Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Archive for September 8th, 2018

The LibDems’ Anti-Brexit Weekend

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 8th September, 2018

Hampstead LibDems Brexit stallAcross Britain, Liberal Democrats have been out and about campaigning against Brexit this weekend — and the mood everywhere seems to be that people don’t like the way things are going. Theresa May’s Chequers plan is in tatters, yet the arch-Brexiteers among the Tories have failed to come up with an alternative of their own. Labour, meanwhile, is still stuck on the fence, apparently with superglue, but the chorus from Labour members calling for the party to back a People’s Vote when a deal is proposed later this year is now getting so loud that it is hard to imagine that it will not dominate the Labour autumn conference, with prominent moderates such as Chuka Umunna and Ben Bradshaw leading the charge. There is even a growing band of Conservative ex-Ministers now putting their heads above the parapet to call for a referendum too. The Liberal Democrats will go into our own Brighton conference next weekend knowing that apart from a tiny minority, party members are overwhelmingly in favour of an Exit from Brexit, which has indeed become something of Vince Cable’s signature policy. But what I found interesting, helping man a stall on Hampstead High Street this morning, is how passionately many ordinary voters are starting to feel about the matter, including previous Leavers who would now vote Remain. This is quite different from the mood only a couple of months ago, when there was a widespread feeling of “oh, just get on with it!” But as the realities become ever clearer and people understand just how painful disentangling Britain from more than four decades of economic integration with the continent is going to be, there is a new sense of urgency to halt things while it is still possible. Mrs May has of course stated that there will be no second referendum, but she may find if she is not careful that unless she softens her line on that, Parliament will give her such a bloody nose that her rule comes to an abrupt end. Boris Johnson is of course chomping at the bit in the wings, just waiting for Mrs May to be overthrown, but he may instead find himself in the political wilderness if sensible people from all of the parties (except perhaps the DUP) come together to Stop Brexit by campaigning for a People’s Vote with the option to Remain.

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Mes Amigo

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 8th September, 2018

E6CE0DA0-89A7-4418-8025-11B68AB3B23BLast night I was at Drummonds, the royal bank in Charing Cross, for the launch of this year’s Mes Amigo or Amigo Month – London. Over the next five weeks there will be a cornucopia of cultural, religious and diplomatic events relating to the countries of Latin America, Spain, Portugal and lusophone Africa. Together, Spanish and Portuguese speakers make up what is probably the largest Diaspora community in the United Kingdom and several London districts have a particular Latin flavour, such as Vauxhall’s Litttle Portugal and the Colombian community of the Elephant and Castle. Matthew Ryder, Deputy Mayor of London for Social Cohesion, Social Mobility and Community Engagement, was one of the speakers at last night’s event, which also featured salsa dancers from Cali, contemporary dance and a Mexican group. Over the past decade, thanks to the tireless efforts of Peruvian journalist Isaac Bigio and a small team of associates, the Mes Amigo has grown into a significant operation. Most of the relevant countries have their national days during the five weeks of the “month” — it was Brazil;s yesterday — and numerous churches and social groups will be celebrating too. The organisers also keep an eye on more political issues, such as a campaign to protect a group of Latin American small businesses in North London threatened by redevelopment and the regularisation of the situation of undocumented immigrants. At election time there are always hustings for the community in which I have sometimes taken part.

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