Europe. Remain or Brexit



While hard Brexit fears haunt much of financial services, Tritax Big Box (BBOX) real estate investment trust has struck a more defiant note, saying divorce from Europe could support the already positive fundamentals of its business of providing large, modern warehouses to retailers.

‘Despite the uncertainties it brings, Brexit may provide a silver lining, since with increased border controls our customers will require more warehousing domestically, further supporting our business case,’ said chairman Richard Jewson.

Jewson’s comments came as the £2 billion trust’s annual results showed it continued to benefit from the growth in e-commerce and the intense demand this has spurred for distribution facilities close to cities and with good transport links.



Launch of Harpenden for Europe, campaigning for the people of Harpenden, Kimpton, Redbourn and Wheathampstead to have a final say on Brexit.

Harpenden for Europe, a newly-formed branch of the European Movement UK, formally launched at its first Branch meeting on 28th February 2018 at Bennet’s, the former Royal British Legion Club, in Harpenden.

Harpenden for Europe

The goal of Harpenden for Europe is very simple: to secure a final say for the British people on the terms of the Brexit deal negotiated by Theresa May and David Davis; and help build a future side by side with our European neighbours and partners.

Harpenden for Europe believes that, as the realities of Brexit become clear, the British people have the right to change their mind with a vote on the final deal. The group believes that vote should include the option to reject a bad deal and remain in the EU.

Harpenden for Europe has grown rapidly in the past two months and has already held two successful

Action Days in Harpenden High Street, on 27th January and 17th February. Both Action Days raised public awareness of the Branch, which is rapidly recruiting new members and activists. The group held its official launch meeting on 28th February, to set up as a branch of European Movement UK and to

elect its three key Officers:

  1. Chair – Richard Scott

  2. Secretary – Lucy Hinchliffe

• Treasurer – John Galvin

Commenting on the launch, Richard Scott, Chair of Harpenden for Europe, said:

“We must always remember that over 60% of people in Harpenden voted against Brexit. We are now offering the people some simple options to do something about it. We look forward to campaigning with the people of Harpenden to secure our country’s future.”

Harpenden for Europe is encouraging people to join its Facebook Group ("The 48% - Hitchin and Harpenden"), follow its Twitter account (@HarpendenEurope), encourage friends and family to join the

group and the European Movement.

James MacCleary, Campaigns Director, the European Movement UK, said:

The European Movement UK branch network is growing across the country and especially in Hertfordshire. We are delighted to see such strong grassroots support for our campaign. As well as established branches in St Albans and East Herts, a new branch for North Herts ‘North Herts for Europe’ has recently been set up covering Hitchin, Letchworth, Baldock and Royston.


Facebook: The 48% - Hitchin and Harpenden Twitter: @HarpendenEurope



Dear Editor

I must say that when the country voted to leave the EU on 23rd June 2016 it never occurred to me that nearly 2 years on we would still be discussing the serious possibility that we might not actually leave at all. How naive am I?

Make no mistake, the purpose of Harpenden For Europe has nothing to do with democracy. Their claim that all they want is to give the British people a final say on the Brexit deal is disingenuous. Their true objective is clear, to reverse the result and keep us in. The EU has form on this. How many times before have the people in other countries who delivered the "wrong" result been sent back to the ballot box until the "right" result is produced. Either that or the result is ignored as in Greece in 2015 or sidestepped, as in the renaming of the EU Constitution, which was rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005, as the Lisbon Treaty which didn't need a referendum for its incorporation. Are we in Britain going to show ourselves as being just as pliable?

A true democrat accepts the result of a referendum or an election whether they like it or not. That is the essence of democracy. Pity Teresa May. Not only is she having to negotiate with the EU, she's having to negotiate with her own cabinet, parliament and the Lords, all egged on by the likes of Blair, Major, Heseltine, Campbell, Mandelson, Clegg, etc. all of whom have had their time in power and should step back. After all, these people have been putting the argument for the EU for decades and they have failed to convince the majority. It's time to accept the result and get behind the government to help it get the best possible deal, not give succour to those in the EU who, despite protestations to the contrary, are trying to punish us pour encourager les autres. They clearly don't have any confidence in the popularity of their own institution.

And have these campaigners considered the ramifications if they succeeded? Ordinary voters who don't take such a close interest in politics as some of us do would be absolutely baffled and disillusioned. Thwarted by the political elites. Democracy in this country would be dealt a hammer blow which would take years to recover. We would be a laughing stock in Europe and around the world. Our position in the EU would be much diminished from where we were before June 2016. In future negotiations our voice would be disregarded. We would probably come under increased pressure to adopt the Euro, join Schengen and the EU army, and give up our seat at the UN. The arrogant, self-entitled, Barnier, Juncker, Verhofstadt and Tusk would reign supreme. The unelected EU bureaucrats would have asserted their authority and any hope of a truly democratic Europe would be lost forever. Please, don't try to take us down that route. Be a real democrat.


Yours faithfully


Paul Usher

01582 762079


March 11. Brexit: Older Leave voters nostalgic for 'white' Britain

Too many older people who voted for Brexit were "driven by nostalgia" for a world where "faces were white," Sir Vince Cable 9 (above ) has said.

The Lib Dem leader said the votes of the older generation had "crushed the hopes and aspirations of young people for years to come."

Speaking at his party's spring conference, he said the government's Brexit policy was a "fraud".

The Lib Dems are campaigning for a referendum on the final Brexit deal.

Sir Vince told an audience of Lib Dem activists in Southport: "I've myself been on a journey. I confess that my own initial reaction to the referendum was to think maybe there was little choice but to pursue Brexit.

"I thought, you know, the public had voted to be poorer - well, that was their right.

"What changed my mind was the evidence that Brexit had overwhelmingly been the choice of the older generation.

"75% of under 25s voted to remain. But 70% of over 65s voted for Brexit," he said.

Dear Editor, may I contribute to the debate?  I agree entirely with that which Paul Usher has written.  The issue has been  decided.  Whilst a significant percentage of people in Harpenden may have voted to remain a very great number in the surrounding villages and rural areas did not. Many people who have never voted in any election in their lives turned out to vote leave.  The reasons were not much to do with the economy, jobs, the value of the pound, financial standing etc (although many were alienated by “Project “Fear” which has in nearly all respects turned out to be unfounded with the referendum result often producing an entirely different one from that threatened).  What motivated many people was their instinct derived from knowing that we hardly make any of our own laws anymore. For about 1600 years (since the Romans left) England (and the predecessor kingdoms) and the other countries which now make up the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland made their own laws. Our laws on matters that affect us on a daily basis are now made by unelected foreigners. The EU Commission (we have a few well outnumbered unelected appointees) endorse laws drafted by EU bureaucrats which become binding on us.

The result is that laws relating to matters such as food safety, food information, data protection, consumer credit, VAT (except the rate), toys, cosmetics, advertising, consumer contract terms, package travel, working hours, sale of consumer goods  are laws in respect of which the people we elect to Westminster have no say on at all. EU Directives always say “Member States shall implement this Directive”. EU Regulations are directly binding on us without even having to be rubber-stamped through Parliamentary formalities.

The wars which are families and others before us fought so we could remain free and decide our own destiny would haver been in vain if we had decided to stay in the corrupt EU (it is 20 years since the EU Court of Auditors signed off the accounts – who would be in a golf club where the auditors would not sign off the accounts?).  The people made the right decision and we should all work to support the spirit of that vote and not against it.

Fred Philpott   

April 26

Pressure builds for a People’s Vote on Brexit via

Six polls conducted across the Hitchin and Harpenden and St Albans constituencies reveal overwhelming support for a People’s Vote on Brexit deal.

Over fifty local volunteers from the European Movement conducted the biggest North Hertfordshire Brexit street poll yet last weekend at locations in central Harpenden, Southdown, Hitchin, Redbourn, St Albans and Wheathampstead.

The poll was part of the People’s Vote National Day of Action that saw over 130 street stalls and events take place around the country.

Volunteers surveyed over 950 local residents, asking what they thought of the Brexit negotiations so far, whether they thought Brexit would be good for jobs and the NHS, and whether they wanted a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal.

The verdict from the public at these six locations was clear:

1. Less than 3% of those surveyed believe that Brexit is going well. In contrast, over 93% believe it is going badly.

2. Over 86% of respondents believe that Brexit will be bad for jobs.

3. Over 87% of respondents believe that Brexit will be bad for the NHS.

4. Crucially, when asked whether they wanted a vote on the final Brexit deal, over 79% replied yes. 

Richard Scott, chair of Harpenden for Europe, said of this weekend’s results,

“These polls show once again that a huge majority of local residents want a People’s Vote on the Brexit deal.

We’re talking to people from every walk of life and political persuasion, and the truth is people are worried. They increasingly fear Brexit’s impact on jobs and public services. They’re upset by the poor progress made by the Government in negotiations and the growing risk of no deal, which the Government has itself admitted will impact food and medical supplies, flights and other vital services.

Such an outcome was never on the table in 2016, so it’s unsurprising that people all around the country want a final say.

We call on our local MPs, Bim Afolami and Anne Main, to start listening to the clearly expressed wishes and interests of their constituents and to support a People’s Vote, with the option to Remain in the EU.”

The next milestone for the People’s Vote campaign is the March for the Future in London on 20th October. The organisers are expecting campaigners from across the UK to demand a say on the Brexit Deal. Large contingents are already confirmed from Hitchin and Harpenden and St Albans. Those interested in joining the march can find more details on the People’s Vote website

Harpenden marches on London for a People’s Vote on Brexit

Over 250 Harpenden residents travelled together to the People’s March in London on the 20th October. Encouraged by the wonderful autumn weather, they were campaigning with Harpenden for Europe for a People’s Vote on the final Brexit Deal. They joined 700,000 campaigners from all over the country in one of the largest demonstrations ever seen in the U.K.

The turnout from Harpenden exceeded the highest expectations of the local organisers, who were predicting perhaps 75 marchers to join them from Harpenden. There was a carnival atmosphere on Platform 1 at Harpenden Station, as the marchers assembled with placards and banners declaring their support for the People’s Vote campaign.

The marchers came from all age groups, with the youngest being 2 years old. Mark Pattison who came with his children Elliot (6), Louise (9) said “My family joined the People's Vote march today because we passionately believe that Brexit is a huge mistake.“

Philip Gaskell, Harpenden for Europe March Organiser said:

“We have been amazed by the incredible turn-out from Harpenden for a Final Say on Brexit.  The number of marchers from Harpenden has increased ten-fold since the June march.  Local residents tell us they think Brexit is an utter disaster, they are angry at being let down by politicians, and they are terrified of the consequences that a No Deal Brexit would bring for the economy and their children. The massive turn-out speaks volumes for the depth of feeling that exists on this issue. Our MP Bim Afolami needs to wake up and listen to the Pro-Remain majority of his constituents and start to properly represent their views in Parliament.”

Oct 23.

The only people who want a 2nd vote are the people who don't like the result of the first. Hypocritical, undemocratic, sore losers.

Paul Usher

Click on the pdf’s below to read why Remainers Jenni Russel and  William Hague think a second referendum is not a solution.



On Friday 4th January, four members of the Harpenden for Europe team met with local MP Bim Afolami.

He started the conversation with his expectation that the Withdrawal Agreement will fail the Meaningful Vote. He believes that discussions will have taken place over the Christmas holidays between the Government and the EU regarding the backstop, and that other MPs are likely to have softened their views on the Withdrawal Agreement over the break and that views will become even more flexible as the Brexit deadline nears. However, despite these developments, the Withdrawal Agreement will still fail to secure a majority in the House of Commons.

He is confident that the "No Deal" camp is too small in Parliament and won’t hold sway, assured by the fact that Liam Fox and Michael Gove have come out publicly against No Deal.

As previously reported in these Bulletins, his "Plan B" is to append the "Norway+" (EEA / EFTA) option to the Withdrawal Agreement, in the belief that this would provide the certainty that is lacking in the current Political Declaration. Bim's belief is that this would negate the need for the Irish Backstop as the ‘+’ in "'Norway+" would involve the UK remaining in the Customs Union with the EU. Bim's view is that a deal based on "Norway+" could be negotiated ‘overnight’ as it has been drafted already by a cross-party group of MPs led by Nick Boles (CON) and Stephen Kinnock (LAB). Bim is confident that this deal would gain support among MPs and says the ‘majority’ of the Cabinet support it, including Amber Rudd.

Bim's vision is that the UK would form part of an outer tier of the EU. His view is that trade deals aren’t that important, for example we manage to trade with the US without one, and that they vary in importance depending on the amount of trade between each nation.

Bim went on to explain that, should the attempt to get Norway+ through Parliament fail, then other options will open up, including that of a People’s Vote. Bim is not happy about this prospect but acknowledges that it remains a possibility.

His concerns regarding the People's Vote centre on its "divisiveness" and the lack of support from MPs across all parties who are in Leave constituencies. He says Scottish MPs (and those interested in Scotland) will also resist a second EU referendum as it would strengthen the calls for a second Scottish referendum. However, his view is that supporting the Withdrawal Agreement and leaving the EU wouldn’t strengthen the case for Scotland to leave the Union Kingdom as theywould have to re-join the EU which would be difficult.

He appeared to agree with an argument that a "silent majority" of non-extremist Leavers exist, who may have changed their mind re Brexit. At this point in the discussion he was more supportive to the idea of a People's Vote.

If the Withdrawal Agreement fails, he seemed to think that Theresa May wouldn’t last long and that the Conservatives would select a Caretaker Prime Minister. The likely candidate would be a senior Conservative with no intention of standing for Leader in the future and who would agree to implement whatever MPs supported (eg. Norway or a People's Vote). Bim mentioned David Lidington, the current Minister for the Cabinet Office, widely considered to be Theresa May's deputy, as a contender. 

He seemed confident that a solution will be reached by mid February, unless a General Election is called.

Bim also shared an interesting fact regarding his Brexit mailbag: the proportion of correspondence about Brexit is 2:1 for People's Vote vs No Deal. He spoke to the local Conservative party constituency in December and described them as split 50:50 between support for the Withdrawal Agreement and No Deal (broadly following their initial identity as Remain vs Leave voters).

Bim is keen for his constituents to witness some of the debates over the coming days and invited us to contact his office if we would like him to arrange seats in the public gallery.


We are grateful to Bim for the opportunity to meet with him directly, and especially so soon after the Christmas holidays. We would also like to thank Bim for the candour and perspective he shared with our team.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that the Government has tested our Constitutional norms to their absolute limit in the past few months, most notably by being the first British Government in moden history to be held in contempt of Parliament, and the shameless and cowardly deferral of the Meaningful Vote from December to January. Theresa May is clearly "running down the clock" in an authoritarian and undemocratic attempt to force the Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament.

However, even in light of this unprecedented and widely condemned behaviour by the Government, Bim clings to the increasingly bizarre notion that a People's Vote would be "divisive and damage public confidence in politics". Only if you've been asleep for the past two years perhaps ...

As our campaigning and local polling shows (see below article), Bim's constituents continue in their overwhelming support for the People's Vote. Our Brexitometer polling this weekend of 74% (Hitchin) - 81% (Harpenden) in support of Remaining in the EU, is consistent with Bim's own mailbag showing 66% in support for the People's Vote. And yet, he persists in supporting the doomed Withdrawal Agreement, with Norway as his "Plan B". The question remains: Why?

The challenge of course with Norway is that it satsifies neither Leavers nor Remainers. The UK would still be subject to EU laws and regulations. Norway fails to meet Leaver demands regarding Sovereignty and Immigration Control. Remainers will ask simply "what's the point?" Norway leaves us subject us to most if not all of EU regulation, only now we have no MEPs, no seats on the European Council and no veto. We trade down from our current "Gold Card" full EU member status for "Bronze Card" EEA/EFTA status.

However, on a more positive note, Bim's suggestion for his constituents to attend the upcoming House of Commons debates on the Withdrawal Agreement is excellent, and one that we endorse without reservation. If you are interested in attending these debates, please let us know and we can either organise a group or put you in touch with other local residents who are also planning to view the debates. As ever, you can contact us at or

Harpenden Action Day: Saturday 5th January (BOTH PHOTOS ABOVE)

In parallel with the Hitchin Action Day, our volunteers were also out in force in Harpenden High Street on Saturday.

The weather was a little milder in Harpenden and we managed to keep our team deployed well past lunchtime. We had sufficient volunteers to cover the library concourse, Sainsbury's, Waitrose and Rothamsted Park simultaneously.

147 people completed our Brexitometer with 81% support for Remain, 8.8% No Deal, 5.4% Don't Know and 4.8% supporting Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement.

Thank you to everyone who was involved in preparing for and taking part in Saturday's Action Day.




Jan 28. Harpenden and Southdown

The Harpenden for Europe team were once again out on Harpenden and Southdown High Streets on Saturday, with 15 local activists engaging with the public, listening to their concerns on Brexit, and sharing our latest information leaflets.

The team secured a large number of additional signups to the Harpenden for Europe membership. In addition, 241 people took part in their Brexitometers with 79% supporting a People’s Vote, 12% No Deal, 7% May’s Deal and (mirroring their neighbours in Hitchin) a mere 1% in support for Norway. 

There was some very interesting comments from the Harpenden public on Saturday:

- several Civil Servants told us they felt under pressure not to visibly support pro-Remain pressure groups such as the People’s Vote and the European Movement;

- many people are unhappy with the performance of our local MP Bim Afolami. We received many comments that he was putting his own interests above those of his constituents. Some suggested we should start polling on local satisfaction with Bim ... this is an interesting idea;

- one Leaver told us we (Harpenden for Europe) were on a power trip so we could stay in the EU and control the smaller European countries ... we are flattered at the suggestion.

Harpenden MP in the FT.

On Tuesday Jan 22 he published an article in the Financial Times, co-authored with Seema Malhotra, the Labour MP for Feltham and Heston. The article (paywall but also published on Bim’s Facebook page) was a critique of an earlier article by former EU Commissioner and Conservative Cabinet Minister Lord Hill, regarding the impact of an EEA-style Brexit agreement, such as Common Market 2.0, on the City of London.

Regular readers of this newsletter will know that Bim has aligned himself with Nick Boles MP and Stephen Kinnock MP in their promotion of the “Norway” Option (now rebadged “Common Market 2.0”). Presumably Bim, with his experience as a senior executive at HSBC, volunteered to write this article to bolster the credentials of the Norway option in the Financial Services sector.