Just when I thought I had calmed down after the referendum result, those kind people at Vote Leave have popped up again. Except now they are called ‘Change Britain’, which means they can pretend that that £350 million NHS pledge is nothing to do with them.
And pretend they will. My first principle in politics is that you have to trust the motives of people who are involved. It is my experience that you can disagree with people without assuming that they are acting in bad faith. I will make an exception with this crowd, because their dishonesty shines through from the start. In short, Change Britain is the most dodgy political grouping since, well since Vote Leave.
If you visit the Change Britain website there’s a lot of mention about how they want to bring on board people who voted Remain. Yet they have made no serious effort to do this. If Change Britain wanted Remainers to work with them they would have found some for launch day. Look at the list of founding supporters and try to find anyone who argued seriously for Remain. Many of the people on the list have gone out of their way to sneer and belittle Remainers, like Digby Jones below. They are entitled to do this, of course, just as we are entitled to continue to question Brexiters’ achievements but it strains my brain to imagine that their invitation to work together is real.
So why are they doing it? Gisela Stuart’s article in The Sun is instructive. Unlike Digby Jones, Stuart does not insult Remainers as people, but she does insult their intelligence. Above a picture of three MPs two of whom are in the Cabinet she talks of people losing faith in the ‘Westminster elite’ (so that dishonesty is back again). This article is about trying to suggest that it’s time to Move On and shut up about that bus already.
Vote Leave know that a large number of people view them as lying scoundrels. By saying loudly that they want to work together they are hoping that people who aren’t paying attention will think that they are prepared to work with others and so when the public realise they’ve been duped they can spread the blame. Which won’t ‘bridge the bond between the government and the people’ as they claim on their website to want – but they won’t care about that.
Meanwhile, the Change Britain website lists 13 bullet points in an attempt to pretend that there is now a Brexit plan. Since the first four are, basically, ‘let’s all work together’ and most of the others are things that fall to the government to do, it is hardly instructive. What we do learn is that they see free movement of people from the EU as coming to an end, and that the single market is something to sell things ‘into’, ie. that Vote Leave/Change Britain aren’t prepared to say that the UK should be in it.
In the meantime, let’s be clear. Change Britain is Vote Leave, no more no less, and we are entitled to continue to ask about the promises they have so casually tried to discard.