Posts Tagged ‘Brexit’

Brexit and My “Pelican Boat” Woodcut Print - Raf. Pittman

Mardi, avril 25th, 2017

As presented by BCiP member and artist Raf. Pittman at our AGM on the 19th April, here is the unabridged story of “Pelican Boat”, his personal account of the creation of the original woodcut print from Lima via Havana to the press in Paddington:

This time last year (April 2016) was a very different political scenario when campaigning had not yet started and when Brexit was largely associated with UKIP, a political deviation in terms of party and following from the “Voters’ Parties and Leaders (1967 )” by Jean Blondel , a text for politics students like myself.

By June 23rd and the referendum we were “out” - the cryptic text I received from a friend in London as I sat on a bench with my iPhone on La Rampa, the main highway in Havana where you can receive wifi with an official prepaid internet coupon.

Shock. My whole career since reading European Studies at Bristol University was about the new world order, a united Europe where I learned the skills of foreign trade, was trained in London, Hamburg and Paris for British multinationals , in a world of peace and harmony for which my father had served in the Armed Forces 1939 to 1945; an England that had welcomed my mother as a Basque teenage evacuee from Nazi Germany aggression.

I was truly saddened that those British voters who voted for the leave campaign had not sufficient understanding of the issues (there was no meaningful and coherent plan policy and analysis), that were to change the course of our history by taking us out of the European Union, and annoyed with David Cameron for wanting to consolidate his position (also maybe giving into the perceived UKIP threat) by offering the electorate a referendum. Worse was to follow with squabbling Tories vying for the leadership when the PM resigned, although sense appeared with the election of Theresa May to replace him, seen as a safe pair of hands at the helm.

This last week in June was my last week in Cuba where I had been working on a print that I had developed in January 2016 from my crayon drawing of pelicans on a boat anchored off the coast of Ica a desert region in south Peru. The flimsy piece of plywood I brought with me to Cuba (wood is in short supply) took shape from a monoprint I made earlier in Cienfuegos , central Cuba, at a society for artists. Then via bus train and ferry I reached the experimental artists workshop in Havana where I had booked myself in for a second fortnight the first being in 2014.

This was the first time I had seriously attempted a woodcut print and news of Brexit added to my ennui, with the project ending up in a mixed media print/ monoprint, the sort of art for which I am known at the Taller Grafica Experimental . The wood cut print per se was clearly still unfinished although we had taken some 20 prints from the ancient press to be used for future mixed media work. Within a few days I had packed half my plywood and donated the other half to my very able colleagues and was back at Heathrow but still with a wedge of dodgy prints.

Again within days I was at an art facility near Paddington and bingo!! Pelican Boat was born as a fully fledged woodcut print. It seemed both myself and Brexit had come out triumphant after a battering maritime journey full of metaphors: uncharted waters, ill-prepared , beleaguered. And yet like Sir Francis Drake’s original vanguard “The Pelican” , renamed “The Golden Hind”, there was suddenly promise in this bold confident venture with global vision reminiscent of Drake’s voyage to the New World, and also in my print that had a purpose and meaning now in carrying the spirit of Britain and Brexit.

Raf. Pittman

Ken Clark on the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill

Samedi, février 4th, 2017

31 January, 2017
Debate on the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill

With thanks to Robin Baker for supplying our blog page with the following contribution of Ken Clark to the debate:

Mr Kenneth Clarke (Rushcliffe) (Con)

Mr Speaker, you will not be surprised to hear that it is my intention to vote against the Second Reading of this Bill, if a vote is called, and to support the reasoned amendment, which I think will be moved very shortly by the Scottish nationalists.

Because of the rather measured position that the hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer) had to present on behalf of the official Labour party, it falls to me to be the first Member of this House to set out the case for why I believe—I hope that I will not be the last such speaker—that it is in the national interest for the United Kingdom to be a member of the European Union, why I believe that we have benefited from that position for the past 45 years and, most importantly, why I believe that future generations will benefit if we succeed in remaining a member of the European Union. It is a case that hardly received any national publicity during the extraordinary referendum campaign, but it goes to the heart of the historic decision that the House is being asked to make now.

It so happens that my political career entirely coincides with British involvement with the European Union. I started over 50 years ago, supporting Harold Macmillan’s application to join. I helped to get the majority cross-party vote for the European Communities Act 1972, before we joined in 1973, and it looks like my last Parliament is going to be the Parliament in which we leave, but I do not look back with any regret. We made very wise decisions. I believe that membership of the European Union was the way in which we got out of the appalling state we were in when we discovered after Suez that we had no role in the world that we were clear about once we had lost our empire, and that our economy was becoming a laughing stock because we were falling behind the countries on the continent that had been devastated in the war but appeared to have a better way of proceeding than we did.

I believe that our membership of the European Union restored to us our national self-confidence and gave us a political role in the world, as a leading member of the Union, which made us more valuable to our allies such as the United States, and made our rivals, such as the Russians, take us more seriously because of our leadership role in the European Union. It helped to reinforce our own values as well. Our economy benefited enormously and continued to benefit even more, as the market developed, from our close and successful involvement in developing trading relationships with the inhabitants of the continent.

The Conservative Governments in which I served made very positive contributions to the development of the European Union. There were two areas in which we were the leading contender and made a big difference. The first was when the Thatcher Government led the way in the creation of the single market. The customs union—the so-called common market—had served its purpose, but regulatory barriers matter more than tariffs in the modern world. But for the Thatcher Government, the others would not have been induced to remove those barriers, and I think that the British benefited more from the single market than any other member state. It has contributed to our comparative economic success today.

We were always the leading Government after the fall of the Soviet Union in the process of enlargement to eastern Europe, taking in the former Soviet states. That was an extremely important political contribution. After the surprising collapse of the Soviet Union, eastern and central Europe could have collapsed into its traditional anarchy, nationalist rivalry and military regimes that preceded the second world war. We pressed the urgency of bringing in these new independent nations, giving them the goal of the European Union, which meant liberal democracy, free market trade and so forth. We made Europe a much more stable place.

That has been our role in the European Union, and I believe that it is a very bad move, particularly for our children and grandchildren, that we are all sitting here now saying that we are embarking on a new unknown future. I shall touch on that in a moment, because I think the position is simply baffling to every friend of the British and of the United Kingdom throughout the world. That is why I shall vote against the Bill.

Let me deal with the arguments that I should not vote in that way, that I am being undemocratic, that I am quite wrong, and that, as an elected Member of Parliament, I am under a duty to vote contrary to the views I have just given. I am told that this is because we held a referendum. First, I am in the happy situation that my opposition to referendums as an instrument of government is quite well known and has been frequently repeated throughout my political career. I have made no commitment to accept a referendum, and particularly this referendum, when such an enormous question, with hundreds of complex issues wrapped up within it, was to be decided by a simple yes/no answer on one day. That was particularly unsuitable for a plebiscite of that kind, and that point was reinforced by the nature of the debate.

Constitutionally, when the Government tried to stop the House from having a vote, they did not go to the Supreme Court arguing that a referendum bound the House and that that was why we should not have a vote. The referendum had always been described as advisory in everything that the Government put out. There is no constitutional standing for referendums in this country. No sensible country has referendums—the United States and Germany do not have them in their political systems. The Government went to the Supreme Court arguing for the archaic constitutional principle of the royal prerogative—that the Executive somehow had absolute power when it came to dealing with treaties. Not surprisingly, they lost.

What about the position of Members of Parliament? There is no doubt that by an adequate but narrow majority, leave won the referendum campaign. I will not comment on the nature of the campaign. Those arguments that got publicity in the national media on both sides were, on the whole, fairly pathetic. I have agreed in conversation with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union that he and I can both tell ourselves that neither of us used the dafter arguments that were put forward by the people we were allied with. It was not a very serious debate on the subject. I do not recall the view that £350 million a week would be available for the health service coming from the Brexit Secretary, and I did not say that we going to have a Budget to put up income tax and all that kind of thing. It was all quite pathetic.

Let me provide an analogy—a loose one but, I think, not totally loose—explaining the position of Members of Parliament after this referendum. I have fought Lord knows how many elections over the past 50 years, and I have always advocated voting Conservative. The British public, in their wisdom, have occasionally failed to take my advice and have by a majority voted Labour. I have thus found myself here facing a Labour Government, but I do not recall an occasion when I was told that it was my democratic duty to support Labour policies and the Labour Government on the other side of the House. That proposition, if put to the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr Skinner) in opposition or myself, would have been treated with ridicule and scorn. Apparently, I am now being told that despite voting as I did in the referendum, I am somehow an enemy of the people for ignoring my instructions and for sticking to the opinions that I expressed rather strongly, at least in my meetings, when I urged people to vote the other way.

I have no intention of changing my opinion on the ground. Indeed, I am personally convinced that the hard-core Eurosceptics in my party, with whom I have enjoyed debating this issue for decades, would not have felt bound in the slightest by the outcome of the referendum to abandon their arguments—[Interruption.] I do not say that as criticism; I am actually on good terms with the hard-line Eurosceptics because I respect their sincerity and the passionate nature of their beliefs. If I ever live to see my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) turn up here and vote in favour of Britain remaining in the European Union, I will retract what I say, but hot tongs would not make him vote for membership of the EU.

I must move on, but I am told that I should vote for my party as we are on a three-line Whip. I am a Conservative; I have been a decently loyal Conservative over the years. The last time I kicked over the traces was on the Lisbon treaty, when for some peculiar reason my party got itself on the wrong side of the argument, but we will pass over that. I would point out to those who say that I am somehow being disloyal to my party by not voting in favour of this Bill that I am merely propounding the official policy of the Conservative party for 50 years until 23 June 2016. I admire my colleagues who can suddenly become enthusiastic Brexiteers, having seen a light on the road to Damascus on the day that the vote was cast, but I am afraid that that light has been denied me.

I feel the spirit of my former colleague, Enoch Powell—I rather respected him, aside from one or two of his extreme views—who was probably the best speaker for the Eurosceptic cause I ever heard in this House of Commons. If he were here, he would probably find it amazing that his party had become Eurosceptic and rather mildly anti-immigrant, in a very strange way, in 2016. Well, I am afraid that, on that issue, I have not followed it, and I do not intend to do so.

There are very serious issues that were not addressed in the referendum: the single market and the customs union. They must be properly debated. It is absurd to say that every elector knew the difference between the customs union and the single market, and that they took a careful and studied view of the basis for our future trading relations with Europe.

The fact is that I admire the Prime Minister and her colleagues for their constant propounding of the principles of free trade. My party has not changed on that. We are believers in free trade and see it as a win-win situation. We were the leading advocate of liberal economic policies among the European powers for many years, so we are free traders. It seems to me unarguable that if we put between us and the biggest free market in the world new tariffs, new regulatory barriers, new customs procedures, certificates of origin and so on, we are bound to be weakening the economic position from what it would otherwise have been, other things being equal, in future. That is why it is important that this issue is addressed in particular.

I am told that that view is pessimistic, and that we are combining withdrawal from the single market and the customs union with a great new globalised future that offers tremendous opportunities for us. Apparently, when we follow the rabbit down the hole, we will emerge in a wonderland where, suddenly, countries throughout the world are queuing up to give us trading advantages and access to their markets that we were never able to achieve as part of the European Union. Nice men like President Trump and President Erdogan are impatient to abandon their normal protectionism and give us access. Let me not be too cynical; I hope that that is right. I do want the best outcome for the United Kingdom from this process. No doubt somewhere a hatter is holding a tea party with a dormouse in the teapot.

We need success in these trade negotiations to recoup at least some of the losses that we will incur as a result of leaving the single market. If all is lost on the main principle, that is the big principle that the House must get control of and address seriously, in proper debates and votes, from now on.

I hope that I have adequately explained that my views on this issue have not been shaken very much over the decades—they have actually strengthened somewhat. Most Members, I trust, are familiar with Burke’s address to the electors of Bristol. I have always firmly believed that every MP should vote on an issue of this importance according to their view of the best national interest. I never quote Burke, but I shall paraphrase him. He said to his constituents, “If I no longer give you the benefit of my judgment and simply follow your orders, I am not serving you; I am betraying you.” I personally shall be voting with my conscience content, and when we see what unfolds hereafter as we leave the European Union, I hope that the consciences of other Members of Parliament will remain equally content.

Brexit - Nick Clegg on the period of phoney peace

Mercredi, août 17th, 2016

“But while the referendum gave the Government a mandate to withdraw from the EU it did not give a mandate on how to do it, or what our new relationship with our neighbours should be, not least because the Brexiteers did not deign to set out a plan during the campaign itself. Therefore we have a duty to hold the Government to account for the way in which it conducts the negotiations.”

Nick Clegg on the period of phoney peace.

Brexit as viewed by our Representative in Greece

Mercredi, mai 11th, 2016

In our guest blog posting below by Erika Angelidi, the Conservatives Abroad Representative in Greece, her latest contribution continues her previous discussion of the critical issue of Brexit or not for the United Kingdom (Great Britain: EU or Brexit?):

It is now the final stretch before the referendum, which will take place very soon. Every British citizen by now ought to have formed in his or her opinion as to the country’s best interest. Public opinion surveys are so far inconclusive: neither the “yes” nor the “no” seems to be clearly ahead. Everything now depends upon the communication strategy and capabilities of the Brexit supporters and their opponents.

Being of the opinion that GB should stay within the EU, I offer the following suggestions:
1. Through the television, radio and papers, the advantages of GB remaining in the EU should be explained thoroughly and in the most analytical way possible, so that what doubt remains may be dispelled.
2. Concrete and convincing examples of consequences of a Brexit on the life of the average citizen need to be presented.
3. The dangers underlying a Brexit should be underlined.

It is to be noted that by the Agreement that the Prime Minister concluded shortly ago, GB’s interests within the EU have been fully secured. I personally view this as a most compelling factor to vote against a Brexit.

The following issues need to be of concern for each British voter:
1. Is it a risk worth taking, the isolation of GB? The loss of a primary role on the international political scene?
2. Or that of the devaluation of Sterling?
3. Would GB weather the loss of EU investments on research, education and health?
4. Would GB be able to handle a skyrocketing unemployment rate?

If the answer to all these is “no”, then voting against the Brexit seems the only sensible option.

Erika Angelidi,
Conservatives Abroad Representative Greece,
Athens