Janice Atkinson for The Huffington Post
11th March 2016
Last week I attended the Republican’s CPAC conference in Washington.
I was there making the case for Brexit and was so heartened by our cousins backing Brexit.
Comments from senators, governors and congressmen: How come you Brits have stayed in that madhouse [EU] for so long? – you’ve given up your sovereignty, get out – you guys understand the nation state, so why are you still in? – what is the EU doing with its borders and immigration? – we totally back Brexit.
Interestingly, they were very knowledgeable about the referendum, the potential problems for Scotland being run by nationalists and being invited to vote on EU membership. I had expected our friends to be more inwardly focused.
Not so, on the main stage if you closed your eyes you could be listening to the Brexit campaign or indeed, the centre right parties in the European Parliament. It was almost a union of UKIP and Conservative parties united under one conference banner. As CPAC is the convergence of the centre to far right of US politics, perhaps it wasn’t surprising. Some of the mainstream issues on stage made the right of the European Parliament sound like radical socialists.
Particularly in the debates attacking Planned Parenthood (which I found very disturbing and left me cold), they were proud that individual states had stopped state funding. And the God Squad were in full cry. Again when everything is reduced to God’s will, rather than ‘we the people’, decide. God and Planned Parenthood were rarely off the agenda.
They discussed Islam – and not in a Trump way – the former Dutch MP and brave Muslim, Aayan Hirsi Ali debated Islam. She pointed out the difference between Mohammed’s initial teachings and then his Medina years. The audience were riveted and well informed.
What would they do about ISIL/Deash? Bomb them to pieces, send in crack ground troops and get the hell out. Oh, and they would re-open Guantanamo Bay. Interesting, given Obama’s recent tantrum about Libya.
The subject of Radical Islam, immigration, terrorism and controlling the borders was a constant theme, under the banner of Reagan’s “Our Time is Now”. The great man was rarely off the agenda.
They were extremely worried at Angela Merkel’s stupidity and lack of foresight which meant that after four years of living in Germany immigrants could apply for EU passports and then be entitled to travel to the US.
David Cameron was attacked, along with his MEPs who, they claimed, were not real Conservatives. Maggie would never had stood for this.
It was also good to see many younger women on the main stage. Fiery, independent, beautiful and educated all making the case for Republicanism.
Our party conferences are pretty boring and stage-managed in comparison. It was good to see the right wing media having a lively debate on stage with elected politicians and those standing for the presidency. Could you image the Conservative party allowing a live debate with Cameron’s successors on stage at their conference?
It was a brilliant few days. Before I flew home I took part in a Fox News debate with the brilliant KT McFarland, former Reagan staffer and Fox News’ security expert. Also on stage were two security experts and Nile Gardiner former aide to Thatcher, who gave a particularly excoriating view of the EU and Cameron’s Conservatives.
It was a packed room and at the end they all backed Brexit.
Don’t believe me, watch this video and listen to the cheers at the end