Bremainers Ask ….. Marina Purkiss

Bremainers Ask ….. Marina Purkiss

Political Commentator, broadcaster and co-host of The Trawl podcast, Marina is very active on social media, with 289,500 Twitter followers. She has her own show, The Table, on BylineTV and regularly appears on the Jeremy Vine Show.

Valerie Chaplin: Thank you for your no holds barred reporting on “The Trawl” and “Bylines TV”. Do you think, if Labour wins the next election, they will change their “Make Brexit Work” stance, as so many now are realising Brexit was a terrible mistake?

Sadly I’m starting to think Labour will maintain their very hard pro-Brexit stance if they get into power. Keir Starmer has failed repeatedly to leave the door ajar for people like myself who are so-called Remainers and desperate at least for closer alignment to the EU and its single market and customs union, as well as freedom of movement. Starmer also appears to be ignoring all those people who, polls show, are starting to recognise that Brexit is a huge catastrophe for the UK, and he seems to be doing this to appease the red wall voters who voted unanimously for Brexit.

In part, I understand why. The Brexit word is like a touchpaper and he will be hammered by the right-wing press and the Tories if he shows any indication of actually going back into the EU or even just aligning the UK with the single market and customs union. That said, it’s really sad if that is the case because everyone and their dog can see that Brexit is a bad idea. The problem he’s got now is that he’s been so final in his wording about Brexit that it feels there is no more conversation to be had about it. Therefore, if Labour do get into power and do start going back on their word and decide that no, they don’t want to make Brexit work, and yes, they do want to start progressing towards closer alignment with the EU, then they’re going to look like massive liars, and people who lie to get into power, just like the Conservatives – which is dangerous and frankly depressing, given the already incredibly low trust in our politics and politicians, so it feels a bit like a no-win situation.

Helen Johnston: Brexit fans are getting harder to find, but they are still out there. What advice would you give to someone engaging with a Brexiter to try and persuade them away from the ‘dark side’?

I would say, most importantly, don’t speak to people as if they are stupid (even if you think they might be), because straight away you’ll get their back up and the argument is unwinnable. I would just ask them questions about whether their life has improved since Brexiting, whether they feel that what was promised was delivered, if it hasn’t been – why not? And if/when it is – what are they expecting?

If they go down the road of things like ‘sovereignty’, you can ask them what that really means. If they mention controlling our borders, I like to point out that that the ‘migrant crisis’ and record numbers of channel boat crossings, demonstrate that, actually, we lost control of our borders when we Brexited, when we withdrew from the Dublin Agreement, which allowed us to send migrants back if they didn’t qualify for asylum. Or you can ask them why our economic recovery is the lowest of all G7 countries – despite us all weathering the storms of Covid or the war in Ukraine. That tends to get them thinking, even if they dare not admit it.

Also, I think so many people didn’t realise how many benefits there were to being in the EU. Plus now we are seeing the cost of living crisis, we’re seeing interest rates rising, inflation soaring – now don’t get me wrong, this is being experienced the world over due to global shocks, but why is the UK faring so badly? It’s because of Brexit. Brexit isn’t the sole cause, but it has exacerbated almost everything.

Everything is in crisis now thanks to 12 years of Tory rule, but in particular interest rates, inflation, the NHS, social care, etc. – much of this down to our super tight labour market, thanks to Brexit.

And we need to reassure people we’re debating with that it’s ok – we don’t blame them. After all, they were expertly lied to, promised a Utopia, so I don’t blame these people for voting for it. But I would just say, try to wake up now and see that what you were promised is not going to be delivered. And the opportunities that they talk about as well, like deregulation, is only going to benefit the 0.01% of very rich people and very rich business owners. It’s also going to make it even harder to trade with our partners in the EU if you have no regulations.

Tony Isaac: The Tory Government seems to be running out of road with ever more toxic rhetoric against migrants and “wokery” as a last desperate tactic to stay in power. Is this the beginning of the end for the right-wing ideology behind Brexit?

Do you know what? I think it may be. I think what we are seeing now is what is left of the Tory party, the dregs if we’re honest, clutching to whatever “woke wars” they can, to try and keep people angry and divided, and to keep them in power. And the migrant crisis, or rather the Home Office crisis, as I like to call it, is a vehicle for doing that. The use of words like “invasion” by Suella Braverman was just so inflammatory, and done on purpose.

And then you’ve got, sadly, Rishi Sunak, who has said that it is one of his main priorities to fix the migration crisis. Now when you actually think about how much the migrant crisis impacts people in their day to day lives, versus the huge cost of living crisis which has been exacerbated by Brexit, which has basically been delivered by 12 years of Tory governance and austerity, why aren’t people more concerned about that? Well, because the Tory Government and the right-wing press make sure that they deflect away from this, to focus people’s energy and anger on the migrant crisis, when instead they should be focusing on the Tories.

So I think they are going to cling to this rhetoric for as long as possible to avoid a light being shone on them. But yes, I agree, they are running out of road.

Lisa Burton: I enjoyed Byline TV’s The Table with yourself Supertanskiii and Dan Hodges. Do you think there should be more room given to debating with those who have completely opposing views?

This is a tricky one, because I quite like to engage with people and try and break down their arguments. A bit like the way that James O’Brien does, and he’s very good at doing this, just by asking questions.

The problem I’ve got, which is why I’ve turned down going on channels like GB News, is because sometimes you run the risk of giving validity to someone whose argument doesn’t deserve it, when you engage with them. So, for example, you can argue about Brexit and people have got their thoughts, and you can break it down with facts and they come back at you with their “alternative facts”. But, with people like climate change deniers, or people who intentionally spout misinformation, I worry that if someone like myself were to have a public debate with them, it brings credence to their viewpoint, in that pursuit of false equivalence. So there could be a danger in actually letting them air their views, and perhaps having people believe them.

So I think it’s a really difficult question, and you have to use your own judgement to decide whether that person is worth engaging with in good faith, and could there be a good outcome? If not, it’s probably best to steer clear.

Steve Wilson: With so many followers and your willingness to speak out you must attract a lot of trolls. How do you deal with the criticism, negativity and abuse?

I tend to ignore as much as I can. Obviously, I’m human and there are some things that if I see them, they really get to me. I posted a tweet just a few hours after giving birth and was expecting some backlash… It was in response to Nicola Sturgeon saying she detests Tories, and I basically said:

“I’ve just given birth, and I’m full of the kind of drugs that make you love everyone, and I still detest the Tories.”

It was tweeted in jest and my eyes were still popping around in my skull from all the post-labour drugs as I struggled to type it! It got huge traction, but there were some very personal replies, quite horrible, suggesting I wasn’t a good mum, basically telling me I should be focusing on my baby. One person actually called me a sick woman. Because I was in a bit of a vulnerable state when I read those, it made me feel awful. But I just muted the conversation, and didn’t look back. And I think that’s a discipline that I have learned, and one needs to learn when you are on Twitter. You need to have the discipline not to engage, not to read everything, because some people are going to be horrible and they get their satisfaction from getting a reaction from you and knowing that they’ve got to you. If you don’t engage, you starve them of oxygen and eventually they lose interest, which is why I think I actually get by with very little in the way of abuse – that I notice anyway!

David Eldridge: How do you foresee the next election? When will it be, and what do you think the result will be?

Interestingly, I would like a coalition Government. My worry with a purely Labour Government is that Keir Starmer would not then feel any pressure to deliver on proportional representation. For me, this is the biggest issue, because proportional representation, that huge, desperately needed overhaul to our voting system means that we will never find ourselves in the frustrating position of being in a two-party race, which has made us so divided, and has also created such apathy in the electorate. So, for me, that is the best outcome. Whether that will be the case or not, I’m not sure.

I think the way Keir Starmer is going, especially with the finality with which he talks about never going back into the single market and customs union, never discussing freedom of movement, runs the risk of alienating lots of would-be Labour voters. And if he continues in the same vein, I think more people who feel politically homeless, who would have voted Labour, will vote for other left-wing parties, which could then end up in coalition, which is my preference.

And what would I encourage people to do, if, like me, you detest the Tories and just want them out? Well, you may need to just suck it up for now and use your vote tactically – by that I mean, on voting day just hold your nose, if you need to, and vote for the party most likely to unseat the Tories. Yes, you may hate Labour, but I can assure you, the Tories are worse. And for up-to-date guidance on who you should tactically vote for in your consistency to do just that, be sure to follow The Movement Forward on Twitter (@MVTFWD) or visit 

Eyes on the prize!

Bremainers Ask ……. Peter Corr

Bremainers Ask ……. Peter Corr

Peter Corr is an ex-army HGV driver who lost his job thanks to Brexit and decided to do something rather special to protest about that. He set up the campaign group ‘UK Rejoin the EU’ to fight against Brexit and recently organised the National Rejoin March – the biggest pro-EU, anti-Brexit demonstration and rally the UK has seen for years.

Lisa Burton: Through organising the National Rejoin March, you have been collaborating with many groups and organisations and therefore hearing a lot of voices and opinions. How have you found the experience?

I found the experience to be a huge learning exercise and really fun.  I’ve met lots of different people, every single one of them enthusiastic and infinitely more knowledgeable than me.  In just a few short months, I feel I’ve made more genuine friends than I have ever had before and it has shown, in my opinion, that working together in an equal and collaborative way can really get things done.

Did serving in the army have anything to do with your passion for being part of the EU?

Until recently if you’d have asked me that, I would probably have said no.  But recently I began to think it has quite a lot to do with it.  No matter what people think about the armed forces, while you are serving you genuinely feel like you are doing a public service, protecting your country and its people.  It gets kind of engraved into you.  Since leaving the Army, I can’t honestly say I continued that public service in any meaningful way.  But seeing the country I love being utterly destroyed by politicians lying to win goals that can do nothing but harm made that sense of public duty kick back in.  I wasn’t prepared to sit back and give up.  I wanted to fight for what is clearly right for our country and the people in it.  I think that sense of public duty is still in me and that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing.


Valerie Chaplin: What are your plans for the future re marches, protests and campaigning?

This is genuinely the start of something I want to continue and grow for as long as necessary until we have rejoined the EU.  Not the single market.  Not the customs union.  But fully Rejoined the EU.  Direct action takes many forms, from protests and marches like we started with (NRM London), to street stalls, concerts, petitions, lobbying, anything and everything we can think of, and as often as humanly possible.  We all sat back and practically gave up for too long, mostly due to Covid in reality, but we need to now continue campaigning much stronger than we ever have and not give in.


Ruth Woodhouse: In June 2021 you organised the online event “Music Sounds Better with EU” to highlight the problems faced by musicians post Brexit. Has the situation for artists changed at all since then and what is the government’s current position?

Unfortunately no, not really.  The creative industry is close to my heart, so I sometimes may give more precedence to it than other industries.  Any job which involved working across Europe has been affected by Brexit.  But back to the creative industries, for up-and-coming workers or artists (it affects everyone in the industry, from lighting technicians to DJs to full orchestras) it’s just over.  A new artist can no longer afford to have a mini tour across Europe to help kick start a career like so many did during our time in the EU.  It’s having an affect the other way round too.  At festivals in the UK, for example, we’re missing out on seeing some amazing artists from Europe.  It genuinely breaks my heart, and Music Sounds Better With EU is another thing which is just the start and we have plans for in the near future.

Steve Wilson: Did the National Rejoin March day go as anticipated and how do you feel about the fight to rejoin the EU going forward?

The first National Rejoin March honestly went way better than I or the team could have possibly hoped.  The numbers that attended were phenomenal (50,000 according to our Police Liaison), the entire day was extremely positive and fun, and the goal was met – which was to get the word ‘Rejoin’ in as much of the UK media as possible.  Even this exceeded our expectations, as we reached the news all over Europe, Australia and even America.  The overwhelming message from the feedback since the day, is that people have ‘hope’ again, including me.  We are going nowhere, until we’ve rejoined the EU.


David Eldridge: With the Labour party and Rejoin both polling at over 50%, surely Starmer can afford to lose a few pro-Brexit voters and adopt a more EU friendly stance. What do you think the Labour party should do now?

I completely agree that Labour can afford to lose the diminishing number of people who still, despite everything, support Brexit.  The polls as I type this suggest a 57% support for Rejoining the EU.  That is without ANY mainstream campaign.  That is without ANY mainstream politician punting for it.  It’s without practically anything at all advertising Rejoin as the solution to the problems we face.  I honestly believe, with just a little bit of the above, that 57% number will rocket, and the first party to adopt a full-on Rejoin policy will massively benefit from it at any general election.  We can ALL see now with our own eyes what life is like out the EU and compare it directly to what life was like in the EU.  This makes for such an easy campaign for Rejoin, in my opinion, that it baffles me why the parties are still holding back from it.  Just do it!  People need you to do it.  Now.


It’s clear that rejoining the EU will be a step-by-step process. What should the first steps be?

I don’t personally believe it is.  For example, the single market.  One of the biggest lies Brexit was won with, was that we can’t make our own rules and laws.  So, if we were JUST in the single market, that lie would become a truth.  We’d be accepting rules and laws made in the EU and we’d have no say in them, being out the EU.  To me, that’s a harder thing to sell than just Rejoining the EU.  Rejoin the EU and we have the single market, but with seats at the table (again) writing those rules and laws.  If the UK-wide parties don’t step up and fast, then the first ‘step’ should be fighting for PR so those parties no longer hold the full power they used to.  Then Rejoiners can get people in Parliament who are not from the traditional parties, such as people in the Rejoin the EU Party, who would argue for us.  This is my personal view, not that of ‘NRM’.


Helen Johnston: Do you feel the public mood is changing in the UK as the harm Brexit has caused becomes more apparent and harder to blame on covid, Ukraine, etc.? 

Absolutely!  And it’s undeniable.  Research piece after research piece clearly shows how economies in the rest of Europe and other parts of the world have almost recovered to pre-pandemic levels in so many ways, while the UK still lags behind.  There’s only one thing different in the UK, we’ve imposed economic sanctions on ourselves.  We’ve added costs to our imports and exports.  We’ve ruined relationships with our biggest trading partner.  We’ve opened up workers’ rights to a more and more far-right government that just wants to trash them.  Again, the list is endless, and undeniably because of the effects of Brexit.  Of course, other factors affect us too.  But everything bad happening in the world is made worse in the UK because of Brexit.  The polls clearly show people are waking up to this fact.


What do you think campaigners need to be doing to persuade more people to support the Rejoin movement?

Be positive.  ONLY positive.  No more “this is what we lose” campaigning.  Flip it to “this is what we gain if we rejoin” campaigning.  So ,don’t say “we lost freedom of movement because of Brexit”.  Say “we will gain freedom to live, love and work in 27 other countries if we rejoin”.  Don’t say “our NHS is crumbling due to staff shortages because of Brexit”.  Say “Let’s Rejoin the EU to help the staff shortages in the NHS”.  Every negative thing caused by Brexit can be flipped to be a positive for Rejoining the EU, and I believe that’s how we should all conduct the Rejoin campaign.  Purely positively.  And do it as often as possible, not just online in our bubbles, but offline, outside the bubble.  Direct action.  That’s what ‘National Rejoin March’ as a “brand” is all about.


Anon: Many seem to believe that the EU would be wary about any future application from the UK to rejoin. Are they right to be concerned, and if so, how do we convince the EU otherwise?

I don’t believe they are right to be concerned.  But I understand why they are.  Who would honestly blame the EU for not ever wanting us back after the nonsense we’ve caused for years now?  However, the EU doesn’t work like that.  It’s not working based on silly rhetoric or ‘feelings’.  It works on reality, truth and what’s good for its citizens.  The UK rejoining the EU, but taking it seriously this time, electing MEPs who want to go to the EU Parliament to help build futures, not wreck the place like Farage and co. did: that is a good thing for the UK, the EU and the world.  We had both Guy Verhofstadt and Terry Reintke speak at the National Rejoin March, and we deliberately picked them because they both often say, as sitting MEPs, that the EU will take us back, that they’ve left a light on, and it will not take as long as some people say.  So, use them as examples when you hear the argument that the EU wouldn’t have us back.  They will, as soon as they know we want to – and we mean it.  Check out both their speeches as soon as we release them, they should fill you with hope.  They did for me

Finally, I would just like to say thank you to everyone at Bremain in Spain, for everything you’ve done for the NRM and everything you’ve been doing in your many years of pro-European campaigning. You are honestly an inspiration to us all.


Coming next month:


We are delighted to welcome Marina Purkiss – Political commentator, broadcaster and co-host of The Trawl Podcast. Marina is active on social media, with 288,000 Twitter followers, and has recently appeared on Bylines TV and the Jeremy Vine Show. If you wish to put a question to Marina, please email us at before 8 November. 

Bremainers Ask….. Baroness Sarah Ludford

Bremainers Ask….. Baroness Sarah Ludford

Since 1997, Baroness Sarah Ludford has been a member of the House of Lords and is currently the Liberal Democrat’s Europe and Brexit spokesman.

She was a Member of the European Parliament for London from 1999 to 2014, working mainly on EU security, justice and human rights issues and on EU foreign affairs including as vice-chair of the EP delegation to the US.

A qualified barrister, Sarah has worked in Whitehall, in the European Commission and in the City for Lloyd’s of London and American Express. Sarah was a local councillor for 8 years during the 1990s in the London Borough of Islington.

Keith Glazzard

Is there any justification at all for changing Human Rights legislation in the UK?

Thankfully, one of the few sensible things the Truss government is doing is drop the Bill of Rights Bill which would have gutted the Human Rights Act. However, we cannot lower our guard because the fear is that this right-wing government will simply try to insert into a range of new legislation the horrors that the BORB would have delivered in one place.

There is no justification for substantially changing the Human Rights Act, which has proven its value for nearly a quarter of a century. In particular, it ‘brought rights home’ so that claimants no longer have to make the long and expensive trek to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (which of course is separate from the EU) to seek to enforce their rights, but can do so in domestic courts.

I thoroughly concur with the views expressed in this letter in June from the Joint Committee on Human Rights, on which I sit.

The Independent Human Rights Act Review led by former Appeal Court judge Sir Peter Gross – ignored by the unlamented Dominic Raab as it largely gave the HRA a clean bill of health – suggested just a few relatively minor reforms, which can be read in the executive summary of their report. Sir Peter also gave evidence a few weeks ago to Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights (on which I sit). Here are the transcript and the recording.

A major recommendation of Sir Peter’s review was to increase ‘public ownership of rights’ through greater public and civic education. I thoroughly endorse this call, as the myth peddled by much of the press that the HRA only assists criminals and illegal immigrants is untrue but highly persuasive and corrosive. As we saw, the rights of people in care homes – not least, their right to life – was a big casualty of the Covid pandemic.


Michael Soffe

How would you convince me (as a 110% “Rejoiner”) to vote for the Lib Dems in the next election?

Valerie Chaplin

Why are the LibDems not supporting the call to rejoin the EU when the majority of the British public now think Brexit was a mistake?

Lisa Burton

It was good to see you speak at the National Rejoin March. What would you say to those who say it is too early to discuss re-joining the EU?

I am grouping these three questions together as they raise essentially the same ‘Rejoin’ issue. The Liberal Democrats have passed several conference motions post-Brexit, but the latest one was in March 2022 which reaffirmed the party’s support for a longer-term objective of UK membership of the EU.

I think a key paragraph is “Conference therefore recognises that as the UK seek to build a closer partnership with Europe, it must first convince EU member states that the UK is serious about rebuilding the relationship and forging stronger links, which can only be built back gradually over time.” The same applies to public opinion in the UK. The full policy paper which the motion endorses is here.

Given the awful mess Liz Truss has got us into in terms of our EU relationship, seeking to breach the Northern Ireland Protocol unilaterally – and unable even to say whether President Macron is friend or foe! – a gradual ‘road map’ approach simply reflects the political and economic realities.

Had it not been for our September conference having to be cancelled due to the sad death of the Queen, we would have debated (and undoubtedly passed) our first ‘sectoral’ motion deriving from our road map policy, on UK-EU cooperation on foreign and security policy.

I would also draw attention to this excellent Times article (26 September) by Edward Lucas, a senior journalist as well as LibDem parliamentary candidate in City of London and Westminster, on LibDem policy.

So while we do not call for ‘Rejoin Now’ as that is simply impractical, our commitment to the end goal of rejoining is not in any doubt whatsoever, and I shall be speaking at the rescheduled National Rejoin March on 22 October.

Sue Scarrott

Can the Labour party be persuaded to dispense with the undemocratic first-past-the-post voting system in favour of proportional representation?

The jury is out on whether Labour can be persuaded to abandon FPTP in favour PR. John Harris observed in the Guardian that ‘Polling suggests that 83% of Labour members now support electoral reform. In the build-up to its conference this week, about 140 constituency parties have submitted motions calling for exactly that’ but ‘Unfortunately, Keir Starmer and his allies still see changing our systems of power and politics as an irritating distraction, and are clearly terrified that any conversations about coalitions and partnerships will be a gift to the Tories.’

A conference resolution proposing a new voting system is due to be debated as I write this. The deputy political editor of the Guardian tweeted that she expected it to include ‘Labour must make a commitment to introduce proportional representation for general elections in the next manifesto’ – but we will see!


David Eldridge

What, for you personally, has been the worst aspect of Brexit?

We are all losers in a material sense, as imports and exports have become more expensive and burdened by red tape, through the loss of amenities we used to enjoy in the Single Market and Customs Union such as free data roaming, pet passports or EU border channels. I entirely sympathise and seek to support those who have experienced the worst effects, whether businesses ruined, or lives disrupted, by the loss of free movement and having to go through the settlement schemes.

For me, the worst part of Brexit has been an emotional wrench, a kick in the guts. I lost my husband three years ago and so it has been a period of intense grief from all directions.

I first felt ‘European’ nearly 60 years ago, on our family camping trips down through France to Spain, thinking ‘I belong here’. Then as a student I studied European history and current affairs, was an intern (‘stagiaire’) then for seven years an official at the European Commission, and later for 15 years an MEP. So it is a strong part of my identity. I have been able to reclaim my European citizenship by getting my Irish passport; I did not have to apply for citizenship as I am Irish from birth due to my mother having been born in Dublin. (I realise this understandably arouses jealousy, but it’s not from anything I did myself!). As I have no intention of ever moving from London, the main value to me is that it restores that part of my identity that was brutally torn away. I hope by working towards Rejoin to get it back for all Brits.

In next month’s newsletter we are delighted to be featuring National Rejoin March founder, Peter Corr.

Peter is a former soldier and lorry driver who lost his job thanks to Brexit and decided to do something rather special to protest about that. Peter is organising the biggest pro-EU, anti-Brexit demonstration and rally for years.

As the march is scheduled for October 22 in London, we are delighted that Peter has agreed to be our next featured campaigner in Bremainers Ask, especially at this very busy time.

Please note that the feature will be published after the march, at the end of October, but your questions will be submitted to Peter before the march takes place, so please bear this in mind when you submit your questions.

If you would like to put a question to Peter, please email us at no later than Thursday 6 October.

Bremainers Ask……. Otto English

Bremainers Ask……. Otto English

Otto English is the pen name of author and journalist Andrew Scott. Having worked in theatre and TV in his twenties, as a playwright and researcher, Scott went on to have a ‘portfolio career’ combining teaching and scriptwriting before his online twitter rants and blogs about Brexit and the chaos of British politics led to a permanent career change in 2016.

Since then, he has written for the Independent, New Statesman, Politico and Byline Times (among others). His book Fake History was published in June 2021, and he is currently working on a sequel. He lives in SE London with his wife and two teenage children.

Steve Wilson : How do we undo the damage that the last 12 years of Tory rule – and Johnson’s time in power in particular – have done? Can the country ever return to her former glory?

The great danger for us all, whether Brexiter or Remainer or otherwise, is to keep looking backwards. The path forward is less about ‘undoing’ the damage and more about building something new in its place. Key to that, obviously, is getting rid of this government and opening up a new chapter and a fresh page in our relationship with our European partners and the wider world.

Johnson has demonstrated that leadership matters and that countries cannot prosper on the promises of hot air and bluster. Likewise, if the Brexiters have achieved anything, it is to demonstrate how critical our relationship with Europe is, and so my immediate hope is that after the Government is consigned to the political dustbin of history, a new administration will seek to join EFTA / EEA and work hard to normalise relations with our most important allies and neighbours.

It is going to be a long hard slog, because our nearest allies currently view us as something akin to a basket case and rebuilding trust and relations will take years.

I’d love to believe that ‘rejoining the EU’ would magically solve our problems and reset everything, but to do so would leave me open to the same trap that the Brexiters fell into. Brexit cultists believed, after all, that our membership of the EU was ‘the problem’ and that by leaving we could magically cast ourselves back to a golden age. Likewise, there is a danger in thinking that rejoining is a) possible in the short term and b) would offer us an immediate return to former glory – or even normality.

Michael Frederick Phillips : History is written by the winner. Where do you see the European Union in 40 years’ time? What do you anticipate will be seen as its successes and failures?

The pandemic and recent events in Ukraine have demonstrated history’s most valuable lesson – nothing is certain, and peace, prosperity and security can never be taken for granted.

Brexit was born out of the conceit that everything would always be OK and that none of the above mattered.

During the EU referendum the ‘project fear’ mongers made light of David Cameron’s warnings of a potential war in Europe and dismissed the historical fact that the European Union had led to a period of unprecedented peace and stability on our continent.

Much as I hate to praise Cameron for anything – those dire warnings have now come to fruition.

I hope that history will come to see another 40 years of peace and prosperity as part of the EU’s great success story, and I hope too that Putin’s aggression will lead to an ever-closer union, with Ukraine joining at the earliest opportunity. Nations are always safer, better, healthier and wealthier standing together and working in partnership over pursuing narrow nationalistic self-interest.

The war in Ukraine has also made the strongest possible case for closer military cooperation across Europe and hopefully that will lead to the establishment of some form of EU army.

As to failures – well, the risk to the EU is always going to be 27 nations pulling in opposite directions and the union itself failing to carve out a strongly defined place in the world. It would be good to see the EU as a more clearly defined bloc – capable of standing up to Russia and China and keeping the US in check. European people would benefit from that, but so too would the world.

Andy Hawker : The Conservative party’s prime ministerial contenders are obsessed with donning the crown of Margaret Thatcher. Could the successful candidate actually make use of Thatcherite policy to turn the UK around or has the world become a different place?  Does Thatcher deserve such reverence and could we imagine what her stance would be on the failed Brexit project?

Of course, it’s very hard to speculate about what Thatcher would have said or done as she is no longer with us but, for all her later Euroscepticism, she helped foment the single market and create what became the EU, so I find it somewhat bizarre that she is so championed by the Brexiters. I cannot imagine her thinking that Britain should leave the union as she was first and foremost an economic pragmatist and anyone with half a brain could have predicted what would happen if we left.

I also find the lionisation of her a bit bizarre because anyone who remembers the 1980s can also remember how deeply divisive she was and more, that the policies she enacted had disastrous long-term consequences. Through the rose-tinted glasses of history, we often forget that on her watch unemployment hit 3.5 million, that northern mining communities were devastated, that there were two major recessions and that, despite the talk of her economic miracle, GDP never grew by more than 2% on her watch and interest rates hit 15%. Her ‘right to buy’ scheme also went some way toward precipitating today’s housing crisis. And that’s even before we get onto her bullying, homophobic Section 28 legislation and the horrors of the Poll Tax.

The current Tory leaders hanker after her crown because like cosplaying Churchill before them (Boris Johnson) they don’t have the capacity, imagination or depth of character to stand on their own two feet.

David Eldridge : Do you think Britain (whole or in parts) will ever rejoin the EU? If so, how do you see it happening, in terms of a timescale and stages in the process?

I hope so but given the 6 years of civil war we’ve been through and with neither of the main political parties pledging it I really cannot imagine a time when it happens. I believe that the path back to some semblance of membership is through EFTA – EEA membership, as I said above.

Of course, if Scotland were to become independent, then they would undoubtedly seek to join and a weakened England and Wales might follow.

Keir Duncan : Following the raid on Trump’s villa in Florida and the potential for criminal charges to be brought against him, do you think this could ever happen with some of the Brexit protagonists and the lies they peddled? 

Section One of the Ministerial Code states very clearly that politicians who have deliberately lied should resign. I quote in full: “It is of paramount importance that Ministers give accurate and truthful information to Parliament, correcting any inadvertent error at the earliest opportunity. Ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation to the Prime Minister”.

The code obviously needs to be more robustly enforced and updated to include the Prime Minister themselves. It goes without saying that it should be completely unacceptable for politicians to lie and lie and lie and get away with it in a supposedly advanced democracy, but somehow lying has become the norm. In the process it has diminished British democracy and the office of PM.

Of course, if we started locking up politicians for lying the jails would soon be full, but we need proper standards in office as a basic standard.

I’d like to see everyone in political office held more firmly to account by the press and media and I would like to live in a country where liars do not prosper, but we need a wholesale change in attitudes for that moment to come. The public should expect and demand more and the press needs a firm kick up the arse.

That said, I think Trump and US politics is in another league of dishonesty. Politics, particularly on the right seems to be built entirely on lies, disinformation and a dangerous disregard for sanity. I’ve just been there for two weeks and watching the news, particularly Fox, was genuinely frightening. We will have to wait and see what happens there, but if America lets Trump get away with his actions, whether that be regarding his retention of official documents or his behaviour around the events on Capitol Hill, I think the country is in serious trouble.

John Moffett : Led by Donkeys and Bylines provide such great resources, but how can we increase their reach to better educate the public and make them question more what politicians say?

Both Byline and LBD sit outside of the establishment. This is a strength and a weakness because our voices are not as amplified as we would like and often, we are writing for people who already agree with us.

As a writer for Byline Times, I am very aware of that freedom. We don’t worry about upsetting people because we’re not in with the in crowd of lobby journalists and politicians and that is very liberating, even if it does sometimes put people’s backs up.

We were writing in depth about the relationship between Lebedev and Johnson and the apparent entryism of former members of the Revolutionary Communist Party into the Brexit Party (and elsewhere) long before anyone else, for example. Other outlets had written about Johnson attending the Lebedev parties but almost nobody was ringing alarm bells. In both cases I was stunned at how slow the mainstream press was to pick up the stories and more – that some publications pushed back at us for daring to write about it.

Obviously, the best way for us to get more reach is for more people to subscribe!! But in the meantime, I think it’s beholden upon all of us, however big our platforms, to use our voices – whether that be on social media or in conversations with friends and family. Many people are far too reticent.

I’m also a believer in engaging with the other side more. Byline TV has been criticised a bit for inviting on people with pro-Brexit and right-wing views but politics has become very polarised and many of us are sitting in little echo chambers – we need to do what Black Label used to boast about doing, and reach the places other voices can’t reach.

Matt Burton : You have made no secret that you are a republican and have often spoken/written on the monarchy and Empire. Do you think that the British people will be ready to have an open discussion on abolishing the monarchy once the Queen dies?

In a word ‘yes’. When the Queen dies there is going to be the opportunity to have a great big conversation about the future – not only of the institution itself but also the way this country operates politically.

I have no personal animosity toward the royal family – after all they are mostly born into it and didn’t choose the roles. However, I do not think that in 2022 it is appropriate for a head of state to be decided by biology and the hereditary rights of one family.

Many things need to change in Britain – House of Lords reform is roughly 200 years overdue and our current arrangement vis a vis head of state is not fit for purpose. We have always been told that the monarchy acts as a constitutional backstop and yet during Brexit and the Johnson reign of blather the buffers have been shown to be about as robust as a bag of jelly.

If Brexit has provided anything positive, it is that it has shone a bright light on the inadequacy of our political institutions and the myths we have been brought up with regarding their exceptional nature.

Personally, I would go for an elected non-executive Head of State like Ireland has – and, whatever monarchists might insist to the contrary, that would not mean President Blair, Johnson or Farage.

Lisa Burton : Brexit and Johnson, like Trump, have exposed the weaknesses in our political establishments, institutions and (unwritten in the UK’s case) constitution. What lessons should be learned from this, and what changes would you like to see brought into our political systems to ensure this does not happen again?

Absolutely right. I think it’s potentially a massive opportunity here. Britain has not had the transformative experience of revolution or occupation that our neighbours have mostly had in the last 200 years. As the ‘winner’ in WW2 we carried on tinkering at the edges of our democracy rather than lifting the bonnet and refitting the engine.

Brexit has changed that. It was to all intents and purposes a civil war – although thankfully a largely non-violent one – and as the revolution eats itself it could present an opportunity for the more progressive elements in the country to edge us toward a transformation.

I hate Brexit and I hate the six years plus of misery it has visited on this country – but would it not be a delightful paradox if the very forces of conservatism that brought its misery upon us were destroyed by it?

As to political lessons – well the biggest takeaway perhaps is ‘never, ever hold a referendum on something most people do not understand’ and the second is ‘make politics boring again’. Political life has become a sort of branch of the entertainment industry (I call this politainment). It should instead be worthy, dull and for the benefit of the people – not a bunch of jumped-up spivs with posh accents in ill-fitting suits.

In next month’s newsletter we are delighted to be featuring Baroness Sarah Ludford, who has been a member of the House of Lords since 1997 and is currently the Liberal Democrat’s Europe and Brexit spokesperson.

She was a Member of the European Parliament for London from 1999 to 2014, working mainly on EU security, justice and human rights issues, and on EU foreign affairs, as vice-chair of the EP delegation to the US.

If you would like to put a question to Sarah, please email us at no later than Saturday 3 September.

Bremainers Ask – Jane Morrice

Bremainers Ask – Jane Morrice

Born in Belfast, and a teenager during the “troubles”, Jane Morrice built a career on peace building, journalism, Europe and equality. A founder member of the NI Women’s Coalition, she authored the line on integrated education in the Good Friday Agreement. She was elected to the first NI Assembly in 1998 and became Deputy Speaker in 2000. She was EC representative to NI during the ceasefires and, as a member of the Delors Task Force, set up the first EU PEACE Programme.

Previously a BBC Belfast reporter, she also served as Deputy Chief NI Equality Commissioner. She represented NI on the Brussels-based Civic Forum (EESC) and as Vice President in 2013. In 2021, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Hillary Clinton, Vice Chancellor of Queens University Belfast.

She currently serves as Director of the Integrated Education Fund, Member of the Brussels branch of Women in International Security (WIIS), Co-Chair of the Museum of the Troubles and Honorary President of the European Movement NI. Jane is now campaigning to have Northern Ireland granted Honorary EU Association as a European Place of Global peace-building.

John MoffettIt’s been said that most mainland Britons learnt more about the GFA in the last episode of Derry Girls! As someone closely involved with the creation of the GFA, could you briefly explain the incredible transformation because of the agreement on NI society, culture and business, and how Brexit tore so much of that apart?

The Good Friday Agreement was designed to bring an end to political violence in Northern Ireland. In the years following the GFA implementation in 1998, NI has experienced relative peace but reconciliation between the two main communities is still a long way off. By marking the beginning of the end of 30 years of violent conflict, the GFA was a truly ‘titanic’ achievement, but few could have predicted the iceberg that was Brexit looming on the horizon. In true British tradition, unionists were reluctant Europeans, while nationalists mainly supported the EU. The positive effect of UK and Irish EU membership helped blur the dividing lines between the two communities. The ‘four’ freedoms meant people and trade flowed freely, political leaders met frequently in Brussels and the EU PEACE Programme supported cross-community and cross border initiatives and helped pave the way for the GFA. By permitting NI citizens to be British, Irish or both, the GFA provided an ingenious solution to the identity question that has bedevilled NI since its inception. Brexit has driven a wedge between the two communities, which ‘Derry Girls’, using humour, has helped expose to a much wider audience.


David Eldridge: Once the EU referendum result emerged, there were many prophesies about an independent Scotland and United Ireland. Do you foresee a border poll in NI and, if so, what might be the result?

It is my conviction that Scotland holds the key to the future constitutional position of both the UK and Ireland. Those supporting Irish unification would be wise to await the result of a second Scottish independence referendum, proposed for 2023, before embarking on a detailed plan for a border poll. If Scotland votes for independence, heralding the break-up of the UK, the unionist position in Northern Ireland will become more tenuous. Scotland’s links with Northern Ireland are not only based on geography and history but also the strength of the cultural connection. Given the Ulster-Scot’s heritage, NI people, particularly unionists, feel closer links with Scotland than England or Wales. Scottish independence may pave the way for a rethink of the Irish question and could eventually bring both UK nations which voted Remain back into the EU fold.


Sue ScarrottThe NI Protocol was designed to avoid a hard border in Ireland and is clearly helping NI business to weather the Brexit economic storm better than the rest of the UK, bar London, yet the Tories are politicising it to pick a fight with the EU. How do you see that playing out over the coming months/years?

The NI Protocol is generally supported by nationalists but rejected by those unionists who claim it separates NI from GB by placing a border in the Irish Sea and serves to dilute their British identity. My proposal is to extend the Protocol to Scotland. This could offer several solutions. First it would take the political toxicity out of the NI debate by moving the border from the Irish Sea to the Scottish/English border. In Scotland, for those supporting independence, it could be seen as a ‘waiting room’ for EU membership. For those not in support of independence, it could offer the best of both worlds in the UK and in the EU Single Market. For London, it could be a compromise to keep Scotland as part of the UK. ‘Brussels’, however, may not support such a proposal. Given the ‘special’ circumstances regarding the peace process, the Protocol was intended to avoid a hard border in Ireland and accommodate the many thousands of European citizens in NI whose rights are EU protected. Extending it to Scotland may help resolve the unionist question but could set a precedent for regions in Spain, France or elsewhere demanding similar arrangements.

Val ChaplinThe easiest and best solution to the NI Protocol would be for the whole of the UK to rejoin the SM and CU. Do you ever envisage that happening and given the importance of unity and cooperation in Europe in light of the war in Ukraine, do you ever foresee the UK rejoining the EU?

There is little doubt that the economic benefits of the NI Protocol have exposed the harmful effects of Brexit on the rest of the UK. The powerful images of lorries lined up at Channel ports in Southern England are just the start of stormy waters ahead. Proposing to rejoin the SM and CU may help business overcome these immediate problems but the EU is much more than a marketplace. It is a meeting of minds, young and old, through programmes such as ERASMUS and Horizon in which information is shared, experiences exchanged and respect for others is encouraged. The only solution is for the UK to rejoin the EU. As I have often said: Brexit is not a divorce, it is a trial separation, allowing both sides to settle their differences and eventually get back together for the sake of the children.


Lisa BurtonLess than 10% of students in Northern Ireland attend an integrated school as opposed to a Catholic or Protestant school. Considering the first integrated school was established 40 years ago now, in your view, what is holding integration back?

As a Director of the Integrated Education Fund and author of the line in the Good Friday Agreement proposing a ‘culture of tolerance’ by ‘encouraging and facilitating integrated education’, I am convinced that Protestant and Catholic children studying together will help break down barriers between the two communities. Since the first integrated school was set up forty years ago, the movement has been campaigning to little avail. This is basically because of the strength of the lobby from both the Catholic Church and the State Grammar Schools, mainly Protestant, seeking to protect their ethos. Even attempts by the cross-community Alliance Party to have one single mixed teacher training college did not succeed. Things are changing, however, with the recent Assembly motion to provide greater support for integrated schools. This is likely to lead to an increase in schools transforming to integrated status and a greater understanding and respect among children, parents and teachers for the history, culture, identity and political aspiration of people from British, Irish and other communities in Northern Ireland.


Michael SoffeDo you believe you will see a “united” Ireland as a member of the EU in your lifetime?

It has been said that peace can take as long to achieve as conflict takes to end. If that is the case, our 30-year conflict can only be matched by 30 years of peace. That would bring us to the 30th anniversary of the GFA in April 2028. This, I believe, would be an appropriate moment to begin the serious process of rethinking the constitutional position of Northern Ireland. Consultation should begin well in advance and include citizens, North and South of the border. The best forum for such consultation is that which was proposed by my party, the NI Women’s Coalition, in the GFA for the creation of a Civic Forum to support the legislative process of the NI Assembly. Similar to the Brussels-based European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) of which I was a NI Member for 15 years, this Forum would gather experts from business, trade unions and others to give advice to the legislators. Ireland has had very successful consultations leading to historic changes to important legislation, but it is my firm belief that the only way to get unionist participation in these consultations is that they take place within the NI Civic Forum.

To conclude, in spite of the horror I witnessed growing up during the troubles, I have always had a genuine love for Northern Ireland. I see it as a very special place which has a great deal to teach the world about the need for tolerance, respect and how peace can be achieved against the odds.

As a European unionist, I would therefore like to see Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland becoming the Northern BENELUX of the EU. In response to the question (will I see a United Ireland in my lifetime?) – I am no spring chicken, so I believe not.

In our August newsletter, Bremainers Ask will be featuring Otto English, a.k.a. journalist and author Andrew Scott. He is a regular writer for Byline Times and Politico, and is the author of “Fake History: Ten Great Lies and How They Shaped the World”. If you would like to submit a question for Otto for consideration, please email no later than Tuesday 9 August.

Bremainers Ask Revisited

Bremainers Ask Revisited

This month we asked three former contributors to Bremainers Ask to comment on the current state of play of British politics and Brexit. This is what they had to say:

Anna Bird, CEO European Movement

Summer 2022 will be seen as the time the tide began to turn against hard Brexit. Even the archetypal gung-ho Leaver, Lord Daniel Hannan, recently wrote that Britain should have stayed in the single market.

Failed Brexit negotiator Lord Frost, in an extraordinary speech at a recent think-tank conference, could not point to a single concrete economic benefit of Brexit. He went on to blame the EU – and the European Movement. He accused us of “latching on to any number, usually out of context, and treating it as evidence that Brexit is ‘failing’”. If we are being singled out for attack by our opponents, we must be doing something right!

As for ‘latching on’ to evidence, we knew before the referendum that Brexiteers had had enough of experts. Michael Gove told us. Neither Lord Frost, nor his political master Boris Johnson, listen to objective analysis. But even they must know, behind the bluster, that Brexit is breaking Britain.

The government’s own Office of Budget Responsibility predicts that Brexit will mean a 4% hit to GDP. The impact on individual families is starker still. Brexit means a typical family with two earners will be nearly £1000 poorer every year by 2030 than if the UK had stayed in the EU, according to a Resolution Foundation study.

Meanwhile, airport disruption due to staff shortages is worse in the UK than elsewhere. Airline bosses say they have had to reject en masse applications from EU citizens who can no longer work in the UK. Worse, NHS queues are causing life-threatening delays – again Brexit is a significant factor.

As European Movement UK President Michael Heseltine pointed out in a recent article in the Guardian, Johnson, Frost and ‘Brexit Opportunities Minister’ Jacob Rees-Mogg have their hands over their ears. But even their (former?) allies in the Europhobic press are picking up on what is going on.

So are the British public. Brexit is hitting hardest those regions that voted most heavily for it. In Wakefield, where 66% voted Leave in 2016, so-called ‘Red Wall’ voters deserted Johnson’s government in the 23 June by-election. On the same day In Tiverton and Honiton, the pro-EU Liberal Democrats wiped out a 24,000 Tory majority. Every promise the Brexiteers made to rural communities has been broken.

Brexit was not the only factor in these results. But 2016 Leave voters did not vote loyally for the Conservatives in either by-election. And a pattern of dishonesty with its roots in Johnson’s mendacious 2016 Vote Leave campaign was a common thread.

Repairing the damage done by this government’s hard Brexit, and restoring broken relations with our European partners, is going to be a long haul. We will need to win a historic battle for hearts and minds over many years, to regain our place at the heart of Europe.

The European Movement has the stomach for that fight. This is a battle for the soul of our country. And recent events make us even more certain we can win it.

Jon Danzig, journalist and film maker

In my life, I have never known a worse time either for my country or the world at large. I started to campaign against Brexit when the word was first invented back in 2012. Of course, back then I hoped against hope that leaving the EU wouldn’t happen, but I obviously felt it could. And, of course, it did.


When Brexit happened, many of us on the same side thought that, soon enough, people in Britain would realise the huge downsides of being outside the EU. Yes, cause and effect are often difficult to see or prove. But we in the pro-EU camp thought that, for example, higher prices because of new barriers to trade with our most important export and import market in the world – our neighbouring countries – would soon be blindingly obvious, and deeply felt. But it’s not been that simple, or clear cut.

We didn’t anticipate the post-Brexit arrival or impact of the world’s worst pandemic in 100 years – Covid19. That changed everything. Britons got poorer, prices went up, but how much could be blamed on Covid and how much on Brexit? Then, although some predicted it, most of us didn’t anticipate that Russia would invade Ukraine. Again, that has had a huge impact on our economy, resulting in yet more increased prices, along with rising inflation leading to a cost-of-living crisis.

I could – and would – argue that most of the downsides since the EU referendum six years ago can be blamed on Brexit. But proving that to the public at large, is complicated, involves graphs, charts, and statistics that few will want to digest. Not the clear-cut pre- and post-Brexit comparisons we thought would easily win the case against leaving the EU. What we can agree is that Brexit, Covid and the appalling war now raging in Ukraine have all contributed to a sharp decline in our fortunes. And all this has also changed our feelings about the future, which now looks more dismal than at any time for all of us who didn’t live through the Second World War. [And I haven’t even mentioned climate change – probably the biggest threat to the entire planet].

Although we didn’t realise it at the time, and probably wouldn’t have believed it if we’d been told, before the terrible events of the past few years, many of us were living in what we can now recognise as a relatively golden age. Now, all that’s been shattered. We cannot go back to that ‘golden’ past, and the future ahead looks grim. On top of Brexit, Covid and the war in Ukraine, we now have an attack on fundamental rights in the UK, with Boris Johnson’s government, for example, intent on dismantling our Human Rights Act. Not because that law is bad, but because our government clearly doesn’t like a law that stops them doing bad things (e.g. forcing refugees to be flown from the UK to Rwanda).

Across the ‘pond’ in the USA they are also experiencing an attack on fundamental rights. For example, the constitutional right of women to have an abortion has been removed. That could only happen because the right-wing, populist ex-President Trump, before he left office, appointed to the Supreme Court three of his favoured judges. [See my article:]. To top it all, we now know – with compelling and increasing evidence – that Putin’s Russia helped to fuel and fund Brexit from the outset. Something I had no idea about when I first started to campaign for the UK to remain in the EU. [See my video The Russian Connection].

How do we get out of this mess? I say knowledge is our best defence, and attack. It may take a long time, but truth usually prevails in the end. Our side needs to get better at telling it and selling it.


Lord Andrew Adonis, Chair European Movement UK

I can’t quite believe I am writing this, but the biggest event of the last six years in terms of Britain’s relations with Europe may not be Brexit. Probably more significant, in the short and long term, is Britain’s decisive role in supporting Ukraine’s resistance to the latest of Europe’s fascist dictators, Vladimir Putin.

In the short term, providing the military hardware to help stop Putin from achieving an immediate knock-out blow in his attack on Kiev, and his attempt to remove Zelensky and install a puppet regime, was of monumental importance not only to the fate of Ukraine but to the wider security and stability of democratic Europe.

NATO, which has organised this support for Zelensky, is a military club which everyone in Europe now wants to join. Sweden and Finland, who have just applied, will take NATO’s membership to 30, extending the alliance across virtually the whole of Russia’s eastern border with Europe.

In retrospect NATO was the dog that didn’t bark during the Brexit wars. Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949 – that an attack on one is an attack on all, to be resisted by all – is in its potential consequences a far greater diminution of Britain’s sovereignty than anything agreed with the EU during our half century of membership. Yet neither Nigel Farage nor Boris Johnson and the Brexit Tories ever proposed that we withdraw from NATO so that we could “take back control” of our defence, and anti-Brexit leaders sensibly never sought to widen the issue to include defence.

Brexit is probably the high-water mark of the uncontrolled spam of English nationalism. The sound and fury about “foreign judges” in the wake of the European Court of Human Rights ruling against the proposed deportation of asylum seekers to Rwanda could conceivably lead Johnson and Priti Patel to seek to withdraw from the Council of Europe and the European Convention on Human Rights. This would be a political obscenity. But since the only country to have left – indeed been expelled – from the Council of Europe in recent years is Putin’s Russia, in response to its Ukraine invasion, I doubt even Johnson would think he could ride the contradiction while Putin remains at large.

However, six years on from the 2016 referendum, there is still no reversal – or sign of one – in respect of the hugely disadvantageous Brexit trade and economic deal under which we left the EU. Far from seeking to negotiate a better EU trade deal, Johnson and his foreign secretary Liz Truss are embarking on an egregious breach of international law by seeking to legislate to override the Northern Ireland Protocol.

There isn’t yet a meaningful political debate about the case for a better Brexit deal, despite polls showing a growing majority against Brexit in the light of big reductions in trade between Britain and the EU far beyond any Covid effect.

According to London School of Economics data, nearly half of all UK companies have either ceased or reduced their trade with the EU since Brexit took effect. Yet Keir Starmer, who was Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit spokesman before becoming Labour leader, has largely left the Brexit field and won’t commit to seeking fundamentally better Brexit terms. And for as long as Johnson remains at the helm, and there is no credible governmental path towards a renegotiation, there is no incentive for any Tory MP to call for this either.

However, the truth will out. Unless the trade situation improves, Tobias Ellwood will be the first of many Tory MPs to call for an “upgraded” Brexit deal akin to that of Norway, which is part of the single market while not belonging to the EU itself. There is only so long that the Tory leadership can say “fuck business” – or, as Rishi Sunak puts it more elegantly, that we need to accept “lower trade intensity” as the price of Brexit. The Tory leader after Johnson, maybe Sunak himself, won’t be inhibited by having negotiated the current Brexit deal. It is hard to believe, because it is virtually impossible, that they will be as shameless as Johnson either.

The stark reality is also that the only solution to the Irish problem is for Britain to be within the single market or something close to it. Only then will both the EU and the UK have confidence that trade between the Britain and Ireland can be uninhibited while vital concerns about safety, standards and smuggling are addressed.

So Britain has not left Europe, and even under Johnson the Ukraine war graphically demonstrates our fundamental interdependence and common values. Trade is indispensable to a free and prosperous Europe, and Britain’s leaders will ultimately recognise that free trade is the best way of securing these age-old goals. The long trek back towards the EU’s single market hasn’t yet started but there is a feeling of inevitability about it. Whether it takes months or years is too soon to say. But I suspect the process will start the day after Johnson ceases to be Prime Minister.

In our July Newsletter, we will be putting your questions to Jane Morrice. Born in Belfast, and a teenager during the “troubles”, Jane Morrice built a career on peace building, journalism, Europe and equality, including direct involvement in the creation of the Good Friday Agreement.

If you would like to put a question forward for consideration, please email us no later than Thursday 7 July at