Best for Britain


Best for Britain is a civil society campaign, launched on 26 April 2017,[4] to stop Brexit and continue the UK's membership of the EU.[5] Since 2021 the organisation's aim has changed to encourage greater internationalism rather than an immediate push to rejoin the EU.[6]

Best for Britain
Formation26 April 2017
FoundersGina Miller
Clive Cowdery
Stephen Peel
Eloise Todd
TypeCivil society group
FocusContinuing the UK’s membership of the EU
Chair
Mark Malloch Brown[1]
Key people
The Hon. Naomi Smith (CEO)[2][3]
Websitewww.bestforbritain.org

Aims


Prior to the finalisation of Brexit, Best for Britain's goal was a democratic way to stop Brexit.[7] Since 2021, Best for Britain aims to keep the UK open to EU membership in the future,[7] but in the short term aims at re-engagement with Europe, internationalist policies, and cooperation with business.[6] As part of the organisation's relaunch in April 2021, chief executive Naomi Smith wrote in The Times that the organisation had shifted from a “reactive campaign in response to an emergent threat to Britain’s place in the world” to a “proactive organisation that will stand up against a decline in internationalist values happening again”.[6]

Establishment


Best for Britain was set up in April 2017 to work alongside other organisations in the campaign to maintain Britain's membership of the EU.[8] It is avowedly apolitical and is led by business and charity sector figures.[9] At the end of 2017, the former UN diplomat Lord Malloch-Brown became Best for Britain's Chair.[10] The CEO is Naomi Smith.[11]

Campaign activities


Tell the Remain parties to work together

Following the 2019 European elections Best for Britain launched a campaign and petition that called for the leaders of political parties that supported remaining in the EU to work together to achieve that goal.[12]

Voter registration campaign for European elections

Most recently, on 8 May 2019, Best for Britain launched a national campaign urging the 7.9 million unregistered eligible voters to sign up before the European elections.[13] Best for Britain CEO, Naomi Smith called the figures “staggering” and said: “These people have a big part to play in the future direction of our country, and we will do everything in our power to ensure their voice is heard on polling day with everyone else's.” [14] Best for Britain also created a tool to help voters register and/or obtain a postal vote.[15]

Letters campaign

In the first part of 2019, Best for Britain provided support for a nationwide ‘Letters to the Editors’ campaign. This drew upon industry professionals from different sectors, such as midwives [16] and doctors,[17] who signed open letters for local and national publications. These highlighted their concerns about what they saw as the damage being done by Brexit to their fields in particular to the NHS.[18]

People's Vote collaboration

Best for Britain has partnered with the People's Vote campaign on marches and rallies. On 23 June 2018 Best for Britain supported and participated in the People's Vote march in London to mark the second anniversary of the referendum to leave the European Union.[19][20] and also supported and participated in the marches in October 2018 [21] and in March and October 2019. The two organisations also held join rallies for supporters in Westminster Central Hall on 23 November 2018 [22] and the Excel Centre on 9 December 2018.[23]

Bringing Britain Back Together Again

In June 2018, Best for Britain launched its manifesto "Bringing Britain Back Together" [24] to improve public understanding of the process to another referendum, emphasising the "it's still possible to stay" message and drawing attention to what it says was the government's delay and confusion over Brexit. It included an open letter to the country[25] and a road map to stopping Brexit,[26] calling for both sides of the Brexit debate to embrace the idea of another vote to settle the question of the UK's membership of the EU and to avoid the risk that "the entire establishment sleepwalks the country over the Brexit finish line in March 2019".[27]

Best for Britain coupled this manifesto launch with the stated intention to campaign in around 70 key marginal seats, trying to persuade both Labour and Conservative MPs to support a second referendum.[27]

When will we know what we voted for? advertising campaign

Between March and June 2018, Best for Britain ran an advertising campaign across the UK. It featured citizens asking: "When will we know what we voted for?" The campaign slogan, displayed on billboards and in newspaper ads in Birmingham, Carlisle, Manchester, Liverpool, London and Stoke [27] was: "We all deserve a final say on the Brexit deal."[9] Best for Britain was reported to have spent £500,000 on this campaign.[27]

Tactical voting campaign

On 19 April 2017 it launched a crowdfunding appeal in an immediate response to Theresa May's announcement of a snap election to be held on 8 June 2017.[28] In April and May, Best for Britain ran what it claimed was the UK's largest ever tactical voting campaign.[29]

The crowdfunding campaign received donations from more than 10,000 people and raised over £350,000.[30] The tactical vote campaign was launched at a press conference on 26 April by co-founder Gina Miller and then CEO Eloise Todd.[31] Miller said: "We need to prevent MPs and the people being forced into an extreme Brexit that is not in Britain's best interests. ... We will support candidates who campaign for a real final vote on Brexit, including rejecting any deal that leaves Britain worse off."[32] Miller was the chief spokesperson for this campaign.

Miller left Best for Britain after the 2017 election,[33][34] expressing concern that the group had become more anti-Tory than Brexit-focused and described it as "a room full of white males deciding what's going to happen to the country"[34] and as "undemocratic".[33]

In 2019, the campaign launched a tactical voting tool for the 2019 general election. The tool attracted immediate controversy after claims that its source data lacked transparency, and recommended that voters vote for the Liberal Democrats in seats that that party had never won and where it had polled well behind the main opposition Labour Party in the previous election.[35] However, the recommendations were updated in line with new polling and by late November 83 constituency recommendations had been changed to support Labour candidates instead.[36]

APPG Gaps in Support

In November 2020, Best for Britain took on the secretariat role of the APPG Gaps in Support, calling for the UK government to ensure nobody was left out from the Covid-19 support packages available for workers and businesses.[37]

A letter was sent to Chancellor Rishi Sunak in February 2021 by a group of 60 MPs calling on the government to consider support proposals drawn up by tax expert Rebecca Seely Harris. Harris was formerly policy adviser at the Office of Tax Simplification, an independent body of HM Treasury.[38][39]

UK Trade and Business Commission

In April 2021, Best for Britain launched the UK Trade and Business Commission to scrutinise the UK’s trade deals with Europe and the rest of the world. The commission is co-chaired by Peter Norris of the Virgin Group and Hilary Benn.[40] When asked if this would be a replacement for the select committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union previously led by Hilary Benn he said that it would have an “intensely practical focus” on the problems being faced by business.[41]

Funding


In February 2018, it was reported in The Daily Telegraph, and confirmed by Best for Britain, that George Soros, through his foundations, had contributed £400,000 to the campaign.[1][42] The Telegraph's report was described as an "antisemitic dogwhistle"[43] and also criticised for calling Best for Britain's public aim to stop Brexit a "secret plot". In response, Best for Britain launched a crowdfunder,[44] which raised over £200,000 and led to Soros donating a further £100,000.[45]

Best for Britain says it raises much of its funding through smaller individual donations and crowdfunding exercises.[citation needed]

References


  1. Faulconbridge, Guy (7 February 2018). "Soros donation to halt Brexit causes storm in Britain". Reuters. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  2. "Burke's Peerage". Retrieved 12 February 2021.
  3. Wheeler, Caroline; Urwin, Rosamund (2 February 2020). "Brexit day: pro-EU group won't walk off the pitch". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  4. Sands, Mark (26 April 2017). "Brexit campaigner Gina Miller launches "Best for Britain" tactical voting campaign". City AM. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  5. Todd, Eloise. "The News That Is Making Theresa May Panic About Brexit". HuffPost UK. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  6. Smith, Naomi. "Strip away Brexit and united we stand for internationalism". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  7. "We are fighting to keep the UK open to EU membership". Best for Britain. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  8. Lynskey, Dorian (28 April 2018). "'It's not a done deal': inside the battle to stop Brexit". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  9. "Who are anti-Brexit group Best for Britain?". 5 June 2018. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  10. Wintour, Patrick (17 December 2017). "Former diplomat to lead remainers' bid to shift public opinion on Brexit". Reuters. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  11. "Our Team". Best for Britain. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  12. "Tell the Remain parties to work together". Best for Britain. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  13. Smith, Mikey (30 April 2019). "Campaigners warn 8m not registered to vote days before EU elections deadline". mirror. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  14. Jankowicz, Mia. "Almost eight million people could miss their chance to vote in EU elections". The New European. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  15. Guyoncourt, Sally (1 May 2019). "Almost 8 million people not yet registered to vote in EU elections, warn campaigners". inews.co.uk. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  16. Staff Reporter (8 May 2019). "Midwives express concern over Brexit threat to maternity services". Your Thurrock. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  17. Andrews, Kieran (28 February 2019). "Doctors sounding the alarm over Brexit". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  18. PoliticsHome.com (16 May 2019). "Documents reveal NHS fears over post-Brexit staff exodus and drug shortages". PoliticsHome.com. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  19. Staff writer (23 June 2018). "Best for Britain at the March for a People's Vote". bestforbritain.org. Best for Britain. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  20. Staff writer (23 June 2018). "'At least 100,000' march for vote on final Brexit deal". Sky News. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  21. "People's Vote March". Best for Britain. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  22. correspondent, Peter Walker Political (13 November 2018). "Public has been duped, Jo Johnson tells Gary Lineker at rally for new Brexit vote". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  23. "Tory Lord has a harsh warning for Theresa May over Brexit - and people overwhelmingly agree". indy100. 9 December 2018. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  24. "Campaign for new EU referendum launched". 8 June 2018. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  25. "An Open Letter to the country - our proposal". Best for Britain. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  26. Sabbagh, Dan (1 June 2018). "Roadmap to avoid Brexit to be sent to MPs and peers". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  27. Sabbagh, Dan (8 June 2018). "Best for Britain recruits MPs to back second Brexit referendum". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  28. Denham, Katherine (19 April 2017). "Gina Miller launches snap election campaign". Financial Times. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  29. Roberts, Dan (19 April 2017). "Gina Miller to launch tactical voting initiative against hard Brexit". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  30. "Best for Britain GoFundMe". Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  31. Holden, Michael (26 April 2017). "Brexit challenger begins tactical vote campaign, cautions markets over optimism". Reuters. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  32. Sommers, Jack (19 April 2017). "Gina Miller launches crowd funding campaign to tour Britain opposing 'Extreme Brexit'". HuffPost. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  33. Swinford, Steven (8 February 2019). "Exclusive: Gina Miller says Soros-backed campaign to overturn Brexit is 'undemocratic'". The Daily Telegraph.
  34. White, Alan; Ashton, Emily (8 February 2018). "Gina Miller Says She Quit A Pro-EU Group Because It Became About 'Bringing Down The Tories'". buzzfeed.com. BuzzFeed News.
  35. Mason, Rowena (30 October 2019). "Tactical voting website criticised for 'bogus' advice". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 November 2019.
  36. "Tactical voting sites have spread confusion and animosity. In fact, we don't need them | Dan Davies". the Guardian. 29 November 2019. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  37. "House of Commons - Register Of All-Party Parliamentary Groups as at 21 April 2021: Gaps in Support". publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  38. "MPs demand UK Covid support for 3m excluded self-employed". www.ft.com. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  39. Moore, Simon. "Defiant Rishi Sunak stands firm on leaving limited company directors stranded". www.contractoruk.com. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  40. Ashworth, Louis (12 April 2021). "Business leaders and MPs join forces to examine Brexit trade deals". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  41. Burden, Lizzy. "Brexit Will Ruin More U.K. Small Businesses, Economist Warns". www.bloomberg.com. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  42. "Pro-EU campaign secures £400,000 from George Soros". BBC News. 8 February 2018. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  43. Behr, Rafael (8 February 2018). "A secret plot to stop Brexit, or an antisemitic dog whistle? | Rafael Behr". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  44. Elgot, Jessica (8 February 2018). "What is Best for Britain – and is there a 'secret plot' to thwart Brexit?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  45. Cooper, Charlie (29 March 2018). "The master plan to stop Brexit". POLITICO. Retrieved 17 May 2019.