Parliament’s back in Westminster today, and over the weekend, the media were reporting a cross-party initiative to insist on a House of Commons vote over leaving the single market, as well as high-level Conservative unease at how badly the general public, and the heavy-weight business organisations, responded to the Tory conference’s Hard Brexit and isolationist rhetoric.
The energy the Pro-Leave press are putting into rubbishing all this, turning their sneers on whoever they think is involved, and insisting it’s all a done deal anyway, makes me pay even closer attention. Because this is not a done deal. This was not a quiet revolution or an overwhelming mandate or anything remotely like it, and there are serious challenges going through the courts as we speak.
So now’s the time to have hundreds, thousands, ideally tens of thousands of letters landing on MPs desks and making the majority opposition to this unfolding disaster undeniable. They need to be hard copy letters, because MPs have a legal obligation to record and reply to those, unlike email which can and will be ignored. Individual letters, because anything that looks like cut-and-paste can and will be downgraded as not a serious expression of personal belief.
The time and effort which handling a large volume of letters demands of your MP’s office and staff is one of the most effective tools we have as constituents. It really gets attention.
It only needs to be a single page and no more than two at the most, even if like so many of us you could write a 10,000 word essay on the calamitous consequences of this botched referendum. Pick three, maybe a handful of the points that matter most to you. It’s not as if there’s a shortage.
If the bare-faced lies of the Leave campaign infuriate you, say so. Where’s that £350 million for the NHS?
If the utter lack of democratic safeguards when voting on such a vital issue appals you, say so. Where’s the legitimacy of 37% of the eligible electorate overruling the rest?
If the catastrophic impact that this has already had, and will have, on the economy and the tumbling Pound dismays you, say so.
If your own and your family’s employment prospects have and will be significantly harmed, say so. If for instance, you’re one of the 800,000 people whose jobs rely on motor manufacturing – or if you work in any of the many other globalised industries that can and will swiftly relocate when the UK is no longer an entry point to the Single Market.
If the price rises for day-to-day essentials that will go with a sinking pound and higher dollar costs for fuel will hit your household budget hard, say so.
If the Brexit Ministers insisting they can dictate terms to Europe enrages you, when the representatives of the 27 nations who will decide such things keep saying the exact opposite? Say so.
If the conspicuous lack of coherent policies from any of the Brexit Ministers irritates you, say so. Ask how exactly they intend to deliver closed borders without cutting the UK economy off from the Single Market?
If the lack of proper Parliamentary scrutiny of such far-reaching changes dismays you, say so.
If the way your MP behaves over this will influence your vote at the next general election, say so.
If you’re active in local party politics, whatever your party, and consider this a reselection litmus test, say so.
If your MP is one of those already opposing Brexit, assure them of your support, irrespective of party affiliation.
If you’ve had direct experience of, or have observed, the uptick in racist, xenophobic and other bigoted behaviour enabled by this result, spell that out.
I could go on – and on – but you get the idea. So get writing.
Don’t get aggressive. Don’t get abusive. Don’t give anyone any excuse to dismiss your letter as anything less than a valid expression of your opposition to this social, economic and political catastrophe.
If you get a mealy-mouthed, formulaic reply, write back and say that’s unacceptable. Outline a few more reasons why. Like I said, there’s no shortage.
If we want to take back control of our democracy, this is the time to speak up and be heard.