Resisting the forces of Brexit

Conceived in a rush, destined for an early death, but today still here – kicking and fighting against the iniquity of Brexit … The New European is not your normal newspaper.

We call ourselves the ‘pop-up paper giving voice to the 48 per cent’ – and since we launched (just a fortnight after the vote – the fastest launch of a national newspaper ever!) we have built a sizeable readership willing to pay £2 each Friday for 48 pages of intelligent and entertaining pro-European commentary, news, and culture.

But besides being a platform for some great writing and thinking, The New European is, I think, a badge of honour; one of very few ways to visibly demonstrate the strong sense of dismay and disenfranchisement so many of us still feel all these months since 23 June.

We have failed in one regard. We planned to kill the paper after four weeks (hence ‘pop-up’) – but such has been the response, and the clear need for a balancing voice against the blowhards and insidious, hate-filled journalism of the rightwing press, that we are still here. As I write, we are on issue number 15.

Why are we still here? Because that sense of injustice has not diminished since the vote. It has grown. Today, we are seeing politics a million miles away from the warm words of Theresa May on the steps of No 10. Just as Margaret Thatcher divided the nation between the Haves and the Have Nots, so May drives a wedge between the Leaves and the Leave Nots.

Debate is labelled ‘subversion’. Disagreement is labelled ‘unpatriotic’. And an insistence that our representative parliamentarians have a say in the terms of our exit from the European Union is labelled ‘undemocratic’.

George Orwell would be astonished. Thoughtcrime and doublethink as government policy. And as for ‘Brexit means Brexit’ … that phrase could have come straight out of the IngSoc manifesto.

Happily, there are clear signs that resistance to the forces of Brexit is not futile. We have seen courageous words from members of parliament across all parties. Keir Starmer, Dominic Grieve, Anna Soubry, Chuka Ummuna, Stephen Kinnock, Ken Clarke, Tim Farron, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and many others are making it clear to the government that its initial position of arrogant, dogmatic, determination will not wash.

Why should it be a matter of courage to take a stand? Because the forces ranged against democratic process in this country today are considerable. Take a look at the barking opinion column of the Daily Mail, or the sinister front page splashes of the Daily Express and you will understand how editors are taking names and planning revenge against politicians who threaten the fulfilment of their Little England fantasies.

Yet the government and the editors look rattled. They know, as surely as we do, this deal is far from done.


Matt Kelly is editor of The New European