MICK HULME: The Ditchley Park plot is anti-democratic skulduggery

MICK HULME: The Ditchley Park plot is just the kind of anti-democratic skulduggery that led many to vote for Brexit

Aeons ago, in 2016, the British public famously voted to ‘take back control’.

They wanted to wrest authority not only from the Brussels bureaucracy, but also from the British political Establishment, which was always so close to the EU.

Alas, these men and women have never gone away. And now they are on the march.

Last week’s top-secret cross-party conference at Ditchley Park — held ‘to confront the failings of Brexit’, in the words of the Remainer newspaper that broke the story — should alarm anyone who believes in democracy.

It resembles precisely the sort of unaccountable, closed-doors skulduggery that led many to vote for Brexit in the first place. If the vote to leave the EU was a robust exercise in direct democracy, what many will regard as the Ditchley Park Plot is the very opposite.

Last week’s top-secret cross-party conference at Ditchley Park — held ‘to confront the failings of Brexit’ 

As Lord Frost warned on the front page of yesterday’s Mail: ‘This secret conference is a further piece of evidence that many in our political and business establishment want to unravel the deals we did to exit the EU in 2020 and to stay shadowing the EU instead.’ 

Clearly, the snobbish Remainers, who have always loathed the electorate and never accepted the Brexit vote, are now trying to ‘take back control’ themselves.

As Lord Frost warned on the front page of yesterday’s Mail: ‘This secret conference is a further piece of evidence that many in our political and business establishment want to unravel the deals we did to exit the EU in 2020 and to stay shadowing the EU instead.’

Since news of this covert symposium was leaked, some of those who attended have peddled the line that it was not an attempt to plot to overturn the 2016 referendum, but simply to discuss the innocuous question: ‘How can we make Brexit work better with our neighbours in the EU?’

Pointing to the presence of a smattering of Brexiteers, including Michael Gove, former Labour MP Gisela (now Baroness) Stuart and Lords Howard and Lamont, they insist that there is nothing to see here.

Slippery

Some of us in the Brexiteer camp, however, have learned from bitter experience not to believe a word the Remainer Establishment says.

Apply the duck test: if it looks like a Remainer plot, walks like a Remainer plot and quacks like a Remainer plot, then there’s a good chance it’s . . . well, you can finish the sentence yourself.

The fact is that a cabal of powerful anti-democrats assembled at the stately home and spent two days deep in discussions. Many have made no secret of their desire to overturn Brexit.

The slippery cast surely speaks for itself. The entire ghastly affair was reportedly chaired (though that may not be quite true) by Peter Mandelson, the twice-disgraced ex-cabinet minister and sometime EU commissioner, who these days sits in the House of Lords, effectively as ‘Lord Remoaner of Brussels’.

Readers will remember how Mandelson castigated the 17.4 million Britons who voted Leave as having committed an ‘act of self-harm’: a tasteless claim that suggested a majority of voters had mental health issues.

Alongside Mandelson was shadow foreign secretary David Lammy. His hysterical verdict on Brexit when the people’s vote was carried? ‘We can stop this madness and bring this nightmare to an end through a vote in Parliament.’ Notoriously, he later compared Brexiteer Tories to Nazis.

Other Remainer zealots at the conflab included former senior civil servants, laughably described as ‘non-political’.

The slippery cast surely speaks for itself. The entire ghastly affair was reportedly chaired (though that may not be quite true) by Peter Mandelson, the twice-disgraced ex-cabinet minister and sometime EU commissioner, who these days sits in the House of Lords, effectively as ‘Lord Remoaner of Brussels’ 

One of them, Oliver Robbins, was the mandarin most culpable for negotiating Theresa May’s disastrous attempt at a deal, which made so many concessions to Brussels that it looked more like an unconditional surrender.

They all surely felt at home in the plush surroundings of Ditchley — a country mansion in Oxfordshire run by a foundation whose governors include Remainer luminaries including Mandelson, former Lib Dem leader Jo ‘B*****ks to Brexit’ Swinson and City slicker Roland Rudd (a major player in the doomed second referendum campaign).

In this febrile atmosphere, a few lone Brexiteers’ voices will not have made a difference.

No: this secret meeting marked a further escalation of the cynical Remainer crusade to yoke Britain back to Brussels, dragging us more closely under the influence of unelected European Commissioners and judges.

Patronising elitists who believe that they know better than millions of vulgar Leave voters are pushing to ensure that a future Labour government shoves Britain closer to rejoining the single market, with the ultimate dream being, of course, to reverse Brexit altogether.

Sir Keir Starmer now claims he accepts Brexit. Pull the other one. We will not soon forget Starmer’s role as Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘Brexit spokesman’, in which he spent most of his time speaking of his wish for a second Brexit referendum to deliver the result he wanted.

Which brings me to my main point. The Ditchley plot has hardly come out of the blue. Its real meaning can best be understood as part of an ongoing Remainer rearguard campaign that no one can deny.

Last month, the Remainstream media marked the third anniversary of Brexit Day (January 31, 2020, when the UK formally left the EU), with a raft of phantasmagorical stories about how our departure was to blame for all our economic woes.

Sir Keir Starmer now claims he accepts Brexit. Pull the other one. We will not soon forget Starmer’s role as Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘Brexit spokesman’ 

Hobble

Many Leave voters, audiences were told, supposedly feel duped, with some experiencing ‘Bregret’.

Just this week, Jonathan Haskel, an external member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, used some carefully selected dates and figures to claim that Brexit is costing every British household the headline-friendly sum of £1,000 a year.

Meanwhile, in the House of Lords, an all-party alliance of Remainer peers is trying to hobble the Government’s Retained EU Law Bill, designed to remove thousands of EU rules still clogging the UK statute book.

A gaggle of these unelected meddlers penned a letter to The Times, pompously declaring that they were defending ‘democracy’. Even by the lofty standards of Lords entitlement, it was a case of staggering patrician chutzpah.

Needless to say, the signatories were all ermine-clad Remainers, from ex-Hong Kong governor Chris Patten to former Conservative chancellor Ken Clarke.

The truth, I suspect, is that many of us who voted Leave feel that the Tories have failed to capitalise on the benefits of leaving, and failed to properly fulfil Boris Johnson’s 2019 election pledge to ‘get Brexit done’.

Rebuke

From the Northern Ireland protocol to the small boats arriving on Kent beaches, the Government has not yet truly ‘taken back control’ — and may be running out of time to do so, with a general election expected next year and Labour ahead in the polls.

Little wonder the Remainer Establishment believes its moment is coming.

In Rishi Sunak, the Conservatives have a genuine Leaver in No 10. Yet ask yourself: has the PM done enough to champion Brexit — in word or deed — in the face of resistance from the Remainer Blob?

Many former Labour Red Wall voters who backed Boris, primarily because of his Brexit promises, must be wondering who speaks for them today.

It is time the Government woke up and delivered a forthright rebuke to the Remainer elites and their Ditchley Park plot.

If it does not, the voters will remember — and I fear the results won’t be pretty.

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