Write, Recommend and Share to Thwart Brexit: Above All, Protest!

My Letter to 25 Remain-Area MPs

The New European has issued a rallying call to Remainers, asking us to contact 25 MPs in Remain areas with small majorities. This is my letter: I encourage you to recommend it, share it and write your own, and then share that so that I can recommend it! Remember to include your postal address when writing to an MP.

And please, join us on 25th on March when we march on Parliament. It’s a slim chance we can beat a parliament with pro-Brexit whips on both sides of the house but greater victories have been snatched from more dire circumstances. Below, you will find everything which is at stake.

See you on the (metaphorical) barricades

My Dear MP,

I writing to ask you to consider, before you vote to trigger article fifty, the great tradition to which you belong.

Please recall the great Whig and Tory parliamentarian John Burke who said to his electors in Britsol;

‘Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests; which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates; but parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole; where, not local purposes, not local prejudices, ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole.’

Yet, I can understand why in a country where newspapers proclaim judges to be ‘enemies of the people’ why you would be hesitant to vote in accordance with your conscious. I should like to you recall the works of the great Liberal parliamentarian, John Stewart Mill:

‘Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.’

Obviously, improvements have been made and other theories have emerged since the 19th Century but damn it if he isn’t right

I ask you to have the bravery to be an eccentric: a politician who does not bow meekly to the winds of public opinion or the blackmail of a party whip.

Leaving the EU is a leap of faith: one has to trust that it will be alright in the end regardless of the impacts on the price of imports; the dramatic rupture of traditional alliances and rivalries; the removal of every-day rights from millions of people both in this country and on the continent.

Remaining is also a leap of faith: one has to trust that European institutions are capable of reform; of becoming more directly accountable to Europe’s peoples; less hostile a regulatory environment; and that there is a deal to be struck between the North and South with regard to fiscal transfers.

Being a hard-working MP with all the pressures of constituency surgeries, campaigning, leafleting, finding ever-better ways to serve your constituents, I am sure when I say that the EU referendum was about how little power this country affords its citizens you will be aghast.

Listen to the phrase ‘take back control’ with the mind of a poet or psychiatrist. Interpret the fears around our NHS, lack of jobs, lack of housing and whatever else might be unfairly attributed to European citizens who choose to live, work and raise families here.

This is not a rejection of the European union: it is a rejection of the status quo. Even before the financial crisis of 2008, during the heady years of economic prosperity, these concerns were alive and well in many sectors of our society: they have stepped into the narrative gap where a reforming agenda ought to be. There are many routes by which you can give back control.

And yet the prospect we are being offered is of free trade with Trump’s USA and Erdogan’s Turkey. Trump’s policies are to pull out of NAFTA, which guarantees only three of Europe’s four freedoms; stop TTP and TTIP (both now impossible, leaving huge vacuum in the Pacific with which China will suck up America’s once-allies); and to screw the little guy in any deal it makes in future.

Notice who has the upper hand

Erdogan, meanwhile, has already begun the process of subverting Ataturk’s secular, republican principles with the ambition of becoming the Med’s leading Muslim autocrat. The treatment of the media in both countries has been shocking: media are being de-legitimised by mind-games, outright lies and direct persecution.

Together, these administrations are rehabilitating Russia as a Great Power, risking the legitimisation of their illegal annexation of the Crimea as well as their attacks on our allies in Baltics and Eastern Europe. Without these global norms, no state and no citizen of the globe can be sure of their rights. Our Prime Minister’s rejection of intervention, under all circumstances, is worse than having a piece of paper which assures peace in our time: she assumes it!

If global norms are coming to an end, and it may be inevitable, does the UK wish to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the free democracies of Europe as a guardian of rights, liberty and justice, or with the quislings who are dismantling these norms to return to 19th Century power-games, with all their murderous consequences?

Outside of England, the rest of the UK is in an awkward place. Do not discount the significance of Scotland’s semi-detached status from the rest of Britain’s politics: the SNP now represent the majority of Scotland in both Westminster and Edinburgh. If Scotland considers this question on the terms which I have laid them out to you, it may yet find itself having to choose between one union and another, taking back control from you on the way out.

In Northern Ireland, the prospects are even more grim: without Europe as a third-party arbiter of the Good Friday agreement, trust between the two sides of that arrested civil war will begin to break down (as power-sharing already has): if Northern Ireland chooses to remain a part of the United Kingdom, it will come at the cost of a new era of Troubles, with all that implies.

If you cannot bring yourself to vote against the expressed preferences of the UK and refuse to trigger Article 50 (and given the media climate in which we live I will understand but consider you no less a coward) then please support a second referendum on the final deal. Our globe has been up-ended in this past year: between Putin and Trump, no-one knows what alliance will endure and what will break under pressure.

Many forget what Armistice Day asks them to remember: they only remember to observe Armistice Day

We cannot allow the bonds of civilisation to be broken in the name of petty jealousy, in either sense of the word. To do so would be to reject every value in whose name you govern; to risk the break-down of global order; and split the peaceful union of our own four nations.

The European Union may not be perfect but it would not exist in its present form without the leadership of British politicians and diplomats. Margaret Thatcher believed in and instituted the four freedoms which make up the single market; Tony Blair extended these rights to the former Soviet Republics, expanding the free world to peoples who had long aspired to join it.

And, if I may mischievously suggest, the last time England was in a Union with France it was not because Henry V had the courage to retreat: England put her archers on the front line and fought. If this was the spirit on which the British people drew in World War II, I ask you to draw on it now.

Choose the frontier of the new world order: a world of Great Powers in which no-one balances the tyrannous instincts of Russia, Turkey, China and Trump’s America; or where Britain deliberates her rights and the rights of her allies in the Union, proving to the world that democracy and the rule of law not only works but is preferable to the rule of autocrats.

Vote NO on Article 50, or give me my say. Because if you don’t, the Britain I know will be dead: I will have no choice but to enter politics myself, as a 27-year-old man, endeavouring to repair over the next forty to sixty years what our government is so recklessly tearing apart; that which may be irreparable.

Yours sincerely,

Toby MacDonnell

The U in ‘UK’ and ‘EU’ stands for the same thing