Bremainers Ask Revisited – Hopes and Fears for 2024

Bremainers Ask Revisited – Hopes and Fears for 2024

Gina Miller: I fear the damage Brexit delusion is doing to our country, but election year brings real hope

Since the United Kingdom left the European Union at the start of this decade, the inevitable cost and disruption that comes with Brexit reality and the UK being a third country are coming home to roost, post-pandemic.

Full border checks on EU imports have been delayed five times – but come the end of this month, Brexit Britain must face the music. New border controls on animal and plant products have been dressed up by Ministers as a new-and-improved “Border Trade Operating Model”. Yet, according to Sky News, the changes will cost businesses £330m a year, on top of considerable additional costs for energy, staff, overheads and supplies during 2023.

Nearly half of SMEs are saying they’re spending 20-60% more than in 2022. Additionally, the Energy Bill Discount Scheme is set to end in March 2024, which will only make things worse with even higher bills, as the energy crisis is set to continue due to global uncertainty. These additional costs will inevitably be reflected in shopping baskets.

This is my first fear for 2024 – that a Britain already struggling with a prolonged and bitter cost of living crisis will be uniquely subject to more hardship as the Brexit damage deepens.

The Red Sea crisis has thrown international shipping into havoc, resulting in us experiencing the greatest challenge to global supply chains since the Covid-19 pandemic and the 2021 disruption of the Suez Canal. The prices charged for containers transporting an estimated 12% of global trade, worth more than $1tn (£790bn), via longer routes will have a huge knock-on effect on many goods. Companies as diverse as Tesla, Electrolux, IKEA, and Volvo are all ringing alarm bells – many are already halting production.

Add in the severe drought affecting the Panama Canal, the war in Ukraine, curtailed grain shipments via the Black Sea, and more frequent extreme weather, and I, like many, am left in fear of the impact on global supply chains.

The urgency to adapt and reroute not only comes with serious financial consequences – but also dramatic environmental impacts. Increases in shipping traffic, leading to severe changes in underwater noise, will affect fish stocks and marine mammals. Before the Red Sea crisis, if shipping was a country, it would be the sixth largest greenhouse gas emitter worldwide. Now, ships coming from Asia to Europe and the UK are being rerouted around the southern tip of Africa, emitting more carbon dioxide. Emissions will also be increased as manufacturers turn to more air freight.

The EY ITEM Club, a leading UK economic forecasting group, now says there is a “good chance” that the UK slipped into a technical recession at the end of 2023 – meaning we had two negative quarters in a row. While the reality of this will be confirmed to be true, or not, in February when the official GDP data is posted – it comes as no surprise.

In these circumstances, our country can no longer afford the delusion and conceit that there are Brexit benefits. The evidence that Brexit is costing the UK around £100 billion a year due to our economy being 4% smaller than it would have been following pre-Brexit trends is undeniable. UK business investment is growing 19% more slowly than the G7 average, with the negative impacts of Brexit predicted to gradually escalate, reaching some 5-6% of GDP, or about £2,300 per capita by 2035.

Another fear is that people blame the entire political system for the crisis they are experiencing. That mistrust and apathy leads to voters either staying at home or being attracted by populist propaganda, as we’re seeing with the Reform Party.

I set up the True & Fair Party to tell it as it is on Brexit, on political reform and the necessity of a health and happiness economy centred on wellbeing. To bridge the growing division permeating through our conversations, communities, and country.

The increased support we are getting, particularly in our top target constituency of Epsom and Ewell, is giving me hope for 2024.

Covid has muddied the waters in terms of damage to the UK, but the pandemic also delayed the harm of leaving the union. And there is no denying real harm is being done to almost every sector. The Britain that gifted Boris Johnson a thumping majority in 2019 is no longer the Britain we live in. The wave of post-Brexit delusion he rode is crashing on the rocks of reality.

Many people now know they were sold a pup – election day will be judgement day. With the polls consistently at between 58%-63% to rejoin the European Union (close to 70% if you strip out the over 65s), I am hopeful that the next election will result in a Government that recognises that Britain’s place is back inside the EU.

The Liberal Democrats and large parts of the Labour Party are alive to this reality. They know it in their hearts, but they dare not speak their mind. The True & Fair Party is here to give a voice to voiceless voters who say it’s time to end the pretence and start on the road to rejoin.

Even one True & Fair seat in Parliament after the next election would strike an enormous blow against Brexit and keep the flame for rejoining well and truly alive.

Achieving that is my overriding hope for 2024. If you want Britain back around the top table in Europe, join with me to make it happen.


Prof. Juliet Lodge: My hopes for 2024

Peace. Gentleness. Fairness. Equity. Tolerance. An end to poverty and tyranny. Political honesty. Governments respecting and serving citizens and upholding international law.

Looking just at the UK, evidence that Tory Brexit has busted Britain inundates us daily. I hope that we recall the relative calm of life pre-2016 and recognise that we neither have to continue to expect and accept misgovernment, nor shrug off emerging evidence of tawdry mismanagement, complacent, socially uncaring, lazy, ignorant and arrant incompetence, ministerial lies and depraved bungocracy. We did better then and we can do better in 2024.

My hopes for 2024 include us learning from and working with our EU partners, contributing to democratic renewal domestically and building democratic resilience in the reforming EU. We share the EU’s hopes and investment in combating disinformation, and commitment to frustrate foreign interference and corrupt players gaming democracy with malign intent.

I hope that critical reflection can triumph over the fake certainties implied by binary black or white options, and the lure of automated, inevitably biased decisions. 2024 must start the process to end the deprivation imposed by limiting choice, whether by biased humans or by big online platforms. Choice must be shared and cherished so we can try to be innovative in trying to realise a better world, not least for our younger generations and children. Wouldn’t we welcome the EU Childrens’ Participation Platform and efforts to ensure equality for all, no matter how challenging?

Only vandals would drag us out of the ECHR, so I hope that 2024 will see the UK electing a Government of integrity, willing to face the need to be a sane, safe, trustable, tolerant, fair, empathetic, constructive, ethical and forward-looking player on the world stage. One committed to realising the best for ordinary people. One informed enough to understand that kindness, commitment to upholding human rights, sustaining the rights we had in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and boosting a welfare state, is not weakness but a sign of a mature society.

I hope that the UK, like the EU, will act on the need for constitutional change and reform; that a UK Government will have the vision to include proportional representation in its aspirations for a fair society; that it will show understanding and realism over Northern Ireland; and that it will be courageous and bold enough to insist on the swift restoration of rights scammed from us all, unions, women and children since Brexit.

I want the deceit over the UK’s need to adhere to high EU standards, and to be in the customs union and the single market to end and be replaced by openness over why mutual removal of physical, technical and virtual borders between the UK and EU were realised in the first place: we all benefit from the four freedoms of movement of goods, services, capital and people. The disingenuous stupidity of the Conservatives’ divisive hostile environment perverts what the UK is and can again be.

People in the EU value EU citizenship and are more aware of its benefits, as are we, as the loss of it hits home, harming the lives of those with family across the EU and our ability to travel around Europe unencumbered by border delays. I hope 2024 will see the restoration of mutual freedom of movement between the EU and UK for families, and for anyone wanting to enjoy the advantages of ErasmusPlus. There is much we could learn from the EU to become more equal and inclusive. There is much we could choose to do together to combat those exploiting immigration from countries outside the EU.

There is also a great deal we could learn from the EU on AI and valuing and protecting individual rights, privacy, autonomy and integrity. We cannot afford morally, let alone economically, to deviate from EU standards, norms and values.

Like so many of us across Europe, I hope for open, humane, climate-protecting Governments of conscience, committed to facilitating public participation, public understanding of how societies work, and using public money for the public good and community.

A general election in the UK before the Euro-elections to the European Parliament in June would be welcome.

I hope 2024 brings and entrenches ethical Government by design and default in the UK and EU as the norm not the exception.


Peter Corr: My biggest hope for 2024, year of elections, is that my fears don’t actually come true.

Watching progress towards Rejoin has been satisfying, although also frustrating. Seeing the polling numbers slowly but surely increase for Rejoin, while simultaneously, politicians going backwards. Such as Ed Davey of the Liberal Democrats joining Starmer in pretending Brexit can work, or that people aren’t talking about Brexit anymore, while all the things he claims they are talking about are directly caused by or made worse by Brexit. I want to see this Government gone, but it’s really hard to consider supporting other politicians who are also clearly lying to our faces to get into power.

The Tories have gone full batshit, to paraphrase a certain MP. Or have they? I believe the Rwanda farce has one goal and that is to force ‘leaving the ECHR’ onto the agenda. They could even put it in their manifesto, and make the whole election about it. Like a crap sequel to the Brexit election of 2019. Would enough of the country fall for that? I don’t think so, but I also never believed we’d vote for Brexit, so maybe I’m not the best judge. One of my biggest fears is definitely the thought that the crazy policies this lot have been coming out with lately could be given an actual mandate.

Over in the land of guns, it seems more and more likely by the day that Trump will win the election. What will that mean for the war happening in Europe right now? The EU should hurry up and fast-track Ukraine’s membership before then if that’s possible. As a side note, if it is possible, I don’t see why the UK rejoining can’t also be fast-tracked. Just a thought. I think Trump winning would have serious implications for NATO, Ukraine, Palestine and, well, the whole world. Another of my biggest fears.

With World War III being openly discussed by military experts and the media, along with even conscription – I think this should be a fear for all of us. Would I be comfortable, as a veteran myself, seeing either of my children being conscripted into the forces? Absolutely not. War is never the answer. But if it were not a choice, I would genuinely rather see them be conscripted into an EU Army than the British Army led by our own lying politicians. And that includes a government led by Starmer.

So, with dark news wherever you turn, it’s more important than ever to positively campaign for our hopes in 2024. That’s what we’ll be doing at National Rejoin March, which continues to grow and gain traction, both online and offline. It’s giving people hope and giving me hope. The team and everyone I meet along the journey helps me forget the Ed Daveys, the Sunaks and the Trumps of the world. My biggest hope of 2024, apart from for my fears not coming true, is that our collective hope will begin to translate into action by our politicians.

n the February newsletter we will be featuring Prof. Chris Grey who is Emeritus Professor of Business and Management Studies at Royal Holloway, University of London. Since 2016 Chris has been writing the Brexit & Beyond Blog, and he is the author of Brexit Unfolded.

If you would like to submit any questions for Chris for consideration, please email them to no later than Wednesday 7 February.

Bremainers Ask 2023 highlights

Bremainers Ask 2023 highlights

What did this year’s contributors have to say about rejoining the EU?

Gina Miller: What do you think will be the path and timescale to rejoining the EU?

Under EU law, the UK is now a third country, so it would have to reapply and undergo the whole accession procedure from scratch, under Article 49 of the Treaty of European Union. Art. 49 states that “any European State” which respects the common EU values and is “committed to promoting them may apply to become a member of the union”. These values include “human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law”. In other words, even though our present Government is lurching to the right, we would still qualify.

On average, it has taken approximately nine years for recent members to join, from submitting a membership application to signing an accession treaty, for example Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, and Lithuania. But our having been members for 40 years would be a huge advantage over these countries. The fact that we have not diverged significantly from EU rules and regulations post Brexit is also beneficial. New border checks on EU imports have been delayed for a fifth time until January 2024, and the requirement for UK manufactured goods to have a UKCA instead of a EUCA mark from 2025 has been scrapped.

In other areas we are actively aligning with the EU: Horizon; aligning with the EU timeline for phasing out petrol and diesel cars; new food standards; and recoupling our electricity trading with the EU.

The question is purely a political one. It took Sweden and Finland only three years from application to the signing of an accession treaty. I see no reason why this time frame is not feasible for the UK, especially as we now have Poland and Ukraine as supporters of us rejoining.


Dominic Grieve: Why are our politicians so reluctant to talk about Brexit and rejoining the EU when the public have demonstrably changed their minds?

The public has clearly concluded that Brexit has not worked out as they hoped, but that is a different thing from saying they want to go back in. Returning will not be on the same terms we enjoyed when we left and will be a complex negotiation. This is why politicians avoid the issue. As time passes, however, it will become unavoidable, as it becomes obvious that there is no substitute to our building a much closer relationship with the EU.


Mike Galsworthy: How could a future rejoin campaign learn from the mistakes of 2016 to make a positive case for selling EU membership to British voters next time round?

Well, that’s why the rejoin campaign is starting right now and learning right now! You cannot wait on last minute persuasion; you have to try and win before the contest itself actually starts. For me, the biggest lesson from 2016 was exactly that. By 2016, the Leave side had campaign veterans championing Brexit. They’d been at it for 25 years. They knew each other, they’d tested lines on it, toured around, found financial backers and sympathetic media. The Stronger In campaign, when it came together in late 2015, was constructed of people who were woefully naïve on matters European, and green as green could be on campaigning. So, for me, lesson one has always been to build, train and fully equip the army long before the battle. And if you look at what we have actually built since 2016, it is quite phenomenal. We have lots of veterans around, lots of hard knocks, lots of experience and lots of local groups who have lived through the tough times. We’ve built character and resources – community online and community knowledge about our core arguments – and now we’re really building central capacity at pace.

That’s the primary lesson. The second lesson is to be able to go out and meet people at their point of need. The huge comms errors of both Stronger In and People’s Vote was to think that endlessly repeating “economic damage” and “we demand a people’s vote” as pretty much catch-all campaign messages was going to turn people around.

Society is much more granular. People care about their own and their community identities, and community priorities. Yes, Vote Leave was saying “take back control”, but they were also going into actual communities and telling them “take back control so you can catch more fish from your own waters”, “take back control and scrap the stupid common agricultural policy”, “take back control of immigration to clear out these Eastern European workers that are sleeping six men to a room and undercutting what you can reasonably charge”, “take back control so we can get your Bangladeshi family over here once we stop the flood of European free movement taking their place”.

You see? That’s how the messaging was tailored to meet people at their point of need/desire. Yes, it was all BS and shamefully so, but it was all based upon what different communities wanted. When did PV do anything like that? We absolutely need to understand community need – and meet those communities at their point of need with our offerings, but unlike the Leave campaign, make sure they are solid promises and those communities stay onboard all the way to delivery. Brexit is failing because the promises didn’t hold up. Rejoin will be a success if the promises do.

Prof. Juliet Lodge: Many believe that the EU would be cautious about considering any UK application to rejoin. Do you agree?

Yes and no. Yes, because the Conservative Governments appear to have flippantly squandered achievements and wallow in toddler theatrics instead of genuinely seeking to have a constructive, working relationship with our closest allies and partners.

Yes, because there seems to have been a lack of understanding at the most basic level about how we worked when in the EU, and how the EU has worked (well) and developed progressive political agendas and policies without us. Yes, because purely from the point of view of presentation, too many Government and opposition politicians display deep ignorance about political realities in Europe and the UK’s increasingly irrelevant position in it.

And yes, because many feel that Article 50 should not be invoked frivolously in the expectation that its consequences can be overturned the moment things don’t quite accord with what the state who invoked it wanted. I feel that Article 50 should never have been included years later as an amendment to the original founding treaties. When the EU was created, there was no clause to leave it. European integration was the promise to work to solve problems together, in effect, forever.

No, because many EU leaders and politicians and officials, business and civil society representatives would welcome us back in the EU as soon as possible. Why? The UK co-created some of the greatest steps leading the EU to become what it is today: freedom of movement, the single market (warts and all), cooperation on defence and security, ErasmusPlus, health, climate, food and safety standards, police and judicial cooperation, and many more. The UK helped draft and agree some of the regulations which are acknowledged as genuine world standards, including the GDPR.

The friendship group created by Terry Reintke MEP is looking after ‘our star’ until we return to the EU as members. By then, many of those who knew the UK as a constructive EU member may have retired so we can’t just rely on them to be our advocate. But we can do our bit on a people-to-people basis to sustain, expand and deepen our links. Above all, we can show that a country outside the EU, which has a bigger pro-EU movement than any of the EU’s current members, is educated, interested, dynamic and a trustworthy partner who would add value to the EU.

It’s our job to educate ourselves in order to give our children a fighting chance of being in the EU, enjoying the opportunities that arise from having shared values and a commitment to democracy and working together with their European peers to improve the well-being of their communities. Isolation on a global stage is daft, on a regional stage it heralds oblivion.

Siobhan Benita: Do you foresee the UK rejoining the EU? If so, what would be the timescale and steps on the way?

I absolutely foresee the UK re-joining the EU. As time passes, the economic damage that Brexit has caused for the UK will become increasingly obvious and fewer and fewer people will be prepared to defend it (or even admit they voted for it). We are already seeing a shift in the narrative with papers like The Telegraph and Daily Mail running articles highlighting some of the negative consequences of Brexit. In addition, pressure for the UK to re-join will come from younger generations as they reach voting age and want to access all the freedoms that we previously enjoyed as part of EU membership.

Given that I would like us to re-join the EU tomorrow, the timescale will never be as quick as I want but I do think it’s possible for it to happen in a matter of years rather than decades. In terms of the main steps along the way, the immediate priority is to get the Tories out with tactical voting at the next general election. I also believe that we desperately need electoral reform and a move to a more proportional system should ensure that we never again have a government with so much power but so little reflection of the voting public as a whole.