We are joined by Peter Sonnex, the former Brexit Party Parliamentary Candidate for Croydon Central, as we discuss the Vaccine Wars and Lisa Nandy being inspired by the proposal for a Woke Peace Force. We then chat about the plethora of emerging parties and the Democrats plan to impeach ex-President Trump.
Now we have left the Transition Period we asked Brexiteers if they feel Brexit is now complete, for their hopes and their predictions for the future. Part 3 below more (parts 4 and beyond) to follow….. You can also read Part 1 and Part 2.
Crispin Williams local long term Brexit campaigner.
Did Brexit get done? My short answer is yes. If you had asked me on 23rd June 2016 if I would have been happy with the exit arrangements we now have, I would have ripped your arm off for them.
If you had asked me on 24th June 2016, I would have been disappointed with the 4½ year delay and the outcomes achieved. If you had asked me in May 2017 or in the months before, I would have been delighted with the current outcome.
So, overall, I am very happy. The 4½ year wait is miniscule in historic terms and will soon be forgotten. And what particularly pleases me is how Boris Johnson and his team have been able to claw back the amount of sovereignty they have from such a disastrous starting point bequeathed to them by Theresa May.
It’s a long way from the perfect Brexit but, given the politics involved and the large minority of dissenters to the whole idea, it is realistically as good an outcome as we were ever likely to get.
How do you hope the U.K. will use the new found freedoms? Ah, ‘hope’ versus ‘think’! I hope that we will widen our trading sphere, reduce bureaucracy and red tape, lower taxes to make the UK more attractive to invest in and invest the money saved in infrastructure projects that represent value for money. And control immigration so that all incomers are of genuine benefit to the country.
However, I worry that governments of all colours are inefficient, bureaucratically controlled and extremely wasteful of public money. If we can keep a government with the policies of the current one, we will come out much better off than before we left the EU, although probably not as well as we theoretically could. If, however, we get a Labour administration or even, in time, a Theresa-May type government, then I think things would back-slide to the point where we might as well have not left.
What constitutional reform would you like to see happen next? My initial answer is a negative one which is no Scottish independence. Although there seems to be an inevitable march towards demand for this, I cannot see how Scotland could operate as an independent nation; and if you think Brexit was complicated, just imagine how hard Scottish independence arrangements would be. Boris (or whoever) would need the very best negotiators to put Ms Sturgeon in her place as, for all her faults, she is a very shrewd politician.
In common with many people, I would like to see reform of the House of Lords. However, I am vehemently opposed to an elected chamber on the grounds that this would tend to mirror the lower house, it would lead to instability and, more pertinently, it would make it more party political. The Lords’ great strength is that its members can largely act on conscience without the worry of being deselected or voted out.
My suggestion is for members of the House of Lords to be selected by an appointment committee. This committee would be composed of ‘the great and the good’ by the position they hold in public life, not by personality. Thus, the holders of specific posts would automatically have a say in selection, whoever they may be.
Below I give some examples of the kind of positions that might comprise the appointment committee. As I say, these are just examples and there can be much further debate as to the final choice.
- The Prime Minister and, say, three leading cabinet positions
- The Leader of the Opposition and one other Opposition position
- The Leader of any other party with X number of seats in the Commons
- The Speaker of the House of Commons
- The Speaker of the House of Lords
- The First Minister of Scotland
- The First Minister of Wales
- The Mayor of London
- The Archbishop of Canterbury
- The Prince of Wales
- The Governor of the Bank of England
- The General Secretary of the TUC
- The Director-General of the CBI
- The Chair of the Commission for Racial Equality
- The Chair of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes
This would lead to a House of high quality people being elected by a committee with balanced views. Clearly, some of the above might also be Lords themselves.
The House of Lords would comprise 250 members, re-appointed on a staggered 10 year basis, with no restriction on the number of times a member could be re-appointed.
However, I would rather see the House of Lords remain as it is than become an elected chamber.
What do you think is next for the EU? I think the EU will stagger on for a long while yet. It will attempt to hoover up as many peripheral nations into membership as it can. The Euro will continue to be propped up until this becomes totally unsustainable. The collapse of the Euro, combined with an increase in nationalist parties being elected to governments, will probably eventually result in the EU’s demise in its current form.
However, I believe that it is in the UK’s interests that the EU does survive for, now we are out of it, it does offer useful advantages in terms of collective co-operation with other countries and, particularly, security from conflicts.
Friedrich Dominicus leader of Partei der Vernunft (Party of Reason) – the German Libertarians.
Did Brexit get done? We surely hope so.
How do you think the U.K. should use the new found freedoms? Don’t fall into “protection” mode. Keep your markets open and get your taxes down.
What do you think is next for the EU? We don’t know really, we are running into a terrible debt (death) spiral. Covid is used to minimize freedom and to maximize what the governments are “allowed” to do. So we are quite sure that the BREXIT was soon enough for GB to not get into an ever larger EU with more laws and much less freedom.
Maureen Martin, Christian Peoples Alliance, GLA Candidate.
Did Brexit get done? Yes essentially, trade deal is not perfect but considering the unwillingness of Brussels to broker a mutually beneficial deal it is a better outcome than expected.
How do you hope the U.K. will use the new found freedoms? Make improvements to trade agreement with the Commonwealth and other African countries especially. Change some foreign policy especially towards Israel and Iran and other Middle Eastern counties. Talks with Dublin to broker better relationship with them. Give financial incentives for any British industry that needs to improve productivity and can create wealth for us by building new plant.
What constitutional reform would you like to see happen next? Reformation to House of Lords and proportional representation.
What do you think is next for the EU? The UK success will incentivize more nations to leave. Also will need to refinance with major shortfall in their budget.
Peter Sonnex Croydon Central Brexit Party Candidate GE2019.
Did Brexit get done? Yes, legally. This ends the fight to achieve Brexit, leaving the peace to be won. I am mightily optimistic for our future as a global, generous, independent coastal nation.
Much of the government rhetoric is expressed in absolute terms, where it is clear our departure is conditional on significant alignment with institutions of the EU and the risk of an easy path to re-joining.
Practically, politically and subsequently, full sovereignty and control of money, laws, borders and fish were traded as an expedient to achieve the Trade and Cooperation Agreement – which goes much further than trade. Tariff and quota free trade is always the preferred trading understanding, though this should remain open for action in the national interest. With a £100Bn trade deficit with the EU, and wider trade opportunities opening up all the time – especially with Commonwealth Nations abandoned when we joined the EEC – we should not fear a tit-for-tat trade war; such are normal in adjustments to trade and diplomatic relations among sovereign equals acting in their own interests.
Of particular concern to me are:
- We did not leave the EU as one United Kingdom. The longer term workings of the Northern Ireland Protocol remain to be seen. I am reassured by the measured approach of the Northern Ireland Assembly and that the Protocol will be subject to review in four years’ time. There are opportunities and risks. Vital self-determination is preserved as are the workings and institutions of the Belfast Agreement – a bilateral agreement between the UK and the Republic of Ireland and no one else, it should be remembered;
- Defence, intelligence and security is less than autonomous for the UK. We know this well through our memberships with NATO, the United Nations and the 5-Eyes intelligence network. But, we remain bound to spending on EU Defence Programmes at least through our subscription to EU Horizon Europe. Even if we should refrain from becoming a troop contributing nation, where such may not be deemed to be in the national interest, we are still bound to funding defence, research, communications and other EU defence infrastructure – perhaps to further EU foreign policy with which we do not necessarily agree; Defence contracting remains bound by EU procurement laws. Tenders for UK defence contracts must be shared with the EU, even where this may be prejudicial to UK defence industry and jobs, perhaps even national security;
- The UK fishing industry has been let down. Intent to rebuild the UK fishing industry was never signalled during TCA negotiations. £100M to energise the industry is a lame sop;
- We remain bound, through the TCA hence international law, to the European Court of Human Rights. Though not an EU institution, the EHCR and the UK supporting legislation in the Human Rights Act have been counter to UK rights, responsibilities and immigration justice; and,
- As we leave the EU, in the TCA a raft of new bureaucratic institutions are created. Whilst there is no doubt negotiations will be ongoing, we must be vigilant to their motives and operation, and ensure transparency and parliamentary scrutiny.
Ultimately, we must continue to hold our elected representatives to account and to their word, exactly as I said I would when standing for the Brexit Party in 2019. I meant it.
The barometer on our Brexit future is expressed well by Brexit-Watch here:
They assess the government’s performance on rhetoric and action, currently at 38% and 43% respectively.
If we do not trust our elected representatives, or do not like the direction they are taking us locally or nationally, we must change them. With so many available alternatives, I shall be advocating for people you can trust – so a vote other than for any established or establishment party currently represented it is then!
How do you hope the U.K. will use the new found freedoms? Cancelling VAT on sanitary products and banning electro-pulse fishing on Brexit Day One were low hanging fruit, showing a lack of government ambition and boldness. Pulse fishing was already banned by the EU other than for “scientific purposes’. Banning supertrawlers would have signalled far greater intent, protecting our single biggest natural and sustainable resource. Fishing protection was, and remains, the acid test for Brexit if, practically, Brexit is to be other than in name only.
Particularly in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, I would like to see aggressive moves on economic stimuli; reducing taxation and funding enabling national infrastructure, such as broadband, nuclear energy (especially fusion energy), transportation, ports and housing.
Our parliamentarians, hitherto so used to EU initiatives, will be required to come up with their own. We can look to alternative media, such as Unlocked to lobby ideas:
What constitutional reform would you like to see happen next? Reclaim of reason, tolerance, manners, fairness, and common sense in our institutions; local government, education, civil service parliament and established church. For too long we have seen the rise and rise of the precautionary principle (better safe than sorry and just in case) with politically correct wokism stifling reasoned dissent and free speech. So-called social justice warriors have been polarising and divisive, leading to a situation where to be anti-racist is actually to be racist in one of the most tolerant and inclusive countries in the world.
The interview below with Laurence Fox, whom I have been supporting, makes the challenges clear:
The House of Lords, with over 850 unaccountable members must be reformed or abolished. Enough said there! Then there is the NHS…
What do you think is next for the EU? I am watching the progress of leave campaigns in other EU countries and supporting the French bid for a referendum (https://twitter.com/CH_Gallois & https://twitter.com/ReferendumUE). As the EU comes under increasing pressure by member states to be democratic, fair, effective and efficient – operating to their advantage, on balance, in the national interest – I see the EU having to reform enormously or fail as a project. This should not be feared, and those who claim the EU to be the only stabilising factor in post war peace are peddling a fear-mongering fallacy.
The institutions of the EU remain bloated and anti-democratic.
We are joined by Peter Sonnex from the Brexit Party as we discuss the latest COVID restrictions, the Internal Market Bill and whether it breaks “International Law” and the recent revelation of the wages of the BBC’s “stars”. We also consider the latest developments at Croydon Council and yet another leadership change for UKIP.
Finally, Peter talks to us about the Un-locked Group and how people can get involved.
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/unlockeduk/
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMvZbjbyUsh9T505aiPpv9w
- Twitter: @Unlocked_UK_
- Website: https://www.brexit-watch.org/
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4p1GexAhZ7Ubo-PBw9Cd3Q
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/BrexitWatch5
- Brexit Watch: https://www.facebook.com/properwatch1
Don’t Divide Us:
We are joined by Peter Sonnex of the Brexit Party, Maureen Martin of the Christian Peoples Alliance and Hoong-Wai Cheah of UKIP to discuss Christianity & UK Politics. We ask them:
- Why Christianity is important to them?
- How they think religion and politics should mix?
- How Christianity should inform policy?
- Should we have an established church, and how they think the CofE is performing?
- What should we be doing about Christian persecution abroad?
- What are their predictions for the future of Christianity in the UK?
- Peter was the Brexit Party Parliamentary candidate for Croydon Central in the December 2019 General Election
- A career soldier, Peter turned his hand to bus driving before becoming a Parliamentary candidate.
- More recently he has been a volunteer during the Covid crisis.
- Peter has been a guest on the Podcast and written for our website.
- Also spoke at our ‘My Tuppenceworth’ in 2019 about Decency, Democracy, Freedom and Freedoms.
- Maureen was (until they were postponed) a Greater London Assembly candidate for the Christian People’s Alliance (CPA).
- Maureen has run for parliament in Lewisham East in every election since 2015, which has included a by-election.
- We have previously spoken with Maureen for our website about what led her to run for the CPA, her experiences running and their priorities for London.
- Maureen has also written for us and her piece Locked Down and Locked out! Can be found on our website.
Hoong Wai Cheah
- Hoong Wai is the Chairman of the Croydon Branch of UKIP.
- In 2017 he stood for UKIP in Lewisham West & Penge in the General Election.
- He stood for the Croydon Council ward of Old Coulsdon in 2018
- We have previously spoken with Hoong Wai for our website about how he became involved in politics and his thoughts on politics in Croydon
- He has also appeared twice as a guest on the podcast discussing Libertarianism and “The future of Freedom & Liberalism”
We are joined by Peter Sonnex from the Brexit Party as we discuss the ongoing COVID 19 Lockdown and the Labour Party leadership election results. We then chat with Peter about his experiences in the military and Whitehall along with the “Stockport Declaration” and future plans for the Brexit Party.
The Stockport Declaration can be found here: http://www.stockportdeclaration.uk/
If you want to read more from Peter you can read our interview with him, his My Tuppenceworth speech on Decency, Democracy, Freedom and Freedoms or his review the election and experience of standing, Is That It – Brexit Done?
With the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland all but certain to leave the various clutches of the EU and its institutions on the 31st of December 2020 (after some false starts), Peter Sonnex – Parliamentary Candidate for the Brexit Party in Croydon South, then Croydon Central – reflects on the Brexit Party, his role in the 2019 General Election and the future. Is that Brexit done, then?
As a veteran, definitely not a politician, I was involved in politics for the first time to achieve an effect: delivery on the result of the 2016 Referendum; the UK becoming, once again, a self-governing, independent coastal nation; and, setting the conditions for wider political reform. I am proud of what we achieved. I remain humbled by the selfless support of a team of volunteers, coming from all walks of life and political persuasions, who committed themselves in all weathers to the causes of upholding our democracy and restoring trust in our institutions. We got it done!
My wife, Lesley, was the greatest supporter. Without question she walked more miles, delivered more leaflets, stood on more street stalls and, as my election agent, went through the nomination process twice as I stood first in Croydon South, then Croydon Central. My debt of gratitude, as with my carbon footprint, is irredeemable.
My campaign manager, “Chris”, provided energy and challenge in equal measure. His experience, local knowledge and drive for justice as much as political reform were invaluable. It is a sad reflection of politics, with its unnecessarily toxic environment for those who choose to get involved, that “Chris” will be known only as “Chris”.
Some wailing about ‘splitting the vote’, the very odd expletive when canvassing and petty online trolling aside – I enjoyed the election experience; from being energised by political rallies, the overwhelmingly positive reception on the fabled “doorstep”, street stalls, hustings, leafleting, social media interactions to media opportunities – all mysteries hitherto. Even without the prospect of electoral success, save for any seismic national factor which didn’t materialise, I was compelled to take part. I felt it was important enough to provide a voice and a candidate on the burning issues of the day. More than I could have hoped for, I was marginalised (some may say, brilliantly) by the Conservative Party campaign as they necessarily and increasingly took up the rhetoric, focus, determination and manifesto (Contract) of the Brexit Party and Nigel Farage.
Listening to Croydon’s Chris Philp MP and Councillor Mario Creatura change their tune on the EU in the interests of capturing the electorate and for their party to exist at all, let alone remain in power, was as enlightening about politics as it was – a sad reflection on me – amusing. Sorry…
Strategically, I think there were four elements to the (even now barely a year old) Brexit Party achieving its effect:
- Winning the 23 May 2019 election to the EU Parliament, especially in the Labour Party heartlands of the North East and the North West (the so-called Red Wall). Labour had been found wanting among the five million Labour Party supporters who had voted to leave the EU. This became key in winning support for the Conservative Party who promised to “Get Brexit Done!”
- Failure, thank goodness, at getting Theresa May’s Chequers-launched withdrawal agreement through parliament, combined with the EU election result, led to a change of PM and a new cabinet;
- The Brexit Party standing up over 600 credible prospective parliamentary candidates (PPCs) on the 4th of November 2019 provided an existential threat to the Conservative Party. Even the Evening Standard was forced to headline that day with “Nigel Farage pushes Tory general election campaign off track” (as ministers plead [with] him to withdraw Brexit Party Candidates); and,
- The unilateral decision on the 11th of November, just a week later, to stand down 317 Brexit Party PPCs* so as not to risk either a hung parliament, a second EU referendum or a referendum on Scottish independence.
[*The strict rule of not standing in a seat with a Conservative hold or win in the 2017 General Election was not without criticism (understatement). It did not account for seats where ‘remainer’ Conservatives had joined other parties or where they had retired or otherwise stood down. A great deal of talent and political goodwill/horsepower was lost or disenfranchised as a result.]
That said, operationally on Brexit, there is still a long way to go… Much remains to be resolved. We should be most wary of the following during the transition period:
- Our contingent liability to the European Investment Bank (EIB). After joining the EU, the UK became a member of the EIB, with a 16% capital share. The UK has contributed over €3.5bn and has over €35.4bn of ‘callable capital’. ‘Callable capital’ is a contingent liability, i.e. money which the UK would be obliged to pay if the EIB suffered losses it was unable to cover using its accumulated reserves. As shareholders in the European Central Bank (ECB), our contingent liabilities could be as high as €200-400bn – who knows…;
- The wedge hammered into our Union (in relation to NI) by continued ‘dynamic alignment’;
- Existing commitment or further consideration (as required in the Political Declaration, given legal effect in the Withdrawal Agreement) of integration in military Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), similar to NATO, as part of the EU’s security and defence policy (CSDP) over normal bilateral cooperation as necessary in the national interest;
- Fragility of the Eurozone economies;
- Fragility of EU cohesion amid, among other things, high EU youth unemployment; and,
- Challenges on the Greece-Turkey border as we speak!
These topics, with the government’s approach to control of our territorial waters, are being monitored by legacy Brexit Party MEPs and supporters as part of a Brexit Barometer. We are not going away until Brexit is truly done.
I am no cheerleader for the Conservative Party, but…
Nationally, I think we can be heartened by the government’s opening approaches to Brexit negotiations. The sticking points at the end of the first week are those relating to our independence: withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights; the role of the European Court of Justice; the maintenance of a level playing field for UK and EU businesses; and, conditions on future access for EU fishing fleets to UK waters. The EU may just be realising any final deal has to respect that the UK shall be independent of its institutional orbit, laws and courts.
I think we can be encouraged by the government’s intention to honour manifesto pledges on immigration and infrastructure investment. It is good to see the spotlights falling on the House of Lords and the BBC. Our government and institutions must be held to account for what they promise, do and say in our name. Whatever they do, they cannot be institutionally dishonest, biased, unaccountable or wasteful.
I think we can be buoyed by the government’s handling of the recent flooding and the ongoing Covid-19 Coronavirus outbreak. History will tell… Would a Labour Party in government have done any better?
The gulf between provision in the NHS and in social care remains to be addressed, and we are watching here, too. We are keen to see enduring cross-party approaches and consensus removing health and social care as perennial political footballs. No political party owns our NHS.
We are in a complete pickle over free speech as debate, even the truth, is shut down by either cancelling an opposing view or legislating against it. I see light in the topic of free speech being discussed more often and more openly. It requires as much education as it does leadership and example. But please, no more legislation to appease sensitivities…
As a teacher, leader and example, how good a PM is Boris Johnson? We don’t know yet. On the evidence, he remains ambiguous, past and present, on so many issues, including on those relating to the EU. He is utterly unambiguous though on power as it relates to his party being the party of government. The lesson learned in our democracy is to listen to the people. In particular he is and needs to keep listening to those who lent their votes in order to uphold our democracy and get Brexit done!
Locally, we have a failing Mayor of London hiding in plain sight. On knife crime and housing alone he can only be found wanting. And yet, on a typically low turnout he is most likely to be re-elected to deliver more of the same in the face of no credible opposition candidate. It hurts that earlier this year, the Brexit Party chose not to engage in the Mayoral, GLA and local elections. Voices for an electorate looking at slates of least-worst options have been denied. Democracy, eh?
Closer to home, we see the usual partisan Punch and Judy show that is the Croydon Borough Council. What a revelation it would be to see councillors united in their approach to knife crime, development, housing and reform solely in the Borough residents’ interest, and for the long term. For Croydon, I really do hope for a democratically elected mayor to be empowered to deliver for everyone and be held to account by the borough as a whole. DEMOC – now, let’s get that done!
You can read more from Peter in his interview with us from before the election – http://croydonconstitutionalists.uk/interview-with-peter-sonnex-brexit-party-prospective-parliamentary-candidate-in-croydon-south/.
Peter also spoke at our ‘My Tuppenceworth’ in 2019 about Decency, Democracy, Freedom and Freedoms, with the speech at –http://croydonconstitutionalists.uk/decency-democracy-freedom-and-freedoms-my-tuppenceworth-speech/
You can meet Peter at our Leavers of Croydon Drinks in New Addington on Saturday 21st March 2020 – http://croydonconstitutionalists.uk/leavers-of-croydon-drinks-new-addington/
Finally Peter can be found on twitter at https://twitter.com/SonnexPeter
Our Free Speech event, My tuppenceworth, on Tuesday 19th November gave lots of people the opportunity to speak. One of those speeches came from Peter Sonnex, Brexit Party Candidate for Croydon Central, we have reproduced the text below.
Decency, Democracy, Freedom and Freedoms… These have been hard won, but so easily taken for granted. Easy come, easy go can quickly lead to freedoms being expressed with no thought – the playground stuff – for the consequences and the damage they may do to those very freedoms
The irony is not lost that we should be aware this evening of our location and that we are in the throes of another Brexit General Election… I shall, of course steer away from party politics in respect for our hosts. After all, I am not a politician!
The poster for this event shows Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, late of the Corps of Royal Engineers – my very own Corps. The appalling waste of blood and treasure aside – if that were ever possible, as we shall never forget – it was his rallying call that galvanised the country’s resolve
against tyranny in Europe – standing up for democracy then – as I am now.
[As a young officer, it was Kitchener who was sent to rescue another former Royal Engineer – General Gordon of Khartoum. His plan to build a railway from the Red Sea to Khartoum, thwarted by the hubris of Field Marshal Wolseley who insisted on going up the Nile by boat. I wonder if he
used free speech to let him know how he felt…]
Only in my dotage have I really been able to put my own, rather less glorious military career in perspective: In the Falkland Islands defending the democratic will of the Falkland Islanders who had voted overwhelmingly to remain as a United Kingdom Overseas Territory; during the Cold War in Germany, defending our democracy and freedoms against the very real threat of the Warsaw Pact – winning as the Berlin Wall came down – sparking a fire of democracy to burn all the way through Eastern Europe. Long, long tours of the Former Yugoslavia were spent establishing a safe and secure environment for their first democratic elections; my time in Iraq spent establishing a safe and secure environment for – you’ve guessed it – democratic elections. I remain traumatised by our failure as the Occupying Power to deliver on their mandate for democracy and freedom. They do not have what we, the UK as the Occupying Power, promised them – at all…
At home, I find our future lies in the hands of people for whom entitlement is a right not earned and every demand is pandered to no matter the cost for their so-called ‘freedoms’. People who never learned that no means no or that our democracy came and comes at a price: selflessness, fairness, empathy, compassion, compromise, tolerance and respect.
I feel betrayed in my own country as our freedoms are taken away by a wedge of political correctness, a lack of trust and truth in politics, and incompetent legislators. I feel compelled to stand up again for democracy in my own country as our vote – and it is all you and I have – is counted, disrespected and fails to be acted upon.
Who do I trust in all this?
Easy. You! YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU!
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…!
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.
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.