He ignored his constituents on Brexit
Getting Britain out of the EU has been a cornerstone of John Redwood’s political career. He even stood against John Major as a candidate for leader of the Conservative party on an anti-Europe ticket in 1995 (but only received 27% of the vote). In 2016 his constituents voted by a wide margin to remain in the EU. But John Redwood chose to ignore this and to campaign vigorously for Brexit. He even claimed that since Wokingham re-elected him in 2017, we must be happy with his stance: as if a general election (and a candidate) were only about a single issue!
His interests as a financier conflict with his job as MP
In 2017 John Redwood published an article in The Financial Times entitled “Time to look further afield as UK economy hits the brakes”, which was greeted with scathing comments from all sides. Here was an arch-Eurosceptic MP advising investors to take their money out of the UK and put it in Europe, at the same time as he was pursuing a virulently anti-EU stance in parliament. One financial commentator said: “To protect his job as an investment manager, he warned his wealthy clients to get their money out before the disaster hits… This is despicable behaviour by a lawmaker.” John Redwood is reputedly paid £180,000 per year as Chief Global Strategist of investment management company Charles Stanley. He also has a third job as a Financial Times commentator.
In 2015, I quizzed John Redwood about the “Mayfair” tax loophole. He delivered a spirited defence of hedge fund managers’ right to avoid paying national insurance contributions and to pay a lower tax rate than those on incomes far below theirs. Within weeks, however, PM David Cameron announced that the loophole would indeed be closed.
He is invariably on the wrong side of issues regarding equality
Despite his own party supporting it, John Redwood has consistently voted against allowing people of the same sex to marry. He says he supports small government, but not so small that it can’t intervene and prevent people from marrying their chosen life partners. He also voted to disallow same-sex and unmarried couples from adopting in any circumstances.
His behaviour around Brexit in parliament has been indefensible
John Redwood will stop at nothing to get his Brexit, deal or no deal, including trying to prevent his fellow MPs debating it. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Boris Johnson’s suspension of parliament was illegal, and yet John Redwood still defended it as a perfectly correct procedure – even on national television. Wherever you stand on Brexit, undermining our democratic institutions in pursuit of an ideology is unconscionable.
A Way Forward
I have been struck over the years with the number of people I have met in Wokingham who say they don’t support John Redwood, and that he should have gone years ago. So why hasn’t he? Simply put, because there has been no viable alternative. But that is no longer the case.
We now have a candidate who not only has experience as an MP, but also has a strong moral compass. Although I may not agree with Phillip Lee on everything, he recognises the Conservative party has become a narrow sect that represents the interests of only a few in this country, and he has taken the courageous step to leave it, even if it means risking his own political career. He recognises the obvious: that cutting off frictionless trade with your nearest and by far biggest trading partner can only harm your country.
We often criticise politicians for only acting out of self-interest. That cannot be said of Phillip Lee. The question remains as to whether he will adequately address most Wokingham residents’ number one concern – over-development in this area putting unbearable strain on infrastructure and diminishing our quality of life. All candidates must be grilled on this: central government’s demands for new housing in this area are unsustainable and must be vigorously challenged. But at least the local Lib Dems have already stood up to fight against the over-development that is blighting this community.
So let’s take this opportunity to send someone to Westminster who represents the best of Wokingham: common sense, compassion and moderation. This is the best chance we’ve had in decades. Successive generations won’t thank us if we let it go by. Let’s give Wokingham a new face, a new voice, and new hope.
Clive Chafer, Wokingham
Paid for by Clive Chafer, who is not affiliated with any political party, from his own funds.