Category Archives: Referendum

Northern Ireland and Scotland want a referendum on leaving the UK. And Wales?

The ballot box: come on, Wales – let’s have a chance to tell Boris Johnson to get stuffed!

Welsh people are showing surprising loyalty to the United Kingdom after being progressively abused by Tory governments since 2010.

They are lagging behind Northern Ireland and Scotland, where polls show a majority of people in both countries want referenda on whether to quit the union.

In Northern Ireland, 68 per cent of people are demanding the right to choose whether to stay in the UK or join the Republic of Ireland.

Scotland will get its referendum if Nicola Sturgeon has her way.

Only Wales is dragging its feet over the chance to show national displeasure with Boris Johnson’s travesty of leadership – widely believed to be the worst government in UK history.

The latest poll in Wales shows just 28 per cent of people wanting independence.

It makes you wonder where people here get their news.

Source: 68% in Northern Ireland want referendum on leaving the UK

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Labour wins historic SIXTH term in succession in Welsh government – and may consider independence vote

Mark Drakeford: Wales’ First Minister has described the Tory government in Westminster as “utterly shambolic”.

Has any UK-based government won six successive terms? That’s what Labour just achieved in Wales.

It shows the advantage that sitting governments can use, when they actually deliver on their promises and do their best to help the population.

The mainstream media have been unforgivably quiet about it. Perhaps the London-based hacks think Wales doesn’t matter. They certainly pay more attention to Scotland, where the SNP has won only its fourth successive term.

That could all change very soon, with both devolved governments likely to support independence referenda if proposals are put before them.

I know Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to make it happen. The surprise here is that Mark Drakeford has said he will support an independence referendum in Wales, if there is a majority in the Senedd for holding one.

The contrast with Labour’s performance in England could not be more extreme – as social media commenters have merrily pointed out:

The lesson was very clearly put by Simon de Jever: “Drakeford is a left wing Corbyn supporting leader. Starmer is a Corbyn bashing centrist. Drakeford has had a spectacular win even in Brexit areas and Starmer has reduced the Labour vote to 29%.”

And Andrew Feinstein added: “Makes you think Starmer’s purge of the left and massive shift to the right might have been a mistake!”

 

 

Ya think?

The victory creates huge problems for Keir Starmer because his failure will be measured against Drakeford’s success. Some are already laying bets that Drakeford’s suspension from the Labour Party is already in the mail.

But if Drakeford is serious about permitting an independence referendum, it could create a monumental problem for Boris Johnson.

He can’t refuse permission for such a poll on the basis that we’ve had one recently (as in Scotland) because we haven’t.

He can’t rely on Wales rejecting independence because he knows his government has been so appallingly useless that many Welsh people may consider going it alone to be preferable – even if it means a few lean years in the immediate future. We’ll have hardship under the Tories indefinitely.

And it means he could be in line for a double dose of shame as the prime minister who presided over the end of the United Kingdom.

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Cambridge Analytica did not misuse data in EU referendum; it just lied about what it could do, says watchdog

This can’t be the first time an organisation harmed its own reputation with wild claims.

But Cambridge Analytica seems to have engineered its own destruction with its claim to be able to influence people using data it had accrued about them.

These referred to Americans but it seems they raised questions about the organisation’s role in the UK’s referendum on membership of the European Union in 2016.

As a result, the (UK’s) Information Commissioner launched an investigation into the company in 2017 – and it collapsed in 2018.

Were the two events related? If so, it could be argued that Cambridge Analytica’s own boasts destroyed it.

Cambridge Analytica had repeatedly claimed in its marketing material to have “5,000+ data points per individual on 230 million adult Americans”, suggesting it had incredible power to micro-target individuals with suggestive political messaging using a giant psychographic database.

However, the investigation concluded that “based on what we found it appears that this may have been an exaggeration” and much of the company’s activities followed “well recognised processes using commonly available technology”.

So did it attract the unwanted attention of the information regulator needlessly?

Well, it seems the firm wasn’t involved in the EU referendum campaign at all:

[Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner] said she found no evidence that Cambridge Analytica were actively involved in the EU referendum campaign, beyond an early proposal to work with UKIP which was not put into action.

It turns out the Information Commissioner found no evidence of collusion with Russia to influence the referendum either:

[Denham] said her team also found no evidence Cambridge Analytica aided Russian intervention in the UK political process.

Particularly interesting to This Writer, though, was the revelation that

the company’s data protection practices were lax “with little thought for effective security measures”.

Couple this with the following –

Cambridge Analytica founder Alexander Nix was disqualified from acting as a company director for seven years for “offering potentially unethical services to prospective clients” including bribery or honey trap stings, voter disengagement campaigns, obtaining information to discredit political opponents, and spreading information anonymously in political campaigns.

– and we see that the firm (or at least its founder) was quite happy to break the Data Protection Act left, right and centre by obtaining information and then distributing it to the public in breach of the law.

This links with my recent court case against the Labour Party, in which I gave evidence that employees had put together false information about me and passed it to newspapers who then published it to thousands of people.

Labour’s representative tried to claim that, even though the party (as represented by its general secretary) was the data manager responsible for the way the information was used, it was not responsible for the acts of any employees because (as I understand it) there is no evidence that it ordered them to commit those acts.

But then, they wouldn’t have had access to this – false, in my case – information if Labour had not ordered them to compile it.

Put the two cases together and it seems the Data Protection Act is a dead letter – unless a person whose information has been misused can prove exactly who misused it and why they did it. That’s going to be impossible in most cases, isn’t it?

I was therefore hoping to read that the Information Commissioner was bringing recommendations to the government that would strengthen the law.

And I was keen to see what they would be.

I was disappointed. It seems all the information that we are obliged to provide to organisations, just to get on in modern life, is vulnerable to abuse every way you can imagine. Not a happy thought!

Source: Cambridge Analytica did not misuse data in EU referendum, says watchdog | UK news | The Guardian

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Vox Political proved right about payments to the EU – £200m/week LESS than claimed

‘£350 million a week for the NHS’: it was a ‘Leave’ campaign lie, endorsed by Boris Johnson. In fact the UK has paid only £150m a week to the EU, on average. Is Mr Johnson using the rest to bribe us in the run-up to an expected general election?

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has confirmed that UK payments to the European Union averaged around £150 million per week between 2014 and 2018 – but this shouldn’t be news to you.

Vox Political said we were paying more or less that much in June 2016 – a little more than a week before the referendum was held.

How did I know? That’s easy. I knew because I did my own research rather than taking the word of the selfish right-wingers running the “Leave” campaign.

Before anyone writes in to point out that I said spending was £161 million a week and that’s not the same as £150 million a week, please bear in mind that I quoted that figure three years ago and our payments have fallen since then. The £150 million figure is an average over a period of years.

Britain’s contribution to the EU budget was £150m a week, significantly lower than the £350m cited by pro-Brexit campaigners in the 2016 referendum campaign, according to the Office of National Statistics.

Figures published yesterday showed that the UK’s net outgoings to Brussels were as low as £7.8bn a year on average over the past five years, once the rebate and other payments were taken into account.

Previous estimates by statisticians suggested the figure was closer to £9.8bn a year between 2014 and 2018.

Vote Leave, the official pro-Brexit campaign group, claimed the UK’s contribution to the EU was “around £20bn”. The group covered a bus with a slogan stating the country sends £350m a week to Brussels, and called for the money to go to the NHS instead.

The logical question, following on from this information, is: what has happened to the extra £200 million a year that we haven’t been paying in to the EU?

In fact, as I pointed out in my 2016 article, once you factor in the UK’s profit, in revenues raised from EU migrants, this country was in profit by £120 billion per week.

Admittedly, this was also in 2016 and the figure may have fallen drastically after the referendum result made these shores unfriendly to visitors from the EU27.

There’s still a huge amount of moolah missing, it seems to me.

Is this how Boris Johnson has managed to afford the huge funding commitments with which he is trying to bribe the people?

If so, someone should point out that he and previous prime ministers could have used that money at any time between 2016 and now, shoring up our health service against (for example) winter crises that have killed tens of thousands per year, or preventing the deaths of more than 100,000 people by boosting the benefits system.

It would be the depth of immorality to try to buy our votes in this way.

Would you be happy to support Boris Johnson, knowing his offers are backed by blood money?

Source: Britain paid just £150m a week to Europe – lower than the £350m cited by pro-Brexit campaigners in 2016 | inews

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Nigel Farage complained about Von Der Leyen election win – but should have checked the numbers

A milkshake on his suit: But is it better or worse than having metaphorical egg on his face?

Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen has been narrowly elected president of the EU Commission following a secret ballot among MEPs, the BBC reported.

She was confirmed by a margin of 383 votes to 327. She needed the backing of 374 out of 747 MEPs to win.

Among those who weren’t impressed was Nigel Farage, leader of the Brexit Party.

This Writer has a nagging concern that the real reason for his disdain may be the fact that he has spent decades claiming that members of the Commission are unelected.

But worse was to come for the hapless Brexit braggart, as Georgina Lee explained:

Struggling to comprehend the significance?

Well, the Leave faction won the EU membership referendum in 2016 with – guess what? – 51.89 per cent of the vote.

What was that you were saying about “no legitimacy” again, Nigel?

Source: Von der Leyen elected EU Commission head after MEPs vote – BBC News

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How could Boris Johnson lead the Tory Party – or the country – from inside a jail cell?

Boris Johnson: His bags are packed but it’s too late to do a runner. He must appear in court to answer charges.

Boris Johnson’s prime ministerial ambition could soon be in tatters after he was told he will face trial for misconduct in public office over claims he made during the run-up to the EU membership referendum.

Mr Johnson supported the much-publicised claim – on the side of the so-called “Brexit bus” – that the UK sends £350m to the EU every week and the money could be better-used to pay for the NHS instead.

In fact, the UK does not send anything like as much money to the EU – and when the country decouples from the European bloc, the money it does send will need to be used to shore up the economy, which is already taking a battering.

If he is found guilty of the offences (there are three listed), then Mr Johnson may face six months’ imprisonment.

This may seriously harm his career plans. He is currently front-runner in the Conservative Party leadership race – but it would be hard for him to be Tory leader, let alone prime minister, from a jail cell. They don’t let you do it.

As far as I can tell, Mr Johnson’s lawyers are saying the court case is a “political stunt” – an attempt to use criminal law to regulate the quality of political debate.

That seems a very sticky wicket on which to go into bat.

We know that MPs lie.

Why not make it a criminal offence to do so?

Boris Johnson is to be summoned to court to face accusations of misconduct in public office over comments made in the run-up to the EU referendum, a judge has ruled.

The ruling follows a crowdfunded move to launch a private prosecution of the MP, who is currently the frontrunner in the Tory leadership contest.

Johnson lied and engaged in criminal conduct when he repeatedly claimed during the 2016 EU referendum that the UK sent £350m a week to Brussels, lawyers for a 29-year-old businessman who has launched the prosecution bid told a court last week.

Source: Boris Johnson to appear in court over Brexit misconduct claims | Politics | The Guardian

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Labour WILL support a ‘public vote’ referendum says Corbyn as he launches EU election campaign

Jeremy Corbyn took the opportunity to make a clear statement about Labour’s Brexit policy – and take a jab at the Tories – in his speech launching Labour’s campaign for election to the European Parliament.

He attacked populist right-wing parties that are trying to play on petty-minded prejudices that Brexit has brought out, and criticised those who positioned themselves as either “Remain” or “Leave”-supporting parties.

And he re-stated Labour’s mission statement to end austerity, invest in the UK’s economy and communities, and raise wages and living standards.

He said: “Labour agreed to talks [on Brexit with the Tories] because we believed it was the right thing to do to see if we could get a better deal… So far in those talks, there has been no big offer, and the red lines remain.

So if we can’t get a sensible deal, along the lines of our alternative plan or a general election, Labour backs the option of a public vote.

That is a huge statement of intent. It answers criticisms that his party has been wavering on the subject.

But you can be sure his critics will still be banging the same drum tomorrow. As I type this, the BBC’s Norman Smith is asking Mary Creagh if there is any chance of Mr Corbyn backing another referendum, as though he did not say as much in his speech, less than an hour previously. Some people just won’t pay attention to what’s going on around them.

He said Labour’s alternative plan for Brexit – rejected for tribal reasons in Parliament – would “end the chaos caused by the Conservatives and let us focus on the other big issues facing our country.”

He said it would “restore pride and prosperity to parts of our country that have been neglected for too long. That neglect was, I believe a major reason behind the vote for Brexit in the first place.”

In contrast, he described the Conservative government’s actions as “botched” and “damaging”, and the government itself as “disintegrating”.

He said the Tories had delivered “three years of the Tories spending more time arguing with themselves than negotiating with Europe.

“What the Prime Minister finally cooked up led to the biggest government defeat in parliamentary history.

“It wasn’t until that damaging deal had been defeated three times and the Government had already missed its own deadline for leaving that the Prime Minister finally admitted she needed to compromise.

“It’s difficult negotiating with a disintegrating government with cabinet ministers jockeying for the succession, rather than working for an agreement.”

Indeed.

Mr Corbyn took the opportunity to re-state Labour’s position, that the party was trying to find a way to unite the people of the UK, rather than perpetuating the damaging division caused by the Conservatives.

He said: “What’s needed is a bit of understanding. Understanding of why so many people felt so frustrated with the system that they voted to leave. And understanding of why so many others believe that staying in the EU is the only way to protect our open and diverse society.

“What kind of society do we want to be? And on that people can find so much common ground. Labour, and only Labour stands on that common ground in this election.”

He said: “The injustices in our society are deepening. Those injustices aren’t to do with backstops, implementation periods and all that obscure jargon.

“They’re about whether your children will go to a school that can afford the basics or one that has to send begging letters to parents; whether your relatives will be treated quickly and safely on the NHS or wait in pain and distress for months; whether your parents will get a helping hand in old age or be left isolated and afraid; and whether we as a country can end the burning injustices in our society that Theresa May once talked of but did nothing about.”

Pouring scorn on the attitudes of the Tories and other right-wing parties, he said: “We need solutions, not scapegoats.

“When you blame your neighbour rather than the powerful for problems with the health system or for overcrowded classrooms or for a lack of housing you’re letting those responsible off the hook.

“You haven’t trained a doctor or a nurse, you haven’t opened a new school, you haven’t built a house; you haven’t secured a penny of extra investment.

“All you’ve done is fuel an atmosphere of division and nastiness.”

Relating this to the EU, he said: “We are the part of the great majority who reject the politics of smear and scapegoating.

“The biggest issues facing us like tax avoidance and the power of multinational corporations are international issues that demand international solutions. And the biggest issue of all the climate and environment emergency that threatens everyone’s future cannot be averted by one country alone.

“To transform our country and tackle injustice, inequality and the climate crisis we need to unite the overwhelming majority of people and take on the privileged and powerful.

“Labour will address the inequalities that helped fuel the Brexit vote by investing in our communities and people ending austerity and creating a fairer society.

“And we will lead the fight against racism at home and across Europe wherever and however it arises.

It is Labour that wants to bring our country back together.

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Guest post: Why are politicians determined to honour a corrupted referendum?

This is a question that has bothered me considerably so I am delighted to host Tony O’Malley’s article asking why our political parties are determined to ignore the “lies, misrepresentations, cheating, illegality and probably criminality” of the 2016 EU referendum.

He says he understands left-wing members of the Labour Party have advocated that it is time to “move on”.

The problem is that we can’t. The whole of the UK is in stalemate over the issue.

Perhaps the reason for that is the insistence that we accept a corrupted result and “move on”, despite knowing that doing so will harm us.

Here’s Mr O’Malley [all boldings are mine]:

I have always considered myself a passionate believer in socialism, the internationalism of the Labour movement and Jeremy Corbyn.

I am also a litigation solicitor, who is now ‘retired’ due to various disabilities and health issues. In a prior career, I was a Registered General & Mental Nurse. I had been a member of the governing body of a major independent trades union & professional organisation (RCN), and I had the privilege of being the first ever elected U.K. President of the European Nursing Students Organisation. I have always fought tirelessly for justice for nurses, and especially for student nurses, as I consider them the future of a most noble profession and central to the delivery of high quality care and compassion in our renowned health service.

I voted Remain in the 2016 referendum. For me, it was an easy choice, though I did recognise that much institutional and policy reform was likely to be required if the EU, and the multiplicity of it’s constituent parts was to function better for the people of our continent, and thrive going forward. For quite some time now, I have been raising issues and queries with Jeremy Corbyn, Labour, Jennie Formby, Keir Starmer, and others. These many digital communications have sought early answers to the question of what was our party’s position with regard to the disturbing findings of the UK Electoral Commission about the running, result and supervision of the 2016 EU referendum. Sadly, I have not yet received any responses whatsoever, to any of my many attempts to engage in good faith with Labour politicians and officials who need to explain to me how political expediency now appears to have become so legitimate.

Whilst certain aspects of the actions by Leave campaign groups still remain under investigation by the National Crime Agency, there is already ample evidence in the public domain which reveals that the referendum result cannot be seen as the ‘will of the people’, because of the lies, misrepresentations, cheating, illegality and probably criminality which infested the whole sorry exercise. The courts have stated that, had the referendum not been legally constructed as being that of an ‘advisory’ referendum only, then they could have overturned the result because of the many serious concerns that have already been expressed and which would have been anathema to our long-standing principles of democracy and fair play.

David Cameron’s Conservative government really messed up when they committed, in a leaflet, to honouring the referendum result, when no such power for them to do so existed within the legal structure of the plebiscite.

In all other aspects of our society, we firmly and consistently adhere to the ancient principle that ‘cheats should not prosper’. The penalties for cheating in sport, business, academic testing and in many other areas of human endeavour, generally involve the complete loss of any advantage that the cheater obtained through their disreputable actions. In sport, for example, the winner’s medal would be forfeited if their performance could be shown to have been enhanced by illicit substances or done by any other breach of the rules. If I cheat in a college or school exam, then it should reasonably be expected that I do not receive the benefit that such cheating had given rise to! Nobody would realistically object to a race, match or other competition being re-run, or the prize being awarded to a non-cheater, if cheating was considered to have polluted the integrity of the initial event. This universal reaction is so uncontentious that it barely merits further debate.

Why is it then, when it comes to the widespread cheating and illegality that has been revealed in respect of the 2016 EU referendum, that politicians, the MSM and large sections of our civil society, can choose to close their eyes, and discard their moral compasses on the basis of shallow and temporary political expediency?

I have sadly witnessed a number of voices on the left of our political spectrum recently stating that it is time to ‘move on’ in respect of this unresolved issue. This response has shocked me to my core. If the Labour movement doesn’t stand for justice, then I’m afraid it doesn’t stand for very much!

How would the Hillsborough families, the Grenfell families, the Windrush families, the Orgreave families, the Palestinians and more, have reacted to the statement that it was ‘time to move on’, when their grievances and quest for justice remained unresolved after the long passage of time?

The truth is that it can never be acceptable to sacrifice our core beliefs, as we apparently appear to be doing in this shameful situation. Once you let that genie out of the bottle, it can can never be returned there. A precedent becomes set, that in certain circumstances we can give a nod and a wink to the flouting of the rule of law.

That abrogation of our core beliefs and principles will no doubt visit us again, and again, in forms not yet identified, but with potential unfathomable consequences for the Labour movement and our society.


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Labour MPs betray their party, asking Corbyn not to jeopardise Brexit deal with referendum demand

Right-wing Labour MPs including Stephen Kinnock, Gloria de Piero and around 38 others are calling for Jeremy Corbyn not to “torpedo” Brexit talks by insisting on a second referendum.

The demand contradicts Labour Party policy as agreed at the party’s conference last year and is certain to infuriate grassroots members if the leader accepts it.

This Writer questions the reasons for the demand.

Is it an attempt to make Theresa May’s version of Brexit more likely? That would be one in which the UK becomes a tax haven on the edge of the EU, with no workers’ rights, no environmental protections, a privatised health service owned by US companies and chlorinated chicken for our meals.

Is it an attempt by right-wingers to sabotage Labour’s chances in the forthcoming elections? The party is putting forward candidates in the European and local elections and a U-turn on Brexit policy would certainly harm the high poll ratings Labour is currently enjoying.

The party’s right-wing MPs have a nearly-four-year history of attacking Mr Corbyn; they seem to consider the creation of a party that works for the good of the whole nation to be a personal affront to their own selfish career ambitions.

Source: Labour MPs to urge Jeremy Corbyn not to ‘torpedo’ Brexit deal | Politics | The Guardian


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Brexit: The people will suffer while politicians squabble – and May is running down the clock

Theresa May’s Brexit: The people will suffer while the politicians squabble.

Fear is setting in over Brexit’s potential impact on jobs, house prices, markets and wages – while the politicians squabble over nonsense and Theresa May runs down the clock in her bid to commit the UK to her dire Brexit deal, or no deal at all.

The Financial Times has polled more than 80 leading economists, and they said Brexit will hobble UK business investment and depress consumer spending in 2019, stunting long-term growth no matter what terms are eventually agreed with the EU. Many said forecasting for 2019 was impossible given the “comprehensive” and “chronic” uncertainty that had become “a way of life” in the UK.

And Ashwin Kumar, chief economist at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said low income households would not share equally in wage growth, with families facing a squeeze on benefits payments. A rise of one or two per cent will not be felt in most households as the rich would be the ones to benefit.

Contrast this with the attitude of UK prime minister Theresa May, who is desperate to convince voters that it is critics of her duff deal who are damaging the economy, which has been dragged down almost to standstill point due to the uncertainty created by years of bickering among the Tory leaders who were supposed to be negotiating the terms of our departure with the other EU countries but instead fell into squabbling among themselves.

Her attempt to divert the blame saw her on The Andrew Marr Show, accusing those who want a second referendum of “disrespecting” the result of the first, and in the Mail saying they are harming democracy.

But she would not say what she would do if she loses the “meaningful vote” on her deal, due to take place on January 15:

And, despite having accused supporters of a second referendum of harming democracy, she did not say whether she would support such a poll if it was put forward in Parliament as a way to break the deadlock.

So she’s only interested in getting her deal past Parliament. We’ve already discussed the reasons for that and they have nothing to do with the national interest.

On the other side of the Parliamentary divide, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is having trouble getting his own Brexit message across because of demands for a second EU referendum by right-wingers within and outside his party.

It seems, if you’re on the right, you can both support and oppose a second referendum at the same time. Perhaps we could describe them as Schrodinger’s democrats; they want democracy both alive and dead at the same time but don’t know which, until after all our choices have been used up.

Much of the pressure on Labour is just talk, though. The Guardian has a scaremongering story that thousands of party members are demanding that the leadership must support a second referendum or they’ll tear up their membership cards and send the party to certain defeat if a snap general election is called. But we know that this isn’t true. Party membership is stable at more than 600,000, polls do not give a clear picture (we saw one last week that showed more Labour members and supporters are in line with party policy), and a general election will be about much more than Brexit.

report of a YouGov poll involving 25,000 people, that shows a new referendum would show a comfortable majority in favour of remaining in the EU and claims that Labour would lose a general election if it did not support staying in, is also in the realms of fantasy. Labour policy is to push for a general election before a second referendum because the result of a second referendum is likely to do little good for the majority of the British people – no matter what the result – if a Conservative government is in office; Tories would tailor the result to their own interests rather than those of the nation.

And an opinion piece by plummy-voiced right-winger Andrew Rawnsley, trying to foment rebellion against Mr Corbyn as a way of stopping Brexit, is exactly the kind of woolly-minded nonsense we have come to expect from the People’s Vote fantasists who have been putting the cart before the horse and hoping you won’t notice.

Rawnsley knows Brexit won’t be stopped by Labour supporters ousting Mr Corbyn in the belief that shifting Labour policy towards a second referendum will make it happen; it won’t. He just wants to cause trouble for a Labour leader whose people-friendly policies are anathema to him.

So the Tories are still – still! – squabbling among themselves after creating this problem in the first place; Labour members and supporters are being incited to squabble among themselves by right-wingers both inside and outside the party, who want to divide the left and unseat the best leader that party has had in 40 years; and in the meantime living conditions in the UK are likely to suffer brutally.

This Writer’s opinion – for what it’s worth – is that we need to take this one step at a time.

First priority is to defeat Mrs May’s deal because it is not in the national interest – it only benefits her and her cronies and is bad for the UK. Next priority will be a general election. A second referendum will only be worthwhile after a Labour government is returned to office.

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