Lord Adonis unveils route to rejoin
Chairman of the European Movement, Lord Andrew Adonis, clearly set out a route to rejoining the European Union at a gathering of Hythe Remainers last month. The Labour peer spoke at the event along with Conservative and Hythe resident Baroness Patience Wheatcroft and Chris Hammond, Chair of the East Kent European Movement.
In a packed and positively vibed conference room in the local sports pavilion, Lord Adonis outlined the four stages which would climax in a renewed application to join the EU.
1. “Brexit isn’t working”
“Firstly, I think we need to get the message across that ‘Brexit isn’t working’ – which it clearly isn’t,” he said. “The launch for this stage is a European Movement street stall in Canterbury on November 20th – all welcome!
2. Fix the flaws
“Secondly, we need to fix what has clearly gone wrong so far with Brexit: the breakdown of supply chains and the need to recruit employees in a wide range of industries. And we have to rescue the Northern Ireland protocol. Lord David Frost helped to draw it up, and then decided not to honour it. He must be the worst diplomat in the history of diplomacy!
3. Rejoin Erasmus+
“We must be back in the Erasmus education programme, so that UK students can study freely in Europe. And European students can come here. And we need young people to join the European Movement to help make this happen.
4. Rejoin customs union and internal market
“The next stage is to rejoin the single market and the customs union [which the Leave campaign said we would continue to be part of], which is the pathway to the final stage – to rejoin!
“With polls showing around 60 per cent to 40 per cent suggesting that the UK wants to rejoin, I think this is achievable! I believe that a second referendum would have been won. But the reason it didn’t take place, was because of a breakdown in relations between the parties in Westminster.”
Anti-EU sentiment in the media
The media – with some notable exceptions, including the Bylines platform – have been instrumental in encouraging anti-Brussels, anti-EU sentiment with its clichéd portrayal of “faceless bureaucrats” swigging Champagne and knocking back oysters. But a counterbalance may be found in media closer to home, suggested Baroness Wheatcroft.
“I think the key to winning influence could be through local media. They are always looking for human interest stories and still carry weight at local level,” she said. “They want to be able to identify with their readers. And the rejuvenation of Folkestone has been phenomenal as a local story.
“The Hythe Remainers have kept me and my husband going. And I believe that there is real fire in the bellies of the European Movement.”
Hythe welcomed as the latest European Movement branch…
Lord Adonis took the opportunity to decide unilaterally that the efforts that Hythe Remainers have made should qualify them to become the newest branch of the European Movement. This was a proposal which was greeted with much applause.
Hythe Remainer’s creator, Angela Dickinson, who chaired the event, was flattered to be asked to take the gallant group to the next level.
Reasons to be cheerful
“I first decided to do something for the European cause when I attended a local residents group meeting,” she explained at the event. “I came away very despondent, and wondered where all the nice, normal people were!
“Putting the word out, I actually found that there were plenty of nice and normal people in the Hythe area. And the Remainers were born! There has been tremendous effort from our group over the last few years. But now I really believe that we can step up a gear to ram the message home that Brexit isn’t working. We now need to re-ignite the fight!”
Angela swiftly updated the group’s identity on social media. It will now be known as “Hythe Remainers (European Movement)”. A move which demonstrates that whilst acting independently, there is strength to be gained from being part of a larger, mutually beneficial group. Now doesn’t that sound familiar?!
Seeking election to the national council
The upgrade comes in the wake of her announcement to run for a place on the national Council of the European Movement. The evening’s other panellist Chris Hammond, attired in full remainer regalia! is also running.
Festival Of Europe
“I want to remind people of the forthcoming Festival of Europe [an antidote to the proposed event formerly known as the Festival of the UK, with its unfortunate acronym], a celebration of culture, values and hope,” said Chris.
“There will be events across the country throughout summer 2022, beginning on Europe Day, 9 May, and culminating in a grand Festival Finale, planned for a venue in northern England in September.”
The new chair’s vision for the movement
Lord Adonis set out his vision for the direction of the European Movement, having taken over as its Chairman this year.
“The Movement needs to become a political movement with the aim of making the UK a pragmatic trading nation,” he enthused. “The Movement was founded by Winston Churchill 70 years ago and at its peak had up to 300 000 members, before almost disappearing with just 800 members.
“We now have 14 000 members and growing all the time, but our ambition must be to reach 100 000 members to become a mass campaigning organisation the size of a national political party.”
Support for membership of EU is growing
The momentum of the majority of UK voters certainly appears to be behind an eventual return to the EU, and while the “route to rejoin” is a clear objective, it appears impossible to predict what a timetable for the four-stage programme may look like. There are, however, a number of landmark dates over the next few years:
- the full imposition of the customs regime in January 2022;
- a general election in either 2023 or 2024; and
- a five-year review of the Brexit deal in 2025 – which could at least provide a framework for action.
With a UK government and cabinet team which continues to lead the populace up any number of uneven garden paths, its wanderlust chickens will surely come home to roost in due course.
For further information on the European Movement and to increase its membership, have a look at www.europeanmovement.co.uk. You can also follow the Hythe Remainers (European Movement) on Facebook.