The Brexit Party must focus on Brexit and be careful not to alienate its many left-wing supporters

The Brexit Party must focus on Brexit and be careful not to alienate its many left-wing supporters

As Brendan Chilton of Labour Leave wrote so eloquently last week, leaving the European Union is not a “hard-right Tory project”. It is just a decision made in a democratic and free referendum in which a majority of people, 17.4 million, voted to leave the EU. This is not an expression of hard-right politics, however convenient it is for left-wing Remainers to smear it in this way.

This is why it is imperative that the Brexit Party keeps the broad church of supporters it attracted when it was launched. In particular, the more than five million Labour, Green and other left-wing supporters who voted Leave at the 2016 referendum and the many more who formerly voted Remain, but now respect the democratic result of the referendum.

As a former leadership candidate for the Green Party, I thought long and hard about supporting the Brexit Party. It seems to me to be the last best hope for getting the will of the people, the decision to leave the EU, enacted in the face of the near hysterical antipathy of the establishment towards Brexit.

Just look at the massive campaign to undermine Boris Johnson as potential leader of the Conservative Party by the mainstream media this week. Look at the supporters of Brexit, both big and small, who have been subject to vilification and in some cases, prosecution, by organs of the establishment such as the Electoral Commission. Look at the bending of the rules by the Speaker of the House of Commons, unprecedented in recent parliamentary history.

Anyone, and I mean anyone, who could potentially deliver the 2016 peoples’ vote for Brexit is hunted down by the establishment pack and savagely attacked. Which is why we, the believers in democracy, need to stick together in the face of this extraordinary denial of our rights.

On Sunday 30th June the Brexit Party are having a rally to announce new policies to support their general election campaign. For me, the Brexit Party only needs one policy: to facilitate the UK leaving, permanently, the dictatorship that is the European Union.

Personally, I can admire Nigel Farage’s tenacity at sticking to his views on the European Union and his leadership skills in helping to create the effective campaigning organisation that is the Brexit Party. Anyone who helped during the Peterborough by-election could not have been anything but impressed at the efficiency of the organisation put together at such short notice. I fully expect that professionalism to be repeated at the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election and I expect and hope that the candidate there wins the seat handsomely.

However, I am not a supporter of everything that Nigel Farage has said in the past, particularly on economic issues. As a Green Socialist, I want the freedom to challenge the neo-liberal economic orthodoxy that the unelected Eurogroup have imposed on the EU with such devastating effect in countries like Greece. Brexit can and should give me and other socialists like me, the opportunity to argue our case to the British electorate after Brexit.

So it is vitally important that the Brexit Party does not do or say anything now that will alienate their left-wing supporters before we leave the EU. To do so will inevitably lead to a damaging split and calls for a new Lexit Party. In my opinion, to create such a party at this time would undermine the solidarity of Leave voters and play into the hands of the Remain establishment.

So far, the Brexit Party appears to be favouring members of the business community and their negotiating abilities when picking candidates (although there are exceptions such as left-wing MEP Claire Fox). Fair enough, perhaps, when you are picking MEPs to try to negotiate a way out of the EU. But candidates to be Brexit Party MPs should reflect the broad sweep of political opinion across the Leave spectrum. Candidates in former Labour seats need to appeal to left-wing voters. The Brexit Party can do that if its focus is on leaving the EU. It cannot if it starts developing new business-friendly polices outside of its brief to deliver Brexit which would be unpopular with left-wing voters.

After the mess this Conservative Government has made of Brexit, the last thing the UK needs now is another Tory Party. I urge the leadership of the Brexit Party to focus on the main task in hand, which is leaving the EU and enabling an independent country that can decide for itself its future path. Whether that is be to the Left or to the Right is for future generations of the British people to decide. That is what democracy is about, after all.