By Bev Haigh-Jones
Our first submission this month comes from Nick, who lives in Bude and gives us his views on Brexit, democracy and the Tory government.
The recent headlines of Government sleaze, of suggested pressure on Conservative MPs to follow the directives of No 10, or Geoffrey Cox’s “barrister distractions” from his duties as an MP, all reflect the problems with our democracy at the moment. To this I could add that on 10 November, Lord Frost, the Brexit non-negotiator, mentioned in the House of Lords “why is it that some of you still go on about Brexit, no one cares about Brexit now”?
The Lord Frost comment is most concerning and is one of many reasons why Cornwall for Europe must speak out and make clear that Brexit does concern a very large proportion of the population.
I was recently having a conversation with my farming half-brother, and we were discussing all his Brexit-related fears, and this led us to discuss just who was, or could, benefit from Brexit? Not farmers, fishermen or the car industry; not the vegetable growers, our young, or students or tourists; not our ability as a country to negotiate new trade deals and not overseas respect for our country in the world. We could not think of anything positive.
All this leads to my inability to accept Brexit as all I can see are the negative impacts that it is having, and will continue to have, on all our lives. It is actually more than that, as I think that the Brexit debate was a reflection of the failure of democracy rather than Brexit being a democratic decision that we should all accept. Brexit was the failure of our parliamentary representatives to speak the truth, to hear the views and concerns of their constituents. It has been well researched that each region, each business type, each ethnic community, all had their own reasons for voting as they did, more often than not, their reasoning having nothing to do with the European Union. Our democracy had failed to hear their concerns and debate the issues.
Our democracy is continuing to fail as no one, nor any political party, dare speak the truth of Brexit. This now should be the fear of everyone. If our representatives cannot speak to power, for fear of retribution, or threats, then the country and our democracy will suffer, leading to unrest. For all these reasons, Cornwall for Europe must continue to provide a voice for all these failures and provide an outlet for our frustrations and concerns with the whole Brexit issue and its consequences.
Nick Cole, Bude
Our second offering this time is not a personal story, but rather an endorsement of a pro-EU project that has proved to be very successful, namely Cafe Polyglot. This social project has brought many people together and has been responsible for the creation of at least one, long-term relationship. This overview was sent to us by Tony as a result of our appeal for input from our members and we are grateful. We wish to make the newsletter as varied as possible.
Over ten years ago, a French woman who had settled in Falmouth set up a group called “Cafe Polyglot”. It was an attempt to bring together people of a range of nationalities living, working or studying in and around Cornwall to practise each other’s language, to meet socially and to learn about each other’s cultures. We used to meet once a week in a local bar or cafe and, at the beginning, had around 30 or more members. We organised special themed evenings such as music, poetry and food evenings. The latter were always popular with people bringing along food from their own countries. We also organised coach trips as many of our members who were new to Cornwall knew very little about our history and culture. One of these was to some of the archaeological sites of West Cornwall. The attached photograph taken in 2012 shows us at Lanyon Quoit with members from countries including Germany, Poland, UK, Italy, Turkey, France and Romania. Some worked and lived here while some were on schemes such as Erasmus.
At one stage, we helped to set up a similar group in Penzance which is still thriving. The Falmouth group still meets, relying partly on Zoom during coronavirus. Up to date information can be found on our respective Facebook pages.
Tracking Total UK Trade Post Brexit – Addendum
In last month’s Readers’ contributions we published a very in depth report by Paul Giles on the impact of Brexit on UK/EU trade. Paul had hoped to provide an update this month with the latest information, but that has unfortunately not been possible so he is now hoping to submit that next month. However, he has provided us with some additional data that we thought worthy of sharing.
The new information is from the ONS, the same source as his previous data and is in the form of a graph. It is not an encouraging sight, as I am sure you will agree. Paul has this to say about it: “The graph below, stark in its depiction of the inadequacy of new-non EU FTAs replacing even a fraction of lost UK-EU exports, has been taken from the same model and is being widely circulated.”