This is how we can stop both Brexit and Putin – now

One of the larger consequences of leaving the EU is that it would hand a decisive victory to Vladimir Putin in his campaign to destroy the unity of the west. But the British public can put a stop to that

John Pedler
Sunday 04 November 2018 17:01
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Brexit supporter Arron Banks referred to National Crime Agency over 'suspected criminal offences' during referendum

Now that the British have marched over 700,000 strong to get a Final Say on Brexit, many are asking if Theresa May will listen any more than Tony Blair did after the even larger march to stop the disastrous invasion of Iraq.

The People’s Vote march was democratic, patriotic and, perhaps most importantly, above party politics. But although so many are now in favour of stopping Brexit, getting the government to agree to a referendum with only five months to go isn’t particularly easy.

But there is, in fact, a way to avoid Brexit. There are just two things that everyone, including Americans and those who voted leave Leave, need to know.

The first method for making Brexit yesterday’s nightmare before the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019, is to persuade a majority of MPs to adopt a motion obliging the prime minister of the day – May or another – to inform the European Commission that the United Kingdom wishes to remain a member of the European Union.

The UK as a parliamentary democracy (as the Supreme Court declared that it is in January 2017) requires him or her, however unwilling, to do so. Lord John Kerr, who wrote Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which determines how a country may leave the European Union, explains this in his lecture of 10 November 2017.

But it’s no good thinking of this escape route without public opinion driving a majority of MPs to come out against Brexit in all its forms – and there wasn’t that majority before the 20 October march. Now it is possible, probable, even, that enough of them could be persuaded to pass such a motion.

The second, is recognising the importance of warning of the dire worldwide consequences that Brexit would have. An approach that, for some reason, Remain campaigns, including the “official” Britain Stronger in Europe, the Labour Party’s Labour In for Britain, and many others, have failed to do against the advice of several foreign affairs experts.

One worrying example of the larger consequences of Brexit, is that it would hand a decisive victory to Vladimir Putin in his campaign to destroy the unity of the west. He is using all the cyber tools at his disposal as Fancy Bears has shown. Allegations of Russian interference in the EU referendum too, seem to come out every few months, the latest involving Leave.EU’s Arron Banks, who is currently under investigation over suspicions of “multiple” criminal offences.

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We also now know that the notorious Cambridge Analytica nefarious activities may not only have seen to Donald Trump’s wafer-thin election, but also the UK’s similarly wafer-thin referendum. Brexit continues to be Putin’s favourite tool in achieving the breakup of the west now that, with Brexiteer Trump’s administration, the EU has become the last bastion of democracy.

The UK must both avoid Brexit and deny Putin this victory in fragmenting the west against the true vital interests of democracies.

The easiest and quickest way to stop Brexit is for all British voters to make both these points to their MP. Following the recent march, it’s likely they’ll be far more receptive than in previous months.

Avoiding Brexit will also be greatly helped if the media can be persuaded to make the connection to Putin in time for Emmanuel Macron’s ambitious 11 November commemoration of the centenary of the end of the First World War. Macron, now the leader in preserving European unity, is bringing together all the countries, on both sides, that took part in that conflict in order to demonstrate how all of Europe, with the support of the United States, can be the greatest force for world peace. Provided of course that it is united, and not fragmented by Russia, the United Kingdom, and a withdrawing United States.

John Pedler, former British diplomat now a diplomatic consultant based in France, is the author of ‘The Four Brexiteers and the Fracturing of the West’. He is also author of ‘Our Broken World’

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