Founder member, Judith Leary-Joyce, reports on the evening with Lord Adonis we organised in the centre of St Albans on 6 September 2018
Lord Andrew Adonis is so funny! He did just what we asked him – he distracted us from the horror for one brief shining moment, made us laugh, while also inspiring and encouraging us to keep campaigning for a Peoples Vote on the Brexit deal.
We learned that he grew up in Borehamwood, which was very exciting for our newly formed, tiny group in said town. With heritage like that, they have to keep going! Like me, he remembers St Albans as a sleepy little town, before investment in the magical electrification of the train line. If you have any gripes about trains, by the way, he recommends blaming Chris Grayling - it’s all his fault.
Lord Adonis has spent the last few months visiting Leave areas talking with people to understand their thinking. He reckons that if the referendum question had been ‘Do you want a fundamental change in your relationship with Westminster” there would have been a very clear majority. People outside of the south have been ignored for too long and they’re fed up. But the answer is not ‘just to stop Brexit, it’s to stop Brexit and create change in Britain’. His thinking on this is detailed in his recent book with Will Hutton “Changing Britain” which is well worth a read.
Rees Mogg and Farage
Lord Adonis could clearly entertain for hours on the subject of R-M and Farage. On opposite sides of the Brexit divide, they meet up in the Green Room on a regular basis.
Turns out Rees-Mogg is as old fashioned and out of date as we all suspected. So in keeping with his approach to the world, Lord Adonis has challenged him to a duel - Facts at Dawn. LBC is the venue and he has yet to choose his Second. He wants to hear facts from R-M on a no-deal Brexit because he just can’t see how it can ever be negotiated. Turns out now that R-M and his cronies don’t actually have much of a plan to put forward, so he’s quite right.
On the subject of Immigration, he was quick to point out that our Anglo Saxon heritage means we are all immigrants - the clue is in the title - the Angles and Saxons migrated from Germany some time after the Romans.
We discovered that the Good Friday Agreement gives all of Ulster the right to an Irish Passport – maybe they’d extend the offer to the rest of the UK? Which had to bring him onto the subject of Farage’s children applying for German Passports - but I think you had to be there for that one.
What needs to happen
On a serious note, he believes we need honest debate on the issues. On immigration, he is a great supporter of identity cards, like other member states, and on giving grants to areas most affected rather than the austerity cut backs that have caused so many problems. He believes it goes to the heart of who we want to be as a people – a comment that really touched me.
On the issue of peace, he reminded us how easy it is to take our 70 years of peace in Europe for granted. No one saw the First World War coming, but with hindsight we know that it was preceded by massive trade wars. If the same happens again now we have no idea where it would end.
The People's Vote
Most Labour MPs and at least 30 Conservatives know we should stay. It will be hard for them to take the vote in Parliament given there is so much concern about the impact of Brexit, so they will want to go back to the country. We just need to let them know we’re with them.
So we need a million people converging on London on October 20th – we need to make it the biggest demonstration in history – to make clear that the choice has to come back to us.
The most telling statement to me was in a story about Harold Wilson:
When he was asked how he voted on the question of joining the Common Market, he confirmed that he voted Yes. ‘I didn’t want to hand the country over to the people who wanted to stay out’. And we can ask exactly the same question now:
Do you want the country to be run by the Leavers? Rees-Mogg, Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, David Davis? If the answer is No – then you need to get out with the rest of us and campaign – leaflet the streets, be on the market stall, write letters and MARCH YOUR SOCKS OFF!!
See you on October 20th on the People's Vote March for the Future
Read coverage of our event in the Herts Advertiser here.