[Ed Note: Part 1 of these ‘Notes from a very long Campaign’ were published yesterday – you can read them here.]
While successive treaties ratcheted up the path to ‘ever greater union’ and the euro was launched to a fanfare, UKIP remained the only political party standing on a platform of leaving the EU although there were many pressure groups seeking to ensure the British people had a say on any further integration and campaigning to ‘Keep the Pound’. Of all the treaties that our Governments bulldozed through, without the people having a say, the most shameful disregard of the electorate, both by Labour and the Conservatives, had to be over the Lisbon Treaty. When two countries had referenda on the ‘EU Constitution’ and rejected it there was no option but to scrap it, anyone could see the direction it was going. The voters in the next referendum would aim to outdo the last ‘no’ vote.
Brits never got a referendum on that, or the Lisbon Treaty in which it was repackaged, Gordon Brown slunk in to the signing late and David Cameron got himself elected on a promise to hold a referendum, bottling it after the 2010 election, on the feeble excuse that the treaty had already been signed. I see this as a turning point in the long march to freedom and it’s time to thank some of those early cross party groups trying to raise awareness.
Thank you to The Bruges Group, Get Britain Out, Business for Sterling, Campaign for an Independent Britain, Better off Out and any I have missed.
The People’s Pledge was another cross party group, established in March 2011, the pledge was ‘I am voting for a referendum on EU membership. I will use my vote to help secure a majority of MPs in Parliament who support an EU referendum.’ Supporters signed up on the government’s revived e-petition taking it beyond 100,000 and securing a debate in Parliament days after the People’s Pledge event at Central Westminster Hall. The outcome, despite protestors lobbying their MPs? No referendum.
Thank you to all those who organised and supported The People’s Pledge.
All this time I leafletted for my local UKIP candidates, went on Keep the Pound marches, supported the People’s Pledge, stood myself in local elections and in the 2010 General Election. In the European elections UKIP made gains in 2004 and more in 2009, only to drop back again under first past the post but the mood was changing. It was inevitable that Nigel Farage would become leader and it was during his leadership that UKIP made the gains that frightened David Cameron into considering an in/out referendum in January 2013. It didn’t stop Diane James coming close to winning the Eastleigh by election, or UKIP gaining 160 county council seats. I was one of those new councillors. Then in 2014, with two Conservative defectors in the House of Commons, UKIP stormed to first place in the European elections.
Thank you Nigel Farage. Thank you to all those UKIP activists who pushed Cameron to the brink.
UKIP only retained one of those two Commons seats in 2015 but took many second places, standing for the second time, I was one of those second places. With a slim but working majority, David Cameron set the referendum date. There were three groups campaigning for the leave vote, Vote Leave, Leave.EU and Grassroots Out, the latter boasted an interesting cross party selection that included George Galloway and a lurid lime green livery. Vote Leave, a mainly Conservative group, won the official designation so, in my UKIP branch we teamed up. On the eve of the poll, as a thunderstorm rolled in we put Vote Leave boards up on walls and lamp posts on the roads leading to all the polling stations.
Thank you to Vote Leave, Leave.EU, GO, with special thanks to Gisela Stuart, Kate Hoey, Arron Banks, Richard Tice, Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Peter Bone and Tom Pursglove.
As the campaigns hotted up a crowdfunded movie premiered in Leicester Square. As a sponsor I donned my evening gown and walked up the red carpet, probably the only time I will ever attend a premiere. Brexit the Movie, produced by Martin Durkin, took a dispassionate, impartial and sometimes humorous look at why we should leave.
Thank you Martin Durkin.
How brightly the sun shone on the morning of June 24th 2016! Did any of us think it would take three and a half years of struggle against those who would traduce democracy to get to January 31st?
Thank you to all those who fought for years for our freedom but did not live to see our exit.
Thank you to all those who did not give up, to the ERG, to Leave Means Leave, Brexit Central and the Brexit Party.
Most of all thank you to all of you readers, all of those who gave up so much time and wore out so many shoes campaigning, who maintained vigils outside Westminster – who must be prepared to keep up the pressure now. Without you this could not have happened.
Have I forgotten anyone? Yes, how could I forget to acknowledge Independence Daily?
Thank you, or as they say in Norway, Tusen Takk ( a thousand thanks) to Viv Evans and Debbie Le May for everything you have done to inform and educate your readers over the years.
Helena Windsor, Former Surrey County Councillor, former UKIP county chairman and committed Brexiteer for 20 years