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 earlier 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. Chief among them have been the Conservatives who are, by the skin of their teeth, in government. Architects past, present and yet to come of Britain’s European misadventures, they are led by a Remain Prime Minister and advised by a Remain Civil Service of which the personification is Ollie Robbins, he who negotiates with the EU on this country’s behalf.
A Praetorian Guard of journalists, 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.
We have polled both Labour Leave constituencies for their views on both Government and Opposition approaches to Brexit and, most recently, have polled the constituents of that Baker’s Dozen of Tory Leave MPs who have voted against the Government on Brexit plus those of the Prime Minister for their views.
The reaction of some of the MPs has been informative. Jittery and aggressive, they have been briefing journalists about push polling and deselection while condemning – in a bizarre and perverse convolution of logic - Brexit Express for ‘undermining democracy’.
You can read the results of our ComRes poll findings here and draw your own conclusions. It’s clear that constituents already have.
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 it 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. Over the coming weeks, this website will become 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. We have a Twitter stream, too. And while doubtless some will choose to use that in the way people often confuse streams with sewers, we’ll fish out the healthy bits and respond accordingly and positively.
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.” There are other ways to emulate him than sulking.