Hugo Dixon, pro-Remain author and journalist, enthralled the full house at the Widcombe Social Club on Thursday evening, 1st February with his insightful and inspiring talk about Brexit and how we can stop it. “We are fighting for the power and prosperity of Britain. I am more optimistic now that we can stop Brexit than I was last October…We have reasons to be optimistic – but not complacent,” Hugo told the audience.
What Bath for Europe is doing as a grassroots campaigning organisation is really good. “Bath for Europe should be proud,” Hugo, who is the Chairman of InFacts.org, told the audience. The recent Guardian/ICM poll results, published on 26 January, indicate that the majority of people believe that they should have the final say on the Brexit deal.
He warned, “Enough of us need to believe that we can stop Brexit. The decisive battle will happen at the end of the year when Theresa May comes back with a bad deal from the EU. We will need to persuade Parliament at that time that Brexit is a bad thing.”
With Brexit, Hugo said that he sees Britain facing “a low growth, low investment, low wage economy for as far as the eye can see.”
“This year’s mission is to challenge and persuade…People don’t want to look back towards the referendum. We need a forward-looking message. As new facts emerge, it is becoming clear that staying in the EU is better for Britain than Brexit. We’ve got this government that is botching Brexit. What’s more democratic than giving the people the final say?”
“It’s a classic chicken and egg situation. The people need to shift opinion in order to influence their politicians to do the same. We have to make it happen. It’s worth pointing out that Brexit is being backed by vested interests. It was funded principally by five multi-billionaires; backed by media barons like Rupert Murdoch; Arron Banks – where does his money come from? They are all extreme neoliberals. They’ve kept their mouths shut about this.” A few days after Hugo’s talk, Green MEP for the South West Molly Scott Cato launched a new website – Bad Boys of Brexit – exposing Arron Banks among others.
Hugo noted one big frustration in the Brexit debate is that business – both customer-facing and government-facing – is not speaking out against Brexit. Due to uncertainty about what the future holds, “we’re close to an investment freeze,” he said.
“We need to be tough on Brexit and tough on the causes of Brexit. Smaller post-industrial cities in the UK have been suffering from underinvestment. We’ve had ten years of austerity. We need a positive vision: how can we have a fair and successful UK, in a fair and successful Europe, in a fair and successful world?”
“The government was accused of running the referendum campaign on Project Fear. Let’s talk about what has already happened: the pound has fallen, inflation is up and the UK has moved from being the fastest growing economy in the G7 to being the slowest. We need Project Reality, Project Questioning and Project Hope. People are worried about globalisation. Is the UK really going to stand up to China and Apple and Google on its own? We must ask questions about the consequences of Brexit: for example, how are we going to get medical isotopes?”
“Can we stop Brexit? Yes, we can. But we won’t unless we continue to fight for it. We have to reclaim patriotism. Why do we love Europe? Because we love Britain.” After his talk, Hugo fielded questions from the audience. Sam Ferguson covered Hugo’s talk for The Bath Chronicle and captured some of the highlights in the story he filed about the event.
Following Hugo’s talk, new Chair of Bath for Europe, Claire Thomas, gave a rousing call to action and invited new volunteers to join the campaign. Claire has recently taken the baton from founding Chair Tony Ambrose who was instrumental in establishing and growing Bath for Europe into one of the most active pro-Remain grassroots groups in the UK.