Cornish campaigners challenge to MPs as they prepare for London rally

Cornwall for Europe, the grassroots campaign for the UK to remain in the EU, have challenged local MPs to explain why people have no confidence in Parliament to sort out the Brexit crisis. They are sending two coach loads of supporters to a rally in London on Saturday 20th July which aims to tell people about the positive reasons for being in the EU.

‘We believe that people have no confidence in Parliament to sort out this mess. MPs have failed to explain to people the really good things about being in the EU. We have had the longest period of peace in Europe ever since we formed the EU, Cornwall has had huge economic support from regeneration funds, our young people have had massive opportunities to study abroad, and all of us have freedom to move around and live or work anywhere in Europe. Even free charges on phones, healthcare and cleaner beaches have happened! Yet we cannot find any comment from any of our MPs about these issues.’ said Emmanuelle Brook, Chair of Cornwall for Europe.

Howard Farmer, who attends many of the street stalls organised throughout Cornwall, added: ‘We ask people to have their say about Brexit using what we call a ‘Brexitometer’. Every time we see strong support for a People’s Vote and fears that Brexit will damage the Economy. The clearest vote is always the one about whether people have confidence in MPs sorting out the mess – hardly anyone says they have confidence in their MP.’   

Cornwall for Europe volunteers attempted to show their Brexitometer to MP Sheryll Murray at the Liskeard Show

Sue Winter was one of the campaigners who tried to show the Brexitometer results to local MP for South East Cornwall, Sheryll Murray at the Liskeard show. ‘We were astonished that she refused to look at the results. It would have been good to get her view on why voters have lost confidence in MPs to sort out this mess. It’s not just Conservatives – campaign groups all over the country are finding similar results. We are a cross party campaign group and it is so disappointing when an MP will not even engage in proper debate.’

Charles Boney, Press Officer, said; ‘ We will be pressing all Cornish MPs to engage with us. We have have supporters of all parties in our Campaign, except Brexit and UKIP, and  we are always polite in our discussions, even with strong Brexit supporters. We do not expect MPs to turn their backs on us. If any MP would prefer a private meeting, away from the public and cameras, then we would sit down with them. We just want them to take part in proper discussion.’

‘Sing off’ between protest groups outside Parliament 3pm Monday 8th April 

Cornwall for Europe, the campaigners pressing for Britain to remain in the EU, have been challenged by their counterparts in Yorkshire to a ‘sing off’.

Both groups have campaigned using popular songs, chants and shanties. But they have changed all the words to get their messages across. And now Cornish and Yorkshire campaigners are travelling to London on Monday 8th April. The sing off will be hosted by Steve Bray, who runs the permanent protest outside Parliament and often interrupts interviews with his flag waving antics. 

Tom Scott, from Falmouth, says:

‘Sometimes you can get across a powerful political message with humour better than any speech or article. Our videos are being widely shared on social media especially twitter and Facebook where we now have 10,000 followers. That’s more than all the political parties combined’.

Charles Boney, Cornwall for Europe Press officer, commenting on the sing off and says  ‘Our most popular songs are ‘What shall we do with this rotten Brexit ? ‘ sung to the Drunken Sailor tune and a new version of Trelawney, which tells the story of the way the leave campaign came to Cornwall telling lies on the side of a bus. People were told we would have £350 million extra per week to spend on the NHS. We don’t have one extra nurse or doctor but we now employ thousands of extra civil servants making emergency Brexit plans.’

Sue Winter, from Camborne, will be one of those singing and says: ‘We respect our fellow campaigners from Yorkshire but we do think we have the edge over them. Trelawney is a rallying cry and the best they have seems to be something about strange things happening on Ilkley Moor. However the sing off goes, we will still offer them a pasty as a peace offering.’

Emmanuelle Brook, the campaign Chair said: ‘ We enjoy friendly rivalry but things are now getting beyond a joke. Parliament seems incapable of making any decision. Mrs May has lost all credibility and Mr Corbyn only seems interested in getting himself into power. We are not a party political group but we do think that all parties have lost the plot. The only way out this mess is to put it back to a people’s vote. I fear that Europe’s leaders are finally getting fed up with us and we will not be shown much sympathy at the Council of Ministers later this week.  In any event we cannot just drop out in chaos at the end of this week. If necessary Article 50 will have to be revoked.’

As the UK teeters on the brink of a ‘Blind Brexit’, Cornish protest shanty goes viral

With mounting chaos at Westminster as Theresa May makes a last-ditch attempt to push through her Brexit deal, shanty singers from Cornwall have become a social media sensation with their version of an old favourite: ‘What shall we do with this rotten Brexit’.

The shanty includes various suggestions as to what to do with Jacob Rees-Mogg, Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and other leading Brexiters, and was sung by several hundred people from Cornwall at the People’s Vote march in London last Saturday. But it was a video of a large crowd in Truro singing it at a rally held in solidarity with the London marchers that is being shared widely on Twitter and Facebook.

The video shows some 300 people outside Truro Library laughing uproariously as they sing:

What shall we do with Jacob Rees-Mogg?
Put him offshore where he keeps his money!

What shall we do with Nigel Farage?
Send him off to Trump with a one-way ticket

The shanty also has a suggestion as to what needs to happen to break the current deadlock at Westminster:

What shall we do with this rotten Brexit?
Let’s have a vote and see who wants it!

Tom Scott of Cornwall for Europe, the Falmouth-based poet and lecturer who adapted the shanty, said:

“Lots of people have been in touch with us to say that the sight of hundreds of us from Cornwall singing this shanty and our People’s Vote version of Trelawny, under a sea of St Piran flags, was one of the highlights of the march. But I think what’s caught the imagination of people on social media is to see so many ordinary people in Cornwall gathered together to express their opposition to this Brexit mess.

“The words of the shanty have cheered people up at a time when a very bleak future seems to be looming for Cornwall and the UK as a whole. Humour can be a powerful political weapon, and the sheer absurdity of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson voting for a deal which they have previously said will turn the UK into a ‘slave state’ deserves to be laughed at.

“These politicians have pushed Britain to the brink of disaster and they are refusing to take any responsibility for the catastrophic mess that they have created, attempting to blame everyone but themselves.”

Cornwall for Europe has been running street stalls all over Cornwall for over a year, and the group says that everywhere they go they find strong opposition to Brexit and many people who voted Leave in 2016 who have changed their minds.

“What’s really changed is that Brexit is no longer an abstract proposition built on windy rhetoric,” says the group’s Chair, Emmanuelle Brook. “People can see that they were lied to about all that extra money from the NHS and all those wonderful trade deals.

“Many people in Cornwall are already experiencing negative impacts form Brexit, or have friends and relatives who are – lost business, lost jobs and intense anxiety about what the future holds.

“One man from Camborne told us that the carers from the EU who were looking after his mother, who suffers from dementia, are all returning home. A man who runs a medical equipment manufacturer told us that he has already lost over a million pounds in business and is having to make plans to lay off staff.  A crab fisherman from Looe told us that his business exporting live crab and lobster faces ruin if tariffs make his exports uncompetitive and customs checks and red tape mean that his catch is rotting by the time it reaches customers in Spain.

“We are talking to hundreds of people, week in, week out, on the streets of towns all over Cornwall. We know that Brexit no longer has majority support here, and every national opinion poll has shown that this is true for the whole of the UK, and has been for at least the last year. Our group has seen hundreds of new members joining every week, and we now have more social media followers than all the political party pages in Cornwall combined.

“People are sick of Brexit and want to be able to express this. They want to be consulted on the best way forward out of this disaster. And with Parliament totally divided and unable to agree on a solution, we think there is only one way to settle this once and for all.

“In the words of our shanty: Let’s have a vote and see who wants it!.”

Cornwall supports Put It To The People

Hundreds of Cornish flags and placards were waved in the streets of central London as about 750 people from Cornwall took part in the national march for a ‘People’s Vote’ on Brexit on Saturday 23rd March. Four packed coaches, organised by Cornwall for Europe,  went from towns across Cornwall and many more supporters made their own way up to London.

‘We sent about four times the number that went on a similar march last October, so we believe that over a million people marched to support the demand for a new vote on any Brexit deal, with an option to remain in the EU’ said Howard Farmer one of the coach organisers. ‘We sang songs, waved placards and flags, blew whistles and joined in an amazing festival atmosphere. A real carnival with no trouble and hardly any police around at all.’

The Cornwall marchers assemble in Hyde Park

One of the marchers was Tom Scott who runs Cornwall for Europe social media accounts said. ‘We have been bombarded with good wishes, pictures and videos on our facebook and twitter accounts. People have become very excited about the campaign. The crowd was so big that we did not get to Parliament square – we stopped well short but were able to see some speeches on large screens. In particular Michael Heseltine was impressive, with many folks from a business and Conservative background respecting his views. We have members from across the political spectrum so it was great to see speakers from all sides.’

And in Truro….

Truro rally

Cornwall for Europe organised a street stall and rally in Truro for supporters who could not make it to London. They were surprised at the large crowd that attended to hear speakers from across the political spectrum, including Liberal Democrat, Greens and Labour. Charles Boney, Cornwall for Europe Press Officer said: ‘We were taken aback at the support at home. It was meant to be a low key event but instead over 350 turned up to a great political rally – a cross party call for Cornwall to have another say. Many people signed up to our campaign and will become actively involved when we have the chance in a new referendum.’

And on the beaches …

Supporters of the marches and rallies in London and Truro also took to the beaches, using the very low tide to get their message across with sand art imagery drawn in the wet sand. ‘It has been great to look down from the cliff top and see people marking out their support on the beach. Such a fun and family  friendly activity. Taking children and dogs on marches is not ideal so this was a way everyone could make their point’ said Sue Winter, a campaigner from Camborne.

We were there on the beaches

Cornwall for Europe continue to campaign throughout the county with street stalls, meetings and rallies being organised in the weeks and months to come. Campaign Chair, Emmanuelle Brook who has French/British dual nationality says it may be a long campaign. ‘We will carry on fighting as we believe in the end their will be a People’s Vote and we believe Cornwall has changed her mind since 2016. We believe in peace, prosperity and opportunity. Trading together guarantees peace, European Regional policy gives prosperity to Cornwall, and young people have far more opportunities in an open and united Europe.’

Cornish campaigners on the march in London in huge numbers

Put it to the People march – London 23rd March

Campaigners against Britain leaving the EU will be travelling to London this weekend in huge numbers to support the ‘Put it to the People’ march and rally. They have organised 4 coaches of their own, leaving from towns across Cornwall soon after 4 a.m. and many supporters are travelling by all other means to get to the protest. Last October they sent only one coach but believe about 300 in total rallied under Cornish flags.

Cornwall for Europe at the People’s Vote march in London, October 2018

They say this time support is far bigger: ‘We will be waving flags, holding banners and singing to show our support for the EU. This will be a massive show of strength from Cornwall. Last October a total of 700,000 were on the march. We think this demonstration may be the biggest protest of all time on any issue’ says Emmanuelle Brook, Chair of Cornwall for Europe. ‘MPs must take notice this time’.

Our Children’s future – Truro speaks

And in Cornwall itself, those not able to get to London will be staging protests as well. In Truro, there will be a stall near the Library from 10.30 and a rally at 12 noon with speakers invited from across all political parties (except UKIP!). They will be asking shoppers to sign a ‘Door to our children’s future’ stating their thoughts about Brexit.

Organiser Howard Farmer says ‘in recent weeks we have been asking people to state their views – and many give heart felt pleas for the coming generations. They believe our economy and our standing in the world will be diminished if Brexit of any kind happens.’

Low tide ‘Sand Art’ event

Around the Cornish coast people are being asked to use the chance of a low tide during the day to lend their support. ‘We are asking for people to engage in some ‘sand art’ by marking out a Put it to the People circle with CornwallForEurope.org attached as a show of support for the marchers in London.’ says Tom Scott, Cornwall for Europe Social media officer. ‘It’s difficult for some folks to make it to London or even Truro so everyone has a chance to have their say.’

Cornwall for Europe has grown rapidly in recent months, organising over 120 street stalls, holding public meetings and building up membership and organisation. ‘We now have more members and social media followers than any political party in Cornwall and we are a force to be reckoned with’ says Charles Boney, Press Officer ‘but we are a cross party group and welcome anyone who supports our campaign to stay in Europe.’

One hundred street stalls

Cornwall for Europe, the grass roots campaign to remain in the EU, are increasing their campaigning in the run up to vital votes in the Commons next week.

‘We expect Cornish MPs to vote to avoid a no deal exit at the end of March which would be a disaster for the Cornish economy’ says their Chair, Emmanuelle Brook.

‘Agriculture would face immediate high tariffs on exports and fish would face delays risking freshness and quality. We are pleased that Sarah Newton, Truro MP, has seen sense and told a recent Chamber meeting she would refuse to back a no deal Brexit. We call on the other Cornish MPs to follow her lead.’

In recent months they have been running street stalls all over Cornwall and will be celebrated their 100th stall in Penzance on Wednesday 6th March (from 10.30.Market Jew Street near Lloyds)

Their Brexitometer surveys ask people to tell them their views on Brexit.

Howard Farmer, stalls organiser, says ‘The vast majority tell us they believe they will be worse off under Brexit. And a big majority want Brexit delayed. They believe Parliament has failed and the People should have the chance to have their say again’.

One of the Cornwall for Europe street stall teams in Looe earlier this year

Hundreds of people are now planning to get to London for a huge rally on 23rd March. ‘ Last October we sent a coach to London to join the 700,000 others marching for a People’s Vote. This month we have already booked three coaches with many others finding their own transport.’ says Sue Winter who is helping plan the coaches and runs many of the stalls.. ‘We believe Cornwall will send three times the number protesters because we think that Cornwall has changed her mind on Brexit. The march will be massive.’

Cornwall for Europe now has a huge social media presence. Tom Scott, who runs its facebook and twitter pages says ‘We now have more Cornish followers than any political party or MP. Our membership grows daily and we have become a real force. We will remain a cross party organisation focused entirely Britain playing a positive role in Europe.We urge all our supporters to make contact with the 5 Cornish MPs who have not yet declared clearly how their will vote next week.’