Tag Archives: brexit

Caroline Pidgeon writes…Brexit demands greater devolution – a new deal for our regions

Back in 2013 I wrote an article for Lib Dem Voice setting out the case for London and other cities to have more financial control.

The vote to leave the EU makes the case for devolution and fiscal devolution more urgent. Whatever Leave voters felt they were voting for, it was not ‘business as usual’. It was not an endorsement of centralised power, simply removing it from Brussels to Whitehall and job done.

The referendum result not only affects the country as a whole but also within our nations, regions and cities.  The uncertainties from Brexit may well be better managed at a local level, with local and regional government able to respond more effectively.

At present, virtually all taxation in the UK is determined by central government. Only council tax (and in England from April 2013, a proportion of business rates) can be seen as local taxation – and even this is subject to cumbersome controls, including referendum rules set by central Government.  When you compare this internationally you realise what control Whitehall holds.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 15 Comments

Our Brexit strategy needs amending

 

I voted Remain in the EU Referendum. I still think we should remain a member of the EU, for a wide variety of reasons. I also think our policy on Brexit- to push government to negotiate the best possible deal, and then call for a referendum on the final result- is broadly correct. Certainly, people have a right to change their mind as we find out more details, or even decide that they were once wrong about something. However, one major amendment is needed.

As things stand, the polls look like they’re turning. If a new referendum were held today, there is a wealth of evidence to suggest that Remain would win it. The polls say something else, too; people don’t actually want a second referendum. Therein lies the brick wall we’re banging against, as our poll numbers continue to stagnate. It is also the key flaw in our strategy.

I’m not going to suggest that we could take the UK back into the EU without a second referendum. Although constitutionally possible, it just doesn’t make political sense to discard the result of a first referendum under any different measure. That even goes for the more democratic ‘actually take it to election, so those who would be responsible are bound by their campaign pledges, and held accountable for their lies’ option. The thing is, ‘let’s just do it again’ doesn’t resonate with voters.

Posted in Op-eds | 35 Comments

Dear Lords – please attach a parachute to the Brexit Bill

This week the House of Lords starts its 5 days of deliberation on the Article 50 Bill. The Brexiteers in Government have basically told them not to muck about with it or else. David Davis has even told them that it’s their patriotic duty to simply vote in favour of it.

Actually, there’s a very strong argument that it is their patriotic duty to put a brake on this Government’s relentless pursuit of the most damaging Brexit possible – Tony Blair’s “Brexit at all costs.” Hard Brexit doesn’t quite capture how relentlessly difficult the lives of many of the poorest people in our society are going to become if the Government gets its way.

It’s actually quite shocking to think that a Bill of this significance should pass through all its parliamentary stages in less than a month. Invoking Article 50 will be the biggest and most major change of direction in decades and it deserves much more careful consideration. It’s not being done in a vacuum. We have Theresa May’s statement of intent to pull us out of the single market and customs union. If that had been on the ballot paper, I doubt Leave would have won their majority. The people did not vote for this and so their consent must be sought.

There is every reason for the Lords to say to the Government something along the lines of: “We will vote for Article 50 to be invoked but only when certain conditions are met.”  One of those conditions,  given that they are unelected, would have to be one which brought the people into the equation – giving them a final say on the terms of Brexit, with an option to Remain which, entirely coincidentally, just happens to be Lib Dem policy. 

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Vote Leave: Strong democratic case for referendum on the Brexit deal

When Liberal Democrats have talked about offering a referendum on the Brexit deal, they have had tonnes of abuse shovelled at them from outraged Brexiteers. We’re undemocratic, they say. We’re not willing to accept the will of the people. How on earth giving the people a say on whether their government has interpreted their wishes correctly is undemocratic is beyond me, but to the Boris Johnsons, and Iain Duncan Smiths and Theresa Mays of this world, it makes sense. That would be the people with power who don’t want it challenged.

Tony Blair is the latest figure to come in for the disapproval of the Brexiteer zealots, which now appear to include the Labour leadership. I’ll just leave this tweet from Robert Hutton here, just as an aside:

What’s interesting is that Tony Blair didn’t say much different what Nick Clegg and Tim Farron have been saying since the referendum. It’s hardly surprising that both Liberal Democrats expressed approval.

We can be absolutely certain that had the vote on 23rd June been 52-48 in favour of Remain that the Leave campaign would have been arguing for a second referendum already.

But a referendum on the Brexit deal is an entirely different thing. So what did Vote Leave have to say about that? Well, in January 2016, before we even knew the date of the referendum, Vote Leave’s director Dominic Cummings, the guy who came up with the £350 million a week for the NHS pledge which was dumped within hours of the result being known, gave an interview to the Economist. Twitter is full today of how this is still being linked to from the Vote Leave website.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 5 Comments

LibLInk: Nick Clegg: UK not taking seriously Brexit impact on Ireland

Nick Clegg has written an article in the Irish Times accusing the British government of not taking  the impact of Brexit on Ireland seriously enough. David Davis didn’t even mention maintaining the “soft border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic:

Instead, the government made a fleeting reference to the fact they will aim to “minimise frictions and administrative burdens”. This suggests that in one shape or form there will be an unwelcome return to checks at the Border.

There is a pattern here – the government doesn’t appear to be taking seriously the negative impact Brexit will have

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Brexit – a view from the Continent

For the 1.3 million British migrants living in the EU, the past couple of weeks have been pretty eventful. Many of us have watched and listened (in horror) from afar whilst Brexit and Article 50 have been discussed in parliament. We’ve heard that it’s “the people’s will” and that Parliament should not ignore the referendum vote. Yet many of us did not have the vote in the referendum, as we have lived for too long outside of the UK. We saw an attempt to guarantee the rights of European citizens living in the UK defeated, even by Labour MPs such as Gisela Stuart, who is on record as supporting their rights. An amendment to force the government to support British migrants, proposed by the Liberal Democrats, was not even taken. Many of us are starting to be seriously worried about the way forward.

Recently I was told that it was the European Union that is blocking progress on recognising the situation of individuals and also that UK citizens were being used as bargaining chips. If anything, it is the frustration with the British government’s lack of communication that has led to this situation. Many countries, except apparently France and Germany, are prepared to come to an agreement. The common Franco-German position, as well as that of the European Commission, is that there can be no discussions until PM Theresa May has formally invoked Article 50 and declared that the UK will withdraw from the EU. On the contrary, both countries are clear that they have no intention of “expelling” British nationals living in their countries, many of whom have jobs and families. So why should we be afraid?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 48 Comments

The campaign against Brexit continues

So far a majority in the House of Commons supports the advice of the British people to leave the European Union (EU). The Government, elected by 25% of voters, continues to impose its destructive hard Brexit vision on the 48% and many leavers who wanted to remain in the Single Market. We also made a decision in the 1975 referendum, and then by a far larger majority, to remain. Taken together this suggests there is no ‘settled will’ as to how we wish to associate with our European neighbours and largest export market. Democracy is much more than just one or two votes. There is no finality in any democracy. When a political party loses an election, it does not stop arguing for what it believes in. Given the losers of the 1975 referendum did not stop trying to reverse that decision, why should remainers, who are also patriots, be asked to stand down now?

We have an unelected Prime Minister speaking outside Parliament proposing what she knows to be a half-baked sketch for Brexit which is not best for Britain. The White Paper isn’t a plan either – it’s a poorly drafted wish list of desired outcomes. She says she wants a good deal with the EU. Yet Lib Dems know any deal the Government does or doesn’t conclude will not be good enough. If leaving the EU were such a good policy, the Government wouldn’t have been so afraid to subject it to full Parliamentary scrutiny.

Brexiters perpetrate a misleading, if not self-delusional, narrative on the economy and particularly trade. It is true the “sky has not fallen in” on the economy. However, the past is no guide to future performance. The last 7 months is a short time frame, and shows we are still benefiting from being in the EU Single Market. But much investment in the UK is on hold, and some financial firms are already relocating some operations out of the UK. Brexiters downplay the 15% depreciation in the pound but let’s see how the Just About Managing (JAMs) and others enjoy the resulting 3% inflation, higher energy prices and forecast decline in real living standards as Brexit bites.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 37 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDJ 26th Feb - 5:22pm
    After Nick Clegg forgot to think about how Brexit would impact on Wales it's great to hear a liberal and Welsh perspective. It's great to...
  • User Avatarfrankie 26th Feb - 5:13pm
    Clottie, If you look at what brave Brexiteers believe and what the SNP believe they are actually the same. Brave Brexiteers it's all the EU's...
  • User AvatarDJ 26th Feb - 4:51pm
    Education, after health, is probably the second biggest responsibility in Wales and it's so important that the wider party supports Kirsty as she goes about...
  • User AvatarMike S 26th Feb - 4:45pm
    I think younger people generally are simply so interconnected now (the Facebook, Smartphone generation), that they SEE the world so differently to what we did...
  • User AvatarMike S 26th Feb - 4:28pm
    @ Peter "The problem with the preamble is that it is a destination (an end-point rather than a “starting point”) and not a route map....
  • User AvatarClootie 26th Feb - 4:26pm
    ...and yet Scottish LibDems continue to put the Imperial Union first rather than fight for the Scottish nation to have its vote respected. The video...