expressed desire to commit suicide and the MPs desire for self-preservation.

This of course is relevant for the Commons. I am not investigating whether the regions will need to agree to activating Article 50, as it seems that they will not get a veto after the decision of the Belfast court. What the Lords will do is another question. The Lords do not need to (and do not) care what people think. They could block Brexit indefinitely, or force May’s hand.

Force May’s hand to do what you wonder? The answer is obvious. If the current Parliament cannot authorise a hard-Brexit and a hard-Brexit (translated as exit from the Single Market in order to achieve this fictional control over immigration) is what May wants, we need a new Parliament. We can get a new Parliament only by having an early General Election.

The chips are on the table for Mrs May. This court decision means that she buries any dreams of a hard Brexit, or she brings her hard edged dreams in the form of a party manifesto (for disaster) to the people and see what happens.

Now, the alternative avenue, appealing the court decision, is not a very clever move. The decision rests on an interpretation of Article 50 as the beginning of a process leading inevitably to irreversible loss of rights (everyone in this trial agreed this to be so). If May appeals the decision to the Supreme Court, then (as a matter of EU law interpretation) the nature of Article 50 (the crux of the matter in this case) will need to be investigated. The Supreme Court will have no choice but to refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the EU for an interpretation of Article 50. If the CJEU returns the opinion that Article 50 is irreversible, there is no basis for overturning the High Court decision. If it says it is reversible, then the decision will probably be reversed, but May will have opened an avenue for a different government (or political pressure) to stop Brexit within the two year period through another referendum, or executive decision.

You understand therefore that appealing is a lose-lose situation for May.

What is the outcome for the merry Brexit circus? Soft Brexit or an election.

What role can you play? 1- If you are against Brexit, or in any case not insane (and could live with a soft Brexit, if it cannot be avoided altogether), and 2- are lucky to be a resident of Richmond, then you could vote for the Liberal Democrats in the Richmond Park by-election on December 1st. This way you achieve two things with one vote. You ensure that another MP against Brexit joins this Parliament (need I remind you that golden boy Zac is a Brexit supporter?) plus, you send a message to May that a hard Brexit manifesto will not fare well in the ballot box.

I leave you with this thought. If May is ignorant enough to appeal this decision, how fun would it be to have the process of withdrawal from the EU become the subject of a CJEU decision?

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@iGlinavos

Richmond Park is your chance to say ‘Enough’

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I live in North Barnes, this is part of the Richmond-Park constituency. As luck would have it, our Brexit supporting MP, ex-Tory Zac Goldsmith has resigned.

He has not resigned over his support for Brexit in direct contradiction to his constituents’ interests. He has resigned over the government’s apparent decision to authorise an extension of Heathrow airport.

I am not that bothered about Heathrow, while I sympathise with everyone around who cannot stand any more noise from planes over our heads.

I am bothered about Brexit. Mr Goldmshith is an example of new politics gone sour. Apart from being a posh Leaver, he ran a thoroughly disgusting mayoral campaign in 2016, which we lost to Sadiq Khan. He deserved to lose.

Now in an exercise in arrogance, instead of resigning the whip, he resigned his seat and seeks to be re-elected. For what? He cannot influence the Heathrow decision as an independent. The Tories have chosen not to oppose him. Why not? Because a perceived split in the Tory vote would hand the constituency back to the Liberal Democrats. Richmond had been a relatively safe Liberal seat up till 2010.

Labour is set to run a candidate, while the Greens probably will not.

None of the normal party politics matter in this case.

The constituency voted overwhelmingly for Remain. Mr Goldsmith does not represent us. Mr Goldsmith’s stance is an affront to the people of Richmond. His potential re-election would be an insult to every Remain voter.

As a British European I will never support a Tory Leaver. He does not represent us, or the thousands of Europeans who live with us, but cannot vote in this by-election.

The Liberal Democrats are the only force clearly opposed to Brexit. They are they only force that can send a message to the government and the world that the Brexit train-wreck must and can be stopped.

I urge everyone to join a #RemainAlliance against Brexit and support the Liberal Democrats and Sarah Olney in this election.

We make a stand against Brexit in Richmond.

For Britain

For Europe

For Remain

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@iGlinavos