An open letter to Greg Clark

Dear Greg Clark,

Let’s be frank. Brexit is a complete mess. You and I both knew this a long time ago. The government’s Brexit withdrawal only confirms that the Brexit fantasy is collapsing under its own contradictions.

Greg – in your heart of hearts do you genuinely believe that the PM’s agreement is in our best interests? Be honest – do you really think your government’s arrangement is better than our current EU deal?

In 2016 we both campaigned to Remain. We even managed to put a Lib Dem sticker on you! You were ardent in your beliefs that we were stronger in the EU. Two years later what has happened to that Greg Clark? I am surprised that you have had this extraordinary change of heart!

My question to you is: why put yourself through selling something you clearly did not and possibly still do not believe in, especially when your own constituents voted against Brexit? As business secretary, you are also no doubt very aware of the catastrophic consequences that a bad Brexit could have on business and commerce.


My belief is that you should free yourself of this predicament by leaving the government and, instead, put all your energies in to campaigning to give all of us the final say. By staying in Mrs May’s government you are complicit – I use the word advisedly – in making Brexit your unwanted gift to your constituents.

Here are 5 reasons why you should support the People’s Vote:

  1. The referendum was not free and fair. There were lies. Turkey is not joining the EU and in any case the UK would have a veto. Leave donor Arron Banks is being investigated by the National Crime Agency. He is innocent until proven guilty but, should illegal foreign money have played a part, then the legitimacy of the result must be questioned. Do we really want to go ahead and reward liars and possible cheats?
  2. Voters were not well informed about the reality of Brexit. Of course, leaving the EU was on the ballot paper but what does leaving look like in reality? It wasn’t clear back in 2016. It was only last week, two and half years after the original vote, that the Brexit deal was, in part, revealed. By giving the people a vote we are allowing them to make an informed decision on the facts – not the fantasy mis-sold by Brexiteers.
  3. The promises of 2016 have not been met. The backlash against the PM’s deal from Leavers and Remainers alike has only increased divisions. It satisfies neither side of the debate. If Brexit à la Theresa May is such a good deal for the UK, surely residents will endorse it again!
  4. The country is allowed to change its mind – democracy should be an ongoing process. What looked like such a good idea in 2016 is now in doubt. People are, quite rightly, having second thoughts. I am sure you will that seen the recent opinion poll in Tunbridge Wells showing that the pro-Remain majority has actually increased since the referendum. Surely you were elected to represent the views of your constituents!?
  5. Brexit will be your legacy to Tunbridge Wells. Despite our differences, my genuine belief is that you went into politics because you wanted to make a difference. I cannot understand why you are so determined to be an architect of a project which will make things worse for all of our residents? Please search your conscience and make the right decision.

Your constituents, whether Liberal Democrat, Conservative, Labour or of no political affiliation, deserve to decide whether your Brexit agreement is good enough.

Mr Clark, can we – your Remain constituency – count on you at this time of national crisis?

* Councillor Ben Chapelard is Leader of the Liberal Democrat Opposition on Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and PPC for Tunbridge Wells.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Richard Underhill 26th Nov '18 - 12:20pm

    We know Greg Clark MP as a loyalist, not obviously ideological, but his actions demonstrate a strong interest in self preservation.
    He voted for Theresa May for Tory leader.
    He claimed credit for the A21 improvement, as did the then MP for Tonbridge, while giving no credit to the Cabinet minister who made and announced the decision, a Liberal Democrat in the Treasury.

  • Richard Underhill 27th Nov '18 - 12:44pm

    It is unlikely that the UK would need to exercise a veto against Turkey. During the British Presidency of the Council of Ministers Labour FCO minister Jack Straw supported Allowing Turkish entry, including allowing the Turkish negotiators an extra hour, to fly from Istanbul, by ruling that the British Presidency ran on British time.
    President Chirac promised the French electorate a referendum on Turkish accession.
    Every other member state also has a veto. Austria Perhaps? The Ottoman Empire reached Vienna. There is an institutional memory of that.

  • Richard Underhill 1st Dec '18 - 3:40pm

    The Times of Tunbridge Wells reported that Greg Clark MP has said on social media that he will support the PM’s proposed deal. This is no surprise, he is known for his loyalty.
    Former defence secretary Liam Fox (whose current useless department has nor yet been abolished) has said, on the record, that he will support the PM’s proposed deal. When asked about other cabinet members he said that they all support the “deal” or “they would not be cabinet members”. Another resignation today supports this theory. He voted Remain in 2016.

  • Richard Underhill 6th Dec '18 - 7:50pm

    Greg Clarke MP (Con) was interviewed on ITV by Robert Peston on 28/11/2018. Peston tried to find out in what circumstances Greg Clarke would resign his cabinet post, eventually reaching a statement that he would try to ensure that such circumstances did not occur.

  • Richard Underhill 13th Dec '18 - 7:42pm

    Those who are telling political journalists, off the record, that they are moving, at least a bit, towards supporting a people’s vote, now include Greg Clark, according to Times political editor Sam Coates, who is one of the best informed of the print journalists.

  • Richard Underhill 15th Dec '18 - 8:12pm

    A major reversal is needed, urgently.
    The trade negotiations with the EU27 have not yet begun, but are crucial.
    Article 50 has been signed, but will need to be reversed, which the ECHR has agreed can be done.
    Father of the House Ken Clarke MP has suggested that withdrawal would need to be done and perhaps re-instated later. Hillary Benn is chairman of the cross party parliamentary committee.
    Trade negotiations could begin on a level playing field.

  • Richard Underhill 10th Jan '19 - 9:39am

    Greg Clark MP was on BBC1 this morning. The BBC announced that Jaguar Land Rover is losing 5,000 jobs. The Business Secretary said that the employees should hear the news first, but there is strong demand from other employers in the area for employees with these skills. Sales in China are down. The UK government is working with business on the development of electric cars.
    Clark was asked about Brexit and under what conditions he would resign. This is a silly question really, Greg Clark is not likely to resign, that is not his personality. He did come out strongly against no-deal and would try to ensure that this outcome will not happen. He could have been asked whether more time would be needed for Article 50, following the comments in the Commons from the father of the house yesterday, Conservative MP Ken Clarke.

  • Richard Underhill 10th Jan '19 - 9:51am

    Click on the red button and we get more news. The JLR lay-offs are part of a £2.5 billion cost cutting plan caused by a downturn in Chinese sales, a sump in diesel sales and concerns about UK competitiveness post-Brexit. JLR currently has about 40,000 staff. “Management, marketing and administrative roles are expecting to be hardest hit, but some production staff may also be affected.”

  • Richard Underhill 13th Jan '19 - 11:17am

    On 13/01/2019, on the Andrew Marr Show on BBC1, the current Brexit Secretary was asked about no deal arrangements. He replied that the Transport Department is dong this. (not my department).
    In current circumstances do we have confidence in the Department of Transport?
    Contract with a firm which has no ferries?
    Overflow facilities for lorries?
    Rail timetable failures?
    Crossrail overspend?
    HS2 overspend?
    potholed roads?
    Greg Clark MP was on the following program 10.00-10.30 in the southeast of England.

  • Richard Underhill 13th Jan '19 - 12:08pm

    The Channel 4 programme “Uncivil War” about Brexit portrayed a focus group in which a young adult lady was saying to the MPs, “Where I come from”. This is clearly a protest vote against the establishment, which has ignored “people like me”. The issues are about the distribution of income, Jobs, quality and availability of housing, etc, most of which are influenced by or in the control of the UK government, or the devolved governments, or local government controlled by a hostile political party. Often these issues are not caused by the EU and therefore not the fault of the EU.
    With rare exceptions, such as the late Roy Jenkins, campaigners have been reluctant to campaign for Europe at a time when an EU election is not imminent.

    Some leavers are saying “we are the fifth largest economy” (in the world).
    We are AT THE MOMENT but the PM is pushing to leave the EU. If the UK leaves the EU we drop to seventh, overtaken by India, which has a larger population, and by France.

  • Richard Underhill 1st Feb '19 - 10:26am

    Greg Clark MP was interviewed by ITV’s Peston on 30/1/2019 (after the key votes in the Commons). after the 2017 general election produced a parliament with no overall majority for any party he says he expected to be working cross-party.
    He had visited the Sweden-Norway frontier “pretty friendly countries” (to each other) which has border checks.
    As Trade Secretary he claimed to have worked “pretty well with trade unions” and worked with Len McCluskey (Unite) for two and half years on car plants, aerospace etc
    Peston challenged him on whether he would resign in two weeks over a possible no deal exit. Clark said he did not want to “desert his post”.

  • Richard Underhill 19th Feb '19 - 12:16am

    The BBC reported on 18/2/2019 that Greg Clark was one of four ministers who went to see Theresa May and urged her to take NO DEAL off the table. This is consistent with what he has said to the Commons and on the media recently.
    The ERG (a party within the tory party) have said they want no deal to continue to be an option because they think that it strengthens the PM’s negotiating stance with the EU27. The news from Honda will be confirmed in a meeting in Swindon on 19/2/2019.

  • Richard Underhill 23rd Feb '19 - 8:49am

    Greg Clark, David Gauke and Amber Rudd have made the front page of the Daily Mail
    (a tabloid newspaper) opposing No Deal and willing to oppose the PM. Downing Street commented that theirs views are well known. They have not resigned, nor been sacked, so collective Cabinet responsibility has been challenged.
    Historically “We must hang together or we will hang separately”.

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