Theresa May snatches defeat from the jaws of victory

Theresa May called for unity, unity behind a project she defined. It was not a project defined either by the referendum or by Parliament. According to some it was not even defined by the government.

She was determined only to allow consideration of options that appeased the UKIP-wing of her party and the right-wing press, rather than to pursue the outcome that is in the best interests of the UK and its people.

In order to support this unity and backing of her views she called a “snap” election, despite having said on many occasions she wouldn’t.

She pushed the legislation for a General Election through the Commons with virtually no opposition. She thought she had not only the Commons but the country eating out of her hand.

The polls backed this up, not only were the Tories ahead in the polls but Theresa May’s own popularity ratings seemed to put her in an unassailable position.

It is a fact of life that arrogance often breeds contempt and the arrogance of the Theresa May junta quickly turned into contempt.

Personal attacks on opposition politicians, arrogantly adding in unpopular measures to the manifesto aimed at some of her most loyal supporters, trying to deny that she had made u-turns in her position.

The people of the UK have delivered their response, given Theresa May her comeuppance.

Instead of a landslide majority rivalling that of Tony Blair in 1997 or Margaret Thatcher in 1983 she has managed to turn an adequate parliamentary majority into something less.

This has not been achieved solely by her own efforts.

The Labour party produced a manifesto that had considerable appeal on the traditional General Election issues, health, education, care of the elderly and less able. Jeremy Corbyn engaged with and inspired voters.

At the same time the “strong and stable” campaign led by Theresa May collapsed into a “weak and wooden” campaign.

All the while there were thousands of people working, largely unpaid and unacknowledged, to bring about a change in the political scene in the UK. Some did so with great fanfare, almost all went about it quietly and seriously without seeking acknowledgment or praise.

We know that Theresa May’s arrogant gambit has not succeeded, not only not succeeded but has actually failed in a quite unprecedented manner. Theresa May has literally snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

However, whatever government is formed in the next few days we need to be aware of one indisputable fact: both the Labour party and the Tories are committed to taking the UK out of the EU based on the populist mantra the “the people have spoken”.

The only difference between them is that one says “No Deal is better than a Bad Deal” and the other says “Any Deal is better than No Deal”.

Neither has committed to pursuing a course of action solely based on “What is in the best interest of the UK”. Regardless of what either party says the Brexit “elephant in the room” has to be addressed.

In all things we should not be looking for the least worst option for the UK, we should, we must be looking for and demanding the best of all possible options for the UK.

Not doing so betrays our heritage, those things that people have struggled, fought and died for.

We clipped the wings of an authoritarian government in the courts, the electorate has now reigned in the government with this election result.

We must build on these successes and ensure that the views of all are taken into account and all the options are explored when Parliament decides the future course for the UK.

That is our legacy and our obligation – to seek “What is in the best interest of the UK”.

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How do you make sure your vote counts in this General Election? Make sure you Register and Vote!

The People's Challenge

  1. First and foremost make sure you are registered to vote, remember:
    • Students are entitled to register at both their university address and their home address;
    • If you have moved, or changed your name or nationality since you last registered, you need to register again;
    • You can register to vote by following this link and there are details of the deadlines for registering.
  2. Secondly, make sure you vote.
  3. If on polling day you won’t be where you are registered, make sure you have a postal or proxy vote.

There are arguments for and against postal and proxy votes.

Voting by Post

With a postal vote there are delays in sending you the papers. They can’t be sent out until after the list of candidates has been finalised (14th November closing date for nominations), and then the ballot papers have to be printed. The papers must be sent back so that they…

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Pie crust promises – more evidence, if more is needed, that calling a General Election is just a way to ensure a No-Deal Brexit in 2020!

The People's Challenge

At a lobby briefing this morning the prime minister’s spokesman ruled out MPs being given a vote on whether or not to request an extension to the Brexit transition, which is due to finish at the end of next year.

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Resetting the debate

Probably the most important thing we need to discuss is how we “reset the debate”, which we will certainly have to do following 8th June.

Thus far we haven’t managed to do this.

I pulled together the People’s Challenge to the Government, not to oppose Brexit, but because of the risk to the democratic process, to our parliamentary sovereignty, posed by an autocratic government propped up by a populist mantra of “the people have spoken”.

That risk has not diminished: by the time we get to 9th June that risk will have increased.

Whatever happens on the 8th, the two largest parties will be working to take the UK out of the EU based on the populist mantra of the “people have spoken”.

The only difference between them is “No Deal is better than a Bad Deal” and “Any Deal is better than No Deal”. Neither party is promising to make its decision based on what is in the best interests of the UK and its people, neither party is promising to allow parliament to make a decision based on all the available options.

The resetting of the debate is not just about what sort of Europe (EU) we want to be part of, it is about what sort of country (UK) we want to be citizens of. Do we want to be citizens of a country that penalises the elderly, ignores the young, the disadvantaged, the minorities… or do we want to be citizens of a country that is open, inclusive, principled and caring?

Those of us who went to court, backed by thousands of supporters, clipped the wings of an autocratic, dictatorial government.

We have not yet empowered our parliamentarians with the sense that they can challenge the populist dictatorship embodied by the current government.

That is an issue that we not only need to address, we must address it if we are to change the current political “norm” in the UK.

We must let our parliamentarians know that we support what is best for the UK, regardless of party or political dogma.

Our elected MPs have the tools to preserve parliamentary democracy, to stop lasting damage to the UK and what it stands for, provided we can convince them to use those tools.

The Three Knights opinion was commissioned and paid for by ordinary people, represented by the People’s Challenge. It is clear, concise and authoritative. It was considered and written by the finest legal authorities on the subject.

But even that is not its most important feature. What is most important about The Three Knights opinion is that it shows how our representative parliamentary democracy can stop a dictatorial populist autocracy.

It is the People’s Challenge reply to “No Deal is better than a Bad Deal” and “Any Deal is better than No Deal”.

In all things the UK deserves better than the less worse of two options – the UK deserves the best of all possible options. That is what our government should be striving for and what our parliament should be giving us.

That choice of what is in the best interests of the UK should always be made, following informed, reasoned public and parliamentary debate on all the options, by a free vote in Parliament.

To paraphrase Edmund Burke – All that is required is for good people to stand up for what is right and support our parliamentarians.

Grahame Pigney – The People’s Challenge – 6th June 2017

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The People’s Challenge – Thank you and a brief moment to draw breath.

We have achieved very nearly all we aimed for during The Second People’s Challenge. This has only been possible because of your support. Thank you for the time, effort and money you have given us.

We collectively must not forget just what we have achieved together and how it all works towards our being able to protect people’s EU citizenship rights and the Sovereignty of the UK’s Parliament.

  1. We have challenged the Govt. over its intention to use Royal Prerogative to trigger Article 50 and we won in the Divisional Court and the Supreme Court.
  2. Whilst doing this we also successfully challenged the Government over its demand to keep its and others’ arguments secret.
  3. In challenging the Govt. on its right to use the Royal Prerogative, we established an important Constitutional point – only the UK’s Sovereign Parliament can remove or restrict fundamental citizenship rights, and to do so it must pass primary legislation.
  4. We developed this by commissioning the Three Knights Opinion. This opinion sets out clearly and authoritatively that the UK’s Parliament must decide, through an Act of Parliament, what happens at the end of the Article 50 negotiations, and that the options include deciding to Remain in the EU.
  5. The Second Challenge was to convince Parliament to add this to the face of the EU (Now) Bill. We were able to convince the HoL to pass an amendment to the Bill. Unfortunately we did not convince enough MPs to keep that amendment in the Bill.

The Three Knights Opinion remains in place and we are ready to mount a challenge if the Government attempts to force the results of the negotiations through without a meaningful vote on what is the best among all the available options for the UK.

We will also monitor the powers the Government intends to use to implement the “Great Repeal Bill”. The Government cannot be allowed to side-line Parliament on the scrutiny and implementation of legislation for any eventual decision in favour of the UK leaving the EU.

At the moment we are extending our partnerships with other organisations and establishing The People’s Challenge as a Community Interest Company. These two moves will help us to continue the work we are doing and raise funds from sources in addition to our direct supporters.

Once again, thank you for all your support.

Chris, Fergal, Grahame, Paul, Rob and Tahmid

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Article 50 notification – Time to hold people to their promises

Today, Theresa May has given notice under article 50 that the UK intends to leave the EU.

A leaked resolution by the European Parliament has come to light, detailing its position on Brexit negotiations. The red lines in this resolution will have to be respected by the UK if we are to have an exit deal. 

As the Government has finally admitted, “no deal” would be bad for the UK.

The balance in these negotiations is already tipped so far in favour of the EU that a positive outcome for the UK will be dependent on the goodwill of the EU –  not the skill and judgement of the PM or her negotiators.

This is a “high point” in a divisive premiership. There has been a disastrous run-up to negotiations. 

Theresa May and the Brexiters have so antagonised the EU and its members that now the UK is triggering a set of negotiations so unbalanced they will make schizophrenics look positively focused. 

At the conclusion of these negotiations, Theresa May will try to force Parliament’s hand to choose between two options: her way or the highway.

She is calling now for unity behind a common cause. What she wants is our support for her cause, a cause that maintains support for her among the UKIP wing of the Conservative Party and the right wing press.

She is not seeking support for a common cause.

The common cause should be and must be the cause that is in the best interests of the whole UK and all its citizens.

With your support in all its forms, the People’s Challenge has already upheld Parliamentary Sovereignty and will continue to do so, taking the case back to court if necessary.

The “Three Knights Opinion” has given us the material to mount this case, if we have to. We think we will probably have to. Given the story so far, it’s hard to believe otherwise.

We believe that ordinary people like us will help defend our fundamental citizenship rights and the UK’s Parliamentary Sovereignty.

At the conclusion of these negotiations, Parliament will decide what is inthe best interest of the UK and its people. It will choose what is best for the UK from all the options available.

It is not a “deal/no deal” choice. The expert legal opinion of the “Three Knights” says so.

With your help, we will quench the fires of rabid Brexiters, enabling cooler, calmer heads to prevail.

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The People’s Challenge – The next phase begins

The weekend’s march in London was a resounding success. Over 100,000 people participated, more than in any other event in Europe, on the anniversary of the Treaty of Rome.

Excellent speeches were made by people from across the political spectrum, and the age spectrum too, criticising the Prime Minister’s policies and attitudes, as well as her shocking disregard for anybody and anything she doesn’t agree with.

The march demonstrated the incompatibility of the Prime Minister’s hard Brexit objective with the views, opinions and values of those the 100,000+ present, as well as the many others they represented who couldn’t be there in person (some placards listed the names of absent supporters).

It is increasingly apparent that the PM only cares about the will of “her” people as she struggles to impose her will on those who do not agree.

An example is her insistence that the UK only has two choices: leave with a deal or leave without one. Many disagree with her “Deal/No Deal” strategy, and for good reason.

The People’s Challenge commissioned the most authoritative legal opinion on the subject of article 50 and British Parliamentary Sovereignty, the “Three Knights Opinion”. This authoritative document, the product of some of the finest legal minds in the country, has given us the tools to uphold our system of representative democracy and our Parliament’s Sovereignty.

Notification of withdrawal will shortly be given to the EU and they will respond in June, thereafter negotiations will take place. At the conclusion of these negotiations we will be able to see whether the Brexiters assertions have been realised, the deal will be put before Parliament for approval.

Despite all Theresa May’s assertions, Parliament will do what it will with the deal: accept it, send the PM back to the negotiating table, reject it and fall out of the EU, or alternatively, withdraw notification for want of an acceptable deal. Parliament will decide what is in the best interest of the UK and all its peoples and nations.

If necessary, the People’s Challenge will take legal action, as it has already done. The Government will be held to account and MPs will be encouraged and supported in the process of deciding what is in the best interests of ALL the nations and citizens of the UK.

Many MPs are already stepping forward to take a stand against the rhetoric and abuse directed at them – abuse that is aided and abetted even by some senior Government figures.

What we must do to ensure the continued functioning of our democracy is threefold:

First, we must help support our MPs in the face of vitriolic abuse and threats by hardcore Brexiters and others who are prepared to cut a deal with the devil and destroy our democracy in order to get what they want.

Secondly, we must help to uphold the rule of law, a fundamental cog in the wheel which moves all democratic and safe societies, going to the UK courts if necessary.

Thirdly, we must protect EU citizenship rights. Lives and futures have been planned and built based on these rights: therefore any modification of them must be very carefully thought through and executed if we are to live in a just and humane society.

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March 25th – 100,000+ say Stop The Silence and Unite For Europe

The People’s Challenge is delighted to report (particularly when the BBC among others is not) that the Unite For Europe March yesterday was fantastic.

Police estimate that over 100,000 people attended and it generally went without a hitch.

Some great speeches were made and a great sense of polite and controlled discontent was expressed regarding the Prime Minister’s stance on Brexit, EU citizens rights, pending austerity, etc.

The People’s Challenge is leaving its Crowdjustice page open. There is work still to be done to contact movers and shakers both in the UK and in the EU, as well as preparatory work for the next stage of our plan.

More information will follow when details are firmed up.

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March and make our voice heard – March 25th London

Tomorrow’s march is going ahead, the organisers (Unite For Europe) have confirmed this, and although European Movement UK have pulled out, all other participants(and several additions) will be present – you can find the text of the Unite for Europe press release here.

Chris Formaggia of The People’s Challenge said:

“I am sure that we have all been vexed by the march this weekend in the light of the murders at Westminster.

My initial worry was would it be viewed to be in bad taste and then secondly was it fair to be placing additional burden on the security forces at a time when they are clearly very stretched.

My conclusions are that on balance it is right to continue the march because it is a clear and graphical illustration of how civilised people go about seeking political change and therefore it is the best way that we can honour the memory of those that lost their lives or who were injured.

For this reason I intend to continue to participate.”

Sadiq Khan said at yesterday’s vigil in Trafalgar Square: “[The vigil was held]to send a clear, clear, message – Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism”.

This message of course applies to everyone, not just Londoners. We must not let violent thugs take our freedoms – freedom of religion, freedom of politics, freedom to demonstrate… If we stop exercising these and other freedoms as a result of terrorism, then hate and intolerance have already won.

Although it’s not genuine in its origin, the now-famous Tube sign says it all:C7kLZp9WsAAFjDF.jpg

Threats to democracy, as always, come from many different directions and we must resist every one of them.

The People’s Challenge will meet up with supporters in front of The Dorchester tomorrow from 10:00 onwards.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Booklet front cover

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Press Release 24th March 2017 – Unite For Europe Organisers

Big turnout expected in support of the EU, as more high-profile speakers confirm


Unite for Europe, National March to Parliament, London, 25 March 2017

Organisers of the Unite for Europe March on Saturday, have seen a surge in grass-roots interest this week. There will be tens of thousands of people coming to demonstrate their support of the EU, from across the UK and mainland Europe.

“Saturday is the 60th Anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome – the foundation treaty of the EU,” says Unite for Europe march organiser, Keiran MacDermott. “The Metropolitan Police and the GLA (Greater London Authority) are supportive of the march going ahead, and we will be marching in reflective mood, to demonstrate our belief in the principles of tolerance, respect and unity, ideals that lie at the heart of the European community. We will also be remembering those affected in Wednesday’s terrible events.”

The post-march rally has attracted a number of high-profile speakers, including Tim Farron MP, Nick Clegg MP, Alastair Campbell, Sir Patrick Stewart,  Tim Farron MP, David Lammy MP, Seb Dance MEP, Jonathan Bartley (Green Party Co-Leader), Nick Clegg MP, and Jolyon Maugham.

You can read their statements (and many others) here:

“I look forward to marching with people from all over the country and celebrating openness, cooperation and unity across our great continent,” Tim Farron says, “Democracy did not end on the 24th June, and I will continue to make the case that the British people should decide whether to accept the final deal,” Mr Farron states.

Latest updates:

  • A minute’s silence will be observed at the start of the rally to remember the events of Wednesday. (Approx 13:10).
  • Estimate of attendees: Approx. 115,000
  • New speakers: Alastair Campbell, Peter Tatchell.
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