A momentary lapse

Now, I am not the sort of person that hurls toast and marmalade at the radio every time a politician trots onto the Today programme and proceeds to make a claim of dubious validity, however, yesterday morning (Wednesday 27 March), there was a momentary lapse in my usually calm demeanour.

I had just heard Jacob Rees-Mogg say that his signature has been added to the petition to revoke Article 50. How does he know this? Does somebody with access to the data, feed confidential information to members of parliament?

Another way to “know” that somebody had submitted a signature in the name of Jacob Rees-Mogg would be to arrange a false submission to discredit the petition deliberately. Who would do such a thing and who would then tell Jacob Rees-Mogg that it had been done?

Another way to discredit the 6 million signatures would be to say that the signatures have been manipulated by the Russians – again, a claim that I heard on Radio 4. How would a politician know that the Russians are manipulating the signatures on the petition? Where is the evidence? Does the politician have the evidence and, if they do, will they present this to the relevant authorities – or are they unconcerned about Russian intervention in a democratic process?

Will Jacob Rees-Mogg demand an investigation to discover who is falsely representing him as a Member of Parliament? Will he demand an investigation into who is leaking the names of those who have signed the petition?

If this were merely a matter, for example, relating to a Member of Parliament telling a few porkies to avoid a speeding fine it would be a sad and pitiful event. However, this is an issue of critical importance to the future of the country and the welfare of its people. Nearly six million people have signed the petition, and we should have confidence that it is not being used for political games. The least that we can expect is that our views will be treated with respect. Regrettably, it feels as though there is something deeply wrong.

* Richard Joy is a member of Green Liberal Democrats

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  • Peter Parsons 28th Mar '19 - 9:23am

    If someone who knew Jacob Rees-Mogg’s e-mail (which will be in the public domain as all MPs e-mail addresses are), and filled in the form, he’d know about it as he’d get an e-mail asking him to click to confirm his signature on the petition.

    The only way for his “signature” to be actually counted would be for him to actually click on th confirmation. One presumes he did not.

  • Edwin Poultney 28th Mar '19 - 9:27am

    Jacob was probably just repeating what he had read in the Daily Telegraph as if the “fake news” item was true. A few days ago the Telegraph tried to discredit the Petition by claiming >8000 had tried to sign as Jacob Rees-Mogg but their source was quite obviously the Petition Website which had >8000 of his “Constituents” having signed. At least Revocation will be debated on Monday even if it got less support in Parliament yesterday than a Referendum. A pity the Petition has had low responses in Lib Dem parts of the UK as a No Deal exit still looms over the UK if nothing has been agreed in 2 weeks time.

  • I have seen this legal opinion from the UK Human Rights Blog:


    It seems that “crashing out” may not be the default position: without an affirmative decision to accept a deal, or to leave without one, the position appears to be that the Article 50 notice lapses and we remain in, and would have to start the process again if Parliament (or the people) still wish to leave.

    But that’s only a legal opinion (which would probably be contested)

  • Andrew McCaig 28th Mar '19 - 11:31am

    What do you mean by “low responses in Lib Dem parts of the country”. The lowest I can find in a lib dem seat is 6000 in Norfolk N. Most of them are over 15000.

  • Please, could someone explain to me why I might need to care?

  • I had just heard Jacob Rees-Mogg say that his signature has been added to the petition to revoke Article 50. …
    Are you sure you didn’t miss something? Given the results of last nights indicative votes and the ‘interesting’ statements from Mogg and other ERG members, I can well believe that Mogg did himself (or nanny at his request) actually sign the petition.

  • Malcolm Todd 28th Mar '19 - 1:21pm

    Andrew Toye 28th Mar ’19 – 10:08am

    Whilst I should have learned by now not to opine on matters of law as they apply to Europe, since the ECJ declared that the Humpty Dumpty principle applies to EU Treaties, I can’t forbear pointing out that the author of the piece you link to seems to be blissfully unaware of the existence of the EU Withdrawal Act. It is that, and not the Notification Act, that forms the basis of the UK’s withdrawal, and as far as I can see it answers all the objections she makes.

  • @ Malcolm Todd

    I refer you to clause 13 (1) (d) of the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2018/16/section/13/enacted):

    “(1) The withdrawal agreement may be ratified only if—

    (d) an Act of Parliament has been passed which contains provision for the implementation of the withdrawal agreement”.

    I think this means that unless this Act of Parliament is passed we haven’t left, and the legal opinion as linked to by Andrew Toye would apply.

  • Yeovil Yokel 28th Mar '19 - 3:02pm

    Richard, I’ve a good mind to report you to the Royal Society for the Protection of Radios….

  • Steve Comer 29th Mar '19 - 3:35pm

    I usually find a good antidote to rubbish on the Today programme is to re-tune to Morning Ireland on RTE 1. You get very good coverage of Brexit from Dublin, Brussels and London, much clearer and much less biased than you get on the Today programme with (pro Brexit) John Humphries, Nick Robinson (Tory) edited by Sarah Sands (another Tory).
    RTE 1 can be found easily on the internet and wifi radios and on 252 kHz long wave over most of the UK.

    I still listen to Today as its a hard habit to break, but this morning as soon as Bill Cash was given the chance to drone on and on I switched to RTE1 for some sanity in the news!

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