For those unfamiliar with our campaign, Brexit Express was set up in the run up to the 2016 referendum on Britain’s continued membership of the European Union.
It was designed, first and foremost, as a different sort of platform. A forum which was quite specifically the antidote to the bellicose statistical roaring of both Leave and Remain. Oh, for sure, Brexit Express supported Leave but it was party apolitical, inclusive, polite and, we hoped, dedicated to the simple principles behind wanting to leave while also respecting the fact that other viewpoints were available.
Above all, through the advertising campaign Brexit Express launched and backed, we rather hoped it had a twinkle in its eye. A lightness of touch amid the increasingly acrimonious charge and counter charge. (The poster portfolio can be seen on this site.)
In the event, Leave won and we like to hope our light shoulder at the wheel helped in some small way to push that cause over the line. After all, success has many fathers.
However, it was then that the trouble started. After Waterloo, that other defining moment in European history, Wellington held banquets for the leading participants. Napoleon, sulked, fulminated, indulged in conspiracy theories, false accusations, self-pity and endless what-ifs. Little, it seems, has changed in Europe’s game of thrones.
Since the referendum, the main parties, all of whom backed Remain have at once protested their desire to ‘listen to the voice of the people’ while actively doing everything they can to defy it. Until recently, chief among them were the Conservatives who are, by the skin of their teeth, in government.
A change in Prime Minister to one who backed and believes in Brexit has meant a change too in the complexion of the Cabinet as well as the withdrawal of the Whip from the self-styled ‘Gaukeward Squad’ whose arrogance seemingly knows no bounds.
Remainers can, however, continue to rely on the Janus-like Jeremy Corbyn and his Labour Party as well as the ironically named Liberal Democrats and, of course, the SNP who have a thing about endlessly re-running referendums and for whom the answer is always, ironically, independence from a union.
Backed by a Praetorian Guard of John Bercow, broadcasters, lawyers, quangos, luvvies, academics, central bankers and disgraced, ex and failed politicians and advisers have fought house by house, street by street, constituency by constituency to annul, re-run, reinvent, prevent, cancel, dilute, obfuscate or discredit the referendum result.
The most unpleasant manifestation of this has been to smear the Leave voter as variously stupid, ignorant, racist, fascist and a whole host of other culture war epithets now used with such tiresome regularity as to be rendered almost meaningless.
For more prominent Leavers, the full arsenal of establishment weaponry from the now discredited Electoral Commission to HMRC has been unleashed. Brexit Express has direct experience of this, as it has of Conservative reluctance to unequivocally pursue its manifesto promise of Theresa May’s now infamous equivocation of ‘Brexit Means Brexit.’ Its attempts to back aspirant Tory Leave MPs in Remain constituencies having been stubbornly resisted until it became clear that the PM’s electoral approach was snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
This gloves off, low blow answer to our Marquis of Queensbury campaign has prompted us to box clever for the coming rounds. We may not quite have a horseshoe in the glove, but our ring craft has improved greatly from finding the other guy isn’t worried about punching below the belt.
But Brexit Express continues to be apolitical, backing both Labour Leave as well as appropriate Tory elements up to but not including the ERG and, of course, the Brexit Party whose timely intervention in the European elections of 2019 had such a salutary effect on Conservative high command.
We have done plenty of polling too. And you can find links to the findings elsewhere on the site.
Meanwhile, Brexit Express is still dedicated to a departure from the European Union for all the well-rehearsed reasons. It once had a deep faith in the idea that one of the defining differences between Continental Europe and Great Britain was a long-established and deeply respected history of representative democracy.
Bitter experience has taught us that forces camouflaged in democratic clothing are keen on implementation only while it suits them. If defied, their theatre of operations becomes markedly different.
Brexit Express, meanwhile, rolls on. This website is a full resource of press interviews, articles and polling as well as even the occasional thought from me, Jeremy Hosking, the founder of Brexit Express.
So, we finish where we began, with Napoleon who, in his copious writings, once remarked: “Love of one’s country is of all human instincts the most enduring. It is innate in every child. And it persists until death. No feeling is more difficult to eradicate.” He was right about one thing, at least.