As you are putting candles in the Halloween pumpkins this autumn, don’t be surprised if Mrs May is in Brussels asking for a further extension of Article 50.

The new October 31 deadline is a recipe for a slackening in the pace of trying to sort out a deal and to hell with business begging for certainty.

In the immediate future we have the Easter Recess, then the argument may be made that sensitive talks between the Conservatives and Labour can’t take place while they are contesting the local and European elections. So, it could be June before serious attempts are made to resolve the issue.

The other cause for delay could be a Tory leadership election. Mrs May is determined to see her deal through but such is the unhappiness with fighting the Euro elections that pressure may become unbearable, particularly if a sizeable number of Cabinet Ministers resign. This would bring efforts to settle the Brexit deal to a standstill. There is very little prospect of the Tory grassroots allowing a new leader to be agreed amongst Conservative MPs. They are going to want to choose and this could take twelve weeks.

On the subject of a Tory leadership contest, it could lead to a hardening of attitude amongst those Labour MPs minded to vote for Mrs May’s deal. It is almost certain a hard-line leaver will be chosen to be the next Prime Minister by Conservative grassroots members whose ranks have been swelled by UKIP returnees. Any assurances given in the current talks about a customs union and single market in the political framework document could be swept away.


Having outlined how we may be in for a period of kicking the Brexit can down the road, Mrs May remains convinced her deal, with some softening of the political framework document, could assemble a coalition of Tory and Labour MPs who have deep fears about the European Parliament elections on May 23.

They will be an opportunity for Remainers and Brexiteers to rerun a form of the 2016 Referendum. There is a real chance that the Conservatives and Labour will do really badly while UKIP and Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party on one side and the Lib Dems and ChangeUK on the other battle it out. It could have profound effects on the future

prospects of the two parties that have dominated British politics for 100 years.

She may try to use this prospect to get her deal through which would see the European elections called off in mid campaign.


By October 31, the 2016 Referendum will be three and a half years away. Its authority is fading by the day, that’s why Leavers are so keen to cling on to that snapshot of public opinion. We know much more about the complexity of leaving, the electorate has changed, and parliament has showed itself incapable of decision.

What is needed now, particularly in the European elections is for a grand coalition of parties opposed to leaving. Lib Dems and ChangeUK in particular should divide the regional constituencies up with only one party fighting in each region.

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I would caution everyone that we could be dealt a huge shock by the European Union next week. It is quite possible that they have had enough and will not give us a long extension, even if we signal a General Election or second vote. They may have concluded that even these drastic actions could result in a hung parliament or narrow referendum majority, which could keep the Brexit drama going on for years.

In respect of the European elections there are three problems for them. Firstly, a cohort of Brexit Party MEP’s joining similar minded people from France and Italy is not an attractive prospect. Secondly if our MEPs were to leave after a few months, it could undermine the legality of the European Parliament. Thirdly if we were to stay and a Brexiteer Prime Minister was chosen (which is almost certain) would they start to block the next European budget?


The Tories have a damn cheek. They have behaved since 2017 as if they had a majority. Then having said Jeremy Corbyn isn’t fit to run a whelk stall, they expect him to rescue them from their own civil war. Mrs May has often said he is a Marxist who consorts with the Queen’s enemies but now apparently, he is to be trusted with the biggest issue we have faced since the war.

Corbyn has always wanted us out of the EU but avoided any responsibility for the “Tory Brexit”. As I write he is in danger of getting sucked in. He should avoid that unless he is prepared to get a cast iron commitment to a People’s Vote, which I suspect he is not prepared to push.


Now that Vote Leave has dropped its appeal against its fine by the Electoral Commission, we can officially say that the 2016 Referendum result was corrupted by illegal activity.

They funnelled £675 315 through a youth group to avoid spending limits. They have also been fined by the Information Commissioner for sending thousands of unsolicited text messages in the run up to the 2016 poll.

Vote Leave was fronted up by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, potential aspirants to be Prime Minister of this country.

Vote Leave’s response has been to question the impartiality of the Electoral Commission and to complain that they were outspent by Remain. That is not an argument for breaking the law.

All this combined with the failure of parliament to resolve the matter, the huge demonstrations and petition signatories for a second vote and the fact that we all know the issues much better, leads me to revert to my former position and call for a new referendum.

I was worried by the prospect of a divisive campaign, but on reflection why should Remainers be bullied out of asking people if they have changed their mind?

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I do not mean to cause offence to democratic politicians who are rightly revolted by the Christchurch massacre. However, it is my view that references by Boris Johnson to Muslim women looking like “letter boxes” in their burkas, and Donald Trump calling Mexicans rapists is on one end of a spectrum that ends with the awful events in New Zealand at the other.

Populist politicians are regularly using language now that was once exceptional. The reason why Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of Blood” speech is still remembered today is because it was so unusual. Now populists in Turkey, Hungary, America and here are all too willing to resort to racist remarks to appeal to their intended supporters. The extra factor, not present in 1968, is social media. So, at one end of the spectrum we have populist politicians, who don’t remotely want people threatened or assaulted, but whose comments lead to a general coarsening of our public debate.

So, in the middle of the spectrum many are regarding people with differing views as enemies to be insulted and sometimes threatened. Women MPs have been particularly affected by this sort of thing.

Then right at the other end of my spectrum you have people who take this polarisation in our society to the ultimate which results in the murder of Joe Cox, Christchurch and a host of Islamic terrorist atrocities.

Populist politicians need to be far more careful about the words they choose.


Whatever I say in this blog will be out of date before you read it, so let’s just settle for excerpts from John of Gaunt’s speech in Shakespeare’s Richard The Second.

…….. “this dear, dear land. Dear for her reputation through the world, is now leased out like to a tenement or pelting (worthless) farm,.. is now bound in with shame, with inky blots and rotten parchment bonds. That England that was wont to conquer others hath made a shameful conquest of itself.”


British politics was in a pretty turbulent state exactly 40 years. The Labour government of James Callaghan fell following a motion of no confidence after a winter of strikes that had torn at the fabric of the country in a not dissimilar way to now.

The late seventies did see Michael Heseltine wielding the Commons mace when he felt procedure was being ignored. The minority status of the government did put parliament under strain. So, it was a crisis, but perhaps not on the scale of this one. The spring of 1979 saw the transition from a post war consensus which had initially delivered prosperity but had decayed into a world of inflation and widespread strikes; to the bracing economics of Thatcherism. The change was bound to be turbulent, but most were agreed, Mrs Thatcher in particular at that time, that the country would be turned around in the context of the European Economic Community. We would all prosper together.

Now not only is the current government in a shambles, but the future course of our country for decades to come is in the hazard.

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I want to comment briefly on the growing Brexit crisis before telling you about my encounter with Nigel Farage.

I still think Mrs May can get her deal through because as I have written many times before only a change in the law can stop Brexit, only the government can change the law and MPs won’t vote for no deal. The Commons can pass all the motions they like, but they ultimately have no effect. As March 29th approaches and the EU’s long extension offer loom, watch the dominoes collapse.

Now I want to my attention to my encounter with Nigel Farage in Chester. We Remainers are constantly chided for not accepting the result of the 2016 referendum by the de facto leader of the new Brexit Party. I have always believed there is no way Farage would have accepted the Referendum result if a majority of people had voted to Remain.

Ahead of his visit to the North West I looked up what Farage said in the hour after the close of poll in June 2016. Before results started to come in, he thought Leave had lost. He said the following “Whatever happens tonight, we are winning this war. The Eurosceptic gene is out of the bottle and will not be put back. My sense is that the government’s voter registration scheme has perhaps tipped the balance.”

Are these the words of a man preparing to accept the result, or getting his arguments in place ready to campaign for a second referendum?

I began my question by politely acknowledging that he had changed British history and then read the above quotes to him asking him to admit he would not have accepted a Remain result.

Instead of answering my question, he launched into a rant about the BBC (an organisation I have not been employed by for 13 years) betraying the people. The performance went down well with his audience which shows the power of this man. A few have told me since they were unimpressed and that includes me. Farage is a rabble rouser. He spends his time in the European Parliament insulting MEPs and tarnishing the image of our country. When he is here, he prefers a rant to responding to an uncomfortable question.

The truthful answer is that the ante brigade never gave up under John Major, Tony Blair and David Cameron and would have been undeterred by a Remain vote in 2016.


We may have seen the last financial statement of Philip Hammond. He would be unlikely to survive the fall of the Prime Minister. He is a top target for Brexiteers who increasingly run the Tory Party despite the fact that this week he was able to give an upbeat report on the economy. The budget deficit is at its lowest since 2001, wages are rising and unemployment low. His speech was laced with effective attacks on Labour’s high spending plans.

But he incurred the wrath of Brexiteers by warning that the economic recovery was being threatened by Brexit uncertainty and hinted at his support for indicative votes on Brexit options.

Grave offences in the eyes of those who’s priority isn’t to support a Chancellor delivering economic improvement but to risk all with a reckless Brexit.

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