Hampstead and Kilburn: Independent candidate wants ‘smarter Brexit’ free of ‘delusion’

Hugh Easterbrook (centre) with supporters Megan Jones (right) and Kirstie Donnelly. Picture: Iai

Hugh Easterbrook (centre) with supporters Megan Jones (right) and Kirstie Donnelly. Picture: Iain Burns - Credit: Archant

An independent candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn has devoted his campaign to pushing for a “smarter Brexit”.

Hugh Easterbrook said he felt “so strongly” about Britain’s impending departure from the EU that he “had to speak up” despite not being a politician.

The 59-year-old – who has worked for Lloyds Bank, Newell Rubbermaid and as an independent investor – has had a flat in the constituency since 1983.

He told the Ham&High the UK was taking a “very complicated route” by leaving the single market, adding: “And what’s it for?”

“I think people who voted Brexit will be very disappointed,” he said.

“If we damage our economy it will be very hard to fix.”

Mr Easterbrook, who “toyed” with voting Leave before ultimately backing Remain, said there were “tremendous opportunities” for Britain in an alliance with the non-Eurozone countries.

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Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Poland, Romania and Hungary – plus Switzerland and Norway – are the key to our post-Brexit future, he said.

He added: “They want sovereignty and they aren’t subject to the ‘ever closer union’ stuff – we can get the things we want by talking to these people.

“I think [the EU] would allow it. Technically we leave the EU but become a member of the outer EU circle.”

Mr Easterbrook said he sympathises with people, especially outside London, who voted to leave the EU – but stressed that their argument was not with the union.

“They need services and investment, not quite a Marshall Plan but something very significant,” he added.

He also stressed he doesn’t trust the Tories to deliver a good Brexit, with Theresa May “backing herself into a corner”.

“Hope is not a strategy but that’s all they have,” he said. “It’s like a Shakespearean tragedy.

“I’m guilty of delusion when I watch England football team play – that’s patriotic delusion.

“But I think I’m seeing some of that from the government. And like football, we aren’t that good at international trade.”

Mr Easterbrook, a Tory by inclination, said he would have backed Tulip Siddiq if she were given more freedom to speak her mind within Labour.

But he also said Margaret Thatcher – though “a bit brutal” – helped change the London of the 1970s, which he said was an “angry, grey, miserable place”.