Bremainers Ask ….Naomi Smith, CEO Best for Britain

Bremainers Ask ….Naomi Smith, CEO Best for Britain

Naomi Smith has been CEO of Best for Britain since June 2019, having previously served as its COO.

Immediately before joining Best for Britain, Naomi was Executive Director of Campaigns at the business lobby group London First, where she organised the group’s campaign to stay in the EU, at the 2016 EU Referendum.

Naomi previously spent 15 years working in finance and accounting for companies including Arthur Andersen, Deloitte and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, as well as chairing voluntary groups.

Naomi also co-hosts the very popular Remainiacs podcast.

Many thanks to Naomi for taking part in our Bremainers Ask feature. Here are her answers to your questions:

Pat Kennedy: What can we all best do to make this Government accountable for the disaster that is Brexit?

Naomi Smith: Brexit is not done yet and, with the world in crisis, it’s more important than ever that we encourage the Government to delay the Brexit process, to give both Britain and our EU friends a realistic timetable with which to work.

Political accountability comes at the ballot box but, thanks to our first-past-the-post electoral system, Britain is a Remain country with a Leave Government. As fervent internationalists, our time is best spent working to ensure Britain and Europe remain as close as possible, with a view to rejoining the EU at some point in the future.

It is far better to act positively, making the strongest possible case for European integration, than find ourselves brooding about how to take revenge for the Brexit fiasco. To turn things around, we need to bring even more voters on side so that, come the next opportunity to hold the Government to account in an election, we have the upper hand.

In short, putting a pro-European Government in power would be the best possible way of holding all of Westminster to account – but not to ‘get our own back’. Rather, because that is what we believe is best for Britain.

Michael Soffe: Will Best for Britain throw their full weight behind any movement to Rejoin the EU?

Naomi Smith:  The EU has many totemic elements for us: human rights, freedom of movement, internationalism, to name but three. Protecting these elements amid the current chaos is of the utmost importance.

We remain committed to the ideals of the EU and, ultimately, to putting Britain back at the heart of Europe.

The last few years have been tough for Remainers. The Brexit referendum result was a body-blow, and I was certainly not the only person to be left in tears when that result became clear.

The recent General Election was also a chastening experience – we helped encourage millions of citizens to vote tactically, for pro-EU candidates, but that was not enough. The huge marches, the remarkable campaigns, the fact that the majority of voters backed pro-EU parties … none of that was enough.

When the time is right, the fight to rejoin is a fight we will be at the front of. It should be at a time of our choosing, on a battleground of our choice. The lessons of the last few years must be learned, and we must find a way back to Europe’s top table.

Our Chair, Sue, with Naomi at the March for Change, London, July 2019

Steven Wilson: Do you think that the current coronavirus crisis makes an extension to the Brexit transition period more likely, perhaps even inevitable?

Naomi Smith: By the time you read this, an extension may well have been agreed. It is neither reasonable nor desirable to expect the EU divorce process to be completed by December 31st, and nor is it acceptable for Brexit to be a distraction from battling coronavirus.

With civil servants reportedly being diverted from No Deal planning to coronavirus work, and with a Prime Minister facing the pressures of daily virus press conferences and Cobra meetings, it is clear that the system is being hugely stressed from top to bottom.

Coronavirus must take precedence – it is a global threat, after all, while Brexit is a much more localised disaster. It will take everything we have to get through the covid-19 pandemic, leaving Britain – and the EU – unable to focus properly on Brexit.

The 31st December Brexit deadline was always exceedingly ambitious, driven by the Government’s political will rather than any pragmatic reading of the challenges of divorcing us from the EU.

Now, it is patently ludicrous, and also unfair on all of those involved in the process. Videoconferencing is no substitute for face-to-face meetings, or the discussions that go on after such meetings have formally concluded. Even skilled professionals cannot be expected to perform at their peak if they are impacted by coronavirus, or worried about the effects it is having on loved ones.

One final point. Experts point to the risk of the virus hitting us in a second wave, near the end of the year… just when maximum pressure around Brexit and, particularly, a catastrophic No Deal Brexit, would be building. The Government has a chance to avoid such a calamitous confluence of crises and will surely enact a delay of some sort.

Tamara Essex: When Cabinet ministers claim there will be no checks with a new trade deal, are they generally aiming to mislead, badly informed or being completely unrealistic?

Naomi Smith: I can say with certainty that they are being unrealistic, because countless experts say so. Whether they are aiming to mislead or are badly informed is conjecture, and not something we should focus on.

Best for Britain is a data-led organisation; we look at the figures, gather the evidence, and then make our position clear. Discussions about whether politicians are misleading us are (let’s be honest) fun but they are also a dangerous distraction.

Politics is about presentation as well as policy, and facts get bent all the time. We might not like this, but it would be naïve to think it didn’t happen (pick your own favourite ‘fact that wasn’t’ from the Brexit campaign…).

As Guardian editor CP Scott said almost 100 years ago, comment is free … but facts are sacred.

Naomi Smith and Mike Galsworthy

John Moffett: Does Best for Britain have a role lobbying the EU to influence the future relationship or do you see its role as solely holding the UK government to account? 

Naomi Smith: In the run-up to the General Election, we took a delegation of British MPs to Brussels to speak with senior counterparts from other countries, so we have form in building bridges between Britain and Brussels. Our aim is to do what is best for Britain, and that involves work behind the scenes, as well as the high-profile things we have been involved with such as marches and media appearances.

If us being a conduit between the UK and the EU strengthens the bonds between us, and accelerates the process of us getting back together, then it will have been time well spent. We are, after all, in this thing together

Many thanks Naomi for taking part. Next month we are delighted to be featuring Ian Dunt, Editor of & Host of Remainiacs.

Bremainers Ask Revisited Part Two

Bremainers Ask Revisited Part Two

With the changing political landscape, Bremain invited former contributors to our Bremainers Ask feature for their thoughts on the subject. We asked them to comment on where we are now, how they see things moving forward and what we pro-Europeans should be focusing on in the future. Here’s the second update. 

Harry Shindler

Harry Shindler MBE – Veteran Campaigner

After Brexit, what happens now? I was, and remain, against the idea of Brexit. I am not about to set out all the arguments against Brexit, but we were warned, and we didn’t heed the warnings.

There has been peace in Europe for almost 80 years – it’s never happened before. Without Brexit, it could have continued.

We have been fighting ‘the good fight’ for many years. During our campaign we have had promises made that our right to vote would be returned to us. The promise was made in general election manifestos, by three prime ministers, and Her Majesty the Queen, when opening parliament.

We must carry on our campaign, with even more determination. To all our friends and supporters, be of good cheer and keep up the good fight. As was said during the war, “we must win, and win we shall!”


Kyle Taylor – Founder/Director Fairvote UK

It’s the morning after “Brexit,” which came with more of a “womp womp” than any spectacle. Why, you ask? Because despite the “perfect vision” metaphor suggested by the year, we’re no closer to clarity on what Brexit will actually mean. That’s mostly because the 31 January “exit day” only included exiting having any say on the future of Europe. We became – until at least December 2020 – a rule taker with no rule-making powers. The first step in “taking back control.”

Kyle Taylor

The framing of the general election result is that it was a “consensus on Brexit.” I believe it was more a consensus on a desire for clarity and certainty, even if what’s certain is Brexit. This is the major difference between the political attitudes of our European neighbours and American friends across the Atlantic: Britishness demands a stiff upper lip, even when you don’t like it. This is particularly difficult for British citizens living in the EU, who have neither clarity nor certainty – perhaps the greatest abandonment by this government of their immediate responsibilities to their citizens.

While that fight must continue, the broader strategic aim must be to let the Conservative government attempt to keep their impossible promises, waiting for the next flashpoint in the autumn. This isn’t about “I told you so.” It’s about “You told me so.” It’s clear from the failure of the Remain movement of the last three years that Brexit must be acutely felt for people to understand its true effect. Only then can we muster the nation to spend the next decade undoing the damage.


Steve Bray

Steve Bray – Mr. Stop Brexit

Social justice is very important to me and it is the reason that I took on the fight to #StopBrexit. That hasn’t changed. We have even more to fight for now.

I have never blamed the majority of people who voted to Leave. Deprived areas voted massively to Leave on the basis of promises of a better life. Why wouldn’t they? But they were lied to by the architects of Brexit who now occupy the highest posts in the UK government. 

I started the protest group SODEM (Stand of Defiance European Movement) in summer 2017 in Old Palace Yard, SW1. I stood there – at first by myself – and later was joined by hundreds of Remainers from grassroots groups across the UK and beyond, including Bremain In Spain. The name has now been changed to: Secure Our Destiny Europe Matters. 

Right now it’s important to channel our anger towards those who pushed hard to deliver Brexit – Johnson, Gove, Cummings et al and not those whose believed and bought the lies. The truth is that with #GetBrexitDone, we’ve all been DONE. But we will hold them to account. It’s important right now to focus on our local pro-EU groups, build the communities and look ahead to how, united, we can hold them to account and look towards re-joining the EU. 

I would really like to take this chance to thank everybody for their support over the last few years of the #SODEM protest outside parliament – for their support, encouragement and donations, and for standing with us at Westminster. The SODEM protest continues every Wednesday that parliament sits for PMQs because somebody has to #HoldThemToAccount. 

Many thanks to our contributors this month. Watch out for Part Three next month. 

Bremainers Ask ….. Richard Wilson

Bremainers Ask ….. Richard Wilson

Richard Wilson was one of the founding members of Leeds for Europe in January 2017.  He is currently Chair of the group, which has grown to become one of the leading pro-EU campaign groups in the UK.  He was heavily involved in organising the Great Northern Stop Brexit March in Leeds in March 2018 and has appeared on Sky News, BBC Look North, ITV Calendar and BBC Radio Leeds.

Richard was also one of the founding members of Grassroots for Europe, a network of up to 250 pro-EU campaign groups whose purpose is to bring grassroots group leaders together to share ideas, support grassroots-led initiatives, represent the interests of local groups and generally encourage networking amongst grassroots activists.  In that role he was one of the organisers of the “Where Now For Remain?” conference held in London on 25 January 2020.  He is currently Chair of Grassroots for Europe and was also recently elected as Vice Chair of the European Movement UK.


Do you think the Remain movement is working as effectively as it could? What could be done to bring more cohesion and strengthen our voices even further?  

Sadly, the fact that Brexit was “done” on 31 January 2020 means that the Remain movement did not work as effectively as we needed it to. But we mustn’t beat ourselves up about this. We faced an unhappy combination of extremely hostile factors – a ruthless, unscrupulous Leave campaign, a weak, unprincipled official opposition, a rabidly Europhobic UK media and a country cracking after a decade of harsh austerity. We had to construct a new campaign from scratch and race to get it up to speed in time to halt Brexit with what was initially a 2/3 year window of opportunity. What we have build since the referendum – the largest, most passionate, pro-EU movement anywhere in Europe – is astonishing. But, of course, it was not enough to stop Brexit from happening – at least in name.

The starting point for bringing more cohesion and a stronger voice has to be agreeing a clear vision for our movement. The good news – based in particular on what we heard at the Grassroots for Europe conference in London on 25 January – is that there is a high level of consensus across our movement about what we need to do now. This includes – campaigning on the rights of EU and UK citizens, defending freedom of movement, holding the government to account for its promises and decisions on Brexit and rebuilding momentum towards a Rejoin campaign which can kick in as soon as political circumstances allow it.

Organisationally, we need the key national groupings to put past disagreements aside and come together to agree a coordinated and cooperative campaign. This does not necessarily mean a single campaign – there is value in diversity – but it does mean developing a high level of trust and friendliness between the various organisations, so that the whole becomes more than the sum of the parts.

The Great Northern Stop Brexit Conference Leeds 2018

With the benefit of hindsight, is there anything you wish the Remain campaign, or you personally, had done differently over the last 4 years?

When I first got involved in this campaign, back in January 2017, I believed that we would not succeed unless and until we managed to shift public opinion to at least a 60/40 split in favour of cancelling Brexit. Once we had got to something like that level I thought that there would be an almost tangible desire in the UK for a rethink. One way or another this would have led to either the outright cancellation of Brexit, a 2nd referendum or – at the very least – a substantial watering down of the rock hard Brexit favoured by Theresa May and Boris Johnson.

The People’s vote, however, focussed almost entirely on the mechanics of getting a 2nd referendum, without putting much apparent effort into explaining to people why Brexit was an epic mistake, founded on lies, misinformation and an abuse of our democratic system, and on making the positive case for Remaining, based on the principles of preserving and spreading peace, prosperity, freedom and democracy across the whole of our continent.

This meant that PV were always trying to push a rock uphill in parliament. With a fairly static 52-53% of the British public in favour of Remaining, there simply wasn’t enough pressure being exerted by public opinion to create the support in parliament for positive action to stop Brexit. Ultimately, the PV campaign ran out of road.

So, in answer to the question – the Remain movement should, from the very beginning, have fought a far more optimistic, clear and emotional campaign to give the British public powerful reasons for wanting to stay in the EU and to counter the nasty, negative and deceitful campaign being run by the Brexiters.

How do we re-energise campaigners who have switched off now that Brexit has happened?

I was involved in organising the Grassroots for Europe “Where Now For Remain?” conference in London precisely for that purpose! Immediately after the General Election I was concerned that the momentum of our movement could start to dissipate and that groups might – unnecessarily in my view – start to question the ongoing relevance of their campaigns.

I was inspired by the overwhelming response to the conference (we sold all 450 tickets weeks in advance and had a lengthy waiting list) and felt massively reassured that campaigners remain committed to the long struggle ahead of us.

I think campaigners are now looking for unity from the movement and a clear sense of direction. Grassroots for Europe are aiming to act as an “honest broker” in bringing as many parts of the movement together as possible to work for our common goals. We don’t believe in monolithic structures, but we do believe in co-operation and some level of co-ordination.

In the short-term, we can maintain energy levels by going for some quick wins i.e. campaigns where we can align ourselves with the bulk of public opinion and thereby force the UK government to change course. Initially, I would suggest that campaigns on freedom of movement, the rights of EU citizens in the UK, the rights of UK citizens in the EU and the defence of EU standards on animal welfare, the environment, consumer protection and workers’ rights offer opportunities to us.

At the social level, initiatives such as Euro cafes are a great way to keep activists energised, without it seeming like too much hard work!

Richard with Lord Heseltine

Despite a powerful pro-EU grassroots movement, we were let down by parliament agreeing to a GE. What lessons have we learned on improving lobbying and influencing politicians in the future?

In spite of my criticisms of the People’s Vote campaign, this was one area where they probably did a reasonably good job in very difficult circumstances.

My understanding is that in late 2019 we came exceptionally close to succeeding in getting a People’s Vote agreed in principle by parliament, and that would have been an amazing result.

To be fair to PV, they were having to work with a Labour Party leadership which was ambivalent at best on the question of Brexit and with Conservative MP’s who repeatedly failed to step up in the numbers required when they were needed.

Perceptions of party-political bias within the leaderships of the national organisations were probably the biggest self-inflicted impediment to greater success in building a united and effective anti-Brexit coalition in parliament. So, next time round we need to ensure that the national campaign organisations are scrupulously balanced in their political stance and even-handed in their public and private dealings with politicians. It is not reasonable to exclude party-political politicians from the national campaigns, but they must be seen to put the interests of the pro-European cause above their own parties’ priorities.

How can the Remain movement mitigate the damage of Brexit in the ongoing negotiations?

In the face of a Johnson/Cummings led government, with a stonking 80-seat parliamentary majority, are power is limited. To be brutally honest, we are going to have to accept that there will be considerable damage. Our job as campaigners will be to make sure that the blame for this damage is placed squarely where it belongs – on the Brexiters.

Richard Wilson

We need to be careful not to fall into the trap of being “miserabilists” – seizing on every single bit of bad news and trying to pin it on Brexit. If we do that, we will be accused of crying wolf and our messaging will start to become ineffective. However, there will undoubtedly be a lot of really bad things happening. We need to identify those Brexit-induced bombshells which the public really hate and make absolutely sure that everyone fully understands the cause. One example is the Brexiter who complained about having to queue at Schiphol airport recently. A small incident, but a powerful and negative foretaste of what is to come as the UK government’s tough new immigration regime comes into force.

Would the Remain movement be more effective if it pulled together or are we better forging ahead within a loosely organised structure? 

Probably both! We certainly need to pull together in the sense of agreeing common objectives and being coordinated in our campaigns. It is clearly unhelpful if groups/organisations are cutting across each other, negating each other’s messages and appearing to be chaotic and in conflict with one another. At the same time, there is great value in allowing local groups to flourish and not be stifled by top-down control – in fact, this has been the most positive aspect of the Remain campaign so far.

So, what we need is a loosely organised structure which is pulling together! My own view is that the European Movement UK, of which I am Vice Chair, can provide the solid platform for our movement. It has money, staff, an office, 126 affiliated groups, thousands of paying members, political connections and a history going back 70 years to the aftermath of the 2nd World War. I am encouraging those local groups which are not currently affiliated to do so.

At the same time, the European Movement cannot do everything. This is where the grassroots come in! We have thousands – or tens of thousands – of committed activists. Many of us are highly skilled, knowledgeable and experienced campaigners. We are willing to commit enormous amounts of time and energy to the cause. And we can do this independently, without being given orders from above. There is no reason why we should lose this wonderful capability. That’s why I Chair Grassroots for Europe, which aims to support the grassroots groups by linking them up with each other, bringing forward grassroots initiatives, sharing best practice and representing the interests of the grassroots groups and activists in the face of the big, national organisations.

Hopefully, this twin-track approach will give us the best of both worlds.


Many thanks to Richard for taking part. Next month we talk to Naomi Smith, CEO Best for Britain.

Bremainers Ask Revisited Part Two

Bremainers Ask …….. Revisited!

With the changing political landscape, Bremain invited former contributors to our Bremainers Ask feature for their thoughts on the subject. We asked them to comment on where we are now, how they see things moving forward and what we pro-Europeans should be focusing on in the future.

Here are the first responses; more to follow in next month’s newsletter. Note that these submissions were made prior to the ratification of the WA.

Hugo Dixon

Hugo Dixon – Chair/Editor-in-Chief – InFacts

We have lost the battle to stop Brexit. We mustn’t lose the war to create a good society for the 21st Century. The 2019 election will make that harder. We won’t be sitting round the top table in Europe when important decisions will be taken on the climate crisis and so forth. What’s more, Boris Johnson has such a big majority that it won’t be possible to influence him. He will be in power for four years and maybe nine. So, we have to play a long game. We must reflect deeply about what sort of society we can create in a world where temperatures are rising and power is shifting away from Europe. 



That will involve getting out of the big cities and listening. We will probably conclude we need to focus more on meaningful lives and less on materialism. Once we have articulated a new vision for a good life, we will have to persuade the voters to back it.

Julie Ward – Labour MEP

After more than three and a half years of complex negotiations and prevarication on the part of the UK parliament, with both Theresa May and Boris Johnson failing to comprehend the indivisibility of the ‘Four Freedoms’, Johnson now has a parliamentary majority to force through his version of a deal which is much worse than May’s deal on many counts. It goes without saying that the results of the December 12th General Election were devastating for all of us who espouse socially liberal values and who call ourselves European. 

Julie Ward MEP

As the Withdrawal Agreement makes its way through various stages in the Houses of Parliament safeguards and certainties are being removed, e.g. support for child refugees, participation in Erasmus+.

Whilst the European Parliament has expressed its concern about Citizens’ Rights in the WA it is nevertheless likely to be approved by the majority on January 29. (I will not be voting for it.) Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit Co-ordinator, went to London to meet with Boris Johnson to discuss the Parliament’s concerns. Frankly, he was fobbed off with vacuous promises. We all know Johnson is a serial liar. Let’s not forget that he was found guilty by the Supreme Court of lying to the Queen!

The majority of the work on the so-called ‘deal’ was completed some time ago. Johnson has mostly been tinkering around the edges, with the exception of moving the border to the middle of the Irish Sea. (Policing that is going to be interesting with the word ‘piracy’ coming to mind!) 

Many people who are fed up with Brexit dominating the domestic agenda believed in Johnson’s oven-ready ‘Get Brexit Done’ slogan. However, Brexit will not be done for a very long time as negotiations on a trade deal could take a decade, and those who wake up on February 1st expecting the UK to be out of the EU will have a shock, as we will still be subject to EU law and paying money without any representation. Meanwhile, Sajid Javid has said that the UK will not align with EU rules after the transition period, which means that the EU will not consider the UK as either an honest broker under the current government nor as a country that can receive favourable treatment. 

The governments of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales all oppose the WA and are unhappy that a gung-ho gang of public school-boys in Westminster is legislating against the best interests of their countrymen and women, not to mention limiting opportunities for the next generation. Scottish independence and a united Ireland are distinct possibilities in the not too distant future.

We need to maintain our grassroots pro-EU groups and strengthen links between UK and EU citizens via people-to-people contact, reviving town-twinning and similar civil society mechanisms. Arts and culture are a great way to bring people together and I see a huge need for more collaboration at this level. We must mark significant European anniversaries and special days and wave our EU flags even more vociferously at the Last Night of the Proms. We also need to keep an eye on the government and hold them to account, demanding greater scrutiny and transparency, writing to MPs and MEPs and to the press, reminding of the promises made by the Vote Leave campaign. 

We must be ready to stand in local and national elections and to put ourselves forwards for roles in campaigning groups. We need to push for electoral reform and deliberative democracy such as citizens assemblies. We need to get tech-savvy and help in the fight against disinformation online. Now is not the time to be bystanders. So many ordinary people were provoked into action, learnt new skills and realised they had a voice. Let’s use everything we learned and build from the grassroots up, ready to oppose the attack on our European values that is coming down the line.       


Madeleina Kay

Madeleina Kay – EU Supergirl

After three and a half years campaigning to avert this disaster before its occurrence, I now have grim hope for the future of the UK. The question of where British citizens (and EU citizens living in the UK) who still feel strongly in European values should take our campaign next is a troubling question: Should we begin a rejoin campaign immediately? Should we encourage pro-Europeans to evacuate the UK allowing it to languish in brain-drain?

Should we focus on calling out the lies and broken promises of the Brexiters and campaign for the closest possible alignment to the EU? And will Brexit inadvertently deliver for the campaign for proportional representation? I have no answer to those questions, all I know is that my heart still wants to fight for Europe and all the values that underpin the European project.

One of the gravest mistakes of the Remain campaign was to fight a rational battle, using reason and evidence-based facts to try and prove the opposition “wrong”. We failed to grasp that support for Brexit was founded in a sense of identity and support won through emotional arguments. Instead of attacking people who disagree with us, efforts should have been made to promote a positive message, earning support for that alternative vision. And instead of cultivating a toxic culture of infighting, we should have embraced creativity and diversity, because ‘diversity of participation’ is the key to success in any movement.

Regardless of Brexit, it is essential that we work to challenge the racism and anti-immigrant rhetoric sweeping across the UK. Reframing narratives will be essential to leading change and altering perceptions that may be founded in prejudice and ignorance. This can be achieved by giving voice to migrants and celebrating our experiences of migration to change understanding through the empathy of human-centred stories. 

We may have lost this battle, but I have met some wonderful, inspiring and passionate people on the journey, and the UK now has a strong and determined, pro-EU movement to fight for the future. A guiding star of hope will see us through the darkness. 

Elena Remigi & Debbie Williams – In Limbo Project

After the shock of the election result, we took some time to reflect on the outcome and the repercussions for all those In Limbo. The Withdrawal Agreement, when ratified, becomes an international treaty and does give small comfort to the 5 million citizens directly affected by Brexit. Not all of our rights are covered, and we have to be prepared to carry on the fight for all of our rights, in particular freedom of movement for British citizens in Europe.

In Limbo

The Settled Status application [process] needs monitoring continuously and the vulnerable groups from our communities need protecting. Many EU citizens in the UK are at risk of becoming illegal if they fail to apply or experience the ‘hostile environment’ when it comes to renting or finding a job without physical proof of EUSS. This is why it is vital that we carry on telling our stories, raising our voices, reaching out to people to raise awareness of our issues and ensure we don’t become a new Windrush or are forgotten by the public. We can’t remain silent.

There will soon be an updated version of the first book ‘In Limbo’, so bear with us – but we invite everyone to read and share both our books. We also need to make sure that what the 5 million are going through never happens again, to anyone. We will therefore carry on promoting the values of the European Union and continue to highlight how important a project it is. For peace, diversity, prosperity and inclusiveness. There is still much work to be done, so don’t give up because we aren’t!


Bremainers Ask ….. Molly Scott Cato

Bremainers Ask ….. Molly Scott Cato

Molly Scott Cato is MEP for the South West of England and was previously Professor of Green Economics at Roehampton University. She speaks for the Green Party of England and Wales on finance issues. Molly also has expertise in the issues of renewable energy; trade; food and farming; and co-operatives and mutuals.

Molly grew up in Bath, which she left to study Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford University. Following a career in publishing she took a PhD in Economics from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth focusing on employment in the South Wales Valleys. She has written several books including Green Economics (2009), Environment and Economy (2011) and The Bioregional Economy (2012) as well as numerous academic papers.

Molly has three children and lives between Brussels and Bristol. She has spent a lifetime involved with social movements and community activity including the Transition Towns and Stroud Community Agriculture in her hometown. She enjoys singing, basket-making and bodging.

Kay Adams: What abiding memories will you take away with you from Brussels?

Molly Scott Cato: It’s all about the people I’ve met. My Green colleagues are truly inspiring and I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved together. I have also had the privilege of meeting a huge range of people from indigenous Brazilian women fighting the destruction of the Amazon, to the Dalai Lama, to determined anti-Brexit campaigners and people fighting tax evasion. It worries me deeply that these personal connections will be lost when we no longer have British MEPs.

Molly Scott Cato

Sue Wilson: If you could have done anything differently over the last 4 years to fight Brexit, what would it be?

Molly Scott Cato:I am a person who relies a lot on truth and data. I think it is true that we should have used arguments about identify and emotional connection more during the referendum campaign, but I am glad that we didn’t resort to the propaganda and disinformation that won the argument for Leave.

Tracy Rolfe: If a serious campaign was launched for the UK to re-join the EU, would you aim to get involved, & what would be the likely timeframe?

Molly Scott Cato: Now that we are definitely leaving I think we need to allow the Brexit project to fail convincingly before we begin campaigning to rejoin. But that is my dream and I believe it will happen after a decade or so because young people feel themselves to be Europeans. In the mean time we need to keep close relationships through friendship groups and twinning.

Molly and Caroline Lucas MP

John Moffett: Would you consider running again in the next general election?

Molly Scott Cato: I intend to spend the next four years doing everything I can to ensure that the next election is fought on the basis of a deal that guarantees a fair voting system. My decision about whether or not to stand depends on how successful that campaign is.

Zoe Adams Green: How likely is a no trade deal at the end of 2020, in your opinion & what can we do to prevent it?

Molly Scott Cato: I think we will end up in the eyeball-to-eyeball situation again at the end of 2020. Last time Barnier blinked over the level playing-field and I think we will all pay the price for that. But once we are out the EU has greater power so I think we will get to the brink but then Johnson will blink, meaning sacrificing some rights and opportunities that are really important to our society and economy. It’s hard to define what, at present, but the farmers and fishermen I represent look pretty vulnerable.

Michael Soffe: What are your plans after you lose your MEP role at the end of January?

Molly Scott Cato: I have six months of transitional allowance and I intend to spend that time holding the government to account over its negotiations and building up close European links to replace those we are losing. After that I have no idea.

Many thanks to Molly for taking part and we wish her well as she leaves Brussels. 

Bremainers Ask …….  James and Jack Dart

Bremainers Ask ……. James and Jack Dart

This month we are featuring James and Jack Dart from Inspire EU amongst other Remain projects. 

James Dart

Jack is a Liberal Democrat councillor in Torbay. In 2018, Jack deferred the 2nd year of his law degree in order to fight Brexit full time. Since then, Jack, along with his brother James, has organised, run and attended countless EU-related events all around the country, co-founding Inspire EU along the way. Jack is campaigning for a #FinalSay on the Brexit deal and won’t rest until the job is done. 

James is a former school teacher who left his job in 2017 to study European politics in the hope of better understanding the Brexit phenomenon. James co-founded Inspire EU with his brother Jack in order to campaign for a #FinalSay on the Brexit deal, as well as putting the positive case for the EU to people. 

Jack Dart

James answers our questions below on behalf of the two brothers.

1) What inspired you to take up the cause to fight Brexit and campaign for a #PeoplesVote?

The injustice, the lies, the faith-based mentality – they all worried me. The day after the result it quickly became clear that the Vote Leave leaders (Johnson and Gove) were already reneging on their promises and commitments – particularly around their central campaign pledge to spend £350 million a week on the NHS. The other aspect that concerned me was the flagrant disregard for detail, planning and expert opinion. As experts warned of economic damage, Brexit advocates – both in Parliament and on the street – waved away any criticisms or concerns in a way that I hadn’t ever seen before. A deeply defiant faith-based mentality had set in which prevented my brother and I from holding the most basic of conversations with our Leave-voting parents. We’d quiz them as to how Brexit would benefit them, but instead of calm, detailed responses, we’d get an angry bombardment of ad-hominem attacks, straw men and red herrings; they had absolutely nothing.

2) What do you think are the main barriers to getting young people to vote?

It’s no secret that young people turn out to vote in the fewest numbers. Indeed, when I type “voting by age” into Google, almost every graph tells the same story: the younger the age demographic, the less likely they are to 1) register to vote and 2) turn out on polling day.

It’s worth noting that this is not some recent phenomenon, but a historic one – though it did get especially bad between 1997 and 2015, recovering slightly in 2017. I think motivation plays an important role in this. I know a lot of people think that one vote won’t make a difference, but the fact is that if too many people think in this way, we lose the votes of a huge proportion of the electorate. Another thing that I think could play a role in this is that some young people who haven’t had access to as good an education as others feel like they don’t know enough about politics to make a decision about who to vote for. I think there needs to be better political education in schools especially, so that young voters feel not only more confident in choosing who to vote for but also more able to think critically about things said by politicians and decide for themselves what they believe in. Also, I think having to register to vote can be an obstacle. Not everyone may realise that they have to do this in order to vote and lots of people don’t know their national insurance number, either. I think there should be automatic voter registration as soon as a young person turns 18 to remove this obstacle.

Jack, James and Steve Bray

3) Are you concerned that – with the election on December 12 and with many universities breaking up for the holidays around this time – there will be a negative effect on young people voting?

We are aware of many students this time round who have registered for a postal vote if they want to vote in their home constituency. We have also witnessed more and more students being made aware that they can be registered in both their home and university constituencies and then can decide where they cast their vote. It is also likely that the political turmoil we have experienced in the past few years has led to an increased youth engagement or interest in politics, so hopefully this will translate into an increased youth and student turnout at the polls on December 12th. We really hope that students and all young people feel empowered and motivated enough to make the effort to vote in December.

4) What do you think still needs to be done to convince people who voted Leave in the last election to vote Remain in any subsequent referendum?

Be persistent. Our parents were sure that their vote to Leave was the right choice for over 2 years, and through constant sharing of facts, conversations and heart to hearts, they began to realise what Brexit symbolised. Never give up on the pursuit of the end goal, to stop Brexit entirely. Over 3 years have passed since the referendum, and that has proved to be key to outing the lies at the heart of the Leave campaign. The last election was a very strange one, but we know more about what is winning people over and we have stronger arguments. In summary, be vocal, be persistent, and communicate with others on what is and isn’t working. But remember, you don’t have to convince everyone, just 1 in 10 will do

Vote Tactically on Dec 12

5) Do you feel that young people will get behind a tactical voting strategy? If so, what can be done to spread this message?

Tactical voting is an absolute must in this election. It’s thought that if 30% of Remain voters vote tactically, then we can prevent a Johnson majority; that has to be our ultimate goal. Our advice has been, and continues to be, that voters young and old should consult the tactical voting sites out there, particularly, and These sites are continually updating their recommendations as new data comes in, so be sure to cross-check their recommendations right the way up until election day.

6) How have the last three years affected young people’s engagement in politics and their view of Parliament?  Has the turmoil made them less likely or more likely to vote?

Brexit (and the climate emergency) has done a huge amount to dent political apathy among young people. With that said, it’s still been challenging attempting to convert that anti-Brexit energy into activism. For many young people, this comes down to ownership, and a feeling that the Remain movement is for middle-class, middle-aged, polite, beret-wearing Englanders; it’s not cool, it’s not edgy and it’s desperately lacking in youth representation. We’ve had many conversations with young people who admit mobilising for the Donald Trump protest and the climate protests, but not for the EU events. With that said, when it comes to voting, we’ve just seen record numbers of young people registering to vote.

7) Do University students tend to participate more in election voting than other young people who are not in further education?

Students certainly benefit from the information and advice universities give out during an election period. Additionally, campuses tend to become highly political which may also help to advertise the election. We’re certain that this election will see an increase in young people voting, as Brexit, the climate emergency and issues around mental health, housing and the NHS dominate.

A university community exposes students to new ideas and political discourse and offers a space for students to educate themselves about parties and policies, particularly through committed political societies and events. Other young people who are not in further education may be working and may therefore be less exposed to politics or have less time to vote. It is also likely that university students may be more likely to vote on policies that have a direct impact on them, for example policies surrounding tuition fees.

Many thanks to the Dart brothers for taking time out from campaigning to answer our questions!


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