What Change Britain has achieved in its first six months

What Change Britain has achieved in its first six months

Change Britain was launched six months ago by Gisela Stuart, Boris Johnson and Peter Cruddas. As the successor organisation to Vote Leave we had two objectives: help the Government implement a clean Brexit and explore the opportunity for national renewal which Brexit made possible.

Back in September we tried hard to bring Leavers and Remainers together – we wanted to act as a conduit for moving beyond the divisions brought up during the referendum. But we quickly realised that this was premature – powerful elements inside the political establishment were determined to keep fighting the result.

The initial battle was over Britain’s membership of the Single Market and Customs Union. Despite the clear desire of the British people to take back control of our borders, laws, money and trade there was a contingent arguing for the UK to remain in these key EU bodies – membership of which would stand in the way of us taking back control.

As a result our focus shifted towards campaigning for a ‘Clean Brexit’. Building widespread support across the country had been vital during the referendum campaign. So we began building a new movement through our digital platforms and on the ground.

Our first action day saw the launch of our ‘Welcome to Stay’ campaign. Across the country, Change Britain activists got thousands of people to sign a pledge urging the Government to guarantee the rights of EU nationals already resident in the UK. In a short period of time we recruited tens of thousands of supporters which enabled us to launch powerful campaigns. In the weeks after the Supreme Court ruling, for example, our supporters sent 35,000 emails to their constituency MP and 54,000 emails to members of the House of Lords asking them to vote for the Article 50 Bill without amendment.

Of course, communicating our message to a broader audience via the national and regional media has been of crucial importance. That is why we have sought to leverage our research programme to highlight important information, including the benefits to be gained outside the Single Market and Customs Union such as the possible creation of 400,000 new jobs by agreeing new trade deals.

Some of the most important work we have done has been going out into communities across the country and conducting focus groups with Remain and Leave voters to try and get a sense of what the British people now want to see the Government deliver.

Some findings were clear. The referendum has re-engaged people with politics and they now want the Government to get on with the job of delivering Brexit. There is a palpable sense of excitement at the prospect of sovereignty and control returning and the consequent opportunity to change this country for the better.

Ultimately that is what we now have before us: an unprecedented opportunity to make fundamental changes to the country. An opportunity to refresh our politics, strengthen our economy and ensure our continued success as a nation well into the 21st century.

Freed from the control of Brussels, our destiny really is in our hands. That is why Change Britain is now gearing up to contribute to that debate. Our policy commission led by Michael Gove and Maurice Glasman will be examining how we undertake a national renewal and build resilience in our communities to deal with the challenges of the 21st century.

Much work remains and undoubtedly there is a need to keep making the case for Brexit. As Tony Blair’s speech showed, there are still strong forces hoping to undermine or reverse the referendum. But with 68% of people wanting the Government to get on with it, we can start looking at how we make the most of this unique opportunity and Change Britain will play its part.