Category Archives: Europe

Letter to my MP asking him to back a #PeoplesVote

I just sent this to my MP, Mark Harper, via the WriteToThem web-site.

Dear Mark Harper,

As I write, the broad outlines of the withdrawal agreement reached between UK and EU negotiators are apparent. Assuming that this agreement survives Cabinet, it will be put to the Commons for a vote. I am writing to urge you to reject the agreement, which bears no relation to anything that we were promised in campaigning before the Brexit referendum.

Please do not brush this off with a reference to “the will of the people” or “implementing the result of the referendum”. We can leave aside the multiple findings of outright illegal behaviour by the Leave campaign — this is irrelevant at the moment. What matters is the simple fact that what is now on the table is not the thing that 52% of us thought we were voting for. To push this emasculating compromise through — or, worse yet, to leave with no deal at all — would not in any sense be to implement the wishes of the 52%. In fact, the developments of the last 28 months have shown that there is no way for the wishes of the 52% to be implemented in anything like the form that was voted for.

This being so, it seems to me that the only democratic course is to lay before the electorate the options that actually exist, in a referendum on the exit terms. We now know at last the deal the EU will accept for our exit. We also have the options of leaving with no deal at all; or of remaining in the EU. With these three options now capable of clear articulation, the only way to conclude a process that began in democracy is with more democracy — a referendum to select from these three options.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Mike Taylor.

If you feel similarly, I urge you to write to your own MP. It doesn’t take long: the WriteToThem site is very streamlined.

Update (14 November)

An automatic reply:

The Rt Hon Mark Harper MP
Member of Parliament for the Forest of Dean
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
Follow me: @Mark_J_Harper

Thank you for your email.

This is an automated response to confirm receipt of your email, which you will receive each time you contact my office.

We aim to respond to all correspondence as quickly as possible and do appreciate your patience. I receive many requests for assistance from constituents and they are dealt with in order of receipt, unless of an urgent nature.

[some boilerplate snipped]

I’ll await the real one, and let you all know when it arrives.



Just a little late-night snack

I’m working late, so I treated myself to this small plate:

The cheeses:

  • Parmesan (Italian)
  • Manchego (Spanish)
  • Saint Agur (French)
  • Wensleydale with cranberries (English)

The meats:

  • Parma ham (Italian)
  • Chorizo (Spanish)

And of course the wine: Rioja, from Spain.

Please don’t take me out of the Single Market. I like it here.

A short and simple question for Brexiters

On the whole, the discussion surrounding the Brexit process seems now to be about damage limitation, and earlier talk of it offering us new opportunities has evaporated. I am genuinely interested to know, from those of you who still supporting leaving the EU: can you tell me anything at all that you think will be better after we leave? I’m looking for concrete things, not abstract ideas such as the notion that we will regain “sovereignty”.

Salmon-topped shrimp tempura roll from Yen Sushi, Bath. Photo by Josefa Torres.

Thank you!


When talking about British politicians who want the UK to leave Europe, it’s time to stop extending them the courtesy of describing them as “Eurosceptic”. That term suggests they’ve invested a lot of thought and effort into reaching a position that has reservations about — is sceptical about — Europe.

But it’s clearer with literally every passing day that the Brexit experiment is a total disaster — economically, culturally, educationally, technologically, politically. Those who still want to press on with it are way past the point of scepticism and into all-our paranoia, conspiracy theory and irrational fear — in other words, phobia.

They are Europhobes.

Would Leave-voters accept this compromise on freedom of movement?

I think most Leave voters now accept that leaving the European Union will hurt the UK economy. But a lot of people still feel that’s a price worth paying to regain control of immigration.

Brussels insists that freedom of movement is required if we’re to stay in the Single Market, but there may be some wiggle-room regarding exactly what “freedom of movement” means for us.

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Dear Lord, no!

The vicar’s daughter who talks all the time about Christian values but has apparently never read the 9th commandment goes against her five-times-repeated pledge “No general election until 2020“.

The Fixed Term Parliament Act of course exists precisely to prevent this kind of opportunistic capitalising on a weak opposition. But that was passed waaay back in 2011, and who cares about all that six-years-ago stuff?

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The Brexit deal that Theresa May should be aiming for

Once this idiotic willy-waving over Gibraltar is over (The Sun: “UP YOURS SENORS“, without so much as a comma or a virgulilla), we can hope that Theresa May and her subordinates get down to actual negotiation with the EU. (It’s ironic that at a time when all the principals are arguing about whose Brexit is biggest and hardest, what we really need is someone to lie back and think of England.)

What should be May aiming for in the negotiations? Here are the important things as I see them:

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