We have got used to the suppression of news, to the non-reporting of pro-Brexit rallies and events. And we have got used to the fact that pro-Remain rallies, marches, and pronouncements are given prominence and command authority. GP provides us all with a great forum to share news, and angles on news, that we might not otherwise have had access to. Thus this report from a rally that has not been accurately reported.
After the Day of OUTrage on Tuesday 15 January, called by the Leave Means Leave pressure group to express support for the voting down of the WA, the same group organised an indoors rally on the Thursday, to air arguments in favour of a WTO Brexit, aka “No Deal” as detractors of WTO call it.
Even though the theme of the evening was “Tonight join the fight back and help get a clean Brexit”, it seemed that the rally was more than a platform to extol a WTO Brexit.
After several weeks of shenanigans, – the vote of no confidence in PM May, the postponement of the so-called Meaningful Vote on the Withdrawal Agreement aka “the deal”, the emphatic vote against said WA, the vote of no confidence against the Government and daily talk of new plots to thwart the Brexit process, it is difficult not to consider the unthinkable – and if there was a new EU referendum? A new campaign, new figure heads, new arguments, … Can you bear the thought of it?
That evening it felt like we were witnessing the positioning of LML as lead campaign in a forthcoming referendum campaign. Which has now been confirmed in an article in the Daily / Sunday Telegraph online at noon on 20 January:
Leave Means Leave was launched shortly after the 2016 EU referendum by Richard Tice (who was co-chair of Leave.EU during the campaign) and John Longworth (who resigned from his position as director general of the British Chambers of Commerce in March 2016 after being suspended for his pro-Leave views). It was meant to last six months or so. Instead it is going from strength to strength. Initially publishing research papers, the first one on the day of the launch on 20 September 2016, they started organising rallies in the wake of PM May’s Chequers plan: the first one was in Bolton on 22 September 2018 and was entitled “The Stop Brexit Betrayal Rally”. They had just acquired a prominent new supporter: Nigel Farage joined them in August 2018 as Vice-Chairman.
To come back to 17 January 2019, this was LML’s second indoors rally in London in five weeks. The first one, in December 2018, was entitled “The Save Brexit Rally”. This one, “Brexit: Let’s Go WTO”.
You can watch below so I won’t go into the detail of all the speeches. As well as Richard Tice, there were six speakers: Kate Hoey MP, Sir Rocco Forte, Iain Duncan Smith MP, Tim “Wetherspoon” Martin, Nigel Farage MEP and Esther McVey MP in that order.
There is a report on the rally on the Conservative Home (CH) website at
and on Colliemum’s Independence Daily website at “Let’s Go WTO” – Report on the Leave Means Leave Rally.
For some reason, the CH article does not capture the atmosphere in the packed hall. The author is downplaying it. If he writes with the commenters BTL in mind, who mostly think the WA was a good deal and it’s a great shame it was voted down, that might give us a clue why.
His title is misleading to say the least: “Not yet angry – but patriotic and bewildered”. Mine would have been: “Leavers on a campaign footing again for a Clean Brexit.” And they are angry; they came to that event to find ways of expressing it constructively.
“An orderly queue formed last night outside Methodist Central Hall for the Leave Means Leave rally”.
Here is an example of downplaying the reality: A long queue was winding right round the building. When I arrived to take my place in the queue, I ended practically at the front door again! It was a bit concerning as it was bitterly cold but heartening – and exciting to say hi H., hi R., hi M. etc as I was passing people already standing stoically.
“As we entered we were handed small Union Jacks to wave during speeches.”
This was part of an attempt at making the occasion festive and make attendees participate, who also found LML placards on their seats, with different messages – Leave means Leave, Believe in Britain, No deal – No problem and Let’s Go WTO. They were to be waved at intervals, mainly on cue from the two rows of volunteers all donned in LML tee-shirts. However there was also a LML table outside the hall selling LML merchandise. Badges, stickers and pens were free; £5 for a mug, a bag, a tee-shirt or a baseball cap. When we came out, the table was mobbed and everything was gone within minutes! Merchandise comes out when you want to give ordinary people a chance to contribute to a cause and give them something branded in return, something that they’ll flaunt to spread the message! It marks the start in earnest of a campaign.
“Last night’s crowd, about 2,000 strong, rather than celebrating victory, were anxiously hoping to avert defeat.”
It is true that, apart from the WA being voted down two days previously, there was not much to celebrate and much to worry about – there is too much talk of wrecking Brexit for Leavers to feel entirely comfortable. Still the attendees came to hear rousing speeches, the latest insights in Parliament’s goings-on and, especially, how to get Let’s Go WTO accepted by the PTB, the MSM and co.
As the CH author remarks, there were people who had never been to such an event, such is now the extent of their exasperation. I heard a woman ask in the queue, “So what happens at these events, we hear them speak one after the other ?” About the man who was sitting next to him, he writes:
“His tone was modest, almost apologetic, yet conveyed a sense of incredulity at the outrageous injustice which may be about to be perpetrated.”
I didn’t sense the apology anywhere in my meanderings in the hall and corridor before and after the event. Instead, I sensed mounting anger. I felt the energy!
As could be expected, Hoey, Duncan-Smith and Farage were the best speakers. McVey was kept for last either because of her recent Cabinet seniority or so as not to have Farage in the star spot (but he still received a star’s welcome).
The quotes the CH author chooses for each speaker are fine and representative. About Farage though, he could have chosen a better one but I can see why he wouldn’t. This is the quote I retain:
“It would be negligent not to recognise that it is possible that we’ll see an extension of Article 50 and they may force us into a 2nd referendum… we have to face reality. Don’t think the other side aren’t organised, don’t think the other side aren’t prepared, don’t think they haven’t raised the money, don’t think they haven’t got the teams in place, they have… I don’t believe it’s the end of it. We are building an organisation, a campaign, we are rebuilding the People’s Army!”
Kate Hoey, the first speaker, had prepared us for that. She had said: “We need to be strong for what’s going to be happening! … The Great Betrayal is moving apace!… Some of them are quite nasty people.”
I don’t like the fact that the CH writer feels obliged to mention this at the end of his article:
“The audience was almost entirely white, but mixed by age and sex.”
No, it was not “almost entirely white” and if I didn’t see people of middle-eastern appearance, I spotted a number of black and Indian-looking ones, just enough so I didn’t feel I was in a TV ad. And yes, it was mixed, – young, older, male, female, smart, posh, chav, working-class – the entrance fee of £11.25 proves commitment.
After the speeches and before leaving, Tice asked the audience to stand up, wave their flags and placards and repeat several times after him “What do we want? Brexit! When do we want it? Now!” … This forced shouting of slogans felt a bit gimmicky, a bit like tinned laughter in a soap. But it worked in the sense people left the hall in high spirits, ready to do battle. We don’t want to, but if we have to, we will. It came loud and clear that the 2,000 odd participants don’t want to take it lying down and are eager to do their bit. They were fired up and the energy in the hall was palpable. LML got a good measure there of the support it can count on.
Maybe what was missing from the speeches was more strategy – What can be done to counter the Great Wrecking of Brexit? And unfortunately it has to be accepted that those on stage and those in the hall are just as powerless to prevent what the remainiacs are scheming hard to make happen – an extension of A50 and a second referendum. Despite the battle cries “Let’s Go WTO”, another message was coming through: let’s give up on this battle but let’s position ourselves for the next one.
A campaign is reforming. Farage and Tice were pretty clear: They’re raising money (interestingly past big ukip and Vote Leave donors could be seen in the VIP section), they’re setting up campaign headquarters in Westminster, and they already have 3 000 volunteers distributing leaflets all across the country.
Fine. As Janice North writes in Independence Daily: “The idea of fighting for Brexit again seems unfair, but after the Rally I felt ready to do it if I have to.” However, slightly worryingly, all Tice enjoined people to do was “Write to your MP!”. It is also what Gisela Stuart advised attendees of a pro-Brexit meeting at the beginning of the week. Is that all they’ve got? Aren’t we’re now well into the next phase, – all the letters to MPs have been written and the petitions been signed?
When will Leave.EU, Change Britain, Brexit Central, Leavers of Britain (the latest and largest incarnation of Lucy Harris’ Leavers of London), The Bruges Group and other pro-Brexit campaign groups going to coordinate and unite with Leave Means Leave if not merge? This really needs to be taken to the next level. Where it hurts. For example, in the constituencies with an MP who can still be convinced that a WTO Brexit is the way to go. There are less than 40 days of Parliament being in session before the exit date of 29 March, not much time but enough time to thwart the heavy plotting of those who are trying to wreck Brexit and take WTO / No-Deal off the table.
A second referendum and MEP elections are the last resort. They cannot be dismissed as impossible, but they are still unlikely. Should we just sit and watch the clock run its course until 11pm on 29 March 2019 and be oblivious to the remainiacs shenanigans? We should watch closely.
Last Tuesday’s Day of OUTrage, on the day when PM May’s Withdrawal Agreement was emphatically voted down by the House of Commons, was only a small taste of things to come if Leave does not mean Leave. It was Act I.
Postcript – It is a campaign and it is a party! The Sun on Sunday on 20 January featured a double spread on the new Brexit Party, currently waiting for confirmation from the Electoral Commission. Meant to be the vehicle for candidates to the European Elections if they had to take place in the UK and other forthcoming electoral contests. Will it split the Leave vote or will it attract Conservative and Labour true brexiteers? Another one to watch.