Dear John

A very mixed bag of emotions this week. 

YES! Johnson’s government suffered important defeats in TWO by-elections, bringing Johnson’s continued leadership into question. 

BUT NO! The government published its replacement for the Human Rights Act in which it keeps the rights the same, but makes it harder (in some cases almost impossible) to enforce them.

My advice is to take inspiration from the by-election wins (congratulations go to the brand new MPs, Labour’s Simon Lightwood and the Lib Dem’s Richard Foord, and to all the voters and activists who campaigned and voted tactically!) and don’t lose hope on the rest.

Naomi asked you yesterday to support Best for Britain’s campaign financially, and I know times are hard but if you can, please do donate to the Better Democracy Fund. This government is on the ropes and your support will mean we can bring progressive parties together, fight undemocratic changes to our elections, and campaign for a change in our voting system to make all votes count.


The leaders of Labour and the Liberal Democrats made it widely known that they would each be targeting just one of the two seats on offer on 23rd June and that constituents should vote tactically. As a tactic, it worked but Labour and the Lib Dems mustn’t rest on their laurels, repeating this success will be much more difficult in a General Election. Our polling proves they will need to collaborate to defeat the Government.

And we said bye bye to Conservative Party Chairman, Oliver Dowden, early this morning as he resigned saying “someone must take responsibility”.

Wakefield wake-up call

Wakefield is a so-called ‘Red Wall’ constituency, held by Labour from 1932 to 2019 and one of the key Northern England seats lost to the Conservatives at the last election that Labour need to win back at the next one. The by-election was called after the Conservative MP, Imran Ahmad Khan, was convicted of sexually assaulting a child.

Labour emerged victorious with 48% of the vote and a majority of 4,925 over the Conservative candidate. It’s proof that Johnson is not the vote-winner his supporters say he is. Labour can’t rest easy though, 2019 Tory voters seem to have just stayed at home in silent protest at Johnson and his government - instead of switching to Labour this time.

Knockin’ on Devon’s Doors

Tiverton & Honiton has been represented by the Conservatives for at least 100 years, and some parts of it since before Queen Victoria came to the throne. The historically non-conformist West Country, though, has traditionally been more open to voting Liberal or Liberal Democrat than many other parts of the UK. The by-election was triggered by the resignation of the former Conservative MP, Neil Parish, who admitted he had looked at porn on his phone in the House of Commons chamber. The tractor guy, you remember - he said he was looking up tractors and accidentally ended up on hardcore porn instead.

It’s hard to say that Tiverton & Honiton is part of the ‘Blue Wall’ of mainly South East English Conservative-held seats that may go yellow, but the fact that such a true-blue constituency gave the Tories a massive kicking will be giving Conservative HQ plenty to worry about.

The Lib Dems faced a 24,000 Tory majority which they managed to turn into a very respectable 6,144 Lib Dem majority. Apparently, this is the biggest majority to have been overturned in a by-election ever. And tactical voting really was the star of the show with Labour getting just 3.7% of the vote this time compared to 19.5 in 2019 as Labour voters switched to the Lib Dems this time.

Brexit by-election bonanza

Ahead of the by-elections we looked at how the government’s replacement of the European Regional Development fund with the UK Shared Prosperity Fund has played out. 

When we were an EU member state, Devon received €67 (£57.60) per capita funding but under the new UK Shared Prosperity Fund, introduced in April 2022, the region is now expected to receive just £28.65 (€33.32) per capita funding. In West Yorkshire €139 (£119.53) of per capita funding from the EU will become £97.90 (€113.89) per head from the UK Government.

It looks like voters have noticed.

The Times they are a-changin’

Last weekend, a story appeared in The Times’s earliest Saturday edition that was swiftly pulled from all later editions. The story didn’t appear online either. 

The story, written by Simon Walters, claimed Boris Johnson attempted to appoint his now-wife Carrie to a £100,000 a year Government role back in 2018 when he was Foreign Secretary and she was Conservative press chief. At the time, Johnson was still married to Barrister Marina Wheeler. The story says Johnson was blocked from doing this after his closest advisers found out. 

Intrigue about the vanishing story rumbled on over the weekend, with Number 10 finally admitting on Monday that it had intervened to have the story dropped. Number 10 insists the story was untrue. 

Our CEO Naomi Smith was quoted in the Independent on this this week. She said: “A free press is a fundamental part of a functioning democracy. It must be protected from the influence of those in power.”

We couldn’t agree more. 

Global thinking needed

This week, the APPG on Coronavirus held a live evidence session on global vaccine access. There were strong words from witnesses at the session, one of whom - WHO special envoy Dr Ayoade Alakija - strongly condemned the UK Government’s narrative and leadership on Covid-19. 

The APPG heard that the UK must adopt a more internationalist approach to the Covid-19 pandemic and that pandemic preparedness is not simply a matter of making vaccine donations (many of which may be close to their expiry date). Witnesses urged the UK to support research efforts into pandemics across the globe and to work collaboratively with international partner organisations.

The session also touched on the worrying news that the UK is likely to be at the start of a new Covid wave and discussions centred around how prepared the UK might be for a potential summer of disruption as a result. 

Bill of Wrongs

This week, the Government unveiled its new flagship ‘Bill of Rights’ - which has, as expected, very little to do with protecting people’s human rights. 

As anticipated, the Bill is focused on allowing the UK Government to deport people faster - something that surely clashes with the sentiments of Refugee Week.

The Bill will make it harder for individuals to seek judicial review against public bodies and will require courts to consider totally unrelated past behaviour when awarding damages - threatening to take protections away from people with criminal records. This is not how rights work - they are not meant to be contingent on a person’s past behaviour. They are meant to be universal and unconditional. 

Human rights are not privileges - they are what everyone ought to have granted to them as a condition of being a human. But the Government doesn’t want you to believe that for much longer. 

If you want to get involved in our campaign for more compassion in politics, why not sign our petition here?

From Brexit to bust

A new report out this week from the Resolution Foundation has highlighted just how much worse Brexit is making the cost of living crisis. The report finds the average UK worker is on course to suffer over £470 in lost pay each year when rising living costs are taken into account compared with the financial outcome if we hadn’t left the EU. 

This is, understandably, hugely depressing, coming as it does on top of bleak news about soaring inflation. What is more depressing, however, is the feeling that no matter how bad things seem to get, we can always count on this Government and its disastrous policies to make things worse. 

Injustice uninterrupted 

This week we learned just 1 in 4 applicants to the Windrush compensation scheme have received the payments due to them. This is despite the Government promising to right the wrongs done to the Windrush generation. 

A moving article in the Guardian this week profiled Cuthbert Prospere, who had arrived in the UK from St Lucia as a four year old in 1967. Throughout his adult life, Cuthbert had repeatedly found himself blocked from obtaining employment because he couldn’t prove he was in the UK legally. Cuthbert is seeking compensation for lost earnings throughout his life, but the Home Office refuses to accept his lack of legal status prevented him from being employed. 

In many ways, we’re still stuck in the same place we were when the scandal broke in 2018. Many Windrush victims remain uncompensated for the losses and hardships they suffered and not enough proactive action is being taken to adequately make reparations for those affected. 


Jacob Rees-Mogg has this week unveiled a brand new digital dashboard. The white heat of technological innovation, it is not.

Last week he announced a plan to axe all retained EU laws - well over 2000 pieces of legislation, many of which are critical for our political and social operations. How exactly he plans to do that while cutting the number of civil servants is unclear. 

He said the dashboard unveiled this week would allow members of the public to take a look at all the individual pieces of legislation and decide which ones need to go. I’m not sure offloading this task to members of the public is really the solution he says it is, and looking at the dashboard itself I can’t imagine people will be flocking to take part. It's….not very good. Take a look.

6 years on

Thursday 23rd June was the 6-year anniversary of the EU Referendum. No, I can’t quite believe that either, but there it is.

Best for Britain’s Lauren Tavriger blogged in celebration of the date, looking at the top six promises made by the Vote Leave campaign and what has happened to them. Remembering of course that the Boris Johnson who spearheaded the Vote Leave campaign and made all these promises is actually the same Boris Johnson who holds the office of Prime Minister.

So surely he will have made sure those promises all came true. Right?

And that’s it, have a great weekend and we’ll be back next week for more.

Best wishes,

Cary Mitchell
Director of Operations, Best for Britain

PS. Please do support the campaign with either a one-off donation to the Better Democracy Fund, or by becoming a regular supporter. Your support will mean we can bring progressive parties together, fight undemocratic changes to our elections, and campaign for a change in our voting system to make all votes count.

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