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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.

Why?

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.

Happy New Year

I wanted to wish everyone a happy new year and give you a few thoughts on a sad night for us all

After 4 and a half years of fighting today the leavers finally get their sunny uplands…

But no amount of rose tinting of the spectacles that they wear can hide the fact that Brexit is bad news for this country. Despite Johnson and his deal, there will be no unicorns.

Whilst the cliff edge disaster of no deal has been avoided there is much in the deal, or rather not in the deal, that is bad news for our once great country. For example, over 70% of our GDP comes from services which are not covered in the deal. So, whilst we might not see the cliff edge drop, we will see a slow decline over time.

But the EU is not just about trade and there are many other aspects of Brexit that will cause British people to lose out and that will impoverish this nation, such as the loss of the right to live, love and work on OUR continent.

But no matter what, we know Brexit has no legitimacy.

We know the Leave narrative was false and misleading with the likes of Johnson, Gove and Farage telling lie after lie.

We know the Leave campaign broke Electoral law and Data Protection Laws.

We know that the May Government admitted in court that the referendum was seriously flawed.

We know that the May Government relied on legal loopholes to continue the Brexit Process.

These are also reasons why we know that we are in the right.

These are also reasons why we know we will eventually prevail.

The Leave Campaign lost the moment they broke the law.

The Leave Campaign lost the moment they started lying.

Yes, the last few days have been difficult for us with the actions of Starmer and the Labour Party, and there will be difficult days ahead, especially as the UK itself may break up as a result of this tragedy.

But from here on in there is only one direction to go – and that direction is Rejoin.

The UK WILL retake its rightful place at the heart of the EU

Polical parties – a call to arms

I find this graphic very interesting as it shows where remian and leave support sits in terms of political parties. Whilst things have changed since 2016, with for example, only 19% of those who voted Remain in 2016 voting Tory last December, it does show two things very clearly.

Firstly, this shows that any Campaign to Rejoin the EU has to be cross party in nature otherwise we simply will not have the support needed to win a further referendum. This has considerable implications for what we can and cannot support as a Campaign. Anything we do support has to have broad support within the Rejoin community, meaning we must stay very focused on our primary goals and objectives that will directly help us to achieve them.

Secondly, this shows that within the support base for every party, even those considered to be pro European, there is an element that is against our EU membership. Such people will be active within all those parties trying to stop that party supporting our cause. The practical implications for us of that are that we must be active in promoting our cause, building our support within each party, and trying to get rejoin onto the agenda of all political parties.

So one of the first practical steps anyone in this group can take along the long road back to EU membership is to consider joining the party which most closely matches your views, becoming active in that party, standing for positions of influence within that party and maybe even standing for election.

A second practical step would be to join us in one of our political sub groups on Facebook which we have established to foster the pro European debate within the political parties and to help us get Rejojn and associated issues onto the agenda of each party by, for example, putting motions forward to party conferences. This would be especially important if you are already a member of a political party and know how that party works. If you hold a position of influence within that party even better.

So if you support a particular political party please help us by joining one of our Facebook political party sub-groups listed below. Links to them can be found in this post

Green Rejoin EU Group
Labour – Rejoin EU Group
Lib Dem Rejoin
Conservatives Rejoin the EU
Ailymuno Plaid Cymru Rejoin the EU
SNP Rejoin the EU
Alliance Party Rejoin the EU
SDLP Rejoin the EU

For some of these groups we are actively looking for people to join us in running and promoting them – please get in touch if you want to help. Also if the polictal party you support is not listed please get in touch and we will set up a group for you.

I know many people want to see a new single issue political party established. I will address that subject in another blog post in the next few days.

Erasmus – Johnson’s Berlin Wall by Robert Braban

Erasmus – Johnson’s attempt at a Berlin Wall.

In 1961 the East German regime built the Berlin Wall to protect their flawed ideology from being exposed through contact of their citizens with those in the free West.

The refusal of Johnson to allow UK young people to have the advantage of continued participation in the Erasmus programme is his personal version of the Berlin Wall; this time starting to build a Psychological barrier between democracy in the EU and nationalism in Little England.

The Berlin Wall survived and oppressed those it entrapped for almost thirty years. Johnson’s psychological barrier must not be permitted to become established and must be blocked at every attempt.

The excuse that there are ample world-wide university programmes now available is designed to give the impression that Johnson has somehow introduced new opportunities. He has not. Any opportunities now available were there in addition to Erasmus.

The Wonders of Brexit

The wonders of Brexit coming to a town near you.

After Brexit the United Kingdom is going to be amazing – every morning I’m going to wake up in my Union Jack jimmy-jams to the sound of a squadron of Spitfires racing overhead and leaving a trail of hot buttered crumpets behind them.

I’ll run to the corner shop past all the happy Scottish and English children who are laughing and squealing with excitement and delight as they make a beautiful statue of the Queen out of happy wriggling British Bulldog puppies – with two Corgis for her eyebrows!

Bunting flutters everywhere in the ‘gin clear’ blue sunny sky and the man from the betting shop steps into the street – “guess what! England just won the World Cup & The Ashes & The Queens’s horse the Grand National and here’s the best bit – Boris Johnson put a bet on it for everyone! we’re all MILLIONAIRES!!! hip hip Hurray! “

The Red Arrows and Lancaster bombers fly overhead dropping ‘fish and chips’ on tiny fluffy white parachutes along with lashings of ginger beer to the appreciative gathered crowds below; as I walk into the corner shop to get my morning paper full of good British news “Good morning, how much please?” I say to Mr. Mohammad’s son, “one penny Sir, everything in the whole shop now costs just one penny!” he laughs, “leave it on the counter, I’m off back to Pakistan – we all are!”

Gosh, he’s right! outside in the streets jolly old Nigel Farage is leading a huge crowd of happy smiley Johnny foreigners – Turks, Poles, Romanians, Syrians – there’s even a few English and Scottish people with heavy suntans mixed up in there! Nigel’s playing ‘Rule Britannia’ on a long pipe, rather like the pipe that takes the gas into your oven, and they’re all following and smiling and talking foreign, bless them!

Just then our exalted PM, Boris Johnson flies overhead in a Concorde made of Bank of England gold, powered by Scottish oil – “don’t worry!” he laughs “I’ve cut out all the bits the French, Spanish and Germans made!” and with that he crashes into the ground at 1200 mile/h.


Courtesy Dave Lewis from a post on our Facebook group.

One Year On

A year ago just after the depressing news of Johnson’s win I was scrolling through Facebook when i came across a meme that said the campaign to rejoin the EU starts now.

I thought yes why not? Why should we just roll over and accept what has just happened? And why shouldn’t we start to campaign to rejoin now?

So, I started a little Facebook group expecting to end up with around 80 to 100 members and here we are a year later with around 21,500 members in this group alone…

Initially we expanded very quickly and started developing ideas for our campaign. For example, we came up with the idea for our #IAmEuropean campaign for the 2021 census, we started planning regional social meet ups, and alwo some form of pro EU summer festival.

But as we moved into February and March, far more pressing concerns about covid brought most of our plans to a grinding halt, and it is fair to say it has been a difficult and often frustrating year where many of our ideas have had to be put on the back burner.

However, over the last year we have achieved much and have spent a lot of time developing our infrastructure to the point where we now have a variety of different sub groups and pages on Facebook, various twitter and Instagram accounts and a website. We have built a presence and we are starting to influence.

We have developed our four-point plan to move towards our ultimate goal of rejoining the EU and are working towards each one. These four points are:

  1. To challenge the legitimacy of Brexit
  2. To promote the benefits of EU membership.
  3. To place rejoining the EU onto the agenda of the main political parties
  4. To develop, grow and maintain our Rejoin Movement and our European identity

For many people what is going on at present is very difficult with the shadow of no deal hanging over us and our country in just a few short days time, but we have to keep our hope and our belief that we will right this wrong, and that the UK will retake its rightful place at the heart of the EU.

We face a difficult journey and, for that journey to be successful, we need to move on from the events of the past, including the mistakes. What has happened has happened and we cannot change the past. Fighting amongst ourselves will not solve anything, and neither will trying to place blame onto one group of people or another. Both must stop and stop now.

We need to recognise that we are a diverse movement that has support from all sections of the UK population and amongst British people who live in other countries – all ages, all ethnicities, all religions, all geographic regions, and all political views etc etc support our goals, and we need to bridge those divides and work together to achieve our goals if we are to succeed.

Whatever does happen on the 31st December, we cannot sink any lower, and we start the journey to rejoining on 1st January.

The time for talking will stop and the time for action will begin and each and everyone of us needs to ask ourselves what we can do to help because there is a lot that needs doing.

Thank you for being part of this journey over the last 12 months. Covid still hangs over us, but as the threat recedes due to the wonderful efforts of our NHS and the Scientific community, hopefully the next 12 months will be a little easier for us than the last, and we will be able to advance our cause.

I hope you will join me in thanking the team of volunteers that runs our organisation, including the people that run this group. At times it has been a lot of hard work and it has not always been an easy or straightforward task.

We will prevail. Here’s to the next 12 months…