A lifelong Labour Party activist and former councillor has joined forces with a rebel MP, who resigned the Tory whip, to start a ‘David vs Goliath’ Irish grassroots movement against a ‘no deal’ Brexit.
Former Tory MP and government minister Anna Soubry, who now leads the anti-Brexit Change UK party, and former Hackney councillor Sally Mulready said they were spurred into action by likely new PM Boris Johnson’s threat to pull out of the EU ‘deal or no deal’ by Halloween.
Ms Mulready is a well-regarded Labour Party loyalist since 1980 who has been active in many campaigns, especially involving Irish people in the UK.
She is also a former member of President Michael D Higgins’s Council of State. Her stance will put her, like many others in her party, in conflict with Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s equivocal Brexit policy.
Ms Soubry, 62, is a former Tory Defence minister, barrister and journalist. She has been MP for her Nottinghamshire constituency since 2010.
Ms Mulready said “we are first-, second- and third-generation Irish people living in Britain, nurses, teachers, doctors, musicians, charity workers, lawyers, business people, construction workers, Irish people of all walks of life, and all generations coming together to campaign against Boris Johnson’s and Nigel Farage’s No Deal threat.
“We will stand in solidarity with our European friends living in Britain, will defend the Irish government’s right to stand up for Ireland, and will proudly stand with the thousands of British people campaigning against Brexit and No Deal.
“Britain is our home, Ireland is our home, we have a right to raise our voices on Brexit.”
“Three years on, the Brexit mandate has expired. Many people now know the reality of Brexit, and the harm a no deal Brexit will cause, the lies that were told to achieve it. We must be allowed to vote again with Remain on the ballot,” she said.
Ms Soubry and Ms Mulready launched the party this week as three former Prime Ministers warned their putative successor Boris Johnson not to continue down the path promised by his rhetoric or, warned Tony Blair, face consequences ranging from ‘severe’ to catastrophic’.
Gordon Brown said Mr Johnson faces the prospect of being the first-ever Prime Minister for England – NOT the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Former Prime Minister Sir John Major said Mr Johnson should govern as a Prime Minister for all – and not just the fanatical Brexit ultras or lose any and all legitimacy.
Ms Soubry, whose pro-remain party was trounced in the recent European Parliament elections by the pro-EU Lib-Dems and the anti-EU Brexit Party because of its lack of a clear message to voters, said she was “honoured” to be asked to support the grassroots Irish in the UK campaign.
She said: “Together we must squash the nonsense that if we magic up some technology it will be fine to crash out of the EU without a deal.
“No deal is a disaster not just for trade but also for peace on the island of Ireland. The UK has made a mistake in voting to leave the EU – the best deal is the one we currently have with the EU and the only way out of the Brexit crisis is a People’s Vote with Remain firmly on the ballot paper.
“The people of Northern Ireland voted Remain because they knew of the importance of our continuing membership of the EU and their numbers have grown.”
The grassroots campaign will rely on mobilising support through media and UK and Irish newspapers as well as public meetings, street stalls, festival stalls, Irish community networks in the UK (music, arts, sports, pubs, community centres), as well as British and Irish politicians.
“We intend to make a huge amount of noise and raise our voices at every opportunity between now and 31 October,” said one of the campaign organisers.
“To get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org.”