Tag Archives: brexit

In defence of the “second referendum”

When Farron announced that we were pushing for another referendum on Europe, I agreed with those who accused the Lib Dems of ignoring democracy because we didn’t like the result. While I still sympathise with these criticisms, I have eventually come around to the party’s position. Or at least – I think that there is a strong principled case for it (I still have some practical questions).

This case is based on accountability. Election results are not the be all and end all of democracy, they are part of a wider process. In a General Election, this process involves political parties making their case to the British people, and the public choosing which party they like best. Crucially, the people then judge how well that party has followed through with their promises, and hold them to account at the next election (as we know only too well in the Lib Dems).

Of course, I understand that you can’t have referendums every five years, but there still has to be some mechanism of accountability to make a vote democratically viable.  Otherwise, campaigners can just say whatever they think will get people to vote for them, whether it’s achievable or not. The alleged “£350 million for the NHS” was the most infamous case of this, but Leave campaigners also hedged their bets wildly on the single market – much more significantly in my view. The Remain camp lied too (Osborne said that he would introduce an emergency budget after Brexit, Cameron said that he would stay on as Prime Minister) but as we lost anyway, these lies aren’t as pressing from a democratic perspective, as we know they didn’t change the result. 

Posted in News | 13 Comments

Observations of an Ex Pat: Brexit goes nuclear

The EU is worried about losing their American nuclear umbrella.

The UK is worried about losing their European market and their seat at the European top table.

Britain has nuclear weapons. The EU has markets. Is there a fit?

If so, the result could be a tectonic strategic shift with far-reaching political repercussions.

My sources say there is enough of a fit for Prime Minister Theresa May to be thinking of offering to extend the British deterrent to EU countries in return for Brexit concessions.  This is most likely to be in cooperation with the French.

The reaction of the strategic eggheads ranges from “not incredible” to “logical,” to “totally unrealistic” and then “utterly crass” with a lot of “no comments” thrown in for good measure.

No comment was what the British Ministry of Defence said. No reply was all I could elicit from The Foreign Office and Downing Street. But The Department  for  Exiting the European Union, was more forthcoming. It referred me to Mrs May’s 18 January  Brexit strategy speech in which she said: 

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 8 Comments

LibLink: Edward McMillan-Scott: Letter from a disunited kingdom

Former Liberal Democrat MEP Edward McMillan-Scott ahs written an open letter to his former Brussels colleagues explaining from a pro-EU British perspective what the hell is going on over here.

As you all know, what started as former prime minister David Cameron’s attempt to pacify the UKIP tendency within the Conservative party – the reason I left it – has resulted in the dominance of that group in the Theresa May administration, and their determination to push for a hard Brexit – and as soon as possible. Do not underestimate their determination to sever all ties with the EU at whatever cost to the UK: they are ideologues, mostly inspired by what they believe is Thatcherism, but in reality in many ways resembles 1930s political extremism.

As a lifelong pro-European, with 30 years as an MEP, the last ten as a Vice-President, I know most of the key players on both sides of the argument in Britain, and many of the EU politicians too. I urge you to ignore the ideologues and listen to the silent majority: in a recent poll, 56 per cent said they do not want Theresa May’s Hard Brexit.

Today I am one of many in the UK campaigning not just for the British parliament to have a meaningful role in all the stages ahead and also for an “outcome” referendum if and when the negotiations produce an agreement.

So why did Leave win?

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged | 1 Comment

LibLink: Nick Clegg: The EU is facing a liberal insurgence. Now is not the time for Britain to leave

Nick Clegg has been writing for the Independent in the wake of the Dutch elections in which the racist populist Geert Wilders didn’t do as well as expected. He recounted a family gathering in the Netherlands at Christmas time.

What was striking when we were talking about the Dutch elections, however, was almost everyone around the table wanted to cast a vote that provided the best guarantee of keeping Wilders out of power. For most, that seemed to point towards supporting Mark Rutte, the affable and skilled Dutch PM, even if they’d never voted for him before.

It worked and the lesson, he finds, from D66’s success is not to pander to populism. Be yourself.

The polarisation of politics along new lines – no longer left vs right, but now open vs closed – is mobilising voters against right-wing populism. We are witnessing the beginnings of a liberal backlash against the backlash against liberalism. Of course, it wasn’t just Mark Rutte’s VVD which benefited, but other parties too.

D66, the second Liberal party in the Netherlands (lucky Dutch to have two liberal options) did well, surging to almost level pegging in the polls with Geert Wilders and adding seven seats to their tally in the Dutch Parliament. D66 are, ideologically, most similar to the Liberal Democrats in Britain. Alexander Pechtold, their experienced leader, told me when we met how he was going to run an unapologetically pro-European campaign. He was not going to bend to the populist times. His decision paid off handsomely.

And he sees the chance of reforms that would make British voters want to stay in the EU.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 35 Comments

Defiant Conference rally sets out Liberal Democrat anti-brexit stall

The Conference rally is always an opportunity to enthuse the Liberal Democrat conference goers and to set the tone for the whole weekend.

Last night’s was a gritty show of defiance of a Government that refuses to listen to any sort of reason over Brexit, contempt for an opposition that helps them on their way and a strong statement that only the Liberal Democrats will stand up for the rights of the British people.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , and | 2 Comments

Farron: Now is the time to stand and fight

The first big showcase event of Spring conference takes place this evening. At the rally, Tim Farron will call on pro Europeans to stand and fight.

First of all, though, he may gloat a bit about being named Remoaner in Chief by Arron Banks’s outfit:

If remoaning means standing up for EU citizens who have made their lives here in the UK.

If remoaning means demanding that the British people have the final say in this process

If remoaning means standing up for a family of nations that has healed the wounds of two world wars and a terrifying cold war

Then I am proud to be your remoaner in chief!

He will go on to talk about how we need to continue the fight against the destructive Brexit course chosen by the Conservatives and Labour:

I am not an enemy of the people, but I am the enemy of those people who seek to divide our country, to pervert the referendum result for their narrow ideology and trash our values by turning our backs on our neighbours.

And the more they come after us, the louder I will shout.

Despite what this government and their fanatical Brexit supporters in the press would like us all to believe, democracy did not end on the 24th of June.

It might be a political risk for us to speak out against the direction our country is going.

But it is the right thing to do.

Because what Britain does in the next two years will define us for the next one hundred.

So now is not the time to sit down and shut up.

Now is the time to stand up and fight.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 8 Comments

Irish Liberal Democrats and LDV St Patrick’s Day fringe at York

Theresa May dealt a blow to Ireland in her Brexit white paper when she said she wanted in effect to leave the EU customs union, confirming Brexit poses a huge threat to frictionless cross-border trade on the island of Ireland, the mainstay of the Irish economy.

The Irish Ambassador to the UK, Daniel Mulhall said last month that comprehensive customs and border checks between Ireland and Northern Ireland are not remotely possible

Northern Ireland polled more europhilic than other regions in the UK before the election. Its Remain vote of 55.7 per cent was the third strongest in the country. Nationalists wanted the UK to remain in the EU, but unionists generally wanted to leave. Sinn Féin, the SDLP, the Ulster Unionists, Alliance and the Green Party wanted to stay. The Irish government also wanted a remain vote. The DUP, the TUV and the left-wing People before Profit party backed Brexit.

As Sinn Fein and the DUP jostle for position in a new power sharing agreement at Stormont the Brexit divide has come to the fore. If the parties are unable to agree an accommodation, we may yet see a return to direct rule of the province from Westminster.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 2 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarGlenn 25th Mar - 5:21am
    We've spent most of the last ten years declining pensions, sky rocketing property prices, devalue the currency through QE and with savings being reduced to...
  • User AvatarGlenn 25th Mar - 1:20am
    Roland; I misunderstood you chap. I don't agree. Germany, France and even Italy all had and have stronger trade unions. Unions have not been that...
  • User AvatarCllr Mark Wright 25th Mar - 12:25am
    "The second problem is that the Bank of England itself takes the view that Quantitative Easing is regressive, because it pushes asset prices upwards, and...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 25th Mar - 12:24am
    Dear Rebecca, As I was a Politics student and Union of Liberal Students member at Leeds University in 1966 I read your article with delight,...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 24th Mar - 11:23pm
    The article is overblown, the responses almost measured in comparison. The policy is a compromise. Yes those to the left of Ho Chi Min and...
  • User AvatarRoland 24th Mar - 10:23pm
    @Glenn - The trouble is that 'business' also includes the workers. Remember just how many of trade union call to arms has been about the...