This is a resignation speech from young Conservative member of the peerage Edmund Limerick, who is leaving the party due to his concerns about Brexit. It expresses well the PESTLE (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, Ethical, Environmental) factors upon which big decisions should be made, rather than reducing them to snappy populist slogans. Please back our plan to tour the UK to engage in a meaningful dialogue with people across the political spectrum on our forthcoming General Election.
Please take this email as notice of my resignation from the ACP [Association of Conservative Peers] and the Conservative Party.
I was recently advised that the three qualities required for a prospective Tory peer were experience, hard work and loyalty.
A year ago loyalty meant commitment to remaining in the EU. Now it apparently means commitment to leaving the EU Customs Union. I cannot be loyal to this unmandated and suicidal policy.
I remain convinced that a hard Brexit is the greatest mistake this country can ever make, and one which will haunt us for generations to come. We have spent over 40 years building a common market with our EU partners and although the work is far from complete, it has resulted in remarkable economic and political success for the UK and Europe as whole, acting as a magnet first for southern nations such as Spain, Portugal and Greece to transition from dictatorship to democracy, then for the newly liberated countries of eastern Europe to join the club, all of them with strong British encouragement. The large EU country which has benefited most of all is arguably the UK. Our free trade traditions, English language, natural borders and retention of our own currency have given us all the benefits and few of the costs of membership. Notably we have largely escaped the effects from mass immigration from North Africa which are so afflicting southern Europe at present. It makes our present obsession with immigration look petty and selfish, against a backdrop of real misery and crisis in the Middle East and Africa and along its EU borders.
Economically we have benefited from becoming the international gateway for foreign investment into Europe. Margaret Thatcher made huge efforts to attract the likes of Honda and Nissan to the UK, turning us over 30 years from the sick man of Europe into one of its leading car exporters. Bankers may not be popular, but the City of London has created great wealth for the south east, and it also contributes at least 11% of the country’s tax income and enables the UK to run a current account deficit and public services it would not otherwise be able to afford.
I acknowledge the result of last year’s referendum but I fundamentally disagree that a 52% protest vote, a vote denied to EU nationals living in the UK, gives the government a mandate to do anything more than to negotiate exit terms with the EU and then report back to Parliament and the country as a whole for a further vote once it becomes clear what Brexit really means.
What will it mean? It is delusional to think that the EU under its reinvigorated Macron-Merkel Franco-German leadership will do anything other than defend the EU’s own interests, foremost of which is a demonstration that leaving the EU is a costly and disastrous mistake. Juncker was right: the EU will act to ensure that the UK is punished. And they’ll gladly pick up our financial services industry and our other exporting industries rendered uneconomic by the risk of future tariffs. There is simply no way that any possible deal with the EU will be better than the one we have just torn up.
The results of hard Brexit or no deal (the most probable outcome considering it took the EU and Canada 8 years to agree a marriage, let alone a divorce and then a new relationship) once the Article 50 two years have expired will include inflation, a rise in the cost of living, collapse of foreign investment, significant job losses not only in the City but across the country, a loss of international influence, and quite likely the secession of Scotland (if the English can ’have their country back’ why should they not too?) and Northern Ireland, which will not be happy about the reimposition of customs and immigration controls along its border with the Republic, which will have better living standards to boot.
The United Kingdom will no longer be united. Great Britain will no longer be great. Little Englanders will have got what they wanted: little england. I predict considerable public anger, especially amongst the young who voted overwhelmingly to remain and whose futures are being so casually squandered.
And what will this new England be like? Our negotiating power will be feeble. A free trade agreement with China which still has political prisoners and slave labour will flood us with cheap imports and do nothing for protection of UK jobs and standards. A free trade agreement with a protectionist USA will flood us with subsidised food products that would also not meet current UK or EU standards. We shall likely see 30 mile queues towards the Channel Ports as the French reimpose customs inspections in Calais. Apart from fishermen (the only Brexiteers whose views I respect) no-one will be better off.
If you have bothered to read this far I thank you humbly for your patience and urge you to use your position within a party that looks set to gain a substantial Commons majority to back the voice of common sense and reason, no matter what the pressure from the Whips. Unless there is a crisis resulting in a new general election it seems that the focus of debate will move to within the Tory party.
As for me, I am joining the Lib Dems in the hope that a grand coalition of the sensible, moderate, non Europhobic and non suicidal public might be created out of the hitherto silent ranks of sensible Tories and sensible Labour supporters who are neither hard Brexiteers nor Corbynistas. We may yet see the creation of a new centre party. For now the Brexit tail is wagging the Tory dog, and I am bowing out.
Please support our UK wide tour to restore informed dialogue to our country. Currently calling at:
HOVE / LEWES – SAT 20 May
BATH / BRISTOL / SWINDON – SUN 28 May or 04 June – As Part of The Bath Festival
IPSWICH – MON 29 May – Beach Baby Party and “GE / Brexit Live Jam Session”
YORK – FRI 2 June – We go head to head with BBC’s “Any Questions” !!
With more dates possible in between these ones. Contact me to organise an event. We live stream the events for maximum reach and impact across the planet.