In the lead up to the General Election, Gina Millar raised over £400,000 to support certain MPs that were, in her own words, ‘candidates who will fight for a real choice on the final deal, who are fighting a winnable seat but not a dead certainty, have an immaculate track record in terms of personal conduct and principles and, finally, are opposed to an extreme Brexit.’
Those helped by Millar were the Lib Dems’ Nick Clegg, Sarah Olney, Lisa Smart, Mark Hunter and Tom Brake; Labour’s Kevin Brennan, Rupa Huq, Clive Lewis, Fabian Hamilton, Peter Kyle, Gareth Thomas, Jo Stevens, Andy Slaughter, Tulip Siddiq and Kerry McCarthy and the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas. Yet not all of those that Millar decided to support fit the criteria and there are also some omissions which do not seem overly reasoned.
I will begin by taking a look at the chosen Labour politicians. Out of the 10 on Millar’s list, only 3 (Jo Stevens, Andy Slaughter and Rupa Huq) voted in favour of the Lib Dem amendment to the Article 50 bill to have a referendum on the final Brexit deal – despite 19 Labour MPs having done so. That means that 70% of the Labour MPs that Millar supported decided not to ‘fight for a real choice on the final deal’.
As well as this, the list is also inconsistent with Millar’s criteria of being ‘opposed to an extreme Brexit.’ 49 Labour MPs decided to back Chuka Umunna in trying to stay in the Single Market and Customs Union, but 4 of the 10 Labour MPs that Millar raised money for didn’t.
That is to say that Kevin Brennan, Clive Lewis, Gareth Thomas and Fabian Hamilton failed to support letting the people have the final say on the deal and failed to oppose May’s hard Brexit option.
This therefore leads me to ask a few questions to Millar: Why have you included Clive Lewis instead of Ann Coffey – who had a similar majority to Lewis, voted for the people to have the final say and after the election voted in favour of Umunna’s attempted amendment to the Queen’s Speech? Why have you included Gareth Thomas instead of John Woodcock – who had a majority of less than 1,000 votes in 2015 and also voted in favour of remaining inside the Single Market and Customs Union? Why have you included Kevin Brennan instead of Neil Coyle – who had a smaller majority than Brennan in 2015 and has voted for both letting the people have the final say on the Brexit deal and a soft Brexit? Why have you included Fabian Hamilton instead of Rachel Maskell – who voted in favour of a referendum on the deal?
Millar’s decision not to support more Lib Dems is also something that I would like to ask her. Norman Lamb was being predicted to lose his seat by You Gov. Mark Williams had a majority of just over 3,000 and Greg Mulholland won his seat by less than 3,000 votes in 2015. Norman Lamb voted in favour of another referendum, as well as staying in the Single Market and Customs Union. Mark Williams and Greg Mulholland, however, lost there seats in the General Election and so were unable to support Umunna’s amendment to the Queen’s Speech. Yet instead of getting the support these 3 politicians needed, it was given to 4 Labour MPs that had shown no signs of matching Millar’s criteria and who all managed to easily hold onto their seats.
Gina Millar has played an instrumental part in opposing a hard Brexit and advocating for a referendum on the final deal and that is something that we should all be incredibly thankful to her for. Her opposition could be even more effective, however, if she were to give support to only politicians that share her aims, rather than those that never seem to vote the way she would.
I hope that Millar decides to change which politicians she supports in the future, when opposing the Brexit chosen by Corbyn and May will become ever more important.