Friday 29 March 2019

A fascinating and very challenging article about Brexit

A fascinating and very challenging article about Brexit, by Stephen Byers, a former British MP, has been published in the New York Times.  It is well worth reading.

Friday 22 March 2019

Theresa May's speech – March 2019

by Robin Baker

Theresa May’s televised speech to the country was probably the most dishonest that has been made since Anthony Eden and the Suez invasion.  I am sure that our Prime Minster would not want to leave it in that dishonest state.  So always being anxious to help, here I offer her some suggestions, in red below, to make it honest.

“Nearly three years have passed since the public voted to leave the European Union.
It was, the biggest democratic exercise in our country’s history provided, that is, that you consider holding a referendum on such an issue to be democratic in a country that has consistently taken such decisions through the established system of parliamentary democracy.

I came to office on a promise to deliver on that verdict.
In March 2017, I triggered the Article 50 process for the UK to exit the EU – and Parliament
supported it overwhelmingly.  Unfortunately I then called an unnecessary general election for the following June, thereby wasting 50 days of the two years provided by Article 50 .  Worse, the result of the election was a hung parliament which is the worst possible result for seeking an agreement that could command the support of the parliament. 

That is the principal reason why, two years on, MPs have been unable to agree on a way to implement the UK’s withdrawal.  The second reason is that I have been totally inflexible in the proposal that I have put to the House of Commons, despite the fact that it has been overwhelmingly rejected twice.

As a result, we will now not leave on time with a deal on 29 March.
This delay is a matter of great personal regret for me despite the fact that it is actually in the interest of the country I lead.

And of this I am absolutely sure: you the public have had enough.
You are tired of the infighting.
You are tired of the political games and the arcane procedural rows.
Tired of me putting the same question to the Commons when I and everybody else have known has had no chance of being accepted because even the strongest pro-Brexiteers recognise that it is worse than remaining an EU member.
Tired of MPs talking about nothing else but Brexit when you have real concerns about our
children’s schools, our National Health Service, and knife crime.
You want this stage of the Brexit process to be over and done with.

I agree. I am on your side.
It is now time for MPs to decide.

So today I have written to Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, to request a
short extension of Article 50 up to the 30 June to give MPs the time to make a final choice.
Do they want to leave the EU with a deal which delivers on the result of the referendum –
that takes back control of our money, borders and laws while protecting jobs and our
national security?

Do they want to leave without a deal?

Or do they not want to leave at all, causing what I am pretending would be potentially irreparable damage to public trust despite the fact that the pro-Brexit campaign was based on lies about the financial effects by a man whom I subsequently rewarded by appointing him Foreign Secretary, a job in which he showed himself to be incompetent, and the fact that the situation is now totally different from what was expected when the referendum was held
not just in this generation of politicians, but to our entire democratic process?
It is high time we made a decision.
So far, Parliament has done everything possible to avoid making a choice.
Motion after motion and amendment after amendment have been tabled without
Parliament ever deciding what it wants, in part because I keep trying to get them to approve the same deal they have already rejected.

All MPs have been willing to say is what they do not want.
I passionately hope MPs will find a way to back the deal I have negotiated with the EU.
A deal that delivers on the result of the referendum and is the very best deal negotiable.
I will continue to work night and day to secure the support of my colleagues, the DUP and others for this deal.

But I am not prepared to delay Brexit any further than 30 June.
Some argue that I am making the wrong choice, and I should ask for a longer extension to
the end of the year or beyond, to give more time for politicians to argue over the way
That would mean asking you to vote in European Elections, nearly three years after our
country decided to leave.
What kind of message would that send?
And just how bitter and divisive would that election campaign be at a time when the country
desperately needs bringing back together?
Some have suggested holding a second referendum.
I don’t believe that is what you want – and it is not what I want because clearly one should never put the same question twice, - oh oops, no I cannot say that now can I?  Actually it’s because you might give me an answer that will show that I have been wasting my and the country’s time over the past two years.

We asked you the question already and you gave us your answer.
Now you want us to get on with it.
And that is what I am determined to do despite the harm it will cause to our country.  But don’t worry too much, I have been determined to do lots of things in which I have failed.”

Robin Baker

Wednesday 20 March 2019

(Post Brexit ?) Meeting and Debate

Hello everyone,
·     the conclusion of Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement with the EU on November 14, 
·         its defeat in Parliament on January 15 by a historic majority of 203 votes
·   the unsuccessful attempts, last week,  by Geoffrey Cox to renegotiate the agreement
·   the key votes planned in Parliament next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday

And following British European Movement , France (BEMF) past events, notably :
·      the joint BEMF/BiE meeting  on halloween   
·   the successful dinner on November 23 with Richard Ashworth MEP as guest speaker
·  the convivial Mince Pie and Mulled Wine Evening on December 12th
…..all three attended by over 27 people, the BEMF is now planning a new Spring meeting to be held on April 10th, 12 days after the current (non extended) March 29 deadline for leaving the EU (and 2 days after the 115th anniversary of the 1904 Entente Cordiale, negotiated from 1898 to 1904 and finally signed on April 8 1904 in Paris)
This new event will take the form of a debate organised as follows:
1.       An address by Christopher Chantrey, Vice Chairman of the British Community Committee in France and Treasurer of British in Europe (BiE) who will update us on the BiE’s negotiations with the French Ministry of the Interior and give us his his views on the situation concerning our cartes de séjour post Brexit (see also the attched files)
2.       An open debate on our situation and concerns as the Third Country nationals we will all become in France, post Brexit, notably touching on
·           Where does the UK go from here ?
·           What will Brexit mean for me, personally ?
The Debate will take place next month (in just 4 1/2 weeks, so save the date !) :
· at 7pm on Wednesday April 10
·  in the Saint George’s Anglican Church parish hall at 7 rue Auguste Vacquerie in the XVI th   arrondissemen( (near the place de l’Etoile)  

The debate, itself, will be followed by a verre de l’amitié enabling you to meet old friends and,  of course,  to network.
To cover our costs (hire of hall and wine) we will be asking everyone to make a contribution of €10 payable at the door.
                       *          *          *
Everyone is invited (not just members of the British European Movement, France)  but we invite all of you, who are not already members, to join the BEMF.
The annual subscription is just €25, payable by cheque or bank transfer, and that also covers simultaneous membership of the European Movement UK whose Newsletters and periodic mail updates you will receive regularly .
                       *          *          *
The debate promises to be a very positive event and hopefully it will respond to many of the questions you are asking yourself at this critical time and in a much less formal and more open way than the British Embassy Outreach meetings some of you may already have attended  
No holds barred !
We hope to see as many of you as possible on April 10 !
Best regards from

Geoff  (Chair, BEMF), Elisabeth (Treasurer) and Dan (Secretary)