Brexit & National Interest

Public panel debate organised by Berkshire for Europe & Open Britain Berkshire

Maidenhead – 11 May 2018

Presentation of the event

Our panel

  • The Rt Hon Dominic Grieve, QC MP

  • Catherine Bearder, MEP

  • Dr Mike Galsworthy, Scientists for EU

  • Elena Remigi, In Limbo Project

Britain has only a few short months to finalise a withdrawal agreement with the European Union. In October this year, the clock will stop for the negotiators. Parliamentary deadlines on both sides of the channel will call time on the Brexit talks. Come and join us to discuss the important political choices facing our country:

What is the best way to ensure an outcome in the national interest?

What do we do if there is no deal? Should we exit Brexit and how can we do it?

If we want to give the government a new instruction, what should it be?

The debate will consider issues such as a 2nd Referendum, extension of Article 50 or whether we can keep Remain on the table, as well as the vital matter of a meaningful vote for Parliament. Each of the panelists will put their views forward, followed by a Q and A session.

Doors open 7.15pm Please bring your ticket with you.

Date: Friday 11th May 7.45-9.45PM

Venue: St Piran’s Centre, Gringer Hill, Maidenhead, SL6 7LZ

Summary of the event

Berkshire for Europe and Open Britain sponsored a highly successful panel debate, entitled Brexit and the national interest, on Friday 11th May in Theresa May’s very own constituency; Maidenhead. The panel consisted of the Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC – Conservative MP for Beaconsfield, Catherine Bearder MEP, Dr Mike Galsworthy of Scientists for EU, and Elena Remigi from the InLimbo Project. The panel was followed by a surprise guest speaker, EU Supergirl, Madeleina Kay.

In a packed hall, the audience heard that a new instruction to the government on Brexit will have to come from the people. “It was started with the people, so it has to end with every single person”, said Catherine Bearder. She brought the message from Europe, and said, “There is extreme frustration that the Brits are unable to come up with any concrete ideas regarding what they want … the general feeling is that Brexit is nonsensical and has no upsides.”

Mike Galsworthy emphasised the high levels of Science funding that come from the EU. He also mentioned the negative impacts on Science that are already happening due to Brexit: “People are leaving, collaborations are falling apart, there is a freezing of jobs and investment. We face the loss of the EMA, the Galileo Satellite, and Euratom.” He advocated people having another say – his view is that Brexit was a franchise, given to the public – it should not now be taken away from the public.

Elena Remigi spoke on behalf of the 3.6m EU citizens living in Britain. She described the Kafkaesque experience EU Nationals face when dealing with the Home Office in order to secure permanent residency. She also highlighted how 23 months of uncertainty has plunged lives into limbo, and reduced human beings to bargaining chips: “People are left asking ‘Where is home?”

Dominic Grieve reminded the audience that EU membership has been “transformationally benefical” for this country. He went on to suggest that we cannot magic away the result of the 2016 referendum, but he also said that he has quiet confidence that we can persuade people of what is in our country’s best interest. The public are entitled to change their mind, he said, and government should respect that change of mind.

Once all four guests had spoken, there was a question and answer session, followed by a powerful closing speech by panel chair and Berkshire for Europe member, Andrew Knapp, which he summarised with the statement, “Deceit is not democracy.” His full speech is included below.

Following this, Madeleina Kay took to the stage with an impassioned speech and a rousing song ‘Brexit Dividend’, and ended a thought-provoking evening on an inspirational note.

Videos (Thanks to B Hibbitt)

1. EU Citizen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDnW4K9GW20

2. EU citizens short https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1nPyUTTuY0

3. EU citizens very short https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWAQH_jnEj4

4. Dominic Grieve QC, MP https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhAdkUHiAbM

5. Catherine Bearder, MEP https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKPaGKn8fH8

6. Mike Galsworthy, Scientists for EU https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=na7hNjM3-Vs

7. Madeleina Key, EU supergirl https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r_5WvLStxo

8. Highlights https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYwJekG9RiU

Inspiring closing speech at Brexit panel debate, by Berkshire for Europe member, Prof. Andrew Knapp

Pr Knapp concluded the debate, with the following speech:

“Amazingly, nearly 60 weeks after the triggering of Article 50 by the UK government, that government is not agreed about the relationship it wants with the EU after Brexit. Is this because there are real political differences within the Cabinet? Yes, no doubt. Are there egos involved? Almost certainly. Are some of the ministers not quite up to the job? Very likely. But there is a more fundamental reason than this: Brexit is an inherently dishonest project that was mis-sold by its advocates. I am not just talking about the £350 million a week that won’t be available for the NHS. I am not just talking about the completely mendacious claim that the UK had no veto over future Turkish entry. I am talking about the core sell, that we could have our cake and eat it, that we could leave a club, stop paying the fees, and still enjoy the benefits of membership. This claim, made by Labour since June 2016 as well as by the Tories, is both morally obnoxious and impossible to put into practice. That is why the government is deadlocked: the Brexiters promised something they don’t have a cat’s chance in hell of delivering.

So if anyone tries to tell you that the vote of 23 June 2016 showed the ‘will of the British people’ to leave the EU, you tell them: Dishonesty is not democracy. Defamation – of people like Dominic Grieve or Gina Miller – is not democracy. Deceit is not democracy. That is why we need a second referendum, in which the Remain side – you and me – gets to nail once and for all the dirty lies peddled by the other side, which David Cameron was always too frightened to do.”

He then gave some recommendations for what each person in the room could do to help:

Join Berkshire for Europe or Open Britain Reading or both. If you are bewildered by the range of groups fighting Brexit around here, be reassured: we all work together locally, and increasingly the national groups are working together too.

Be an activist. Joining is good, acting is better. We do leafleting, we hold meetings and events like the recent Maidenhead event , we get to the press, and so on. Join in – or, even better, come to us with your own activity to suggest and we’ll back you up.

Write to your MP, even if it’s Mr Redwood or Mrs May.

March in London on 23 June, the second anniversary of the referendum.”

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