Sunday, 9 December 2018

Brexitwatch: complaint to Channel 4 about Brexit bias

Channel 4 are planning to mount 'The Real Brexit Debate' tonight at 1900. It will be heavily biased in favour of Brexit, with three Brexiters on the panel to just one Remainer. It you think this is unacceptable, complain to Channel 4.

This is what I have sent:

According to Krishnan Guru-Murthy, you are planning to load the panel with pro-Brexiters for 'The Real Brexit Debate' on C4 tomorrow at 7pm. It will comprise supporters of 'Theresa May’s Deal, a softer Corbyn Brexit, a harder Mogg/Johnson Brexit and a PeoplesVote to Remain'. In other words three Brexiters to one anti-Brexiter, when those who oppose Brexit make up at least half of the country. This bias is inexcusable. I look forward to your ensuring the panel is balanced between pro and anti-Brexit spokespeople. You have, for example, no one to speak for the view that the we should withdraw Article 50 immediately, nor anyone to speak for Scotland which voted to Remain.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Brexitwatch: history as it should have been

The morning after the referendum in 2016, prime minister David Cameron stood in front of 10 Downing Street and made the following speech:

'I am surprised and disappointed at the result of the referendum, but I promised that whatever the result, I would stay on as your prime minister, and that promise I will keep.

I do not have a plan for leaving the EU, but I know the people who advocated leaving must have, because if they hadn't, they wouldn't have advocated leaving.

I have formed a special cabinet committee comprising those cabinet members who campaigned for the UK to leave. It will be their task to come up with a plan as to how this should best be achieved.

That plan will be put to the cabinet, and once the cabinet has approved it, it will be put to parliament.

In the meantime, the government has a lot to do on many fronts, and I am going back into number 10 to get on with that work.'

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Brexitwatch: write to your MP NOW

It feels as though the Brexit phoney war is finally over. I know there are rumours that Theresa May may try to kick the can even further down the road, but don't count on it. The big debate is finally on. If you want to stop Brexit or at least get a referendum on Theresa May's 'deal' (which, of course, isn't a deal at all but a wish list to try to negotiate with the EU over the next decade or so), you need to write to your MP NOW.

My MP happens to be Sir Keir Starmer, Labour's Brexit spokesperson. This is what I have sent to him:

Dear Sir Keir,
There is no longer any excuse for proceeding with Brexit, and in any proper democracy, it would have been buried long ago.
1. It will make the UK poorer, and damage most the people Labour is supposed to care most about.
2. It will make the UK weaker on the international stage.
3. It will hand a victory to those who stoke the fires of intolerance and xenophobia.
4. The referendum which is being used as the excuse for pursuing it was won by lies, cheating and law-breaking and was in any case advisory and non-binding.
5. The Brexit that people voted for cannot and will not be delivered.
Following your promise of June 29 that Labour would vote against any deal that failed to satisfy your six tests, I assume that you and all your Labour colleagues will be voting against Theresa May's so-called 'deal'. I trust also that firm disciplinary action will be taken against any Labour MPs who continue to try to prop her up.
Labour should now be working to bring this sorry story to a close at once before it does any more damage to our jobs, rights and public services, by demanding the immediate withdrawal of Article 50. If you and your colleagues do not have the stomach for this, then I trust you will at least support the demand for a referendum on the Prime Minister's terms, with Remain as an option on the ballot paper.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Yours sincerely,
John Withington

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Brexitwatch: don't let the BBC mount a pro-Brexit stitch-up

On December 9, the BBC is planning to mount a 'debate' on Brexit between.....two Brexiters! Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn.

If you want a fair debate with equal representation for anti-Brexiters, complain to the BBC here -

This is what I have sent:

For years I have had to endure BBC interviewers failing to challenge pro-Brexit spokespeople when they have used your programmes to spread lies and untruths.
Now I understand you are planning to silence anti-Brexit voices altogether by mounting a 'debate' on Brexit between two committed Brexiters - Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn. All the opinion polls indicate that more people support Remain than Leave and even if you made the assumption that they exaggerated the Remain lead, at the very least you would have to conclude that opinion was evenly divided.
MPs are about to make one of the most crucial decisions in our history, and it would be a dereliction of the BBC's duty to present a debate that does not give equal prominence to both sides.
The BBC has so far failed the nation over Brexit. It would be inexcusable to mount the kind of propaganda for Brexit that you are proposing.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Living to 100 - the Secrets of the Centenarians. A talk for Valentine's Day!

Thank you to the Crouch End and District U3A for inviting me to give a talk on Valentine's Day, 14 February 2019 on my book: Secrets of the Centenarians: what is it like to live for a century and which of us will survive to find out? (Reaktion)

I'll be asking why there 90 times as many centenarians as there were 100 years ago? Why do women outnumber men by about 5 to 1? What determines who will make it to 100 and who will fall by the wayside? And can we go on expanding human lifespan or have we reached our limit?
I'll also be telling the stories of the oldest people who have ever lived and the famous people who made it to 100 – the celebrity centenarians.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Brexitwatch: a time to write

To everything there is a season. And this is the season to write, write and write again to your MP, the Prime Minister, or any other senior figure you think needs a nudge in the right direction. 

The Brexiters are on the run. Look at how they cannot get the votes to challenge Theresa May, look at how cabinet minister Amber Rudd says the Brexit fanatics' favourite 'no deal' is a dead duck. And what of May herself? After years of pretending we will leave the EU at the end of March come hell or high water, she has now admitted there may be 'no Brexit at all'.

MPs are now starting to look nervously over their shoulders. What if Brexit happens and goes as badly as you would expect? When will 'I voted for Brexit' start becoming a toxic, perhaps career-ending label? Hansard helpfully lists how every MP voted in every division. The fanatics probably will not care, but lots of MPs who have been backing Brexit, or failing to obstruct it, because they wanted a quiet life, must now be getting very worried. Make them realise they will not escape responsibility.

And what if there is an Iraq-style inquiry into who was to blame for the Brexit disaster? They may be putting a brave face on it, but there are some very nervous politicians around. So write, write and write again. Don't let anyone have the excuse: 'I did not realise'.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Brexitwatch: make Theresa May come clean on the cost of Brexit

This evening MPs are due to debate an amendment to the Finance Bill requiring the government comes clean on the cost to the UK of Theresa May's proposed 'deal' with the EU. It requires the government publishes 'the full study of the impact of the government's proposed terms of departure compared with the benefits we currently enjoy.'

You might wonder how any MP could possibly oppose the idea that before we take the most important decision this country has faced in decades, we should at least know what we are letting ourselves in for, but the case for Brexit has always relied on lies and deception, so Brexit-supporting MPs, and those who think their careers might be damaged by speaking up, may well vote against.

So it is important you write TODAY to your MP demanding they support this amendment. My MP happens to be Labour's Brexit spokesman, Sir Keir Starmer and this is what I have written to him:

Dear Sir Keir,
I trust you and all your Labour colleagues will be supporting the amendment to the Finance Bill due to be debated this evening requiring the government publish 'the full study of the impact of the government’s proposed terms of departure compared with the benefits we currently enjoy”