End of transition: Brexiteers on Brexit – Part 7

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 7 below. You can also read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6.

“As comedian Geoff Norcott quips when asked if he regrets voting for a conservative government. “No. I regret not getting one.”

Tam Laird, Leader of the Scottish Libertarian Party.

Did Brexit get done?  I think only technically, but it was a long drawn out torturous process that could have been avoided by (a). Accepting No Deal from the get go. (b). Taking the Norway option. But it is at least a beginning.

How do you hope the U.K. will use the new found freedoms  Freedom is a long way off. BoJo and co are doing their very best to comply entirely with the globalist agenda and their record on individual Liberty so far is abysmal. As comedian Geoff Norcott quips when asked if he regrets voting for a conservative government. “No. I regret not getting one.” But one hopes against hope that they will begin to tear up over sixty other international trade agreements that government had no real right to being involved with in the first place. Business should do business with business and make their own agreements.

What constitutional reform would you like to see happen next?  I hope to see the repeal of the Equality Act of 2010 and the absolute right to free speech guaranteed in a bill of rights based on individual liberties. In the realms of fantasy I would like to see more regional autonomy within the UK on a confederation model.

What do you think is next for the EU?  I think they may do their utmost to frustrate and hamper Britain at every available opportunity especially by using Scotland Ireland and Wales with their pro EU regimes as bulwarks.  But I hope it dies a slow painful wasting death.

“electoral reform and the reshaping of the devolution settlement, including an English parliament based outside London and the reform of the House of Commons”

Andrew Bence, of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

Did Brexit get done?  Yes, although I can’t pretend to have an in-depth understanding of the pros and cons of the deal that was achieved. Meanwhile, as a non-economist and someone with zero experience of the import/export business, I wait with a degree of trepidation to see exactly how ‘things’ turn out. But the democratic will of the people has, finally, been respected, and as one of those who voted for Brexit, I shall own the decision we made.

How do you hope the UK will use the new found freedoms?  Again, on economic matters I am a layman, trusting in those whose expertise I find persuasive, according to whom any short-term disadvantages will be superseded by advantages long term, as new cooperative arrangements bed in, we develop home-grown products, and export more widely. However, the EU isn’t the only jurisdiction running on a democratic deficit, and my dearest hope is that this renewed focus on sovereignty will inspire a rise in democratic engagement here in the UK, leading to electoral reform and an end to our present mediocre governing duopoly.

What constitutional reform would you like to see happen next?  Abolition of the House of Lords is long overdue. I’d like to see that followed by electoral reform and the reshaping of the devolution settlement, including an English parliament based outside London and the reform of the House of Commons. Details can be found here: https://sdp.org.uk/policies/constitution/.

What do you think is next for the EU?  Entropy? Just as with the broader liberal establishment, I don’t see those at the helm recognising the error of their ways any time soon. Therefore sensible reform, increased democratic accountability, the discarding of the federalist project, these things are unlikely to happen. Europeans will become increasingly disillusioned, looking to the UK to see if the alternative is proving preferable.

“I’d like to see the House of Lords abolished or cut in size. Also and I don’t know if this is constitutional related, but I’d like to see the lockdown over.”

Anonymous local Brexit campaigner.

Did Brexit get done?  Brexit did get done. Technically that was done on 31st January 2020. 

How do you hope the UK will use the new found freedoms?  I’d like to see the UK cut unnecessary regulations and do more free trade deals, particularly with regards to services. Also, I’d like the UK to not pay welfare to EU nationals.

What constitutional reform would you like to see happen next?  I’d like to see the House of Lords abolished or cut in size. Also and I don’t know if this is constitutional related, but I’d like to see the lockdown over.

What do you think is next for the EU?  The EU will survive for now but the EU wants more integration and some member states want less. Eventually that will come to a clash and the EU will either back down or carry on. If it carries on other states will leave. If it backs down on integration then it might survive. 

“we should unilaterally withdraw all import tariffs. Tariffs in the end are self-harming. …so we can reduce consumer prices and give everyone, the poorest in particular, a well-earned break”

Chris Mendes, Croydon South Vote Leave lead, and leader of The Foundation Party.

Did Brexit Get Done?  Yes and no. We have ended the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and the EU Parliament and the EU Commission no longer govern our country. The free movement of people has ended and we are free to adopt free trade agreements with other nations.

This is excellent news. We who have campaigned hard for our right to national self-government can rightly feel a sense of liberation and victory.

But is this the treaty I would have agreed to? No it is not.

Boris Johnson’s government simply identified and prioritised a set of checkboxes they felt needed ticking to survive in government – namely, the separation from EU institutions mentioned above to placate “Leave” voters, and continued tariff-free access to the Single Market to placate “Remain” voters.

Everything else important was wrongly deprioritised. It is why Northern Ireland remains attached to the Single Market, why the EU still has shared access to our fishing waters, and why in this treaty we have agreed to common rules on employment, competition, state aid and the environment.

These would not have been agreed to if the Prime Minister had a full understanding and a loyal devotion to the principles underlying our independence in the first place. The whole point of leaving is for us to have our own internal conversations about all matters under the sun and to decide for ourselves what we want to do – it’s called democratic self-government.

But yet again, the Conservative Party have agreed to a treaty which is simply supposed to be about trade, but actually includes other policy agreements which it shouldn’t.

The good news however is that we can cancel this new treaty and walk-away in the future, or renegotiate the terms, if we so wish.

Theresa May’s appalling “Withdrawal Agreement” meant that both parties, the UK and the EU, had to agree to its termination before it could be terminated. We effectively came very close to national imprisonment, such was the naivety and insensitivity of that period in our political history.

In summary, having left the European Union a year ago and now agreeing to this new treaty, we are finally an independent and sovereign country again.

But the fight for enhancing our freedom and our liberty further still, with respect to this treaty, as well as Westminster itself and policy matters across the board, is still well and truly on the agenda.

How do you hope the UK will use the new found freedoms?  First and foremost, now that the dilution of our democracy has been reversed, I expect us to discuss as a nation and decide at our general elections what our trade, fisheries, agriculture and immigration policies ought to be.

We haven’t had an open discussion on these matters in recent decades due to Westminster outsourcing them to the European Union, but now our elected politicians are responsible for these matters again, the people will rightly expect robust debate on these vital issues for them to make an informed decision.

On the subject of trade, we should unilaterally withdraw all import tariffs. Tariffs in the end are self-harming. The EU’s Customs Union only succeeds in forcing millions of EU citizens to buy and sell goods at highly inflated prices. We should abandon import tariffs so we can reduce consumer prices and give everyone, the poorest in particular, a well-earned break and more money left over to save or spend on their own priorities.

Moreover, and this is where Boris Johnson’s treaty will hold us back, my ambition would be to look very closely at our industries and identify heavy-handed and counterproductive EU regulations, and indeed UK regulations, that are unnecessarily disrupting economic growth.

Government does need to regulate the markets and there are plenty of areas where constraint is justified, the environment being a sound example. But over recent decades our free market system has become less and less free and we are worse off as a result.

For example, the EU’s gigantic and overly-complex GDPR data protection regulation ought to be abolished, in favour of something far lighter and less burdensome on small businesses. Our archaic Sunday trading laws should also be abolished and we should allow businesses to trade on any day at any time.

Let’s free business to do what they do best and focus on giving the consumer the freedom to choose. This will allow us to grow the economy, expand our manufacturing base and create more jobs across the board in the long-term.

What constitutional reform would you like to see happen next?  After 47 years of our membership of the European Union, with the democratic injustices throughout, such as the signing of treaties that damaged the nation’s capacity for self-government without the consent of the people, the refusal to grant the people their say for so long, and the attempts by Parliament to subvert our decision to leave at the first chance we got, the obvious question is – how do we prevent this from happening again?

The answer is to introduce a Sovereignty Protection Act that prevents Parliament from severely diluting our national sovereignty without the consent of the people.

No policy may be implemented or law passed that would render our Parliament subordinate to any other. Politicians elected in other countries must never again be empowered to make our laws. We should forever have our own independent trade, immigration and defence policy. Our territorial waters shall remain ours to regulate, police and enforce. We shall forever remain economically independent with our own currency and our Supreme Court shall remain supreme.

Never again shall politicians have the unilateral right to change any of the above without explicit permission from the British people, expressed in a referendum, first.

Moreover, we also need a Referendum By Petition Act to allow referendums on constitutional matters to be triggered by popular petition.

If the people are unhappy with a given policy, we simply wait until the next election and vote for a change. But if we are unhappy with how the Government and Parliament works, and what powers over us they have, suiting the politicians but not the people, we must have a route to change.

When a petition on a constitutional matter obtains at least 10% of the voting population, a referendum for the people to adjudicate the matter must be held whether the politicians like it or not.

What do you think is next for the EU?  The direction of travel for the European Union is clear – more centralisation, command and control by the EU’s undemocratic institutions.

Frontex, the “European Border and Coast Guard Agency”, has this week become the EU’s first uniformed service.

This anti-democratic centralisation of power is the irreversible direction of travel of the European Union. This particular reform allows the EU to step closer towards a centralised immigration and border policy, which it has always wanted, and which was accelerated as a result of the EU migrant crisis in 2015.

In that same year, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor of course, and then-French President François Hollande, both appeared and spoke at the EU Parliament.

They openly stated in explicit terms, and indeed this was one of the very reasons why I decided to campaign for our exit from the European Union, that the EU must have a common defence and common foreign policy.

This dangerous and anti-democratic ideology of centralisation towards a single state called Europe, without the people of Europe’s consent, is at the heart of the true purpose of the European Union.

Now that Britain has left, the authoritarian and paternalistic ideological zealots of Europe’s political elite, who hate the notion of the democratic nation state, will now have a much clearer pathway to their fanatical utopia.

Undemocratic and authoritarian empires that hide from accountability and democratic consent do not last forever. They all come to an end. And so in time will the European Union.

Back to Part 6

Interview with Tam Laird, Leader of the Scottish Libertarian Party

Formed in 2012 the Scottish Libertarian Party is separate from the Libertarian Party UK and with good reason.  Being both pro-Brexit and pro-Independence for Scotland, gives the party a key different priority.  Tam Laird the party leader is a former infantry soldier and lives in Edinburgh.  We speak to Tam about the campaign for liberty in Scotland.

Tam thanks for giving us your time…

Can you tell us about your journey to becoming the leader of the Scottish Libertarian Party?

I think probably my journey from Authoritarian to Libertarian is a more interesting story, but let’s not answer a question I wasn’t asked. At the beginning of my association with the Scottish Libertarians I had no interest in joining let alone hold office. That’s not a reflection on the movement it’s an indication of my attitude towards politics in general. Completely disillusioned, agnostic and cynical. It seemed no matter who I voted for, I ended up with the government and government is a cancer. So I hadn’t even voted for about 16 years. I was convinced by John Watson, who was Secretary at the time, to stand in a local by election. It seemed to me it was not so much about gaining votes as it was a good way of getting the libertarian free market message out. I was elected Deputy Leader soon after and was Deputy when I stood in the Edinburgh Central constituency against Ruth Davidson in the Scottish Parliamentary elections in 2016. After that election, due to his extensive overseas business commitments our previous Leader was persuaded to step aside and I was voted in.

Could you in a couple of sentences tell our readers about the party?

We are a party of principle committed to free markets, free speech and individual rights and liberties. Accordingly we believe that self-determination is a fundamental individual right. For more information on policy and our full constitution check out our website.

“it’s not just a matter of Scottish Independence. What drives it is our belief in the right to self-determination all the way down to the individual. We support English independence. If Yorkshire, Cornwall or even Milton Keynes wanted to be independent we’d support it”

The party is pro Scottish independence.  What drives this and what sort of Scotland would you like to see once independent?

Echoing my previous answer, it’s not just a matter of Scottish Independence. What drives it is our belief in the right to self-determination all the way down to the individual. We support English independence. If Yorkshire, Cornwall or even Milton Keynes wanted to be independent we’d support it. Whether it’s a good idea or not is a matter for those constituents. What we’d like to see is a Scotland that absolutely protects the individual rights and liberties of each person. In fairness that’s a long way from what the Scottish National Party (or as I call them Sturgeon’s Notionalist Party) is even capable of delivering if they had the will. Which they don’t. It’s worth mentioning that there are many party members who fear Scottish Independence as a precursor to an authoritarian socialist state under the SNP. I respect that, and those individuals are free to vote accordingly.

“A good start would be to NOT have a Central bank. Have competing currencies on a national level exactly the same as we have it on an international level. Anyone who wishes should be able to start a bank and issue their own currency. It’s called a free market”

The Scottish government’s budget deficit and what currency an independent Scotland would use were major questions from the independence referendum.  How would your party address these?

I think the first step is to reduce the tax burden on individuals and business. In tandem public spending has to be cut back massively. Starting from the top. It’s pretty pointless cutting back on subsidies to the vulnerable in society if you are going to give out generous corporate welfare to the likes of Amazon. Unfortunately the SNP have convinced many Scots, especially the young, that free education, healthcare, housing are all God given rights. That’s tough to roll back.

I think the currency issue is a bit of a red herring. We can use any currency we like. We can use Rupees if we like provided someone else will take them. The issue, I suppose, is the currency of ‘last resort’ but it’s not an issue that can’t be solved with a will do so. A good start would be to NOT have a Central bank. Have competing currencies on a national level exactly the same as we have it on an international level. Anyone who wishes should be able to start a bank and issue their own currency. It’s called a free market.

We have now left the EU and are in the transition period.  How do you think Brexit is going and what position would you like to see us in with the EU come 1st January 2021?

I think the way Theresa May handled it was a shambles. Which is to be expected as she was not a believer in it. It should have been No Deal = Good Deal from square one. The way the opposition parties handled it was nothing short of disgraceful and even treasonous. I hope by January 21 the EU is a distant memory. May it implode from within and die a horrible wasting death.

You ran in the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary elections in Edinburgh Central.  How did you find the experience, and do you have any interesting stories from the campaign trail?

It was an interesting, and slightly surreal experience. It couldn’t have been that bad as I’m determined to do it again in 2021. I’d advise anyone running to go to the count and keep an eye on the adjudication of “spoiled ballots”. I spotted about 6 that were absolutely fine and couldn’t get to the bottom of how they ended up in the spoiled ballot pile. Before heading onto the platform for the return results, I jokingly quipped to Ruth Davidson that it wasn’t too late to join the SLP. She replied that “there’s a libertarian streak in us all”. I hope she makes it a wee bit wider next time. It would be nice to be able to see it manifest. I won’t hold my breath.

What’s your party’s plan for fighting elections and getting the message of liberty out to the electorate?

We plan to fight as many council and parliamentary by elections as we can. The former cost very little or nothing, and get the party name on the ballot papers. We also plan to field as many candidates as possible in the Scottish Parliamentary elections in 2021.(Provided it goes ahead in view of Covid) Ideally I’d like to fill all the regional lists and additionally have a candidate in at least four key high profile constituencies.

In a hustings for the 2019 general election you said “Well okay, I can only speak within my own family. I know some people in my family who use food banks and they’re at it. And that’s just a fact”.  “But I do think the answer to poverty is more jobs.”   How did that go down in the hall, and with your family?

Could have worded that one better. But I stick by it. In fairness I was referring to extended family. Haven’t had anything back, but then getting upset would be tantamount to admitting you were the guilty party. I think there was a some incredulity in the hall, but I articulated what a lot of people know and think but won’t say. The Daily Record appeared to try and do a hit piece, but if so it backfired as most of the feedback I got was positive.

“laws prohibiting government from interfering in private life and business. Provided there is no harm, injury or loss. If so it’s a matter for the police, not the government”

Other than Independence and Brexit, if you could introduce, repeal or change 3 laws what would they be?

I’m not keen on introducing laws, but I guess a law prohibiting government from using force or coercion to collect taxes would be a start. Also laws prohibiting government from interfering in private life and business. Provided there is no harm, injury or loss. If so it’s a matter for the police, not the government. I’d repeal any laws that infringed on the right to freedom of association. It’s difficult, because what you really are asking is what I would do if I was an absolute monarch. The reality in a democratic system is it’s almost impossible to get things done without a huge majority Even then it’s tenuous. As we have seen with the Brexit farce that played out over two years.

Lastly how do you think the governments of both the UK and Scotland are handling the Covid-19 crisis, and what would you like to be done to help the eventual economic recovery?

I think the governments are handling the crisis as only government can. Disastrously. I think Boris had the right idea at the start, then he did a Thatcher and blinked. Look, I’m not an expert epidemiologist, but many who are have questioned the wisdom and efficacy of the lockdown. I agree with them. I think in the end the economic fallout will be far more devastating than the virus itself. What would I do? I think I’d have started by not promising mass bailouts to everyone. Also I wouldn’t have allowed an economy to become so bankrupt that it couldn’t survive this crisis. I’m not optimistic about the outcome. There’s nothing the government is even planning to do that can put this right.

Perhaps we could start by telling Richard Branson to sod off?

The Scottish Libertarian party can be found online at http://scottishlibertarians.com/, on Twitter at https://twitter.com/PartyScottish, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ScottishLibertarians/.