Tag Archives: brexit

Brexit and the denial of democracy

 

No sooner had Sarah Olney swept to her dramatic victory in Richmond Park, than some panicking Brexiteers began peddling a ‘clever’ rhetorical question on social media. It went roughly like this:  “With a candidate that didn’t win the popular vote on only a 53% turnout, shouldn’t Tim Farron be calling for a second by-election?!” The ‘joke’, of course, is an attempt to claim that Lib Dem attitudes towards the referendum are hypocritical, or self-undermining.

A moment’s thought, however, brings home that any alleged comparison between Richmond Park and the Brexit result is really rather silly. More interestingly, however, seeing why it is silly points us towards a striking fact about a now prominent wing of the Brexit position: how deeply undemocratic it has become.

We can see this by first stating a blindingly obvious truth: that there will be a second vote in the Richmond Park constituency. It will happen when the next general election is called. (And then after that, and after that, and after that again, whenever there is a parliamentary poll.) The Liberal Democrats are entirely prepared to have their victory contested, and potentially overturned. That’s just in the DNA of parliamentary democracy. No Lib Dem thinks of denying it.

Posted in Op-eds | 76 Comments

Please stop saying people don’t vote against their economic interests. They do it quite deliberately, all the time.

I’m hearing the same argument uttered over and over again  – ironically by both sides  – in the Brexit debate.

Remain supporters keep saying ‘no-one in Britain voted to be worse off in the referendum campaign’, on the presumption that folk don’t vote against what they believe is in their economic interest.

Leavers, for the same reason, believe that they’ll get a great deal in their Brexit negotiations because ‘it’s in the remaining EU member countries’ economic interests to do so’

Both sides are of course wrong. People make quite deliberate decisions against their economic interest every day. The reason why political folk don’t realise this is because they are brought up in a culture of Fiscal and Monetary economics. The real world works rather more like Behavioural Economics.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 35 Comments

How Brexit will harm our NHS and social care

So, I’m drifting back to LDV slowly and gradually. My husband is now recovering from his heart surgery at home. It’s still quite incredible to think that only 10 weeks ago, he was enjoying his best health in years. All that changed with what we thought was Flu but turned out to be an infection in his heart which damaged one of his heart valves – a pretty complex one, too. My gratitude to the surgical team who sorted this out is unrivalled.

I have been more scared during this time than I have ever been in my life. That late-night phone call from Intensive Care when they said they needed to take him back into theatre was the point that I thought I really was going to crumble. The election of Donald Trump, terrifying as it is, 24 hours later was far from the most stressful thing I had to face that week.

The frenetic running about to and from the hospital and the intrinsic terror of the situation have now been replaced with a much less stressful but still very busy routine of drugging people, feeding people, cleaning, washing and other elements of domesticity which are a bit of a learning curve for me. My slovenly ways have been replaced by scrubbing everything in sight with anti-bacterial potions.

I tell Bob that I am basing my nursing style on Kathy Bates in Misery. He wasn’t really meant to agree that I was doing that well, but never mind.  Yesterday was a bit of a milestone when he had his first wee walk outside in 9 weeks.

I’m clearly going to be pre-occupied with looking after him for a while yet. The likelihood is that I’m still going to be a bit slow to get back to people  and not really engaged full time in the site until the New Year, so please continue to be patient with me.

My thanks go to the team who have had to do well more than they ever signed up for over the last nine weeks. Without them, there would have been no LDV at all. They have been absolutely brilliant.

I’ve observed much about our NHS and the stresses at its frontline. Bob had the most excellent care in hospital, but it was very clear to us how hard everyone was working and how there was so little give in the system. It’s a theme I will return to. For today, though, I want to think about the effects of Brexit on the NHS. The Leave Campaign’s jolly assertion that leaving the EU would mean £350 million a week extra for the NHS was consigned to history almost before the votes had been counted.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 14 Comments

Want to stay an EU citizen? Now is the time to start lobbying for it

It has come sooner than we might have thought. But the first crunch parliamentary vote on Brexit is about to take place. Not in Westminster, but 200 miles to the east, in Brussels. And the British press is waking up to it.

Splashed across the front page of Saturday’s edition of The Times is the news that Guy Verhofstadt, the Belgian MEP who leads the Liberal group in the European Parliament, backs the idea of offering EU citizenship directly to Brits who want it post-Brexit. The Guardian and others have reported on it too (if you don’t have access through the paywall).

I first blogged about this idea last month, and wrote about it here in Lib Dem Voice earlier this month after learning that another Liberal MEP, Luxembourg’s Charles Goerens, had started to push for it.

Brexit might not yet happen, but on 8 December MEPs on the Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs Committee will cast the first votes on whether Brits might be able to opt back in to the EU as individuals in the event that it does.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 38 Comments

The “Ambassador Farage” episode: Brexiteers, be careful what you wish for!

The episode where president-elect Donald Trump twittered that he’d like to get his goodpal Nigel Farage as British ambassador to the US, was a stern lesson to the pro-Brexit-camp in British politics – be careful what you wish for; if you get it, it may turn out to be a nightmare.

The following summary of this episode and the start of Trump’s Transition is mainly based on Dutch newspaper articles: Telegraaf, Financieel Dagblad, Volkskrant, of the past two weeks.

It all started with Mr Farage, being the undisputed first foreign politician to be invited to Trump’s Transition HQ.

Shortly afterwards, in a talkshow on Londons LBC Radio, Mr. Farage said that what president Trump needed was “a good eurosceptic ambassador” in Brussels for the EU and European NATO partners, and he would like to get that job. Another guest on the show, Labour MP Chuka Ummuna, expressed his horror at that idea, to which Farage replied “anything that will diminish or destroy the EU; I don’t care how we do it.”

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 26 Comments

Even George Osborne’s Brexit black hole warning wasn’t high enough

George Osborne got a lot of stick back in June, when he warned that a Brexit vote would leave a “£30 billion black hole in (the) public finances”. Indeed, his warning resulted in his entire career being shunted into a siding. Crestfallen, he went off to Vietnam to let off steam with an M60 machine gun.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 54 Comments

Opportunities? Brexiteers, please specify

The motives and backgrounds of leave-voters are by now sufficiently understood to conclude that many of them cannot afford to and would not have voted for becoming substantially and permanently poorer. Some may, but had it been widely understood that Brexit comes at a high economic price for everybody, the result would have been a different one.

Apparently, most leavers dismissed the economic arguments of remain, and instead of asking for better arguments from leave bought the “scaremongering”-claim (admittedly, leave was much better at creating slogans). And this continues: leave already claims victory on the economy after 6 months in which nothing (apart from a 15% devaluation of the country) has happened. Luckily, consumers so far remain complacent and keep spending.

I know the typical response I can expect from Brexiteers: unsubstantiated claims (“see the opportunities”, “champions of free trade”…), denial (“Q3 was good”), fluffy sovereignty-talk (“Brussels”), and pressure (“how dare you not respecting the will of the people?”). Is that all you have got?

May I challenge you to think a little harder? Specify trading opportunities the UK currently misses because of EU membership, which outweigh the losses from leaving the single market. In other words: How and when will you have replaced the benefits of preferential access to 27 EU member states and the EUs’ 53 third-country agreements with higher yielding UK-deals? How and when will you recover the transitional losses? Will the current generation of young people recover from the damage within their professionally active lifetime? No leave-campaigner has ever presented any such case. Can you?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 98 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarNick 6th Dec - 6:07pm
    It's 110 years since we last elected a Liberal majority in Parliament. Since WW2 the most MPs we've had is 63. Now, we can sit...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 6th Dec - 6:00pm
    Catherine, thanks for commenting - and disagreeing! I wanted debate, and you have put your finger on the 'antidemocratic' argument against us (though I don't...
  • User Avatarmatt 6th Dec - 5:51pm
    Well all this flip flopping, you can never be sure what is real anymore. After all, it was only a few years ago that Nick...
  • User AvatarJohn Payne 6th Dec - 5:48pm
    Bernard, On a point of detail, Mark Bonham Carter’s main opponent at the famous 1958 Torrington by-election was Anthony Royle who stood as a Conservative...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 6th Dec - 5:44pm
    I sympathise with the mood of Lord Roberts , and our colleague , Eddie Sammon, and on this day do not want to rain on...
  • User AvatarJohn Peters 6th Dec - 5:40pm
    @matt The expense wasn't incurred as the deal (if indeed there was one) fell through. To me the offer sounds dodgy and the sort of...