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The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
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Spartan victory

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Spartan victory: the inside story of the battle for Brexit, Mark Francois, paperback, 464 pages, ISBN 9798484798391, Kindle Direct Publishing, 2021. 

Mark Francois, the MP for Rayleigh and Wickford in Essex, and chairman of the European Research Group, has written a fascinating account of that part of the battle for Brexit that was waged in the House of Commons. Importantly, MPs rejected Theresa May's fake 'Withdrawal Agreement', which Tony Blair admitted was "a capitulation … Brexit in theory but still tied to Europe in reality, thus making a mockery of the reason for leaving. Whatever people voted for, it wasn't this."

As Mr Francois writes, "This is the story of how a small group of Conservative MPs, having seized upon what was actually at stake, fought tenaciously to prevent a European Treaty being imposed upon them, which would effectively have kept us in the European Union in perpetuity, in complete defiance of the wishes of the British people, as expressed in the Referendum in 2016." Throughout, he pays tribute to those outside the House of Commons who also continued to fight for a genuine Brexit.

He notes that back in 2007, "It was the Lisbon Treaty and the debates surrounding it which finally convinced me that The Project was remorseless, genuine reform was a pipe dream and that we either had to Leave the European Union, or eventually surrender any remaining ability to govern ourselves."

The great 2016 referendum showed that the majority of the people of Britain wanted decisions about Britain to be made in Britain. But too many of those who preferred rule by the increasingly undemocratic and authoritarian EU chose to smear the people of Britain.

As Mr Francois rightly observes, "What we now call 'cancel culture' in many ways began with the media (and certainly including social media) debates over Brexit." For example, May's Chief of Staff Gavin Barwell, the former MP for Croydon Central, tweeted on 26 June 2016, "proud that my home town and the great city of which it is part rejected the politics of hate and division yesterday." Isn't this description of what 17.4 million people chose to vote for, itself just a little hateful and divisive?

The efforts of those who sought national independence and self-government were at last crowned with success when May's deal was rejected, May herself was ejected, and Boris Johnson won the 'Get Brexit Done general election. As Mr Francois puts it, "Finally, after three years of Parliamentary trench-warfare, during which the decision of the British people in a peaceful, democratic Referendum to leave the European Union had been frustrated time and again - the people had effectively re-endorsed their decision, this time via the 2019 General Election and, this time round, Parliament was forced to obey."

He notes that as a result, "when the Government subsequently announced in 2019 an extra £34 billion a year for the NHS, by the end of the Parliament, under the NHS Long Term Plan, that equated to around £663 million per week extra funding for the NHS, almost twice the gross weekly figure on the side of the bus - let alone the net amount." 

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