The EU is not proposing to do anything that the UK and the US have not already done.

This weekend I was planning to write about Starmer and his current refusal to contemplate placing Rejoining the EU onto the agenda of the Labour Party. Instead, I find myself in very much the same situation as last weekend, i.e. writing about the fact that our opposition is currently still very active and that we therefore also need to be active, but that does not necessarily mean we need to start campaigning directly and openly for Rejoin, but rather we need to start preparing the ground for that ultimate campaign.

The issue that has brought this about is of course the situation with the EU, Astra Zeneca and the vaccine.
As the week has gone by, I have seen an increasingly concerning stream of news headlines about the situation saying that the EU has done this, or that the EU has taken the other action. On clicking the headline to find out more, in almost all cases, what I have actually found is that the headline has been an over exaggeration of what was really happening. The real situation was the EU was considering action, had given itself powers to act if the need arose, or considering a particular course of action – and nothing more.

This came to a head last night with very concerning news reports that the EU had triggered article 16. Digging a little deeper and a little time have revealed that the EU had not triggered article 16. Indeed, it is difficult to find out exactly what did happen. According to the press this morning it may or may not have been an ‘error’. It is simply not clear what has happened at this point in time.

Whilst there are clear issues with the EU’s vaccination program centring around a late start and a slow procurement process, what is also clear is that the real issue over the Astra Zeneca and the EU vaccine is a contractual one. Astra Zeneca agreed to supply a certain number of doses of the vaccine by a certain date and took money from the EU for that. Astra Zeneca subsequently informed the EU that it could not deliver and nothing more.

As a consequence, the EU has moved to secure a supply of the vaccine for their own citizens by insisting that Astra Zeneca meet its obligations under that contract, if necessary, including by supplying doses of the vaccine from production facilities in other countries including the UK. The contract between Astra Zeneca and the EU that has been published show that the EU is entitled under the terms of that contract to make such a request.

One could argue that the EU and Astra Zeneca should have sat round a table behind the scenes to address the problems and find acceptable solutions. Instead, we have witnessed a media debacle with the right-wing press in particular having a field day with, as already noted, over exaggerated headlines. In addition to those headlines, the media have portrayed the EU as being selfish and even trying to steal vaccines from other countries including the UK.
Not only I have seen no evidence to support those more serious claims, the media has also been very one sided. There has been almost no mention of the fact that before Christmas the UK banned the export of over 100 drugs that could be useful for treating Covid, or the fact that the US has totally banned the export of Covid 19 vaccines.

In other words, the EU is not proposing to do anything that the UK and the US have not already done.
This situation demonstrates something that most Rejoiners are already only too well aware of. There is a serious problem with the British Press – it is politically biased, often at the behest of wealthy owners, often misleading even dishonest, and also poorly and ineffective regulated, all of which are issues that need addressing.

These issues also circle back to the need for Rejoiners to be proactive and start preparing the ground for future battles. We should be calling for these issues to be addressed now. We should be campaigning for the current system of self-regulation to be replaced with a statutory system of regulation that is independent of the media to ensure accuracy now. We should be campaigning for a requirement for the media to be politically neutral to ensure fair reporting now.
In addition to the unfair, misleading and biased media coverage, our opponents have also been having a field day. A visit last night to the social media pages of Farage’s current political platform shows them exploiting the situation with rampant nationalism and xenophobia fuelled by misleading information, half-truths and outright lies about the EU and the situation.

This not only demonstrates the need for us to be proactive i.e. actually taking on the opposition rather than arguing amongst ourselves in our safe spaces, but also the need to hold politicians such as Farage to account for their actions, including their lies. Again, this is something that we could and should be doing now. But I have to ask how many of us are actually doing this?

At present one of my colleagues here at UKIN.EU, Joel Baccas, has a parliamentary petition active that calls for lying by politicians to be made a criminal offence. How many people reading this have actually signed it? How many people have spent longer that the 2 minutes it would take to sign it and send a clear message to the likes of Farage that what they are doing is unacceptable arguing that they can’t be bothered to sign petitions?

Which all comes back again to the need for Rejoiners to be proactive – nobody is going to do this for us. It is up to us. If you haven’t signed that petition find it and sign it now!

It is also worth noting that this whole media circus has also been very successful in diverting attention away from the effects of Brexit. The fishing industry is staring into the abyss, exports have slumped, and British firms are being advised by the British Government to set up shop in the EU meaning the loss of British jobs to the EU…It is easy to see why the right-wing media and our opponents are making such a fuss over this – they needed something to divert attention away from the mess they have created!

Contractual Dispute or Vaccine Wars?

We are currently seeing much concern and indeed criticism of the EU over the issue of Astra Zeneca vaccines.

In such circumstances it is often a good idea to stand back and break the issue down into its component parts.

What we are seeing is essentially a dispute over a contract entered into between two organisations specifically the EU and Astra Zeneca for the supply of a certain product.

Astra Zeneca agreed to supply the EU with a certain amount of the product by a certain date and has now said they are unable to do so. The EU is saying that is not acceptable and is insisting that Astra Zeneca deliver what was promised in that contract.

If we were talking about an ordinary product such as pens or paper nobody would be making a fuss – but we are talking about a highly emotive subject – a vaccine in the middle of the worst pandemic in a century.

The press and our opponents are stirring things up for different reasons. The first to sell papers, the second to cynically and dishonesty advance their cause. What a surprise!

All the EU is actually attempting to do is secure supplies of a critical product for its citizens – and if it were the UK government in that situation the press and our opponents would be encouraging our government to do exactly what the EU is doing.

You can find more detail in this BBC article

Rejoining the European Union – A Statement by Colin Gordon

We wish to state that we are not “getting behind” Brexit.

Brexit has taken place and we are now experiencing the consequences. We must all in the coming period work together to do the best for our country by limiting, mitigating and repairing the immediate damage which Brexit is now inflicting on us. However we have no intention of consenting to lock ourselves indefinitely into a diminished future, or the permanent and pointless reduction of our shared possibilities resulting from the historic error which our nation has unfortunately been misled into committing.

As a pro-European movement we therefore declare our intention to campaign for the re-entry of the United Kingdom (or its legacy political entities) into the European Union at the earliest practicable opportunity. The timeline and phases of this campaign cannot now be precisely stated and will be determined by democratic attention to the state of public opinion and by the evolving situation, including of course the corresponding wishes and willingness our European neighbours. At this time we believe that the target should be to achieve re-entry by 2030.

Whatever the time, work and change that may be needed to achieve this goal, we declare unequivocally and as of now that an early re-entry of the UK to the EU is in our overwhelming national interest, as well as in the wider international interests of peace, justice and democracy. Along with all others who share this conviction, we commit ourselves with immediate effect to begin preparing the ground and creating the conditions for a democratic return of the UK to a path to a better future in a full and constructive partnership with its neighbours and allies in the EU, for the benefit of all its peoples.

We cannot afford to give our opponents a free run

Amongst the most common comments I see relating to the campaign to Rejoin are those along the lines that we must wait or the time isn’t right or we can’t do anything now because the Tory party has such a huge majority. Other comments relate to either Keir Starmer or Ed Davey playing some sort of clever long game over Rejoining which whilst I sincerely hope such claims are correct, I have to say I have never seen any supporting evidence to back up those claims. To be honest they seem like wishful thinking rather than having any real substance.

Similarly, I often see comments that that we must wait for the economic damage of Brexit to become apparent when we all know that many Leavers simply don’t care about the damage they are causing or that the damage caused by Brexit will simply get lost in the economic damage caused by the pandemic.

The end effect of all of these comments is that far too many Rejoiners are simply doing nothing to promote our cause. So, I thought I would take a look and see what some of our opposition is up to on social media.

Leave.EU has nearly a million followers on Facebook and nearly 300,000 on Twitter and is posting dozens of times every day on both channels.

The Brexit Party or whatever Farage’s latest incantation is called have around 200,000 followers on Facebook and Twitter and again are posting regularly. They have also made it very clear on social media that they intend to field candidates in the forthcoming local elections.

Labour Leave have just under 40,000 followers on both Twitter and Facebook and again are very active posting a dozen or so times a day.

If these organisations are active on social media you can bet the shirt on your back that they are active in other areas. For example, Labour Leave will be trying to push their agenda at a constituency level and at a national level including at the party conference.

At yet people in our movement are still saying the time isn’t right, its too early etc etc etc…and in the process giving our opponents a free run.

That has to stop and stop now.

Nobody is going to do this for us. We have to be proactive. Our opponents haven’t stopped and that means we must continue.

That doesn’t necessarily mean we should go out and start campaigning on the street and pushing our Rejoin message out to the electorate immediately, but we do need to be fighting our corner in other ways, particularly behind the scenes and within all of the political parties, which includes putting motions forward to party conferences such as the one to be put to the forthcoming Lib Dem spring conference which commits the party to EU Membership in the longer term.

REJOIN – A path back to EU Membership by Robert Braban

Recent days have brought a lot of huffing and puffing on the topic of putting right the Brexit damage and restoring Britain to EU membership.

Exploring theories with multiple options is a valuable exercise, but like many brain-storming sessions, the eventual conclusion ends up being not too far from the status quo. Essentially, politics is very much about marketing and needs to be approached as such.

The single biggest factor impacting on my view and that of others has been the registration of VOLT, a Pan-European political group, as a UK political party.

Although VOLT is a superb organisation, contributing to continued cohesion of the EU 27, it’s latest move is a real threat to the UK securing electoral support for reentry to the EU. To all but the politically naive, it will be immediately obvious that the intervention of an offshoot of a Brussels based political organisation will be a gift from heaven for Brexiteers and marketing disaster for supporters of the core initiative.

There needs to be a very clear separation between the supported Rejoin party and any suggestion of foreign influence, within or without the EU.

Having established the need for a clean UK image, the next marketing imperative has to be rethinking on product labelling. ‘Rejoin’ may be descriptive of the final objective, but it has become too emotive to have the widest achievable appeal. The label needs to more accurately describe the intended process and that will be conditioned as much by the EU as by us.

‘The Road back to Prosperity – Renegotiate-Restore or Repair-Rejoin’ might be a starting point for thought. It describes a natural process to get into the Single Market and Customs Union, restoring supply chains and trade, and eventually regaining membership. It would offend fewer doubters. It needs work, but practical political thinkers will get the drift and have ideas based on the theme.

For the purpose of this exercise I shall continue to use ‘Rejoin’ because it’s familiar to readers.

In the absence of a totally new Party with a Macron-like figure driving it, I see the only really realistic lead option as the Lib Dem’s.


Simply because they are already very Pro-Europe and have the appropriate national organisation in place. Organisation is of prime importance and it would take many years for a successor party to build up a similar base.

FORGET previous squabbles! This is not about reliving history, it’s about securing a vehicle that can get us to the desired destination. The old personalities are gone. Those hung up on those bye-gone events need a software restoration’.

The problem immediately obvious to many is that the Lib Dem’s still suffer prevarication within the Party. They have a ‘tired’ leader, a nice man, but one unable to enthuse members or the public, and there is no obvious replacement in sight. However, spreading the Party ‘Rejoin’ ambition does not have to be limited to Lib Dem MPs. With a strong Rejoin message, other prominent politicians will step up to promote this issue, if not the entire manifesto. A further factor is that a good showing in the local elections could add customer appeal.

Turning to the manifesto for a moment, the party representing Rejoin will need to have rejoin as core policy, its USP, but it must be supported by strong mainstream policies. New parties have an obvious difficulty in that regard.

Turning to branding ‘ Rejoin the EU’ is certainly too heavy for many fringe supporters to swallow as one dose. Moreover, voters inclined to give support would rightfully doubt the ability to deliver and conversion of that sentiment to criticism would hamper progress.

In order to get the sort of numbers that one would need would involve not only securing the votes of current anti-Brexit voters, but a good number who were once convinced of the value of Brexit, but have since suffered or witnessed events that have impacted on their thinking. They need leading back stage by stage, not driving back up the cliff face.

It’s important to note that planning to move back in increments is not giving anything up time-wise. It’s realistic. It’s the only way it could happen anyway.

Probably the best way to see a path forward in this type of dilemma is to think about what one would do if one was still running a company and was confronted by a similar situation.

A prime consideration is that there are a lot of Brexit voters who are already suffering and recognising betrayal. Lorry drivers face fines of £300 for entering Kent without a permit. Fishermen find that their ‘sunny upland’ comprises the smelly glow from fish rotting because their market has been removed by Brexit. Industrial workers are seeing broken supply chains that will, probably sooner rather than later, cost them their jobs.

It’s a consideration that the first tranche are likely to be educated intelligent people making decisions on evidence rather than emotion. Such people need careful nurturing and under the ‘Poacher turned Gamekeeper’ syndrome, they can become a powerful sales force.

That the Brexit situation will get worse as new problems arise is pretty obvious. The solution for the party with the guts to get off the fence will be to go forward pledging to:

  1. Reopen trade negotiations with the EU to secure a return to the single market and customs Union, thus restoring supply lines and established trade links. That will better secure jobs and slowly stop the rot.
  2. Take action to restore national security by returning to the EU institutions governing: space, medicines, crime, security, Erasmus etc, and
  3. sit down with the EU Commission to start talks on eventual full membership of the EU.

A manifesto package of that nature promptly updates and validates itself every time a Brexit screw up emerges.

Even the first stage a package offers several real benefits:

  1. It removes the NI border problem and recognises the importance of the GFA.
  2. The policy adoption and progress towards implementation could change the balance of the drive for independence in Scotland and thus help secure the Union.
  3. The first element would simply deliver what Vote Leave promised, an important selling point..

Were I not 82 years of age and a walking medical experiment, I would be seeking to promote this from a political platform. As it is I can only furnish ideas and sit back and watch the scrap.

Quite naturally, the whole picture would change if SKS and the many opposing factions within the Labour Party got together and decided to respect the views of the majority of Labour voters.

Put your coat on and go and look at the Lib Dem’s from the other side of the window by Robert Braban

Lib Dem is a very tired brand. Were I still running my marketing company I might well be using Lib Dem as the best available example of ‘brand death’. A massive lift is needed.

I read a comment claiming that the Party should concentrate on selling its current USP: It doesn’t have one. However the Lib Dem message starts off, it comes across as: “We do what the other parties do, but better”.

The party has always, since I first joined in Cambridge in 1960, concentrated more on keeping a few existing members, rather than offending them and recruiting five times as many. That’s not necessarily bad: members don’t win elections. Winning is down to strong and often unique policies, and a charismatic image.

In its present state the party can forget charismatic image. In many areas it’s close to anonymous. Wholehearted commitment rather than luke-warm lip service to Rejoining the EU is probably the most electorally attractive core policy available. For the Lib Dem’s it could be salvation if put at the centre of other policies. It guarantees:

  1. Policy separation from the other parties. Viz. The missing USP!
  2. A refuge for millions of Rejoin supporters who are currently disenfranchised.
  3. Massive publicity focused on the Party bringing it back into the public eye. There would be hatred from the right wing press, but support from others. In this context, there is no such thing as bad publicity. Being reviled by the Sun, the Mail and Farage is all positive. It would mean that once again the Lib Dem’s mattered.
  4. Near endless policy food. As Brexit damage emerge it would supply the party many additional fists to punch with.

It would be a mistake to assume that SKS will sit on the fence on a permanent basis. Labour is a majority Remain party and will become more so as Brexit damage emerges. Red wall MPs are already giving Johnson a hard time and that’s because they are being hassled by their constituents. It may not be too long before the priority becomes the overall membership and not the crumbling red wall.

The Rejoin option may not be the No 1 political bargain for long. There could soon be competition for customers at which point the party might be criticised for jumping on someone else’s bandwagon”.

Should Rejoin back Volt?

Since Kier Starmer’s interview last week, I have seen the subject of a new political party raised frequently, with Volt often being mentioned as an alternative to establishing a new party.

When considering such issues, we need to remember the cross-party nature of support for Rejoining the EU. Our support base is very diverse and comes from right across the political spectrum which is why any new political party needs to be tightly focussed on Rejoin and very closely associated issues.

Having spent some time looking at Volt’s website and researching them, whilst I see much that is welcome, they are not a single-issue party by any stretch of the imagination and are therefore unlikely to attract the widespread cross political spectrum support needed within the Rejoin community let alone the wider electorate.

One particular area of concern relating to the wider electorate is Volt’s federalist stance given the nature of some of the wider debate surrounding the issue of our EU membership over the last few years. Their stance on this issue may well be unpopular with the wider electorate, and furthermore, our opponents would undoubtedly seize upon this to demonstrate their concerns about federalism and the foundation of an EU “superstate” were well founded. When you consider some of the other obstacles that we will have to overcome with the electorate on our route to Rejoining, such as the need to adopt the Euro and join Schengen, this federalist stance would make a difficult job even harder.

There is also the issue of Volt not being a home-grown party. To the vast majority of us, including myself. this is not an issue in any way whatsoever. However, again, this may be an issue of concern for the wider electorate given the nature of much of the debate surrounding our EU membership. We need to look at this issue from the perspective of the wider electorate, not our own perspective, and again, this may give us yet another difficult obstacle to overcome. A home-grown single-issue party putting the case for our EU membership to be in our best interests as a country would be an easier proposition to sell to certain sections of the electorate.

For these reasons Volt does not therefore offer a viable route forward for us as a movement, indeed their federalist stance in particular could actually end up hindering us in achieving our goals. That said as a movement we should encourage Volt’s stance on our EU membership.

Should a Single Issue Rejoin Political Party be Established?

One of the issues I quite often see raised on pro-European Social Media is the issue of setting up our own political party.

There are many arguments in favour such as it will give the Rejoin movement a clear focus and enable us to be the tail that wags the dog which Farage and co were so good at doing in the run up to the December 2019 General Election.

Disadvantages include the prospect of splitting the pro Rejoin vote even further than  it already is and the practicalities of establishing and then running a political party.

When I say practicalities, setting up a political party is not a particularly onerous or expensive task. There are forms to complete as you would expect, you need to nominate a Party Leader, someone who is responsible for the accounts that must be prepared to a certain standard similar to that of a limited company, and you need to nominate someone to provide all of the required returns for elections – and that is where the problems start…

As well as completing all the required steps and checks, you also need to convince the electoral commission that you will stand in elections, which is where the costs start to mount up and you start to need specialist knowledge of electoral law, which of course means employing and paying people – in other words you need money, and lots of it.

So, whilst there may well be many good arguments on both sides of the debate about establishing a single issue Rejoin party, my biggest concern has always been these practical issues. Indeed, as a team we have discussed this on more than one occasion, and each time we have come to the same conclusion; that it would be a better route forward initially to attempt to get Rejoin onto the agenda of the existing political parties, and that is the route we are currently following with our political party sub-groups.

We may or may not succeed in that task, but I believe that there are strong arguments that we should at least try over the 18 months to achieve that objective before taking a decision on establishing a Single Issue Rejoin party.

We are here to set the agenda not follow the agenda of others

We are here to set the agenda

The last week has been hard for us all with perhaps one of the hardest issues to deal with being the news about Starmers decision on supporting a deal and his comments about what will and will not be on the Labour Party agenda in 2024.

Since that news I’ve seen all sorts of comments in the group and on wider social media about how the Labour Party is no longer worth supporting, the Lib Dems are the same, that we should tear up membership cards, set up a new party ext etc etc.

Whilst I empathise with much of that, and even agree, my answer is that we are not here to follow the agenda of anyone, Starmer and Davey included.

We are here to SET the agenda across the political spectrum.

I could write a long article about why we need to do so – but I will save that for another time and simply rely on this old graphic showing where remain and leave support lies within the political parties.

Every single political party has both leave and remain supporters within it, and you can guarantee 100% that leave supporters within each party will be actively trying to keep rejoin off the agenda of their party.

That is why we must work towards setting the agenda on EU membership in ALL political parties – and that will stay the same even if we start our own party as the existing parties will not just go away just because we start our own.

We must establish strong pro European communities within all political parties and push forward our agenda within them which needs to include putting motions forward to party conferences on issues that will help us achieve our goals and indeed to put rejoining the EU itself onto the agenda.