Friday 29 March 2019

Brexitwatch: ask the Speaker to rule out MV3

By a piece of transparent chicanery, Theresa May seems to have persuaded the Speaker that she should be given a third chance to get her disastrous double-blind Brexit through this afternoon, even though the rules of the House of Commons say that once it has been rejected, it should not be put again. May's deal has been overwhelmingly rejected twice.

If you agree with me that this brings parliament into disrepute, please join me in writing to John Bercow at and asking him to reconsider. This is what I have sent him:

Dear Mr Speaker,
As you know, I have great regard for you, but I am very disappointed that you have decided to rule it is in order for Theresa May to bring her blind Brexit deal before the House of Commons for a third time. If we the people are not allowed to have second thoughts about our decisions, it is very hard to see how the government can be allowed to keep on bringing the same measure forward again and again until it finally gets the answer it wants.
Theresa May herself has made it clear that the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration have to be considered as a single entity, so how can it be right that she now tells MPs to consider them separately?
I urge you, in the interests of parliamentary democaracy, to think again.
Yours sincerely,
John Withington

Monday 25 March 2019

Brexitwatch: write to the speaker to stop May putting her disastrous 'deal' again

One of the few parliamentarians to emerge with real credit from the Brexit fiasco so far is the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow. Last week he courageously ruled against Theresa May bringing her dreadful blindfold Brexit 'deal' back before MPs for a third time.

But May, who plainly has no respect for democracy, is just waiting for the chance to do exactly that. Allowing her to keep putting such a deeply unpopular plan until she gets the answer she wants is plainly unacceptable and makes parliament a laughing stock. So join me in writing to the Speaker again, asking him to stand firm. This is what I have sent:

Dear Mr Speaker,
Thank you for all you have done to fight for our democracy against a dangerously dictatorial prime minister and government.
I hear disturbing rumours that she is planning to bring her totally discredited blindfold Brexit 'deal' back to parliament. I trust you will not allow it to be put before MPs again without substantial and significant changes.
This browbeating and bullying of parliament while she denies the people the chance to change their minds is utterly unacceptable.
Please help us again.
Yours sincerely,
John Withington 

Sunday 24 March 2019

Brexitwatch: MPs determine our fate. Write to yours

It's great that two million marched in London and that nearly five million have signed the petition to revoke Article 50, but don't forget that MPs have already ignored another huge march for a 'People's Vote' on the Brexit terms and the four million plus people who signed a petition for a second referendum.

I have always believed that Brexit will be defeated only when MPs begin to think supporting it will damage their careers. So if your MP has not done everything in his/her power to fight Brexit so far, write to them NOW and say that if the UK leaves the EU you will hold them and their party responsible, and you will work to ensure their defeat at all future elections. If they are entrenched Brexiters, write anyway. They can still count.

My MP happens to be Labour's Brexit spokesperson, Sir Keir Starmer, and this is what I have written to him: 

Dear Sir Keir,
I was bitterly disappointed to see the Labour Party trying to sabotage the People's Vote march. This is deeply foolish as well as duplicitous. As for hearing Caroline Flint singing the praises of Theresa May's blind Brexit when even Nigel Farage admits it is worse than staying in the EU, words fail me.
If we now leave the EU, I will not forgive Labour.
There is no longer any justification for Brexit:
1. Any Brexit will damage the UK and particularly the people Labour is supposed to care most about.
2. The referendum result is null and void as it was won by lies, cheating and criminality. (I am bitterly disappointed that Labour has tried to sweep this under the carpet - an act of foolishness and cowardice that will haunt the party for a very long time.)
3. The Brexit that was promised is not being and cannot be delivered, and there is no mandate for either of the available Brexits - Theresa May's blind Brexit or 'no deal'.
Labour's half-hearted opposition to the right wing Brexit coup has been a dreadful stain on the party's reputation, and if we are now dragged out of the EU, I will regard Labour as being as much to blame as the Tories. I trust you will now do whatever is necessary to stop it.
If we do leave, I will not forget, and I will do everything I can to help defeat Labour in all subsequent elections.
There is still time to do the right thing, but it is fast running out.
Yours sincerely,
John Withington

Friday 22 March 2019

Brexitwatch: how revoking Article 50 could unite the UK

On December 19, I blogged about how revoking Article 50 could unite the country on Brexit. With a petition demanding revocation now having attracted more than 3 million signatures, it seems a good idea to restate my plan:

The government should immediately revoke Article 50 because no sensible Brexit can be negotiated by Theresa May's foolishly self-imposed deadlines. Revoking Article 50 allows us to take back control as we can do it unilaterally without any time limits.

Parliament should then set up a grand committee of all MPs who support Brexit. (This might simply be self-selected or it might be limited to those MPs who have spoken in the Commons in favour of it.)

That committee would then have the task of deciding what the Brexiters want, and devising a plan to be put to parliament. Once MPs had agreed the plan was credible, did not damage the UK, and had a good chance of being accepted by the EU, it would then be put to the government. 

The government would then consider the proposals, and report to parliament on its suggestion as to how to proceed. I urgently recommend this as the best way out of the Brexit mess before it turns into a disaster.

Here's the petition. Please sign -

Thursday 21 March 2019

Brexitwatch: if Jeremy Corbyn was Noah.....

Thanks to the New European for publishing my letter.

And sign the petition to revoke Article 50 and stop the whole sorry Brexit saga. A million signatures in 24 hours and counting - fast

Sunday 17 March 2019

Brexitwatch: Tell her again! No to Theresa May's blind Brexit, and tell your MP again

Write to you MP and tell them to tell her again. No to Theresa May's blindfold Brexit. My MP is Labour's Brexit spokesperson, Sir Keir Starmer:
Dear Sir Keir,
It will take a long time, maybe forever, for Labour to live down the image that tells us everything. The party sits idly by, too cowardly to take a view, so ensuring that the best opportunity so far for ordinary folk like us to be given a vote on our future is lost. Brexit is the biggest crisis this country has faced in my lifetime, but time and time again, Labour fails those who depend on it. As for the 17 of your UKIP 5th columnists who voted with Theresa May, what action will be taken against them? None at all, I suppose, as usual.
And now, emboldened by the leadership's spineless response, are those same Labour Kippers, plus maybe a few others, going to ensure that Theresa May's disastrous Tory blindfold Brexit gets through at the third time of asking, while we the great unwashed are told that we must never be allowed to change our minds?
Labour needs to swing wholeheartedly behind stopping Brexit and to expel the UKIP 5th columnists. This may be painful for a time, but it will give the party the chance of having a future. If you go on colluding with the Far Right Brexit project, you will never be forgiven.
Here's an alternative to Labour's hopeless prevarication and obfuscation. Why not now immediately revoke Article 50 because nothing sensible can be achieved by Theresa May's foolishly self-imposed deadline of March 29? Parliament should then set up a grand committee of all MPs who support Brexit. (This might simply be self-selected or it might be limited to those MPs who have spoken in the Commons in favour of it.)

That committee would then be given the task of deciding what the Brexiters want, and devising a plan to be put to parliament. Once MPs had agreed the plan was credible, and had a good chance of being accepted by the EU, it would then be put to the government. Parliament, hopefully, would also consider it against other criteria such as, for example, how much damage it would do to our country.

The government would then consider the proposals, and report to parliament on its suggestion as to how to proceed.
Yours sincerely,
John Withington

Brexitwatch: write to the Speaker to stop Theresa May forcing through her blind Brexit

Theresa May's disastrous blindfold Brexit has twice been overwhelmingly rejected by MPs, but she's planning to bring it back a third or even a fourth and a fifth time. Surely that's outrageous especially when she denies the British people a second vote after a very close, highly dubious referendum? Shouldn't there be a law against it?

Well, there is. According to House of Commons' rules, once MPs have rejected something, it should not be put again during that session of parliament

So the Speaker, John Bercow, could rule it out. He has already shown himself a courageous defender of democracy, and I have written to him again to ask him to save us from having a Brexit no one wants foisted on us by the increasingly dictatorial Theresa May. If you agree with me, please write to him too:

Dear Mr Speaker,
I have already thanked you for your sterling work defending the rights of parliament against an executive that seems to have been driven mad by Brexit, but I am now very disturbed at actions by the prime minister that seem calculated to bring parliament into disrepute.
Obviously you know far more about this than I do, but I had understood that if a measure was rejected by parliament, a government was not allowed to put it to MPs again in that parliamentary session. Theresa May has already had two goes with her blindfold Brexit, and MPs have overwhelmingly rejected it twice, but she appears to be determined to try a third, and even a fourth or fifth time. Surely this should not be allowed, especially when Mrs May has decreed that voters should never be allowed to change their minds about Brexit!
Even worse, she seems to be using taxpayers' money to bribe Labour and DUP MPs to support her. In addition to the damning reaction of MPs, it seems clear from polling evidence that her 'deal' is also extraordinarily unpopular in the country with both Leave and Remain voters. So if by some chicanery, she does manage to force it through, far from 'healing divisions' in the UK, it is likely to only make people more angry than ever, and that anger will probably be directed against a parliament that is behaving in a way most people cannot understand.
Please help us.
Yours sincerely,
John Withington

Saturday 16 March 2019

Brexitwatch: write to Labour's UKIP tendency MPs

Labour supports a 'People's Vote' - a referendum on the terms of Brexit - apparently. The party demonstrated its support this week by refusing to vote in favour of an amendment in parliament to secure, er, a People's Vote!

Most Labour MPs abstained, but 17 of the party's UKIP 5th column actually voted with Theresa May's Tories aginst the motion. They included former shadow ministers Yvonne Fovargue, Emma Lewell-Buck, and Justin Madders, plus former party whip Stephanie Peacock, and Stoke-on-Trent North MP, Ruth Smeeth, former parliamentary aide to deputy leader Tom Watson.

Ms Smeeth said: 'I have a duty to support the will of my constituents. We need to leave, and leave with a deal that works for the Potteries,' thus illustrating her ignorance of both an MP's duty and of the effect Brexit will have on her constituents.

This is what I have written to her:

Dear Ms Smeeth,
There is no Brexit that 'works for the Potteries'. Indeed, the West Midlands will be the hardest hit region in the whole UK, except for the North-East.
As an MP, your duty is not to 'support the will' of your constituents but to do 1) the best thing for your country then 2) the best thing for your constituents. So it is your duty to now tell your constituents the truth and fight with all your might against the Far Right Brexit coup, which will cause terrible damage to them and the UK. 
Anyway, you have no idea what 'the will' of your consituents is, because the Brexit they voted for is not being, and cannot be delivered. The referendum was advisory. It was won by gerrymandering the electorate, lying, cheating and criminality. It is profoundly undemocratic to 'respect' the result, which is in any case completely irrelevant to the circumstances in which we now find ourselves.
If Labour betrays our young people and the future of our country, it will never be forgiven. If you tell the truth, some of your constituents may be cross, but it is your duty. If you are not prepared to discharge that duty, you must resign.
Yours sincerely,
John Withington

Friday 8 March 2019

What's it like to live to 100 and which of us will survive to find out? FREE talk

I'm giving a free talk based on my book 'Secrets of the Centenarians' at Shoe Lane Library, London EC4 at 1300 on April 3.

I'll be examining:

Why are there 90 times as many centenarians as there were 100 years ago?

Why do women centenarians outnumber men by about 5 to 1?

What determines who will make it to 100 and who will fall by the wayside?

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 lived to 100 – the celebrity centenarians.

Monday 4 March 2019

Brexitwatch: Theresa May's blindfold Brexit breaks a key promise

By next week, perhaps sooner, Theresa May will have made another attempt to steamroller her blindfold Brexit through parliament. Although it was heavily defeated last time, MPs, unlike the British people, are to be given a chance to change their minds.  

I fear it may get through as the all-mouth-and-no-trousers Tory Brexit fanatics of the  laughingly named 'European Research Group' (found out where Calais is yet, lads?) cave in and join in an unholy alliance with Labour's UKIP tendency - MPs like Kate Hoey, Caroline Flint, Sir Keith Barron, Dennis Skinner and Graham Stringer - who usually betray their party on Brexit issues and support Theresa May.

If the blindfold Brexit does go through, it breaks an undertaking given on a number of occasions by Theresa May who promised MPs they would have 'sufficient detail about all aspects of the future relationship' with the EU BEFORE they would have to decide whether it was a good idea to leave.

In fact, MPs will have no idea about our future relationship when they vote. Is it going to be the as-distant-as-possible one favoured by the Brexit fanatics? Official analysis - from a pro-Brexit government, remember - says such a deal sometimes refered to as 'Canada-style' and sometimes favoured by the ERG, would make us 6.7% poorer than staying in the EU over the next 15 years, and it doesn't solve the Irish border problem. Even the least damaging Brexit - staying in the single market and the customs union - sees us 1.4% poorer. 

A no-deal Brexit would, of course, be a disaster - leaving us an unsustainable 10.7% worse off. No wonder Theresa May admits it might mean martial law. If MPs have any concept of their duty to our country, they will refuse to back any Brexit until they know exactly what the government is trying to achieve.