Thank you to everyone who completed my Brexit Survey in the past two weeks. There is still time to give me your views and it only takes two minutes. I know a lot of people email this newsletter on to local groups they are members of – please do as the bigger the sample the more representative it is, though it is aimed at Hammersmith & Fulham residents. Only one person can respond from a single email address.
The response so far has been fascinating. Here are the toplines:
- 84% of Hammersmith residents would like to remain in the EU against 16% who would Leave. This compares to 70% for Remain in the 2106 Referendum, though my sample is slightly more Remain than the general population locally.
- It doesn’t make much difference whether we are leaving with a deal or without. 80% favour Remain over leaving with a deal and 87% over no deal
- The majority of respondents would like to see a People’s Vote (56%) deciding what happens now, followed by Parliament (28% – mainly revokers, I think) and the Government 9%.
- Overwhelmingly the main fear about leaving is the effect on the economy. 87% were worried about living standards post-Brexit. 70% thought it would weaken us internationally, and 50% that it would harm national security. Between 70% and 75% thought Brexit would make us a less open country, reduce the opportunities to work and live abroad and the rights of EU citizens in the UK. 68% thought there was a risk to peace in Ireland if we Leave. Only 8% had no concerns.
- 60% thought very positively about the EU and a further 28% that we are ‘better in than out’. Only 10% were relaxed about leaving at the end of this month.
- Perhaps most interesting were the people who would vote differently from 2016. Fewer than 5% who voted would switch from Remain to Leave or vice versa, but of 15% who did not vote in the Referendum, 14% would vote Remain and 1% Leave. I suspect many of these were too young to vote in 2016.
I don’t think it will surprise many readers to know that I won’t vote for Boris Johnson’s deal. But I do want to comment briefly on just how dreadful it is, far worse than Theresa May’s deal.
To avoid border checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic, May was prepared to keep all the UK in the Customs Union, Johnson is prepared to leave Northern Ireland in the EU and take the rest of the UK out – dumping the DUP. This is the price of getting Tory hardliner support (the ERG). They have also abandoned the DUP for a greater prize – a deregulated Great Britain with no alignment with the EU on trade, employment rights, food standards or environmental protections.
This heralds a race to the bottom, where to compete with other deregulated economies like the US we lower our own standards, while allowing them to exploit our markets. At best this means chlorinated chicken, at worst giant US healthcare companies asset stripping the NHS.
But by not aligning with the EU, the 50% of trade we currently do with our nearest neighbours would become much harder, and we would become much poorer.
Quite why anyone would vote for this I cannot imagine.
The focus in the Commons on Saturday was in the end on avoiding no deal. This week we may vote on the legislation Johnson needs for his deal and on a People’s Vote.
If Parliament votes for Johnson’s deal, I hope we will also require it to be confirmed by a People’s Vote with the alternative being Remain.
If we can’t agree a deal or a public vote, there will have to be a general election. I will stand on the Labour platform of giving the public a vote between a soft Brexit – customs union, single market and full alignment – and Remain. And I will also make clear that I will campaign for Remain.
People’s Vote March
There was a strong Hammersmith contingent among the million plus marchers who took to the streets on Saturday in support of a People’s Vote while MPs were arguing over Johnson’s deal. I know there are many different and strongly held views about what to do now with Brexit but with Parliament divided I think the only logical and the most consensual course of action is to let the public have the final say.