Brexit: The Human Cost

Brexit: The Human Cost

It has been a tumultuous week in British and global politics, and whilst I have adopted a pragmatic approach to the result of the Brexit referendum — embracing the vote to Leave, even though I voted to Remain — on reflection, I may have focused too much on the strong economic arguments that countries like the UK, Norway and Switzerland are better off outside the EU, and not enough on the human impact.

Today I went to my local dry cleaners, and spoke to the husband and wife team who have built an incredibly successful business in the heart of one of London’s nicest neighbourhoods, having moved to the UK from Romania a couple of years ago in search of a better life.

They are two fantastic entrepreneurs who have brought energy, enthusiasm and a great work-ethic to London and who love their new lives here and appreciate everything that living in the UK has allowed them to do.

 However, the Brexit result has rocked   their world; they are genuinely scared.

They now worry that people don’t want them here in Britain, and that the great life that they have built for themselves is under threat.

They worry about how having to return home might affect their families and their future.

They worry that what they have fought hard to build may be destroyed by a vote in which they had no say and no voice.

We talked about this for about 30 minutes, and it gave me genuine pause for thought.

I remain excited by the opportunities ahead for an independent Britain and the potential for forward-thinking, globally-oriented policies to set us up for success as a major trading partner for the rapidly developing nations that will shape the future world, but, before we get there, we must ensure a number of things:

Clarity for EU Nationals

There must be clarity for the millions of EU nationals living and working in the UK, and a strong political voice confirming that there will not be any push to force them to relocate to the EU once Britain leaves — they must be given certainty about their place in British society.

Acknowledgement of London’s Unique Role

London must be treated as an exception; most Londoners voted to Remain, and so whilst the wishes of the majority of the electorate must be respected, the Mayor of London is right to seek greater powers to allow people to work in London through some sort of special ‘London visa’, recognising London as a special economic and cultural zone as the pre-eminent global city.

Strong Leadership

The Conservative Party must quickly select a leader with the skills necessary to unify the nation, but also to negotiate our exit from the EU in an orderly manner.

As a member of the Conservative Party, I will be voting for Theresa May for leader.

She brings experience of serving in Government at a senior level, of negotiating hard with Europe, whilst at the same time being someone who was minded to Remain in the EU despite understanding the benefits of leaving.

Ms May will be able handle the detail and minutiae of the negotiations, whilst not coming from too firm and ideological approach, which rules out Michael Gove as leader in my mind.

A 10-point Plan

We need a 10-point plan detailing the key steps that we will take from where we are today to get to a bright future with the UK outside the EU.

This is a hard road to travel, and one that many of us would not have chosen to go down, but living in a vibrant democracy requires flexibility and collaboration; Brexiters and Remainers alike must now work together to articulate clearly to the world the steps that will be taken and then to make them happen.

Everybody Needs to Calm Down

HRH The Queen has already provided some of what is lacking in our politicians; a calming voice, urging people to stop and think about the future, rather than rushing into knee-jerk reactions.

Whilst many are putting their energy into trying to secure a second referendum, and into calling anyone who doesn’t agree with their views ‘thick’, or ‘xenophobic’, the sensible thing to do is to develop a clear strategy for the future with a cool head.

Her Majesty said in her speech at the opening of the Fifth Session of the Scottish Parliament that it was a time to allow “room for quiet thinking and contemplation”, and as is so often the case, she is absolutely right.

In my final thoughts, this situation reminds me of my favourite poems, the classic ‘If’ from Rudyard Kipling:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

There is undoubtedly a rocky road ahead, but with the correct approach and the right leadership, the destination will be worth it.

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What are my politics? It’s simple…

During this last week, several people have asked me how I could possibly be a Conservative whilst having such a strong social conscience. The very question itself helps to highlight one of the great difficulties that party politics presents, with people identifying politicians based on strict party lines and stereotypes:

“Marcus, how can you be a Conservative, but be involved in so much charity work and stuff? What do you stand for?” they ask.

The answer is simple:

I am an economic conservative believing in small government, minimal state intervention in economic affairs and the need for individual responsibility; at the same time, I am a social liberal who believes in individual freedom and minimal state interference into people’s private lives.

Contradiction? I don’t think so – politics is more sophisticated than ever, and I’d summarise my position as follows:

“I believe that people should be free to enjoy their private lives as they see fit, as long as other people do not have to pay for it – financially, or at the expense of their own freedoms.”

I hope that clears things up for those who are confused!



Labour’s plan to close libraries in Enfield is dangerous and disgraceful

As I predicted, the Labour administration in Enfield has chosen to close three libraries, targeting some of the poorest parts of the borough.

Libraries are an absolutely essential service, but we knew that there were likely to be problems when Cllr Stafford, (Cabinet Member for Finance) announced at an Area Forum that he believed that there were too many libraries in Enfield.

Many families, especially those on lower incomes, rely on the services in libraries to provide essential access to books and to the Internet for their children to help them with their studies and general education. Closing these libraries will hit those families hard, forcing them to purchase books or – even worse – be forced to neglect their children’s education.

Under the previous Labour Government, educational standards declined rapidly in this country, and this Labour Council’s decision to close the Bullsmoor, Enfield Highway and Ordnance Road libraries reflects the utter contempt that they have for maintaining educational standards.

Libraries are a very important part of a young person’s development; I would never have made it to Cambridge University and built successful career without the access to books that enabled me to learn effectively and without great expense to my parents – I feel passionately that these libraries must stay open, and I will fight these closures through every possible avenue.

The people of Enfield Lock really need to ask themselves why their local councillors, like Cllr Ozzie Uzoanya, promised to deliver them improved services and investment in the east of the borough, but are clearly lacking when it comes to real action.

Will he and his fellow local Labour councillors stand with the people of Enfield Lock in fighting  these ill-judged cuts, or will he tow the Labour party line and remain silent yet again?

The people of Enfield Lock must be regretting their decision to vote Labour; I’m sure that they will not make the same mistake at the next election.

Should we really be involved in the conflict in Libya?

Let me preface this by saying that I am incredibly proud of our Armed Forces, and came very close to joining the Army myself after university. I think that to serve in the military is one of the noblest professions, and I think that there is no greater act of love than to put one’s life at risk to protect others.

The difficulty I have with the conflict in Libya is not based on some principle about warfare, because I’m far from being a pacifist, but it is based on my political and moral concerns about using military intervention in a situation that should not be our primary concern.

Whatever the flaws and disadvantages of Colonel Gaddafi and his regime, Libya is a sovereign state. The people of Libya have the right to self-determination, just in the same way that the people of the various European countries did during the turmoil of the Middle Ages.

Britain, France and Germany all suffered from internal fractures and divisions that led to many wars and battles, but which ultimately led to the creation of strong, independent, successful nations.

In Libya, the international community have decided that the Gaddafi’s regime is ‘bad’ and that any opposition to it must be good; this is a dangerous decision.

There is no doubt that he has been responsible for many serious criminal and unforgiveable acts (not least of which is his involvement in the Lockerbie atrocity), but that doesn’t automatically give us the right to remove him.

There are a series of other factors that must be considered when deciding the merits of our involvement:

The reality is, Britain cannot afford to be involved in yet another war. The Government is announcing cuts to the Armed Forces at the same time as engaging in another unnecessary war that will have few benefits for the British people.

We are not credibly protecting our interests, but we are potentially creating more enemies of this state which will increase our burden of security and protection here and overseas.

There are many much more pressing matters that our Government should be focusing our resources on.

Legality & Effectiveness
The UN resolution 1973 (2011) specifically states that UN Security Council Member States may enforce a no-fly zone to protect Libyan civilians, but excludes the possibility of an occupation force.

My interpretation of this is that the Allies may prevent the Libyan Air Force from flying and using missiles, but not that we can take out tanks, columns of soldiers or otherwise intervene.

It is clear that already we have gone beyond the provisions of this resolution. Why?

Moving away from the legality of our actions, there is a need to question the effectiveness; what good is the enforcement of a No-Fly Zone when a civil war is taking place below?

The UN resolutions needs to be amended, or it should be considered ineffective in this situation.

Long Term Implications
Yet again, our Government believes that it will be possible to have a ‘short war’ in which we deliver some ordinance, achieve the military objectives and secure our political objectives. That isn’t going to happen.

The danger here is that we will be drawn into a long conflict that will descend into civil war, and out of which there is no easy exit for us.

There is no alternative leader waiting in the wings, there is no credible alternative force, so what exactly do we think will happen when Gaddafi finally goes?

Who are we letting in?
There is no doubt that Gaddafi reigns over one of the world’s most repressive regimes, and that he has fostered terrorism – some of which has been borne out on the streets of London.

However, can we be certain that his opposition will be any better if we help them to seize power?

We have no real knowledge of who they are, what their politics will be and whether or not they will have the ability to manage the country effectively and prevent it from becoming a harbour for terrorists once more.

This is a significant risk; we may be trading the stable rule of an evil dictator for the unstable in-fighting that could see Al Qaeda getting a foothold in a strategically-important country with huge natural resources.

All of this leads to one question; do we really know what we are getting into, and are we making the right decision?

My fear is that we are not; my head tells me that we shouldn’t be in Libya, even if my heart wants to see Gaddafi gone.

Colonel Bob Stewart MP speaking in Enfield!

One of my favourite public speakers – Colonel Bob Stewart DSO MP – is coming to Enfield to speak at the annual Chase Ward dinner on April 12 and the excitement is building!

Col. Bob is now the MP for Beckenham, but is best known for his role in Bosnia as the first British Commander of Nato forces, earning him the name ‘Bosnia Bob’.

It was my great pleasure to have completed my Parliamentary Assessment Board alongside Col. Bob and he was great entertainment, but also impressed with his knowledge, strength of character and great sense of humour.

As Chairman of Chase Ward Conservatives, I cannot wait to welcome him to Enfield for our annual dinner on April 12 – if you’d like to come along, email us at for a ticket – there are just a few left!

A dodgy budget from a dodgy administration!

It’s hard to believe, but the Labour Administration in Enfield last night voted down a proposal from the Conservatives to commit to freezing Enfield’s Council Tax for another year; they should be ashamed.

Before the Election in May 2010, councillors like Ozzie Uzoanya made promises about how they would take care of the people in the East of the borough, but it is clear from their actions that they simply do not care about the hard-working people of Enfield.

Ozzie saw fit to vote down an amendment that would have given residents certainty over their household finances, but was only too happy to vote for an additional £2000 to produce leaflets for him and his colleagues. Shame.

He was so vocal before the Election, but silent now – has he been muzzled by his colleagues? Is he just making up the numbers?

The budget presented by Labour last night is a dodgy budget produced by a dodgy administration!