Author Archives: brexitbritain2019

About brexitbritain2019

Head of Reality Checks at Dispatches from Brexit Britain.

A Real Guide to Tactical Voting

Guest post by Alex Gunter, pro-European activist.

Whether you like it or not, tactical voting is here to stay. Tactical voting is a powerful method to remove people from power in the broken British political system. There is, however, a great deal of contradictory advice on how to cast your vote tactically; this is a guide on how to tactically vote using both 2017 election data and current affairs analysis.

Summary:

To have an impact on this election you need to think critically oh how you will tactical vote. First of all Do I live in a Marginal? If not, don’t vote tactically, support your party of choice and help grow national remain statistics! Next, Is there a Remain Candidate? Check which parties are standing and their positions on Brexit. Can they win? Don’t just check the tactical voting recommendations. Think critically, research the candidates, ask your local pro-EU group. If they can win, from your own research, vote for them. Remain Can’t Win? If they can’t win select a compromise, either that be Labour or a rogue candidate from another party as it is better than Brexit. Use tactical voting recommendations, your local pro-EU group and news coverage to find the right candidate.

Remember: Be careful with the tactical voting organisations! They run on data from 2017 as local data research is too expensive! Politics change, political change. Don’t forget we have a new party, The Independent Group for Change and a number of people who left their old Parties have changed the likelihood of the same parties winning. Check the news, check the candidates!

Detailed Guide:

Question 0:

Is your seat part of the Unite to Remain Alliance? If so this is easy, vote for the Remain Alliance Candidate. For everyone else, move to Question 1.

Question 1: Do I live in a Marginal?

What is a marginal? Of the 650 different constituencies that make up Britain nearly all of them are a foregone conclusion, the winner has already been decided. The easiest way to find out if you live in a marginal is to enter your postcode into https://tacticalvote.co.uk/ and see if the previous general election was a landslide. If it was not a landslide move onto Question 2.

If your constituency was won by a massive margin by the incumbent, you find out if the local politics have changed much since 2017. Find out the current MP, also from https://tacticalvote.co.uk/, and research them. As yourself some critical questions. Did they recently leave their party? Are they involved in controversy? Are they a prolific outspoken individual who has changed party allegiance? If so it may be a marginal, and head to

Question 2.

Be Careful, even though https://tacticalvote.co.uk/ calls it a safe seat their data may be out of date. For example since 2017 in Ilford South Mike Gapes left the Labour party, he had a very strong majority, a ‘super safe seat’ yet has now split the labour vote making it a clear marginal two horse race between him and Labour. A lot has changed since 2017!

If your seat is safe, vote for the party you feel most connected to, voting tactically will not help remain so help out your party’s national statistics and show remain your support by boosting remain party statistics. 

Question 2: Who is Remain?

Enter your postcode into http://dontsplittheremainvote.com/ and see which candidates are standing. The Greens, The Liberal-Democrats, Plaid Cymru, SNP, The Independent Group for Change, The Renew Party are all Remain Parties. Independents are also sometimes remain so if they are making an impact it is worth searching for them too!

Note: Some Labour Candidates are also firmly pro Remain, it’s a good idea to check their statements in the news or ask them in person!

Question 3: Can Remain Win?

Sadly, not all remain candidates have a chance. Check if any of the remain voters can win, visit http://dontsplittheremainvote.com/ firstly which aggregates all the tactical voting suggestions together. This will give you an idea based on the 2017 elections the likelihood of a remain victory but be careful.

Since 2017 many candidates have left their old parties to either join a remain party or become independent. Some of these people can win! You must also research yourself to see if a firm remain candidate can win by looking at the news coverage of different candidates. You can even ask the candidates themselves what they think their chances are, though expect bias!

It is also good to check your local pro-Remain group to see if they have a suggestion, see who they are campaigning for as they probably know the campaign better than anyone. ( Find them either at http://istopbrexit.info/ or http://gazetteer.ukpen.eu/ [BETA] )

If remain can win, vote for remain, if not you will have to vote tactically, move to Question 4

Question 4: Who is the Compromise Candidate?

If remain is unable to win, you must find out who is the best candidate to beat the Brexiters. This is where your vote becomes tactical! You must decide who is best placed to remove the Brexiter. These will most likely be Labour Candidates. Labour is not pro-Brexit but we are not so sure they are pro-Remain either, better than the Brexit Party Though!

There are 7 different sites offering advice based on statistical analysis from 2017 and a couple of extra polls. These can all be searched simultaneously at http://dontsplittheremainvote.com/ which will also give you some potential scenarios if we tactically vote.

This data is old, you need to make sure that it is up to date, firstly check the news, are they saying anything about the candidates, has there been a major shift in local support or a new potential candidate.

Check with your local pro-remain group, (Find them either at http://istopbrexit.info/ or http://gazetteer.ukpen.eu/ [BETA]) they might have some interesting extra inside knowledge.

Cast your vote, vote tactical and rest in the knowledge you supported remain effectively.

After:

Once you have done, don’t forget to join your local campaign group and sign up to the national ones. Share this with your remainder friends and remind them to not follow tactical voting websites like sheep but think critically to have the greatest impact.

By Alex Gunter of UKPEN, Alliance4Europe and Volt UK

——————–

Alex Gunter is a pro-European activist involved in the founding of UKPEN and  Alliance4Europe. Alex specialises in Campaign networking bringing together projects for a common goal. Alex is also involved with Volt UK and the Federal Union.

Our Future, Our Choice

Marching for a People’s Vote.

In the past two weeks, we’ve definitely hit peak Brexit. From Uri Geller assuring us that he will telepathically stop Brexit (yes really), to 75 bedraggled ‘Leave means Leave’ marchers in anoraks trudging through fields somewhere in the North East and MPs on all sides changing their minds on Theresa May’s deal and then changing them back again – it’s been pretty wild. By the time you read this, the indicative votes will have happened. In an ever more hectic Brexit news cycle, a chronically short-on-time blogger/activist like myself can’t really offer much on current affairs. I guess you’ll have to get on twitter at your own peril – I will almost certainly delete my account once this madness is over because it’s doing my head in.

Instead, I want to focus on the glimmers of hope and the momentum that is undoubtedly building to stop Brexit. A petition to revoke Article 50 hit over 5 million signatures and the BBC is now reporting that Brexit is no longer ‘the will of the people’ with 55% of the population backing Remain. The 29th March is no longer the day we will be leaving the EU (I will be wishing everyone a happy un-Brexit day this Friday) and softer Brexit options, or even no Brexit at all, are maybe likelier than ever before. 

The most hopeful event though, was the ‘Put It To The People’ March, which took place this Saturday in London. Our Manchester ‘Our Future, Our Choice group that started out with a handful of students only 6 weeks ago, attended with two full coaches, braving a 6 am start to make our voices heard. We arrived at lunchtime to the most upliftingly chaotic scenes I have ever witnessed in central London, as marchers from all parts of the country attempted to make it to their various meeting points on time. The coaches from the Highlands had set off at 8 pm on Friday, driving through the night, a whole train had been chartered from Bristol (placard making in coach 7) and people from all over the world had ‘come home to march’ from as far as Los Angeles.

As we weaved our way through the crowds to get to the ‘Our Future, Our Choice’ meeting point it was already obvious the march was going to be huge. Park Lane was completely backed up and we felt like we had stepped into a festival. There was music coming from everywhere, drumming and massive sound systems, with the ‘DJs for a People’s Vote’ mobile sound system featuring huge names like Fatboy Slim and Neneh Cherry.

Soon none of us had any phone signal – it was strange being in the middle of a momentous event which was going to be reported by media from all over the world with no contact to the outside world. Once we started marching, we moved at a glacial pace – testament to the huge crowds attending. Nevertheless, the atmosphere was wonderful – determined but friendly, uplifting and hopeful. There were surprises around every corner – children perched high on buildings waving signs that said ‘Watch Out, we’re nearly old enough to vote’, a burly Tory apologizing for the havoc his party had wreaked at the top of his booming voice, a gigantic float brought over from Cologne carnival featuring Theresa May ruining the British economy.

Waves of cheers ran through the crowd, applauding the speakers in Parliament Square we couldn’t hear, backed up, as we were, on Hyde Park Corner. We noticed how diverse the crowd was, with no age group dominating and people from diverse ethnic backgrounds everywhere in the crowd – it really seemed like the whole of the UK had come out to march and demand a final say on Brexit. We still weren’t moving – we put on ‘Music for Chameleons’ by Gary Numan and danced in the sunshine.

The pace picked up slightly by around 2 pm and we rounded the corner onto Picadilly. We saw the 97-year old D-Day Veteran who was attending the march with his family and Mike Galsworthy, the founder of Scientists for Europe, an influential anti-Brexit organization. We saw lots of anti-Brexit dogs, dressed in tiny European outfits, an astronaut who said he’d move to Mars if Brexit happened and one of us spotted Oscar winner Olivia Coleman. Looking around, this was the Britain I wanted to live in – hilarious, spirited, tolerant and open.

By the time we made it to Parliament Square, the speeches were over but it hardly mattered, because we were there, adding our bodies to the massive crowd of marchers who had come to London to let Theresa May know she didn’t speak for us. In addition, it seemed we were marching against a Britain that was closed-minded, mean-spirited and afraid of the outside world.

Above all, I was overwhelmed by how genuine the strength of feeling was on Saturday. Unlike the Vote Leave campaign, which had targeted people based on sophisticated algorithms backed by dark money, this felt scrappy and real. Real people from all over the country had come out to march, bringing with them their real concerns for the country and a more hopeful vision of what might come if we stand up to fight this. It felt inclusive and like a real grassroots movement that spanned social groups.

To achieve the huge number of marchers who attended the protest on Saturday – the official estimate lies at one million, though some think the number was higher – ordinary people had to get involved. People like Nimo, Toby, Chloe, Maddie, Emilia and myself, all from different backgrounds and subjects across Manchester Universities who would never have met if we hadn’t been united against Brexit and wanted to make a difference.

We weren’t alone in this DIY spirit, sitting outside the Students Union with scrappily made flyers printed in the Learning Commons (badly designed in microsoft powerpoint – my speciality!) and hand-painted placards cobbled together in the Students Union. People like us were doing the same up and down the country, giving their evenings and lunches to spread the word, spread the word, spread the word – and it worked. I am proud of everyone who marched. We were one million.

The fight for our futures isn’t over yet – there’s still time to join us.

If you want to get active for a People’s Vote, join the Our Future, Our Choice campaign and For Our Future’s Sake campaigns. Both are campaigning for a People’s Vote, are aimed at young people and need volunteers! Join OFOC in Manchester here.

Please also follow Manchester for Europe for more updates on People’s Vote Events in Manchester: https://www.facebook.com/MCR4EU/

If you haven’t signed THAT petition yet, do it now!

Letters to our MPs, Pt II

Yesterday we had our first ever Our Future, Our Choice meeting in Manchester. In case you haven’t heard of them, they are a young persons’ organisation campaigning for a People’s Vote.  The turnout was brilliant with more than 20 attending. We discussed the recent developments (Labour supporting a People’s Vote – yay!), got hyped for the big ‘Put it to the People’ march on the 23rd March and we wrote tonnes and tonnes of letters to our MPs.

Writing to your MP can seem strangely old-fashioned; it’s certainly not something I ever considered before starting to campaign for a People’s Vote. However, it can make a big impact –MPs often cite letters they’ve received from their constituents and it has allowed many to challenge assertions from the media that their voters still want to leave the EU. Armed with letters from their constituents, MPs can make the case that, in fact, the mood has shifted in many constituencies and more and more people want to remain.

That’s why writing to your MP can make a big impact. It doesn’t take much time and you could even email them (Find your MPs address here).

Thank you to everyone who joined us yesterday!

The Brexit deadline is coming closer – if you think Brexit will harm you and the people you care about, now is the time to do something about it. Don’t be the person who hates Brexit but stands on the sidelines – it’s time to stand up and do something.

Today we’re featuring Vee’s letter to her MP Jeff Smith (Manchester Withington). She’s 27 and has lived in Manchester for almost ten years. She works in the medical sector and is particularly worried about the damage Brexit will do to the NHS.

Vee’s Letter:

Dear Jeff Smith MP,

I have been living in Chorlton for the past three years and have been a resident of Manchester for almost ten. As my MP I am writing to you to try and express my feelings about Brexit. It’s fair to say I’m confused, saddened and fearful and I feel like writing this letter will help me express this better than any other way I can think of.

The result of the 2016 referendum now feels like a distant memory. I remember waking up in a muddy field on the day of the result and hoping I was still dreaming. I can’t pinpoint my exact reasons for wanting to stay in the EU, but my overwhelming feeling was that we were stronger together than we were apart. Having lived in such a diverse city for such a long time, I had found myself studying with, working with and living with many people who had moved to the UK from neighbouring EU countries.

Many of these people have become some of my best friends and it seems absurd to me that they are in a position where they are questioning whether soon they will have the right to remain in a country they call home and have called home for such a long time.

I currently work in the medical sector and I see on a day-to-day basis how much value EU nationals bring to our NHS. The NHS is currently at crisis point as far as I can see. We have a shortage of doctors that I fear is drastically affecting the healthcare we and our loved ones are receiving. Not only is it affecting the health of NHS patients, but also of our doctors who are already under an enormous amount of pressure. At a time like this, we can’t afford to be turning away skilled and talented people who want to contribute not only to our healthcare system, but to our economy and to our communities on a local and national scale.

To me, it is clear that what is currently happening in Parliament is a disaster. As the Brexit deadline comes ever closer I see the fear and anxiety levels around those around me rise and rise. I feel as though I and many others are in a position where we don’t know what the best solution is. What I do know is that my faith in this government no longer exists. I’m not even sure what I’m asking from you as my MP, perhaps just to show us some light at the end of the tunnel.

If you want to get active for a People’s Vote, join the Our Future, Our Choice campaign and For Our Future’s Sake campaigns. Both are campaigning for a People’s Vote, are aimed at young people and need volunteers!

The Put It To The People : People’s Vote March is taking place on 23rd March in London. Make sure you attend and bring your best placards! 

There are coaches going from Manchester – book your space here. It’s £30 with £20 back on the day if you provide valid student ID.

On political (ir)responsibility and Brexit

Today’s Dispatch from Brexit Britain comes from Kat. She grew up in Norfolk but did her undergraduate degree in Canterbury with a year abroad studying in Calgary, Canada. She has spent the last few years living in Manchester where she is currently studying for a PhD in Classics at the University of Manchester. Her research focuses on shapeshifting characters in ancient Greek myth and literature, including their depictions in art and connections with other myths and folktales.

Today, Theresa May announced that the meaningful vote won’t happen next week, but instead will happen by the 12th March, only 17 days before the UK leaves the European Union. This seems to be a good moment to consider irresponsibility in UK politics around Brexit. It may still be within the government’s grasp to leave the EU on the 29th March, as May stated today, but at this point it seems like this is dangerously likely to be in the form of an ‘accidental’ (to borrow Michel Barnier’s term) no-deal, dropping out rather than any sort of negotiated exit.

Brexit, and the way it has been (mis)handled by both the Government and the Labour opposition, is a disaster. As a British citizen, I’m faced with losing my right to live, work and travel in 27 countries, an opportunity which has been such a fixed part of my life that I’d never really questioned it until UKIP’s voices started getting louder. For Europeans living in the UK, this threat, along with increased xenophobia, is just as horrifying. But one thing that has become increasingly clear from the very beginnings of the Brexit debacle is that British politics is sorely lacking in responsible behaviour. The referendum was offered by David Cameron and the Tory party as a desperate, reckless attempt to sway potential UKIP voters without any real consideration as to how this would be taken by the public. No safeguards were put in place for this potentially catastrophic event; instead, Cameron seemed to be under the delusion that there was no need even for a real campaign effort, as Baroness Warsi has recently admitted. It’s not just the Tories, though: under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership the Labour party failed to come down on either side for far too long, leaving the Remain side vulnerable and voters unsure of their Party’s decision.

In the meantime, of course, Vote Leave were left free to ignore spending limits and the inconvenient matter of the truth when it comes to EU spending (with Gove, Johnson and Farage all lending support to the infamous NHS spending bus, an idea which they were quick to distance themselves from as soon as the count had ended. This isn’t just irresponsibility, but a deliberate and harmful attempt to play on people’s fears. It really baffles me that these lies and the illegality of the spending hasn’t been properly investigated – what is the point, I wonder, of having safeguards and laws, if certain groups can simply ignore them with no consequences (and of course, this extends far beyond Vote Leave…)?

Since the vote, things have only gotten worse. Cameron resigned, refusing to deal with the mess his party had created, a real insult to those 48% who voted Remain and all those on both sides whose future was suddenly uncertain. Theresa May stepped in, and has somehow managed to hold on to being Prime Minister in the face of what we could reasonably call complete disaster (votes of no confidence, infighting in her party, the list goes on), all the while presenting one bad deal after another, while sharks in the form of Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg circle the waters.

The Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, has helped to perpetuate the harmful rhetoric we saw reflected in the ‘Go Home’ buses organised by May in her stint as Home Secretary, while the dreadful mishandling of the Windrush scandal has become horribly apparent. This hateful rhetoric has been used by May herself to describe EU citizens as ‘queue jumpers’, an apparent attempt to deepen the divide which was opened by the Brexit debate and the likes of Nigel Farage. All the while, attempts to reassure EU citizens in the UK have been botched, for instance the infamous ‘settled status’ app, only made available on Android phones.

Other headlines have seemed more suitable for The Onion than The Guardian. Dominic Raab, the Brexit Secretary, made headlines with his startling discovery that Britain is, in fact, an island, and within months of taking up his post the new Transport Minister, Chris Grayling – apparently keen not to be outdone in the race to incompetency – outsourced Britain’s post-leave ferrying to a company with no boats, and with terms and conditions copied and pasted from a takeaway website.

On the other side of the Chamber, the opposition has proven to be just as effective. Jeremy Corbyn, despite his apparent concern for the rights of EU citizens, has failed to offer any protection to them or to guarantee any rights for British citizens whose opportunities and jobs are on the chopping block, despite his own Party members calling for a People’s Vote. The very recent rise of the Independent Party shows just how much disruption Brexit and the series of bad deals we’ve been offered have had on the political system: change, of course, is not necessarily a bad thing, but with MPs defecting from both sides it seems to be time for a re-evaluation of Parliament and which parties really hold sway. Perhaps this loss of MPs and shadow cabinet ministers might be the push Labour needs to support a People’s Vote – but with just over a month until the UK crashes out of the EU with no deal (which really is a terrifying prospect), I’m worried that like Labour’s belated support of Remain, this will be too little, too late. Perhaps this is what Corbyn really wants – Britain trampled, angry with the Conservative Party, and ready to vote for Labour. If so, this is irresponsibility just as shocking as Cameron’s in calling the referendum in the first place, and is likely to have just as successful an outcome.

Through all this, of course, the real insult has been that the vote – even if it had not been a point of political apathy and illegality – was never binding. This isn’t simply a ‘remoaner’ complaint, either; plenty of people who voted to leave have since changed their mind – as is their right! Those who complain about a second referendum seem less than sure about the outcome this time, but democracy should not stop after one vote, and particularly in the face of such clear misinformation it would not be putting a limit on our democratic power to offer a second referendum (now that nearly three years down the line we can see the true cost of losing our EU membership on a national scale, of which Nissan’s factory closure is just one aspect). In fact, this is the only way to ensure that democracy is upheld.

Thankfully, though, it’s not all bad. One thing I could not have expected from the course of the Brexit car-crash was that I would be – albeit reluctantly – impressed by a Tory’s behaviour. But when Jo Johnson resigned, putting the UK’s interests above those of his political career, I was astounded. This is the sort of thing that really shouldn’t surprise us, but in an age where it’s become so clear that the majority of politicians do not have – and perhaps never have had – our best interests at heart, it’s a very small beacon of hope in the darkness.

Another thing that’s become clear, though, is that there are lots of us who are not willing to see the UK crash out of the EU and Brexiter lies go unanswered. More than 700,000 people marched in October for a People’s vote and more will march again in the next few weeks. I don’t know if we’ll get the vote – I truly believe that it’s the only truly democratic option, and I’m honestly terrified of the threat of losing my EU citizenship, and along with it the chance to move freely in Europe and to meet people doing the same. What I am sure of though, is that I don’t want to sit back and let this happen without a fight. This is not a Britain I recognise anymore, and it’s not a political system that I can believe in, but – hopefully – it’s one that we, and future generations, can change.

If you want to get active for a People’s Vote, join the Our Future, Our Choice campaign and For Our Future’s Sake campaigns. Both are campaigning for a People’s Vote, are aimed at young people and need volunteers!

The Put It To The People : People’s Vote March is taking place on 23rd March in London. Make sure you attend and bring your best placards! 

There are coaches going from Manchester – book your space here. It’s £30 with £20 back on the day if you provide valid student ID.

Stop Brexit. Save Science.

Today’s Dispatch from Brexit Britain is from Lauren. She’s 21 and grew up mostly in Brentwood, Essex though she did live in Germany for a time as well. Lauren is currently studying Genetics at the University of Manchester, where she is working on her final year research project in a lab looking at the molecular pathology of breast cancer. She hopes to either carry onto postgraduate study after her graduation in June or to go into a clinical role within the NHS. 

She makes the case that Brexit will do lasting damage to scientific research and the collaborative networks that are essential for scientific progress.

Lauren’s story

Whilst I will look back as these past three years as my time at University, to everyone else they will always be the Brexit years. In the days and weeks following the referendum in 2016, whilst I was obviously very concerned and angry about the outcome, I also had a selfish feeling of distance. I was
born in the UK (and with an Irish grandmother had the potential for an Irish passport in the bank), I didn’t work in finance or trading or anything like that, and only relied on the NHS with my yearly bouts of tonsillitis. As far as I considered, the effects of Brexit on my own life would be minimal and indirect.

I was about to go into my first year as a Genetics undergraduate at the University of Manchester and was genuinely naïve. There is a whole plethora of ways in which Brexit will affect my future, including and not limiting to my ambitions to continue to work in science following the end of my degree.

Straight after the result, the campaign Scientists for EU was founded by Mike Galsworthy and Rob Davidson which immediately drafted a letter to the government on behalf of several prominent British scientists. One of their arguments was that the public have insufficient knowledge of the extent to which the EU supports the UK in science and innovation. I am inclined to agree. I do not remember throughout the Remain campaign hearing anything about how leaving would affect the research community in the subject area I was about to start my degree in. There is no doubt that the freedom of movement awarded to EU citizens as well as funding through EU schemes such as The Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development such as Horizon 2020 is what has contributed to the UK being a world leader in scientific innovation.

It is easy to see how collaboration with the EU has been fundamental in just this institution and on my one programme. Many of my lecturers are EU nationals, as well as several postgraduates I walk past every day in the lab, and in the background of campus the world leading National Graphene Institute looms, built using a £23 million of EU funding. However, I don’t want to keep returning to money because whilst instrumental in a field in which underfunding is rife it is not the main thing I think would be lost.

Ultimately, money can be found in other places and through other bodies (though I’m not sure whereabouts the government will be able to find the extra billions of pounds in an already stretched tight budget). The biggest loss is the loss of confidence in the UK and the loss of collaboration. Research relies on collaborative networks. No one person can be the world expert in every single aspect of the molecular pathology of cancer or dementia, for example, and neither can a single country. Unravelling causes to produce efficient and rational cures relies on inter country collaboration and communication. It requires the best and brightest minds to be able to move between countries freely to confer, to speak at symposiums, and to study and work in other countries. Why would massively funded research projects which keep UK at this world forefront be allocated here when after March they may be restricted in their funding and more isolated?

Lack of public education into the effect of Brexit on this field and the accessibility of information pertaining to it has been noticeably lacking. Having listened to stories from people in research and sat down and researched the implications in the area I wish to have a career in for myself.

I no longer am so naïve as to think Brexit will not impact me directly. However I chose to carry on in this field after I graduate from my degree in July, be that postgraduate study or seeking a career immediately, the uncertainty in EU relationships, the time it will take to redirect and re-find funding within science and innovation, and the isolation being experienced by UK scientists will undoubtedly impact me harder than I could have considered in 2016.

If you want to get active for a People’s Vote, join the Our Future, Our Choice campaign and For Our Future’s Sake campaigns. Both are campaigning for a People’s Vote, are aimed at young people and need volunteers!

The Put It To The People : People’s Vote March is taking place on 23rd March in London. Make sure you attend and bring your best placards! 

There are coaches going from Manchester – book your space here. It’s £30 with £20 back on the day if you provide valid student ID.

Love across Borders, Pt 2

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted on the blog. Far from having lost interest in campaigning, I have tried to get out onto the streets and engage the public wherever I can, leaving me with less time to write. Last week, the Our Future, Our Choice bus visited Manchester University and provided a glimmer of hope in times that have, at times, felt incredibly dark. The overwhelming feeling was that students in Manchester want a People’s Vote. They are politically engaged, smart and care about their futures.

One story I hear again and again when I am campaigning is that people are scared that they no longer will be able to be in the same place as their loved ones.

Now EU citizens in Britain are being forced to register and apply for ‘Settled Status’ . This is far from a straightforward process. People have to provide 
extensive documentation. They are being forced to sign over their personal 
data and the app used by the Home Office for this process is horribly error-prone, leaving many feeling anxious and unsure if they will be able to remain in their homes and communities. If you’re on twitter and want to find out more, follow @InLimboBrexit.

Today’s dispatch from Brexit Britain comes from my friend Josh. He lives in Macclesfield with his cat Tom and is campaigning for a People’s Vote. Josh’s wonderful girlfriend Julia is French and lives in Strasbourg. 

They are both finding the uncertainty over Brexit and not knowing how their futures together will look very difficult to cope with.

Josh’s story

Today I woke up to the rather crude but nonetheless amusing post on Instagram: ‘’ Roses are red, Diamonds are small, 43 days ‘til Brexit fucks us all ‘’

After a quick laugh, I realised the all too serious message in this post:  There are 43 [now 37] days till Brexit and we are still none the wiser what situation we will leave under. Will there be a deal, and if so what sort of a deal. Will it be no deal or will there be, as I really do hope, a delay and a People’s Vote to put right all the wrongs of the past two years.

For me the question of whether to leave or remain was easy. I work for a German company and my girlfriend is French, I have Norwegian and German heritage and travel all around Europe for my job. I saw the benefits that European Union money brought to Manchester and the benefits that the free trade area brought to my company. Therefore, it was simple enough for me to cross the Remain box on June 23rd 2016 and go on my merry little way, hoping that everything would go back to normal and we would all leave this Leave nonsense in the past. How wrong I was ….

Unlike a lot of posts, news articles and blogs around Brexit I don’t want to quote fact and figures. Instead I’m going to talk about feelings.  I’m sure hundreds of thousands of British people and EU nationals living in the UK are worried not only about what Brexit will do to their wallets, but also their hearts.  

I have a French girlfriend, Julia. We met three years ago in a pub in my hometown. After a few dates and an in-depth discussion on how many words the English have for drunkenness, we became boyfriend and girlfriend. When Julia’s time finished at the school she was working at, she elected to stay for love and postpone her studies and find a job in the UK. Our relationship blossomed and remains strong, so strong that in September 2018 she moved back to France to complete her Masters (at a fraction of the cost that it would be in the UK – thanks Nick Clegg + the Tories) with a firm commitment to make long distance work and be stronger for it. 6 months later our relationship remains strong and with the easy and cheapness of European travel we have managed to see it every other weekend and in holidays.

European Lovebirds

However, all this is now threatened by Brexit. As with everything in our relationship, we have tried to talk about what Brexit will mean for us. However, as with every question around Brexit, we have run into the barrier of ‘uncertainty’. We don’t yet know whether we will have a deal or a no deal or have a soft or hard Brexit.  Therefore, we are forced to live with constant anxiety about something neither of us can control. Yet it can genuinely affect something that is so difficult to find and so precious to us: – the love we have for each other.

I’m sure I’m not alone with these feelings. There are hundreds of thousands of people in this country with European girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands, wives, mums, dads, grandparents and friends. They are now facing the prospect of either signing up to some awful list that questions why they should be here or have to leave all together.

Furthermore, I don’t think its fair that these people, more to the point, I don’t think it’s fair these professionals – urgently needed doctors, nurses, maids, cooks, cleaners, engineers, construction workers – should be scapegoated for the problems of this country. The government says we must take back control of our borders, completely ignoring all the essential skills that this country lacks, and these people bring. The reason they do this is simple – It’s because it’s so easy to do. It’s all too easy to blame Europe rather making difficult choices on housing or elderly care or the NHS.

I believe that if the government won’t make these difficult choices on their own. Therefore we have stand up and do the hard thing of convincing them.  We have to also speak to Leave voters and convince them that Brexit won’t be good for their pockets, careers and will make it harder for people like me to be together with the person that they love. Together, we have to tell our government that we believe it is better to stay in the European Union.

I believe the only viable option to do this is by campaigning for a People’s Vote. A People’s Vote that says Theresa May’s deal or no Brexit. So, I ask you, if you’ve been bothered enough to read this all the way to bottom, to say, ‘yes I do want to stay in’ and more importantly do something about it!

If you want to get active for a People’s Vote, join the Our Future, Our Choice campaign and For Our Future’s Sake campaigns. Both are campaigning for a People’s Vote, are aimed at young people and need volunteers!

The Put It To The People : People’s Vote March is taking place on 23rd March in London. Make sure you attend and bring your best placards! 

There are coaches going from Manchester – book your space
here. It’s £30 with £20 back on the day if you provide valid student ID.

Love across Borders?

This is a guest post from my friend Ustiniya who fears that her family will be separated after Brexit. Ustiniya’s situation is complicated – she is Russian, while her husband and child are British. Once her husband loses his right to free movement in Europe, it will be almost impossible for them to find a country they can settle in together.

The situation is heart-wrenching and will by no means be an isolated case after Brexit, when families from different national backgrounds will have their rights to live and move freely across Europe removed. 

The separation of families is a real cost of Brexit and hostile immigration policies. 

Ustiniya’s Dispatch:
When I hear people say ‘Brexit means Brexit’, I cannot any longer hide my anxiety. With less than two months before the deadline, thousands of people and families are still unsure about what will happen to their lives.

Ustiniya and her family.

Our family is one of many that will be affected by Brexit. My husband and son are both British nationals whilst I am a third-country national. I am required to have visas to go to most countries and my residency and ability to work in them is mostly dependent on my husband’s status. As a family with different citizenships staying together in the same country has always been a priority, although it should be a human right. As a result of UK’s hostile immigration policies and Brexit, our fear of separation is becoming more and more real. We cannot simply return to Britain, as my husband needs to secure a job there for at least 6 months before my application (that can only be filled in from outside the UK). In the meantime, I am expected to live somewhere alone or with our son, waiting for that period, without opportunities to visit. My family visitor visa was rejected twice before when we wanted to go and visit my husband’s parents. The only way we managed to do so, was a few years later by claiming our EU rights as Finnish residents, the rights that are now being taken away from us.

We escaped separation by relocating to Finland, where my husband defended his PhD and where we had our baby. Although the job situation wasn’t great, we liked the country, we liked the security it could offer to our family, to our children. Our EU residency for Finland, however, will expire by the end of 2020, which means that we now have a very limited time to find some new ways of staying there together. My husband can only apply for a short-term travel visas to come with me to Russia, my native country where I haven’t lived permanently for the past 10 years. Our current temporary employment in Shanghai does not provide long term answers either and we might need to sacrifice it in order to go back to Finland as soon as possible and search for new jobs before our documents expire.

Four different countries and not a single one to call home or to allow the three of us to stay together permanently. That’s our reality at the moment and I am sure it is the same for many families who simply want to be together regardless of their passports

Who are EU?

A demand for political education.

I am honoured to feature this guest post on political education from my friend Lisa. She is one of the people of whom I can say with certainty that she has worked tirelessly to make Manchester a better place. She relocated from a small village in Southern Germany to Manchester in 2012. She’s a RISO printer and publisher, educator, and graphic designer. Lisa is the founder and director of the amazing mind culture magazine NOUS, which promotes conversations around our mental well-being as well as other related social issues. She shares her print and design talents in risography workshops for community groups and arts events.

I can still remember the first time I consciously chose I wanted to identify as a citizen of the European Union. It was at school, during PE, Political Education, which our timetable dedicated about the same time to as it did for PE, Physical Education – 90 minutes per week.

This was after the introduction of the euro as currency, after I had travelled to neighbouring European countries with my family – passports unchecked – and after I had been on a bunch of cultural exchanges supported by that starred blue square. I was sixteen and caught in an idyllic vacuum, becoming a little more aware of what was going on in the world, aware of my possibilities, and conscious of the walls that had been built by the society I was a part of.

Our Politics trainee teacher was enthusiastic, driven, and did their best to unpick the complex politics behind the European Union for us. What did it all have to do with us what a bunch of representatives of whom we have never heard of decided in Brussels? They began the lesson with a thought experiment. Each corner of the classroom would represent an identity we should like to associate ourselves with – being a citizen of our hometown; being German; being European; or, finally, a citizen of the world. We had to pick one and take our stand.

“Who are you?” they asked. A question that everyone will actively or unconsciously define and recalibrate in the course of their life, and not just in a political sense; it seemed so complex to me! I did not want to be put in a
corner; whom would I group myself with?

I had never really felt I could belong to my closest locality. Neither football clubs nor church choir were a fit source for inspiration. The traditions and every day routine of rural countryside life had always felt protectionist and insular. Objecting to the new and hence constantly limping, my village life seemed too slow to catch up with global developments in gender studies, protection of the environment, and the effects of globalization.

To me being German has always been, to say the least, a little problematic ethically speaking. School had taught us so much about our shared national burden of guilt; it still floats like a grey veil over me every time someone asks me where I am from, even today. Not to mention the flaring xenophobia I had witnessed in my teens towards our Turkish, Italian and Eastern European compatriots. Our government had asked their parents and grandparents to come to help rebuild our broken country after the war. We needed them, welcomed them with arms wide open; then they, and their children, were dismissed, left behind, blamed for not wanting to assimilate and were forgotten. In my school – the equivalent of a grammar school – there was not a single student of migrant descent. Is this
what I wanted to identify with?

And what about the world? What even is the world? I could not possibly call myself a citizen of a place I knew next to nothing about politically, geographically, ideologically. Come on, are you really asking us this?Looking around the classroom, I saw many disenfranchised faces; tired of making decisions they could not relate to, not fully understanding what it all meant to be anything other than the obvious. We all slowly started scuffling our way into the unknown. We were taking our place in society – or something like that. The result of this exercise was, to be fair, exactly what you would expect. The majority of us mingled in the local corner, high-fiving each other, patting each other’s backs, sharing a warm feeling of home and belonging. A quarter stood in the German corner, mixed feelings flashing up on their faces: pride – I mean, come on, bratwurst, bread and Nena! – and fear – no one wanted to be called a Nazi after the lesson.

A couple of existentialists – a.k.a. goths – and the lefties, who had been inter-railing last summer and planned on spending their gap year in an ashram in India, picked the world corner. A shy handful of students, not even my pals (!), and I ended up in the EU corner. If this had been a fight, or a referendum, the winner would have been painfully clear. Mind, this was before our educational journey to discover the ins and outs of the European Union had begun. It was hard to get my head around how the rest could not see what the best choice was back then, and it is still hard for me to be empathetic with the other corners today. Were we a representative bunch in that classroom; would this pupil’s vote mirror a referendum on a national level? Was the outcome tainted by living in a bubble of the idyllic? Our little survey took place in a small village in the countryside. We were all teenagers. Most of our families are part of what you can compare to the British working class. The list of lame excuses goes on. The truth is though, this urban demographic is not even the national average. The European Union’s influence on our lives was not inspirational; we just couldn’t feel it in our place.

77% of the German population, similar to the British equivalent of 79%, lives in cities. Urban citizens are exposed to multiculturalism and the effects of globalisation. Both the benefits of migration and the negative effects of neglect of supporting integration can be felt in cities more than anywhere in the country. Hence, can we not expect the urban population to be more open-minded and compassionate. Are they not able to see how beneficial cultural and economic exchange was for one another – even if the ideals of humanism and equality are not at the top of your list. So, what is the issue then? Why are we unable to engage and enthuse the majority with such a potent concept of exchange and growth?

We have to encourage, engage and make everyone around us burn for politics.

I do firmly believe that the reason for a debacle such as the Brexit/Remain
campaigns run in 2016 is misinformation and a dire lack of education, starting at schools and universities. This is not only in this country though. How can we be expected to make an informed decision listening to politicians who are unable to represent us, whose opinions and stands can change from one day to the other? We have to realise that it is not enough to teach our children about politics as a side note. We have to continue educating ourselves, pestering our friends, our families about what is going on around us.

We have to encourage, engage and make everyone around us burn for politics. In Germany, I have felt that protest and political engagement can influence elected leaders. The engagement and fight of thousands of students, the outcry for the abolition of university fees, was heard.

As a German citizen living in the United Kingdom, I was not able to vote in the first referendum, and I will not be allowed to partake in any decision making in the future. All I can do is urge you to stay informed, cut through the smoke and take your friends, family, co-workers, neighbours, everyone you can with you. Tell them that listening to the media and parties is not enough. I urge you to fight for knowledge and education, for critical thinking and an open mind.

When we reached the end of our educational sessions about the European Union, our teacher asked us to take our place in our four corners again. I’m not gonna lie, the distribution was still very similar to our first results. The nihilists were still nihilists, the local folk still proud of their home town, the idealists still mingling in the world corner. But we certainly were all quicker to take our place. We had made an informed decision not because of a gut feeling but because it is part of our identity.

A second referendum will not take away the choice you made in the first round, it will give everyone a chance to reconsider or reconfirm their decision. What could be more democratic than that?

Out of the echo chambers and into the streets!

A day on the Manchester People’s Vote Stall.

I am an absolute novice at political campaigning. My political engagement prior to this September consisted of ticking my box at general elections and reading the news, but as things started looking bleaker and bleaker, Parliament lurching from crisis to crisis, I started to feel more and more angry and disenfranchised. This government wasn’t speaking for me. The opposition wasn’t speaking for me, I had to find a way to make my voice heard.

Don’t let the smile fool you, I’m angry af.

I explored my frustrations with friends and colleagues and it soon became clear that I was not alone. Other people were feeling this too. The sense that objective truths no longer mattered to our government, that lies were perpetuated with more lies. That the referendum was won narrowly, based on misinformation and illegal overspending by the Vote Leave campaign and those affiliated to it. This, it became clear in many conversations with my peers, could hardly be ‘will of the people’ – the favourite soundbite of politicians who are marching this country to the brink of destruction with eyes wide-open. Alongside this, Leave supporting politicians continued slyly rolling back the fabulous promises they had made to voters. Many prominent Brexiters now claim they had always warned people of the hardship they would face, but that this was a fair exchange for sovereignty. In fact, there is video upon video that demonstrates that the same people who now say they were honest about the economic and social implications of Brexit promised a better life for British people, more jobs, a host of free trade agreements and frictionless trade, more money for the NHS… the list could go on.

A second fairly-run vote (aka no illegal political targeting and overspending) based on the evidence that we now have cannot be a betrayal of democracy, when it was roundly, resoundingly betrayed by the Leave campaign in 2016.

I started this blog as a way to help young people to get involved in the Brexit debate, to show that there are still ways to get involved and claw back a place within the political discussion from which we have been excluded. However, I am going to level with you – I am also self-motivated by the levels of dread and anxiety I feel not just about the prospect of a ‘no deal’ Brexit but also where our political discourse is headed.

I’m a History PhD student and have studied totalitarian nationalism and tactics extensively. If I could point to three factors unifying the rise of these movements across states in the 20th century, I would say they are:
Step 1.) Misinformation and Propaganda
Step 2.) Selling one group a fantasy based on taking the rights of another
Step 3.) Emergency decrees that circumvent the power of parliament

No, we haven’t reached step three yet, but steps 1 and 2 seem horribly familiar. The bending or complete disregard of truth is particularly dangerous, as the German philosopher and political theorist Hannah Arendt has demonstrated in her book ‘The Origins of Totalitarianism’.

“Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it.” 

I suppose the point I am trying to make is that I am not opposing Brexit for Brexit alone, and the disastrous economic and social consequences it will have, but for what it has come to symbolise and how it is influencing our access to the political system. If you voted to remain and have serious doubts about the path our government has taken, they don’t want to hear from you, thank you very much (insert will of the people and betrayal of democracy soundbite here).

The meaning of truth has become eroded and facts are being fabricated by those who want to leave the EU at any cost. Experts such as the British Medical Association and large supermarkets who guarantee our food supply are being dismissed with vague statements by the government and decried as liars and opportunists by more hardline leavers. People who are making valid interventions into the feasibility of Brexit, rightly highlighting the economic and social hardship it will bring, are silenced with ‘the will of the people’. This is not how political decision making should work. New evidence that calls into question the current path should be explored in full and a democratic decision should be taken on whether we are prepared to bear the consequences. Silencing fact with slogans has never ended well.

This brings me to today, where I spent my morning in the icy cold on St. Ann’s Square in Manchester on the People’s Vote stall. We got some abuse, as you would expect, but far more manifold were the voices of those who were scared, deeply scared by the direction Britain is taking. I spoke to many EU citizens who live in terror of having to leave the homes they have made in Manchester, who say the uncertainty is becoming unbearable and they feel anxious all the time. Advocating to leave the EU and implicitly or explicitly supporting the current Brexit process is impacting people. It is making the lives of EU citizens in the UK, who had no say in the referendum, feel precarious. Why are we letting the government make people feel sick with anxiety and why are we not protesting against a government that is making people we care about feel unwelcome?
This is not ok.

Others were terrified of the rise of the far-right and worried about shortages of vital goods. One lady told me her son’s partner was diabetic and she feared for her health. Many were worried about new evidence published by The Times today that Whitehall will not be able to cope with a ‘no deal’ Brexit and the fall-out would affect almost every aspect of public life.

What scared me most though, was not the abuse I received from a small handful of die-hard leavers, but the apathy and complacency I saw from many of my fellow citizens. ‘I don’t really care about Brexit’ they said as they rushed past, or ‘It will be fine’. I don’t trust it will be fine. If any of the countless expert reports are to be trusted, the predictions of enormously reduced capacity at our ports, food and medicine shortages, the tariffs that will apply to our imports and exports, diminishing our trade and driving up food prices, the government’s own leaked papers on a ‘no deal’ Brexit which outlines the chaos which would ensue, we will not be fine.

Anyone calling for a ‘no deal’ Brexit is willing to risk lives. This has to be said. We are risking lives for an ideologically motivated vote, built on lies and electoral fraud and will make millions poorer as well as diminishing our standing in the world. Brexit is a mass delusion and it’s becoming very very dangerous.

At the end of the day, our Brexitometer revealed clear results (though participants were obviously self-selecting!). A majority of people who took part in our survey want Article 50 to be revoked and Brexit to be cancelled. I agree with them and I think this would be wonderful, but no politician would shoulder this burden, though it would be the right thing to do. This is why I am campaigning for a People’s Vote. I am convinced that at this stage it is the only course of action that could restore democratic legitimacy to the process. Only a small minority voted for Brexit believing there could be a ‘no deal’ scenario, public support for Theresa May’s deal hovers in the low teens or twenties, neither of these paths have a real democratic mandate. The decision has to go back to the people.

‘Cancel Brexit’ won the day.

If you believe that Brexit is going badly wrong and disenfranchising a large part of the population to achieve an outcome that is far from anything people were promised in 2016, stand up and say something. You don’t have to support a People’s Vote to do this. You can write to your MP to say they should revoke Article 50, you can speak to your friends who feel the same way and ask them to join you in contacting politicians, going to marches and attending rallies.

Democracy didn’t end in 2016.

Letters to our MPs

Emily, Minister of ‘Justice for Britain’ at Dispatches from Brexit Britain, shares her email to Jeff Smith, Labour MP for Manchester Withington.

Hi Jeff,

I am a young adult living in your constituency, Withington, M20. I voted for you in the last election and am now calling on you for your help as my MP.
I am writing to you because I do not want the UK to go through with Brexit.
I will keep this brief: I urge you to vote to take a no deal Brexit off the table, I urge you to vote to extend article 50 and I urge you to back a People’s Vote, as I can see no other viable way to stop Brexit.

Ne’er a truer word spoken.


Please fight for Brexit to be reversed. We were at the People’s Vote rally this Saturday and, as my housemate wrote on her placard: a bad idea is a bad idea forever (another wrote ‘democracy doesn’t stop at one vote’).


I am confused about why no one seems to be talking about the illegal overspend of the Leave campaign. All other dirty tactics aside, if Leave were so sure that leaving the EU truly is the will of the people, then they could have at least done us all the courtesy of winning the referendum without breaking the law.

I am disappointed that something akin to the outrage seen over Watergate scandal is not happening in the UK. But most of all I am terrified by the prospect of a no deal Brexit, please do everything in your power to stop this.

Thank you for your time.
Best regards 

Emily

Please email your MPs if you think no deal has to be stopped and you support a second referendum. You can find out who your MP is here.