Andrew Marr: Referendum has created the ‘ugliest, grimmest’ time in British politics
- Credit: Nigel Sutton
“This is the ugliest, grimmest time that I can remember in my time studying politics.”
So stated Primrose Hill-based political broadcaster Andrew Marr, who said the EU referendum had brought the ugly side of British politics to the fore.
He made the comment in an exclusive speech at the annual Norwood Property Lunch.
He told supporters of North London charity Norwood - which supports families of children with learning difficulties: “In the past few weeks we’ve split into two tribes, jabbing the finger, shouting abuse at each other.
“I think Project Fear has been a terrible mistake, there’ve been no people sticking up for European values.”
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He said the only person to appear on his Sunday morning BBC show to make a positive case for the values behind European Union was the former Conservative prime minister John Major.
Mr Marr predicted a victory for the Leave camp, saying that the English majority outside London is heavily in favour of getting out of the EU because the “Westminster bubble” have not been listening to their concerns about immigration, housing and wage compression.
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The journalist, who was born in Scotland, also said that following an out vote, Nicola Sturgeon would be on the first train to Brussels, presenting the very real prospect of a political border between Scotland and England.
David Cameron and George Osborne will struggle to hold a majority on any issues in the House of Commons, even following a narrow Remain vote, Mr Marr predicted, while Michael Gove and Boris Johnson “will be in for a very hard time indeed”.
He also cast doubts on the effectiveness of the Labour opposition comparing it with the party’s more aggressive leadership under Tony Blair’s, and pointing out that although Jeremy Corbyn’s support for immigrants’ rights may be popular in his inner London constituency, the Labour leader “doesn’t like to talk about the effect of immigration on the white working class majority in England.”
He said: “We’re all going to have to come together and make this country work again.
“I’m very worried that if we leave the EU it’ll start to fall apart. We may be trying to negotiate trade deals when the EU is tearing itself apart, when there’s a lot of anger in Berlin and Paris.”
Mr Marr warned that there would be even more need for the third sector including organisations like Norwood over the next five years should Britain leave the EU. The Jewish charity raised a record £600,000 at the networking lunch at the Park Lane Hilton.
In a more optimistic mode he said: “You are busy, hardworking people who have chosen to put some time and some money aside to help other people.
“I know in some ways this is a big property event, and in other ways a big Jewish community event – but I suggest to you it is a very typical British event.”
Mr Marr went on to say that the killing of Jo Cox may have changed the public mood away from Brexit as he made a moving tribute to the murdered Labour MP.
He continued: “Jo Cox is the reason I don’t despair, despite what I’ve been saying.
“We have many public service minded people coming into parliament on both sides.
“They don’t get paid very much, by the standards of you guys anyway, and they’re basically thoroughly decent people who’ve gone into a hard world to make things better.”
He went on jokingly to suggest that if any of the assembled audience of more than 800 property professionals felt they were underemployed, there was a vacancy for someone with authority to lead the government.