AN OPEN LETTER TO GREG HANDS, MP.
10 August 2018
Dear Mr Hands,
We represent over 600 members and signed up supporters across Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham. Half of these are voters in your Chelsea & Fulham constituency.
We read with dismay your articles in the Telegraph (28 July) and the Times (30 July). Your criticism of the Electoral Commission is an inappropriate exhortation to turn a blind eye to illegality. Your request to ‘move on’ is a betrayal of your constituents’ trust and of the country. You do the people of Chelsea & Fulham a grave disservice by writing in such a way as our MP.
Considering the assertions made in your articles in turn.
Putting the Leave campaign “in the dock”
The Electoral Commission is an independent body established by statute to ensure the fair conduct of election and referendum campaigns. The Commission has found evidence of illegality, over-spending and collusion between notionally independent campaigns. Fines have been levied and matters referred to the police. Furthermore, the Commission found that Vote Leave deliberately tried to obstruct their investigation. These are serious findings. We cannot turn a blind eye to such wrongdoing and nor can the country unite as you would wish us to if 48% of the country (70% in the case of your constituents) have reason to believe that the narrow result was secured by illegal means.
Our “precious democracy” as you put it is indeed imperilled when illegality is allowed to stand. You misrepresent the Commission’s findings when you say they gave permission to allow the interlocking and spreading of funding between Vote Leave, Be Leave and Veterans. This is precisely why the Commission has censured all three and referred matters to the police. Wrongdoing has been proven. Illegality should be referred to the police. What possible reason can there be for not doing so?
The referendum result would be repeated
The recent SkyNews poll has 78% thinking the Government is doing badly on Brexit. 50% would support a further public vote (40% against). 48% would vote to Remain, with 27% preferring to leave the EU with no deal, and 13% choosing the government deal. As public opinion shifts, is it little wonder that you and others do not want to honour democracy and allow the people a final say on the deal? Whilst many admire your principled stance on Heathrow, on Brexit you appear to be adopting the Brexit ideologues’ strategy of trying to push things forward before the public mood hardens yet further. Yet your party’s Government cannot yet tell us what Brexit will mean and what impact it will have.
Your dismissal of former Vote Leave staffers who have come forward to aid investigations is totally unbecoming for an MP. Whistleblowing is a well-established and essential means for uncovering wrongdoing. Whistle-blowers should be applauded not castigated. In the case of one young man, a Downing Street briefing ‘outed’ him as homosexual against his wishes in an attempt to silence him.
It seems to us that it is vested interests in certain sections of the Conservative Party that wish to cover up wrongdoing and push the country into a disastrous future. You cast aspersions on who is funding the whistle-blowers legal fees when your own MPs are quite openly crowdfunding the fines of Darren Grimes. Three Tory MPs have had their actions referred to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.
We should move on quickly and not allow “interminable investigations”
Why the hurry? Could it be that far from the promised benefits of Brexit, you fear that public opinion will turn even more decisively as yet more bad deeds and news of No Deal disaster planning comes to light? Given Brexit will affect our country for generations to come, why the haste to move on? If there is nothing to hide, let the sunshine in.
Some of us campaigned with you for Stronger In; some voted for you in the 2015 and 2017 general elections. We are deeply upset at these articles and wish to say very clearly that your views are not representative of the views of your constituents. We regularly ask your constituents’ opinions at our street stalls and it is clear that you do not speak for the majority of the people of Chelsea & Fulham.
We ask, Mr Hands, that you consult with your constituents during the Brexit process, that you listen to their views and engage in a conversation with them, helping us to find a resolution in the best interests of our country.
The Executive Committee,
European Movement, Hammersmith, Kensington, Chelsea & Fulham branch.