Brexit Remainers are on the move, the Labour party is leaving its Victoria offices for larger premises and they are increasing their number of campaign specialists, hoping for an early general election. Labour has appointed the polling company BMG and branding agency Krow Communications to refresh their image; all this when Jeremy Corbyn is 28 points behind Theresa May in the recent “Opinium” poll on personal ratings as leaders.
Former Labour PM Tony Blair is consolidating his commercial and charitable efforts to relocate to a one-size fits all office in Whitehall, re-entering British politics on what could be termed as a “Brexit review” ticket. Writing in the New European, Blair said UK should keep every option open. He wrote, “I am not suggesting: either that we disregard the vote, or base a case on saying the people were misled, or didn’t know what they were voting for, or that we can just stay in the EU and override the will of the people…We have to recognise we’re the insurgents now. We have to build the capability to mobilise and to organise. We have to prise apart the alliance which gave us Brexit…We’re a sovereign people. We can make up our mind; and we can change our mind.” The Independent newspaper claimed that Blair’s new movement is somewhat bankrolled by Virgin boss Richard Branson; Blair is said to have chunky political, celebrity, financial and corporate backing with support from heavyweight communications outfits, towards the ultimate goal of a second referendum on the EU’s exit terms. Like many others vying for influence, Blair met Jared Kushner in New York, the President-elect’s son-in-law. Blair said any political association is nonsense.
Prime Minister Theresa May spoke at the CBI’s (Confederation of British Industry) annual conference about her belief in free markets and capitalism, avowing to do everything possible to make the UK outside the EU the most attractive place for businesses to grow and invest; this is already underway with investments from Nissan, Softbank, Jaguar Land Rover, Honda, GlaxoSmithKline, Apple, Google. This week, Facebook announced a 50% increase in their workforce in the UK by the end of 2017. Despite increasing national debt (peaking at +90% of GDP in 2017-18), London is still the financial centre of the EU. About leaving the EU May said, “The right approach is not to rush ahead without doing the ground work, but to take the time to get our negotiating position clear before we proceed.” Her aim is still to trigger Article 50 before the end of March 2017, Brexit is then thought to become reality in 2019.
On Brexiting, Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General said, “With only two years for such a complex negotiation, the government rightly has on its radar that we should seek a smooth transition which gives firms time to adapt.” This has led many to speculate there might be a quasi-Brexit transitional period.
As if to demonstrate that Brexit still dominates parliamentary politics and divides Conservatives, John Major, former Prime Minister, announced on Thursday that he “could not accept the tyranny of the majority” who voted to leave the EU. He declared that the 48% who wanted to remain must have a say on the terms and there was a “perfectly credible case” for a second referendum.
George Osborne, former Chancellor, has told May she has no mandate from voters; her present tenure expires in 2020, a spring 2017 general election would give her a mandate for a further five years. The current voting intention poll favours
May with 41%—an 8-point lead over Labour. The conditions are favourable for an early general election and it would prevent the election becoming concurrent with Brexiting, whatever that means, by 2019.