I attended ‘The Ayes Have It’, led by former Commons Speaker John Bercow last week. The event debated the motion “Brexit has been a disaster and now must be reversed”. The motion was won with a substantial majority. Here is my review:
Notable by their absence …
The panel for the motion consisted of heavyweight contributors Alex Salmond, Gina Miller and Andrew Marr. In contrast, the opposition panel comprised David Davis, plus C-listers Mike Graham and Claire Fox. No Nigel Farage, Mogg, Tice, Baker, Johnson, Andrew Pierce, or anyone of significance on the leave side. Just David Davis, who turned out to be the most gracious member of the opposition panel.
Full facts versus fantasy fascists
Salmond, Miller and Marr offered solid complementary arguments backed up by relevant facts. Some highlights: Gina pointed out that Brexit had delivered the exact economic hit to UK plc as predicted by various experts (ranging up to a 5% hit on GDP). My own analogy for this is to imagine trying to swim the channel with a 4.5 kg block of concrete around your neck. All the ‘offspring of Brexit’ are on show for the next General Election, although none of the main parties wish to utter ‘he who shall not be named’ (Brexit).
Alex Salmond was an excellent orator and held himself in good account, despite numerous personal attacks by the Brexit panelists. Andrew Marr focused on our place in the world after Brexit. In summary, he pointed out that we don’t have a place in the world after Brexit. However, he did not think that he would see us rejoin in his lifetime. Gina and I disagree on Marr’s point. All that is needed is political will in Westminster and the cultivation of better relations with the EU. David Cameron may well be an asset in this respect if we play the ball and not the man. Please read our separate article on Cameron and his potential contribution to the breaking of Parliamentary paralysis.
Sugaring the bitter Brexit pill
In direct comparison, the Leave panel avoided any factual analysis of the benefits of Brexit (there are none of course). Only Sugar magnate David Davis presented any serious evaluation of Brexit, although he offered no benefits. But Davis generally acted with some dignity compared with the other leave panelists. He stated that Remoaners all think that the EU is perfect. I certainly know that all political systems imperfect. The question is really one of “Go Compare” and our own Parliament earns the prize of being twinned with Belarus, North Korea and Nigeria. Davis also installed his own versions of ‘project fear’ into the debate, suggesting that:
- Rejoining would be difficult (so was Brexit, lots of important things are difficult David);
- That the EU had moved on (self evident) and;
- That we would have to have the Euro and cede sovereignty (utter bollocks).
Rage of the Gammon
Mike ‘Talk Shit TV’ Graham and Claire Fox were notable because neither of them even tried to oppose the motion. Instead they hurled insults at the other panelists. Claire ‘IRA’ Fox attempted to set up a class war by saying that Gina, Andrew and Alex were all the products of public school and that only she (Baroness Fox) was a supporter of the common man and woman. She forgot to mention that the vast majority of the Brexiteers went to public school (Johnson, Mogg, the list goes on). She also said that if we rejoined the EU, Britain would become ‘Greece’. This is so much bollocks that I won’t even comment further. Graham had been encouraged by his supporters to ‘assassinate Gina’ and ‘use lots of facts’. In fact, Graham said he had decided not to use ANY facts as the Remoaners would dispute them. Clearly this was because he had none to offer. Graham also ran away before questions could be asked. These are the typical behaviours of a Brexit coward. A pound shop Alan Partridge.
Views of youth
After the interval, two year 6 students from Chestnut Grove Academy from spoke for each side of the debate. Both were nervous. Cora spoke for Rejoin made some terrific points about having her future taken away by people who would not live to see the damage they had done (my emphasis, not hers). She supplemented her talk with plenty of salient facts. The strangest thing happened when the young man (Dominic) stood up for the Brexit side. The first thing he said was that he could not defend Brexit !! Then he appeared to break down, unable to speak. John Bercow helped Dom to continue but his speech was incoherent. His main point was that we could not go back on the past, that Brexit was done (It’s far from done of course). At the end Dom attempted to give a benefit of Brexit mentioning the idea that we were able to get the COVID vaccine faster because of Brexit. Of course this is incorrect. Check the Full Fact link on this. I discussed this point later on with David Davis on a 1:1 basis. He tried to suggest that the EU was slow to respond and I agreed that entropy is a feature of all large institutions. Both of us have MBAs and have worked for large organisations and I found common cause with David who did not try to pull any strokes with me on the matter. But the point here is that UK was not prevented from acting independently. It’s a legal point and not an Organisational Behaviour issue. David graciously agreed with me. Boris Johnson was desperate to produce a smokescreen for Brexit at the time and it was a convenient story to fool the public with. Some still are fooled by Johnson’s lies.
For ‘balance’, other reviews are available. Jonathan Baz must have been taking some of Liz Truss’ psychotropic drugs in his review where he describes Claire Fox as using facts to destroy the Remoaners. Check Everything Theatre for a more sober review of the evening. Well done to theatre director and former MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh who put this all together.
Brexit is a disaster
We can and must join the EU
The only impediment to progress is our politicians
The Ayes Have It !!
I was delighted to present John Bercow and Alex Salmond with copies of my Brexit Satire book ‘Private Eyelines – Have I got fake Brexit news for EU‘. Ian Hislop also has a copy. It makes a great gift. Do NOT buy on Amazon by the way. Direct sales offer the best value.