Meeting your MP is easier than you think – and could help us stop a hard Brexit – writes Richard Angell
In this week’s Progressive Britain podcast, Progress chair Alison McGovern called on those who want to fight a hard Brexit to make their opinions known: ‘If you feel strongly about Europe, now is the time to book an appointment at your member of parliament’s surgery’. ‘Make sure you have a face-to-face meeting’ she argues. ‘It may take a bit of time [but] I can tell you when you stand up in the House of Commons and are making the hardest of arguments the thing that sticks in your mind is how you felt when you looked those constituents in the eye and they asked you to make this [particular] point.’ She added, you can be sure ‘the people who disagree with you will definitely be doing it’.
‘Do not just tweet them, write on their Facebook page, or send them an email, go and look them in the eye and tell them what you think.’
Her colleague Chuka Umunna, Streatham MP and special guest on this week’s edition, added: ‘particularly if you are a constituent of a Tory MP … look if you are one of Justine Greening’s constituents, where she could lose her seat of Putney for failing to stop a hard Brexit, you have considerable influence.’
If you want to help stop Britain from crashing out of the European Union as the prime minister appoints a minister for a ‘no deal’ Brexit, here are five ways to get to your MP:
- Call the office of your local MP asking to meet at their next surgery. To make the appointment call 020 7219 3000 or find their local office number on the internet.
- Write a letter – ideally handwritten – to your MP asking for a meeting to discuss the details of Brexit. Send the letter to: House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA. The more personal, and the less it looks like it was generated by a professional campaigning organization, the more likely you are to get face time.
- ‘Green card’ your MP at Westminster. There is an important convention in parliament that if a constituent turns up in central lobby (the main reception) of the House of Commons you can apply to see your MP (using a green piece of paper, hence the term) and they are ‘honour bound’ to meet you, if available. Try it, it might just work. Even better, give them a heads up that you are coming using the number above.
- Attend a local event your MP is speaking at to make your point. Your local paper will cover their upcoming events and where they are likely to be. In addition, your MP will probably have an email list to keep you posted on their activities. If you are a Labour member, living in a Labour seat, go to your constituency Labour party meeting.
- Organise a house meeting of likeminded people and ask your MP to attend. Try contacting them in the above ways. If they cannot, or will not attend, make a video and send it to them via social media.
In addition, take a motion to your local CLP meeting to ensure your local party is behind the campaign. This could be key in shaping the party’s view and how 262 MPs react when the final deal is put to parliament.
Most importantly, do not lose faith. As the government tries to make deals, in Umunna’s words, ‘the Brexit promised to the people is being proved to be impossible’. Time is of the essence but all is not lost.
Listen to Chuka Umunna on this week’s Progressive Britain podcast here.
Richard Angell is Director of Progress. He tweets at @RichardAngell