Interview with Alan Cook Brexit Party PPC for Old Bexley and Sidcup

Always keen to support people in Croydon prepared to stand up for Brexit. The Croydon Constitutionalists spoke to Alan Cook the Brexit Party PPC for Old Bexley and Sidcup.

Alan was originally standing in Croydon North. Mike Swadling of this parish stood against the current anti democracy MP Steve Reed OBE in the constituency which included part of the Crystal Palace triangle, Norbury, Thornton Heath, the transport hub of West Croydon and of course the home of football [Mike insert] Crystal Palace.

Old Bexley and Sidcup voted 62% Leave in the referendum and is currently represented by James Brokenshire MP.

Alan thanks for your time.

So tell us a bit about your background and how you found yourself being a Brexit Party Candidate?

My parents were in the services, my father was in the Fleet Air Arm and my mother was in the Women’s Royal Naval Service. I was born in an RAF base in Singapore. We returned with my elder brother to England when I was one year old and briefly lived with family in Thanet. I grew up and was schooled in South East London, I now live in Westminster with my girlfriend and our two daughters. 

By twenty I had secured a position in finance in London, my first day was Black Monday! I discovered there was no prospect of progression within that company due to not having a degree. I very quickly changed industries to Information Technology and what followed was a dream of a career in the City starting at the end of the Thatcher years. 

For many years I have been a member of a parliamentary think tank, amongst other things promoting and progressing leaving the EU. I am a trustee of a local charity, and co-vice chairman of a civic body looking after over 1400 residents and businesses, dealing with the local council, The Met., TfL and the Grosvenor Estate.

I have realised over the last few years that The House of Commons is in dire need of reform, it is lacking MP’s from a normal background. I decided earlier this year to put myself forward as a candidate for The Brexit Party, the only party currently offering political reform. I also requested a South London Constituency, and here I am now.

“a feeling of betrayal over the Maastricht and Lisbon Treaties and now I can add May’s new EU treaty to that as well. The voice of the electorate is very clearly being bypassed and ignored”

What first got you involved in politics?

Frustration in the knowledge that the previous leaders of both the main parties have not put the needs of our country first. They have created division and caused lasting damage to the long term prosperity and independence of the UK. Also a feeling of betrayal over the Maastricht and Lisbon Treaties and now I can add May’s new EU treaty to that as well. The voice of the electorate is very clearly being bypassed and ignored. Of course I have an overriding conviction that I can do so much better. Better for Croydon North and better for the country as a whole.

Any stories from previous campaign trails that have stuck in your memory?

I spent a week in Wales helping The Brexit Party before the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election. I took some time off from the normal day to day canvassing and joined our candidate Des Parkinson for a tour of the constituency on the Brexit Bus. Little did I know how dangerous such a pursuit was going to be. There are a lot of trees in Wales, and some very low tree canopies that span the whole road. If anyone on the bus shouted “tree” you didn’t have time to look and would duck or throw yourself to the floor with great speed. The only one who was truly safe on the top deck was the T-shirt wearing Brexit Dog who just happened to be called Nigel. At one stage on our journey the Brexit bus was being lead and flanked by two dozen escaped bullocks, it was at that stage someone on the top deck shouted the very memorable, “Bullocks for Brexit“.

You were originally standing in Croydon North where you follow Winston McKenzie and our own Mike Swadling in standing as a Pro-Brexit candidate in Croydon North.  What were you focusing on to make a breakthrough?

Thanks to the work of previous Pro-Brexit candidates in the Croydon area, I was not starting from the beginning but I have a foundation to build from. Brexit is now more in the public conscience than it has ever has been. I am not here alone, The Brexit Party has broken all political records with its rapidly growing supporter base. The battle isn’t just about leaving the expensive and corrupt EU institution it is about protecting our democracy and it’s about political reform. People are sick to the back teeth with the undemocratic MPs who currently sit in the House of Commons. They are clearly not following the wishes of and are not acting in the best interests of the electorate.

What are your thoughts on Croydon Politics?

Croydon is in an envious and very unique position, it is an outer London borough with easy, quick train access to central London,16 minutes, but it is also very much a business hub of its own and indeed an international business location. With easy and quick train access to both St. Pancras International Station and Gatwick Airport the future potential of the tri-constituency area is huge. This unique situation needs to be highlighted to and recognised by the government. My constituency, Croydon North, deserves the highest calibre representation in the commons to reflect this. This is why I am dedicating myself to becoming the MP for the area.

“I have found myself happily discussing politics in groups of people with different ideologies. As long as you are pro UK, pro Europe and you put the interests of our amazing country before that of the EU you have a home in The Brexit Party”

What surprised you most about getting actively involved in politics?

That’s an easy question to answer, it is the people you meet, the true diversity of those who have joined The Brexit Party is staggering. I am not just referring to race and religion but everything – across the board, from their locations, vocations and especially their political stance. It doesn’t matter where you are on the political spectrum, be it central, right or left wing, every day I have found myself happily discussing politics in groups of people with different ideologies. As long as you are pro UK, pro Europe and you put the interests of our amazing country before that of the EU you have a home in The Brexit Party. People where travelling from the tip of Scotland and from Continental Europe to volunteer and help The Brexit Party at both of the recent by-elections.

If you introduce or repeal 3 laws (other than for Brexit) what would they be?

I am a huge fan of democracy so I wouldn’t wish to repeal any law that has been democratically arrived at. I know you said other than Brexit, however, there are two things which I have previously mentioned The Lisbon and Maastricht treaties. Now both of these should have of gone to the electorate for a vote, but the polls at the time suggested neither would of have a favourable result, so they were pushed through without public consultation. Since then there has been the ‘in and out’ referendum which should, in practice, remove these two undemocratically installed treaties from the UK constitution.

Back to non Brexit. I do love food, I should be a lot bigger than I am. I am passionate about UK produce and high welfare meat. I would definitely change UK labelling laws to give the consumer all knowledge available and not just what the industry wants us to see.

I would also like to see a completely different model for prisons, with a far greater emphasis on vocational education. On release everyone should be in a better situation having hopefully learned a trade or gained further education, ambition and hope for their future.

I will add a fourth one to end with, I would like to make MPs more accountable to their constituency voters. I am open to suggestions from voters for this one, so please do email me with suggestions.

Any other thoughts you want to leave us with?

Politics used to be discussed over a pint in pubs, but people no longer dare talk about politics in case others have opposing views. We need to get back to talking and debating. It is fine to have a different point of view, this is healthy and normal for society. There is no place for anger and aggression in politics it needs to be removed and replaced with discussion.

Alan thank-you for the interview.

Alan can be contacted by email at alan.cook@thebrexitparty.org and followed on twitter at https://twitter.com/T_Alan_Cook.

Interview with Yasmin Fitzpatrick Brexit Party PPC for East Surrey.

Supporting pro-Brexit candidates in our area. The Croydon Constitutionalists caught up with Yasmin Fitzpatrick Brexit Party PPC for East Surrey.

Yasmin has worked for the NHS, as a language teacher and a television executive at Channel 4. In East Surrey she is up against the existing MP Sam Gyimah.

Sam has had some national attention, and local difficulties for failing to respect the manifesto he ran on and the vote of the British people. Indeed the Leavers of Croydon spent some time in Caterham putting pressure on him http://croydonconstitutionalists.uk/a-great-day-in-caterham-putting-pressure-on-sam-gyimah-mp/.

Having already made somewhat of a splash locally being written up in the local paper https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/brexit-party-makes-bid-oust-16827232, Yasmin spoke with the Croydon Constitutionalists.

Yasmin thanks for the interview.

You’ve worked for Channel 4 and in Education, this doesn’t seem a likely background for a candidate for the Brexit Party.

There are so many myths about voting Brexit and the Brexit Party itself –  I hope I can explode a few of them!

There are people in television, in the NHS, in schools who voted Leave – but they tend to be in a minority in the public sector and in the media, even though they tend to underestimate their own numbers and they honestly fear for their jobs if they say openly how they voted and what they think.  I know from personal experience that Remainers can be extremely intolerant in the workplace, especially where they feel they are in the majority.  They can make things uncomfortable for people who do not agree with them and do not uphold freedom of speech in practice, often demonising opponents by branding them as racist, stupid or misguided. 

“Recently, someone high up in television whispered to me that they had voted Leave and begged me not to tell anyone – so of course I won’t – but I’m sad that we can’t feel free to express differing political opinions”

One of my concerns is that political discussion in general has coarsened:  people attack the person, rather than their ideas when they disagree. Recently, someone high up in television whispered to me that they had voted Leave and begged me not to tell anyone – so of course I won’t – but I’m sad that we can’t feel free to express differing political opinions, because that’s how we test out and refine our own thoughts and opinions.

Many of us think of somewhere like Channel 4 has a metropolitan group think, is that fair or unfair?

I think it’s fair to say there’s a bit of ‘metropolitan bubble’ in some of the bigger cities. Certainly in London, we have grown used to hearing little or nothing from anywhere else in the UK. Many of the people I know when asked, confess that they have never spoken to anyone who says they voted Brexit and so tend to make assumptions about them based on what they are told by other people in the same bubble.  When they talk to me, they concede that I’m not racist or stupid – so I must be sadly deluded!

Journalists, with a few honourable exceptions, and news outlets generally, do have a lot to answer for when it comes to peddling myths and prejudice about people who voted to leave the EU and spend little or no time talking to or generally engaging with them.  I am always impressed when a Leaver pops up on Question Time or in a news item: they invariably speak out in ways that surprise, inform and often impress listeners.  If BBC, ITV and Channel 4 news over the recent period had fairly and impartially represented the 52% of the electorate who voted Leave in their news coverage, I doubt we’d have had the misinformed hysteria we witnessed on the streets over the weekend.

And it would be good to hear more from all those elected MEPs from the Brexit Party!

What first got you involved in politics?

I grew up mostly in Belfast, even though I was born in London and lived for a few years in Germany when I was a child. I lived on a Loyalist housing estate in Belfast and my Irish grandfather was in the Orange Order, although my mother was passionately anti-sectarian. My father was a Muslim businessman, whose family had had to flee India during Partition and had arrived in Pakistan with the clothes they stood up in.  So I had a lot to be curious about. I got involved in left-wing organisations and activities that allowed me to understand and move beyond my own immediate experience.

The Brexit Party was an easy choice for me: increasingly, I have seen what used to be the left in Britain become increasingly intolerant and irrelevant when it comes to standing up for freedom of speech – and now for democracy itself. Increasingly, they talk to themselves.

The left effectively abandoned Labour Party voters who wanted to leave the EU and then condemned them for it.  That’s what finally confirmed to me that the old left/centre/right divisions are now irrelevant – but so are the old left/centre/right political machines, who make policy over our heads, with scant regard for their own supporters.

I’m in the Brexit Party because firstly, I want the wishes of the majority of the electorate to be enacted and leave the EU; secondly, I want to help build the kind of political party that will represent the people in their constituencies, at a local, national and international level, without deferring to a party political machine. Will that happen?  I hope people join us and make sure it does!

” I also want to make sure that I help reconnect political decision-making with the people, so they can get on with their lives, knowing that their opinions are respected and their concerns properly addressed.”

You’re standing against Sam Gyimah, someone we’ve organised our own events to protest against.  Any thoughts on your opponent?

Well, I respect Sam Gyimah for sticking to his principles – but if he is not even prepared to support his own Party’s commitment to leaving the EU, as set out very clearly in their 2017 manifesto, I think he needs to consider his position.  People often feel they can’t trust their politicians to speak for them when they reach Westminster: I have no commitment to advancing the interests of a party machine at the expense of the people.  I have no private agenda for self-advancement at all costs. I simply want to honour the decision people made in the EU Referendum and help bring that political and economic dividend home to all of the the voters in East Surrey. I also want to make sure that I help reconnect political decision-making with the people, so they can get on with their lives, knowing that their opinions are respected and their concerns properly addressed.

What are your thoughts on East Surrey Politics?

I’m not sure that it’s a great idea for politicians to feel that their seat is so safe, that their majority is so large, that they can take the electorate for granted. I obviously think it’s time for a change: important local matters will also form part of my campaigning – more about that later.  I also want voters to tell me what they think matters:  let’s see what we can do locally, alongside the national election campaign.

What surprised you most about getting actively involved in politics?

I was incredibly impressed when I met many of the other prospective parliamentary candidates who got through the rigorous Brexit Party selection procedures. Such a wide range of lived experience, from every region and from every walk of life. People who spoke with passion and intelligence about the need for a politically independent UK. People who genuinely cared about the future for their locality and region, as well as the UK as a whole. And people who are open to and tolerant of others.

Being involved in the Brexit Party also currently means working a lot of things out as we go along. Party policy is still in development and we all need to be involved in that –  remember, the Party as currently constituted has only been in existence since April – but you can’t rush policy making.  For us, it’s not about making promises we won’t keep once the elections are over – that’s what has contributed to the erosion of trust in politicians and politics more generally.

If you introduce or repeal 3 laws (other than for Brexit) what would they be?

I’d prefer not to make policy on the hoof at this stage. I’ll be looking to defend personal freedoms, hold politicians to account,  try to ensure that the many different voices of people in the UK are respected and that people are treated fairly.

Any other thoughts you want to leave us with?

Boris Johnson has played some good moves against his political opponents. But BEWARE! If you voted to leave the EU, don’t be side-tracked in the coming weeks by any reheated May deal offerings, with or without the backstop.  I’ve looked at the Withdrawal Agreement – there are at least four reasons why we should reject it and walk away without a deal:

1. we would not be able to develop new trade deals whilst in this ‘transitional period’  and that period could go on indefinitely;

2. despite remaining in the EU, we‘d have no right to vote, no voice in debate and no veto over existing or any new legislation;

3. we would continue to be hit by EU rules and those billions of pounds of EU membership fees;

4. To add final insult to injury, it isn’t clear whether we’d ever be able to leave the EU without the consent of the 27 other member states. No, non, nein!

I say, Vote for the Brexit Party to ensure we walk away from bad deals, keep up the pressure on Government to build a political and economic future under our own control and hold all our politicians to account both now and after we leave. A tall order!

Yasmin thanks again for the interview.

Yasmin can be contacted by email at yasmin.fitzpatrick@thebrexitparty.org followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/yasminfitzppc, and she is already taking the fight to anti-democracy Sam as below.

https://twitter.com/yasminfitzppc/status/1167752670569992193?s=20

Interview with Peter Sonnex Brexit Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate in Croydon South

Londoner Peter Sonnex has been just been announced as the prospective parliamentary candidate for the Brexit Party in Croydon South.

Peter, an Army Veteran and London bus driver, will contest the constituency in the next general election standing against Conservative Chris Philp MP.

“It is as humbling as it is daunting to be selected as the PPC for Croydon South. The outpouring of local support has been extraordinary for an ordinary chap not used to being thrust into the public eye – but, I am ready – now is the time to stand up for ourselves and our democracy”

Peter Sonnex

Serving in the Falkland Islands, Bosnia Herzegovina, Iraq and elsewhere, Pater is a former Chief of Staff at the Royal School of Military Engineering. Today he drives a double-decker London bus, as part of a glidepath to what was going to be a quiet retirement in Biggin Hill. Peter likes to say as a former bomb disposal officer “if you see me running, do your best to keep up…”

“I am delighted Peter is our Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Croydon South. He brings a wealth of real world leadership experience from some of the most challenging environments as a Veteran, and none too few insights now as a London bus driver. He has been a selfless representative, one way or another, for most of his life; his is ready to represent Croydon South.”

Ben Habib MEP

Keen to support any who puts themselves up in favour of a real Brexit. The Croydon Constitutionalists spoke to Peter to find out about the man who might represent one third of our borough.

Peter thanks for the interview….

You spent many years serving in the army, any good stories from that time?

The enduring service and sacrifice of extraordinary young men and women will stay with me forever. I am still not sure, even in the aftermath of two World Wars, that the public at large really appreciate what it means to send volunteers – very deliberately to this day – into harm’s way in the UK national interest. I am very encouraged by the establishment of a department for Veterans Affairs in Whitehall. Access to housing and healthcare should be genuine priorities for local authorities if we are truly to show we value our Armed Forces and their families.

That’s the serious bit!
The Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst is where all Army Officers are trained. It is where we learn that we have to Serve to Lead – eating last and looking after the soldiers we are given the privilege to command. Sandhurst is also where the vital sense of humour is honed, led by the Senior Non Commissioned Officers: Pointing animatedly at an officer cadet, an SNCO said, “There is something nasty on the end of my pace stick, sir” – “Not my end, staff” came the cheery, but seriously misjudged reply…!

“No rules with no predictable response to any given action was hugely unsettling. This was a graphic example of what the absence of democracy, tolerance and respect for the rule of law looks like.”

You’ve been stationed in the Falkland Islands, Bosnia Herzegovina, and Iraq, what surprised you most about each place?

You say stationed when extreme camping may be a better description. As Military Engineers, we may be called upon to build accommodation where there is none for our troops, beginning in the past with the bar! In the Falkland Islands, we began with poncho shelters, pitched tents to be ripped apart in gale force winds, and once we had built weatherproof containerised barracks we moved on to the next windswept wilderness to start all over again.

During 7 months in Iraq in 2003, I spent 3 nights with a roof over my head, albeit in one of Saddam Hussein’s former palaces in Al Basrah. Bosnia and Herzegovina was rather different: feeling like rural southern Germany; a short flight away; and, Europeans like us, but gripped in the most awful tribal conflict. Stark was the absence of rules or proportionality with barbaric inhumanity displayed on all sides. No rules with no predictable response to any given action was hugely unsettling. This was a graphic example of what the absence of democracy, tolerance and respect for the rule of law looks like.

What first got you involved in politics?

I have been largely apolitical for most of my life. If pushed, I have described myself as a social democrat with no natural home to the left of centre. I have really been driven to serve my soldiers, Her Majesty’s Government and the will of Parliament whatever the flavour. I have been deployed on operations under Conservative, Labour and coalition governments. Things unravelled a bit in Iraq in 2003 when I was unconvinced our dogs of war were being unleashed as a last resort. The Foreign Secretary and Minister for International Development had resigned and we were woefully inadequate in fulfilling our obligations to the people of Iraq as the Occupying Power. Please don’t get me going on the Chilcot Inquiry, Public Interest Lawyers and the Iraq Historical Allegations Team… I served as an official in the MOD in Whitehall under Labour, coalition and Conservative Governments with only minor challenges to accommodate principles and party political lines, but there were some…

Really, I am only now engaging with politics because an overly heated and emotional debate over Brexit (what else would divide families) with my son ended with him saying, “so dad, what are you going to do about it?” Well, I could take to the streets with my Guido Fawkes mask – yes, I do own one! Given the Brexit mess, I felt compelled to attend the Brexit Party launch in Coventry and the rally in Birmingham the following day – in part to see what they might be about. I signed up to be a supporter and be considered as an MEP candidate for the EU Parliamentary elections.

My EU application was rolled over into the vetting and interview process for prospective parliamentary candidates. From over 4000 applicants and over 1300 interviews, I was as surprised as anyone to actually pop out the other side as a Brexit Party PPC.

What do you think is next for Brexit?

Well, if I was to trust our political leaders, I would have said the question should be moot. How many times were we told we would be leaving the EU on 29 March 2019? Or, that no deal is better than a bad deal? We are now being told we are leaving on 31 October “do or die, deal or no deal”. There are, I fear, many more painful weeks of political shenanigans to come before any of us actually know what is next. Personally, I think it is further humiliating delay and more chaos only slightly ahead of leaving without a deal. Throw in the prospect of an election and your guess is as good as mine…

Be clear though, if the PM commits to and delivers a clean break Brexit by 31 October, if asked I will step aside as a candidate – putting country before party.

Dealing with a remainer incumbent who voted for the Withdrawal Agreement is another matter, but that will be for Boris and Nigel to figure out…

What are your thoughts on Croydon Politics?

Trust appears to be a whopping issue. Trust in politics and trust in our elected representatives needs to be restored; they serve us, not the other way around. Housing and public transport appear to be ever-present challenges for Croydon. House building numbers hide poor design, small rooms and overdevelopment producing “slums of the future.” Transport links through Croydon South look enviable on a map until you overlay delays and poorly planned and announced engineering works.

I am always going to be on the lookout for exemplary implementation of the Armed Forces Covenant, supporting our Armed Forces and Veterans locally.

What surprised you most about getting actively involved in politics?

It really gets personal, and fast!

It doesn’t look efficient and effective from the outside. It is even less so on the inside… Beyond the restoration of trust, there are plenty of things that require reform – mostly to achieve less government and less politics.

“I would look at anything that may be holding back entrepreneurs and wealth creation. We must educate ourselves, train and innovate: it is what made Britain Great!”

If you introduce or repeal 3 laws (other than for Brexit) what would they be?

As a representative, not a politician – my first duty would be to listen. Then, if I said I was going to do something, I would actually do it. Now wouldn’t that be new! You are pressing me, so. I would look at anything that may be holding back entrepreneurs and wealth creation. We must educate ourselves, train and innovate: it is what made Britain Great!

The corollary is to ensure tax revenues are better distributed to provide a level playing field across the Borough to provide inspirational and aspirational education, first class healthcare, community services, social services and public transport.

Thirdly, there are the emergency services, law and order. We should all enjoy a protected and safe environment – one in which we learn to respect each other and the intervention of authority when necessary.

What do you see as your party’s route to electoral success?

Well, who can you trust? I cannot find anyone who doesn’t think we need to change politics for good. The career politicians and the political classes have never been more out of touch. Let’s do something about that. Let’s feel properly represented.

We have incredible prospects as a sovereign, independent nation able to do whatever we want in the national interest in relation to our laws, borders and money. It is in our national interest to be outward looking, reaching out to our European friends and those in the Commonwealth and the rest of the world. It is in our national interest to protect the oppressed and the disadvantaged at home and abroad. The UK Aid budget must be used effectively in the UK national interest.

Any other thoughts you want to leave us with?

I am exhausted, and we aren’t even in campaign mode. But, I am ready! And, I am building a great team.

Peter thanks again for agreeing to be interviewed by us.

Peter can be found on twitter at https://twitter.com/SonnexPeter which also hosts his introductory video.