We don’t believe you – how Brexit is the front line for people to demand change from their political parties

I will be giving a talk at the IEA to develop some of the themes of my latest book “We don’t believe you” and to put the analysis into a topical context.

The event will be at 6.15pm on June 11th at the IEA, by ticket through them here: https://iea.org.uk/events/in-conversation-with-sir-john-redwood/. They are at 2 Lord North Street SW1.

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  1. Newmania
    Posted May 29, 2019 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    One thing that I did think was of interest was that Nigel Farrage was going to offer PR or a version of it
    I think a lot of people who hate Brexit might hate it as lot less if it came with a proper reform of the constitution for which so much has been sacrificed. The two Party closed shop is manifestly unfair remote and self serving
    We did not need to impoverish and weaken ourselves to do this but if the stale old system was entirely swept away in the change who would mourn it

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted May 29, 2019 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

      Yeah but we had a referendum on PR and it was massively defeated. Bad move by Farage to ignore that.

      • Julie Dyson
        Posted May 29, 2019 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

        Sorry, Roy, but we didn’t actually have a referendum on Proportional Representation, we had a referendum choice between FPTP or AV (Alternative Vote). There is a significant difference between AV and proper PR.

        AV is probably the best way to elect a single person, like a president or mayor, but it’s a flawed way to elect a parliament as it isn’t actually proportional. Since most people couldn’t see much difference between FPTP or AV for electing our MPs, the whole idea was — correctly in my opinion — soundly rejected.

        The mistake made was in not offering us a choice of a proper PR system. It’s worth looking over the pros and cons of each:


      • Peter Parsons
        Posted May 29, 2019 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

        No we didn’t. We’ve never had a referendum on PR.

        We did have a referendum on AV, but AV is not a form of PR.

      • rose
        Posted May 29, 2019 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

        If Farage weren’t so emotionally involved he would be able to work out that FPTP is essential if you want to get the government out. With the continental systems you think you have thrown them out and then you wake up the next morning to find them still there, under a different arrangement.

        • Julie Dyson
          Posted May 30, 2019 at 7:05 am | Permalink

          To be fair, Rose, the flaws of the other side of the coin (FTTP) was best demonstrated in the 2015 GE, where UKIP managed going on 4 million votes. Almost one in eight voters in this country ended up being ‘represented’ (and I use that word loosely) in Parliament by just a single MP out of 650.

          Similarly, I was a Conservative supporter for well over a decade, voted religiously, but lived in a Labour ‘safe seat’ and so my opinion counted as less than nothing. I switched to UKIP in 2009/10 in protest over the Lisbon Treaty (in which I also got no say, incidentally) so you can well imagine my frustration in 2015.

          Now we have the Brexit farce, in which I voted Leave and was actually on the winning side for a change… Ho hum.

          Hopefully you can see why I, and millions like me, have no faith in FPTP and honestly, sometimes have trouble even believing that we live in a free and fair democracy.

          I just want everybody’s vote to actually, and always, count. Is that really asking too much?

          • rose
            Posted May 31, 2019 at 9:04 am | Permalink

            I have always understood the 4 million argument.

            But I also heed the warnings of people who suffer under PR – the corruption, the stitchups, the unaccountability, the pointlessness of manifestos, and as I have said the impossibility of getting rid of the rogues at elections. They all say to me, don’t ever part with FPTP because you will never get it back. The cleanness of the result, the incorruptibility of it. Of course that has been discredited now with the official contempt for the ultimate FPTP election, the Referendum of 2016. But is it a wise excuse for making things worse?

    • Edward2
      Posted May 29, 2019 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      It is up to the voters.
      It is not a closed shop.
      If more voted for parties other than the two major parties then things would change.
      It is not compulsory to vote Labour or Conservative.
      Presumably the voters are content to vote the way they do.

      • Newmania
        Posted May 30, 2019 at 4:35 am | Permalink

        Then why the second they are given a chance do they vote for other parties ?

        • Edward2
          Posted May 30, 2019 at 5:37 am | Permalink

          I’m puzzled by your comment.
          They have had a choice in every single election.

          • Peter Parsons
            Posted May 30, 2019 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

            Look at the vote share in last week’s votes compared to the 2017 general election.

            Under PR, including List PR, there’s no such thing as a safe seat and no such thing as a wasted vote, both of which exist under FPTP.

            When every vote counts equally, people can, and do, vote differently (and vote at all – studies show that average turnout in equivalent level elections, e.g. general elections, is about 8% higher when PR is used compared to unrepresentative systems such as FPTP).

            No vote should automatically be considered a waste. No system which permits that to happen has the right to call itself a true democracy.

          • Edward2
            Posted May 30, 2019 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

            Do votes always count under PR?
            Say I vote for my favourite party because I love their policy on abolishing student loans.
            The person I voted for gets elected in my area.
            She is in the party with the largest numbers of MPs but to create a working government they have to form a coalition.
            Which is normal under PR systems.
            The party in order to secure the support they need drop their policy of abolishing student loans.
            I now feel my vote was totally wasted.

    • libertarian
      Posted May 29, 2019 at 4:35 pm | Permalink


      At last a sensible post . This is exactly what I expect to happen once we have left the EU . We need to completely overhaul every facet of our so called democracy , starting at the top with leaving the EU, then closing the money for titles House of Lords , then an overhaul of our constituency based system. Personally I’d also like a direct vote for the office of PM

      • Alan Jutson
        Posted May 30, 2019 at 6:26 am | Permalink


        I am also coming around to the idea of the electorate choosing the PM, too many duff ones chosen by Mp’s of late.

    • Anonymous
      Posted May 29, 2019 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      Newmania – The two party closed shop has failed simply for the fact that the Tories aren’t really Tories, they are Liberals.

      I haven’t shifted my political position yet I am now considered to be an extremist.

      To be able to drive a car one needs to be able to steer both left AND right but the Tories have taken away the option for a corrective *right* once in a while.

      Please desist from the claim that Farage is in charge of the Tories. Clearly he isn’t. He’s just wiped the Tories out.

    • Original Richard
      Posted May 29, 2019 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

      I think it’s a great shame that we did not vote for AV when we had the chance.

      It combines proportional representation with the benefits (in my opinion) of a single MP representing a specific constituency (as in FPTP).

      It enables voters to vote for whom they really want, so that their real preference is recorded, followed by voting if necessary for the least worst option (as in FPTP in many cases).

      The winning candidate has always over 50% of the votes cast, far more democratic than the FPTP system.

      It also stops the ridiculous scenario where a constituency does not get the representation they want through vote splitting.

    • BR
      Posted May 29, 2019 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

      PR leads to the same people being in government for years. The voters choose how many from each party, parties choose who gets their places.

      In the d’Hondt system we use in the EU elections it doesn’t have to be that way, the D’Hondt PR system could decide the numbers, but the voters decide who.

      This is the weakness of nearly all PR systems in use. It also leads to coalitions which means compromise and horse-trading policies, meaning there is even less joined-up thinking than in our system (having a minister for each area of society is less than ideal).

      Of course, the EU is much more flawed since their parliament cannot even propose laws, only vote on those that are passed down to them by the Commission. And with an overarching Council (of the national leaders) this is probably about the worst from of ‘democracy’ ever.

      When I drove through Belgium a few years ago to go skiing, I commented on how all their motorways had street lights on every inch. The reply was that the Transport Ministers brother has a lighting company. And he’d been in power for decades, since in PR, he would never be voted out unless their party dipped below about 10% of the vote.

      Be careful what you wish for. The biggest problem with FPTP is the way voters vote from fear, not the system itself. But once you dip below a certain level, that protection becomes your destruction – if the EU vote were repeated in a GE, the Tories would have zero seats and the BXT party a majority. It just takes voters to have the courage to cast their own vote for what they want rather than against what they fear.

  2. Dominic
    Posted May 29, 2019 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    It’s not just political parties Brexit is up against but an entire political, administrative, business and financial establishment. Moreover, there are also international forces at work determined to crush the rise of a form of politics that elevates nationhood, sovereignty and democracy above all else.

    When you have one of the main political parties in the US sending over their representatives to the UK, Ireland and Europe to warn the UK not to assert its sovereign rights then you know you’re up against it

    The decision to embrace British sovereignty is a decision for the British people not a decision for fools like Pelosi and Merkel

    ‘Elect’ a Euro-basher as PM and dare other nations to challenge our sovereign right to nationhood

    • Steve
      Posted May 29, 2019 at 8:56 pm | Permalink


      “Elect’ a Euro-basher as PM”

      They couldn’t even if they wanted to, there is no basher amongst them. Hardly surprising since they’re all liberals.

      Boris might have suited the role, but a pathetic remain hypocrite has scuppered his chances now.

    • Fred H
      Posted May 30, 2019 at 8:29 am | Permalink

      Dominic…..most I am happy with, BUT Merkel has never been a fool. It all depends on what her/your objective is.

  3. Dougal Hamer
    Posted May 29, 2019 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    “We don’t believe you”! – Nice title! Given Mr Malthouse’s comments today, it could equally be applied to the view taken by every single other Tory MP to your attitude to no deal Brexit.

    • L Jones
      Posted May 30, 2019 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      No. Not ”every single other Tory MP”. Perhaps you should do some research, Mr Hamer. Not all information is on Facebook.

  4. The Nettle
    Posted May 29, 2019 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    It’s difficult to understand why Remainers don’t just let Brexit happen and profit on their alleged doom by saying ” We told you so”. Wouldn’t this wipe out their “Extreme right-wing fascists and Nazis?” They could build their communes of Green and Red Organic allotments for a century without opposition. They are no good at their job as nits.

    • libertarian
      Posted May 29, 2019 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      The Nettle

      Exactly , the reason they won’t is because they dont expect it to fail really . They are remainers because they want to virtue signal, use cheap labour or rent seek not because they think the EU does anything useful

    • Anonymous
      Posted May 29, 2019 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      Where the British public rejected outright (yet again) a BNP like party it goes unacknowledged.

      How reunifying for the country a BBC/Sky analysis of that would have been. No. Instead they busied themselves concocting figures that turned the truth on its head – that Brexit had won yet again.

      Barely a week before did the “burning injustices” Tory PM make a speech in which she hinted to minorities that they lived in Alabam/Sth Africa circa 1950.

      In the meantime countries in the EZ are producing a very real and disturbing right wing push.

      • Anonymous
        Posted May 29, 2019 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

        Should read: a denial that Brexit had won yet again.

      • Steve
        Posted May 29, 2019 at 7:09 pm | Permalink


        “In the meantime countries in the EZ are producing a very real and disturbing right wing push.”

        It’s history repeating itself, is what it is. And it’ll serve the establishment right when it kicks off. Their own stupid fault.

        For example; censoring English people who draw attention to the fact that Celtic regions of the UK get free prescriptions at the expense of the English tax payer, while the English are made to pay for their own as well. eh, JR ?

        And they wonder why people go right wing.

    • Ken Fordyce
      Posted May 30, 2019 at 4:07 am | Permalink

      Two reasons. One, we care for our country. Two, we know you Leavers will never be honest enough to accept responsibility, you will blame everyone but yourself for the massive harm Brexit is already doing

      • L Jones
        Posted May 30, 2019 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

        I wonder what information you’re reading about ”the massive harm Brexit is already doing”. Perhaps you could tell us so we can all read it. Or give us a few bullet points so we get your drift.

        (PS By the way, it may have escaped your notice, but Brexit hasn’t happened YET. When it does, things will be even better. But we won’t expect your acknowledgement of that.)

        (PPS Remainer – never a comment without an trite insult.)

        • rose
          Posted May 31, 2019 at 9:08 am | Permalink

          The massive harm is that done by the saboteurs of Brexit – to our credibility as an honest, democratic, law abiding country, to our credibility as a respected power, to our credibility as a negotiator. People are waiting to invest in Brexit Britain but holding off because of the saboteurs.

  5. What Tiler
    Posted May 29, 2019 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    From the apparent lack of ability to actually listen to what they have been repeatedly told, it would seem that the parties’ changing will be involuntary, and most likely that change will be to being ex-parties.

  6. Denis Cooper
    Posted May 29, 2019 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    JR, do you think there would be any chance of suing George Osborne for abuse of public office, in respect of the lies he told about the economic catastrophe which would instantly befall us if we as much as voted to leave the EU? I’d like to see him behind bars.

    • Iain Moore
      Posted May 29, 2019 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      He’s a Remainer, so there would be no chance, the Courts would not permit it , just as they didn’t permit Stuart Wheeler’s case against the Labour Government for not honouring their manifesto promise to hold a referendum on Lisbon, which for many was an out and out lie. But may be its my Brexiteer sense persecution that sees the EUphile’s corruption of Parliament, the Speaker, the Electoral Commission, the BBC, and now the Courts.

      • rose
        Posted May 29, 2019 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

        It isn’t just you. This country feels a bit Latin to me, now that the Left can pursue their political vendettas through the courts. The right wouldn’t do it, so we will never know if we would be allowed to get back at them the same way.

        The test of fairness will be the Tilbrook case.

        • Iain Moore
          Posted May 30, 2019 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

          Indeed, a court case the MSM is not reporting, in addition I gather Nick Clegg has shut down Robin Tillbrook’s Facebook , so we won’t get any information there, and…..nothing, not a whimper of protest from MPs.

          If you are anything but a left winger free speech is dead, and the Conservatives have gone along with it.

          PS I was amused to see BBC’s Newsnight trying to cry foul that the Brexit Party has circumvented them by using social media to organise events, and when they approached a BP rally in Wales they were told ‘BBC you are not welcome here’. Not surprising too, for one week after the EU elections when it is clear nothing much has changed since the referendum, the BBC is hosting Question time with what looks like 4 Remainers to 1 Brexiteer.

    • Fred H
      Posted May 29, 2019 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      Denis, Osborne’s so called expert dire warnings over almost everything he ever said should be subject to legal examination. The prediction of 0.5m jobs would be lost, the economic crash, the £ almost worthless, the country shunted into a siding while the EU high-speed train rushed away from us – all turned out to be so much b*llocks. It caused so much anxiety, investment reduction, production restrictions, belt-ightening – a prophet of doom like no other before him.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 29, 2019 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      Or Osborne’s £1 million IHT threshold promise, or Blair’s war on a lie, or Mays we are repaying government debt or ‘Brexit mean Brexit’, or we are leaving the EU in March or ‘Cameron’s Cast Iron Treaty Referendum promise’ or his claim that he was a low tax Eurosceptic Conservative at heart, or that he would serve the section 50 notice the day after the referendum …, or millions and millions of others lies from politicians. Almost everything Corbyn, Mc Donnall and Labour say in fact. Nearly everything said by politicians about climate change is wrong.

    • margaret howard
      Posted May 29, 2019 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      We haven’t left yet!

      • Anonymous
        Posted May 29, 2019 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

        You didn’t read DC’s comment obviously.

      • Steve
        Posted May 29, 2019 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

        Don’t worry missus, we won’t be leaving.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted May 29, 2019 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

        As I said, “… the lies he told about the economic catastrophe which would instantly befall us if we as much as voted to leave the EU …”

        • Newmania
          Posted May 30, 2019 at 4:43 am | Permalink

          Sigh..it was not catastrophe it was a recession and the recession to which every indicator pointed was averted by Mark Carney cancelling the long trailed 2% interest rate rise and George Osborne`s spending plans being abandoned in favour of throwing cash around
          That , was the opinion of the governor of the Bank of England , but you know best.
          The problem is that having played those cards there is little left to cope with the much more serious post Brexit recession and nothing to assist with the long term lower growth isolation will bring us

          Now you may say that ethnic purity and the alteration in our constitutional arrangements was worth this cost but that choice was never made clear

          Why do you think Redwood is so desperate to throw a load more of our children`s money at his political white elephant now, do you really think he is so economically illiterate as to hold the crank views he professes to hold ?

          Reply Brexit will not cause a recession. There is a world slowdown underway and UK policy is too tight

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted May 30, 2019 at 10:04 am | Permalink

            Whatever you say, Newmania, it was a brazen lie and clearly its author should be banged up for gross abuse of his public office, so perhaps he could share a cell with Boris Johnson.

          • L Jones
            Posted May 30, 2019 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

            And there we have it – scratch a remainer and you will find an discourteous boor.
            Someone who thinks he/she’s being clever and eloquent – who then suddenly throws in the abusive remark that negates everything he/she has tried to say.
            Nothing new there, then.

    • Anonymous
      Posted May 29, 2019 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

      Unlike Remainers we are democrats and don’t believe in locking up those with whom we have disagreements.

      • Steve
        Posted May 29, 2019 at 7:25 pm | Permalink


        “Unlike Remainers we are democrats”

        I’m not a democrat, and I voted leave. Democracy is dead mate.

    • Fred H
      Posted May 30, 2019 at 8:31 am | Permalink

      crowdfund it?

  7. Roy Grainger
    Posted May 29, 2019 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Maybe we should stop believing politicians entirely and move to Andy’s idea of evidence-based policy making based on what experts say. In his case the experts are some poor 16-year-old schoolgirl with no scientific training at all advising on climate change, and Bristol Council who are experts on public disorder resulting from Brexit despite their woeful inability to control the illegal drug use which has caused more deaths than Brexit ever will in their city.

    • Steve
      Posted May 29, 2019 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

      Roy Grainger

      “Maybe we should stop believing politicians entirely”

      I knew of a couple whom I felt could be believed, but now I don’t consider there to be a single MP in the UK who can be believed, not one. They’re all the same when it comes down to it, politically correct bunch of spineless wets.

      Oxygen thieves the lot of ’em.

  8. Gary
    Posted May 29, 2019 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    Nigel evans say’s the public is incredibly discerning so the state should keep out of politics..yeah..look around.. tell it to the marines

  9. oldwulf
    Posted May 29, 2019 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Is it intended that a video of your event will be available online ?

  10. DaveK
    Posted May 30, 2019 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Personally I will very rarely trust any politician that uses soundbites and over the top rhetoric instead of calm facts. I am severely disillusioned with the likes of the ERG, who should publish a full explanation of the WTO regulations situation including (as once revealed by a government representative on a BBC political show) the details of agreements we have already made (several hundred areas allegedly). The public deserve this information instead of catastrophe and cliff edge rubbish. I imagine in fact that there will be areas where losses and negative affects are present, however Leavers should discuss mitigation measures that could be carried out.

  11. Cortona
    Posted May 31, 2019 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Sir John, unusually I can attend this event and having read your big every day for years now would love to attend. However, having been in holiday I did not see this until now and it Ian sold out. I would be very grateful if anyone can arrange a means of me attending?
    Yours hopefully,

    Reply I will make enquiries

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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