Tag Archives: eu referendum

A voice for the voiceless

I had written a speech for the European motion at conference, and I wanted to share it with you all:

I was going to tell you about how angry I was.

I was going to talk about how the Leave campaign lied, how they cheated, how they preyed on fear, and how fear won.

I was going to demand we take action.

I was going to implore you to stand fast in your support for internationalism and your support for Britain’s membership of the EU.

But then I remembered that it isn’t just about us, that it isn’t just about the 16 million people who voted for an open and tolerant nation.

It is about our friends and neighbours, the 3 million EU nationals who live and work with us in Britain who never had a voice during the referendum.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 18 Comments

Migrants: Welcome and fear

Recently I was out with some Bishop’s Stortford Liberal Democrats, gathering signatures on a petition for citizens of other EU nations currently in the UK to be allowed to remain in the UK. In a few hours we gathered just over 250 signatures on a not-that-busy street. Some were delighted to sign. Some were relieved that we were not taking the opposite position. Some said their businesses would struggle without people from other parts of the EU.

More worrying was the small minority who disagreed, loudly wanting foreigners to “go home”. A prize for confusion goes to the person who said that, and then added that she wanted to retire to France.

Then came an apparently-xenophobic attack on two Poles in Harlow and Theresa May’s assertion that curbing immigration will take priority over access to the single market in Brexit talks. She must know this is unrealistic: freedom of movement is one of the pillars of the single market and Switzerland’s access to EU programmes was curtailed after they sought to restrict migration.

The sense of farce is heightened by a survey from British Future saying that only a third of people think the government will meet its immigration targets over the next five years and a claim from Boris Johnson that people didn’t vote Leave because of immigration.

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WATCH: Nick Clegg on the rise of populist parties and READ his paper on European trade

Nick Clegg is everywhere in the media at the moment as he publicises his book which is published next week.

Tonight he was on Channel 4 News talking about the challenge to reasonable, moderate politics posed by populists parties who use the politics of fear and blame.

Watch the interview below:


He linked this to the fact that Parliament may have to leave the Palace of Westminster while repairs are carried out to this. He reckons leaving the “rat-infested, asbestos ridden” place might help to drag our democracy into the 21st century.

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Catherine Bearder MEP writes: Churchill and Mandela would have been with us on the March for Europe

As thousands of Brits marched across the uk to show their support for our continued EU membership relationship I was with Liberal Democrat president Sal Brinton, past MEP Sarah Ludford and many other activists, PPCs, councillors, new and old members and others who wanted to be with the Liberal Democrats in our fight to get the best for our country post the referendum result.

The organisers were initially determined not to allow any elected political speakers on to the platform.  It seems the phrase ‘cross party’ had again been confused with ‘no party’, despite the speakers from the world of entertainment and media clearly having political affiliations.  However, sense and justice prevailed and I was allowed to speak to the assembled crowds.  It seemed only fair as the Liberal Democrats formed a major part of the March, and for that I must say thank you to Kelly-Marie Blundell and her team for organising us all and making sure our voice is heard across the country.

This then is the gist of what I said….

For every one who is marching to day, not just here in London, but right across the country, there are hundreds who are not on a march, but are with us in spirit.  They know as you do that this campaign was fought on lies and untruths and the question was simplistic.  The result cannot therefore be allowed to stand.  Reasons for voters supporting leave were varied, and we now know that what they were asked to vote on – Brexit – is a total unknown.  No one knows what it is.  Even the Brexiteers still don’t know what they want.

So many people and European flags flying is good to see, but there are two other people in this square with us who would be joining us if they could, one is Winston Churchill, the other is Nelson Mandela.  They both recognised that working together across borders is the best way to deliver peace and prosperity for all. They would be horrified to think there is a possibility of the UK leaving the best and biggest club on the planet.   We have to do all we can to stop that, and if we can’t we must make sure that we get the best deal possible – and then put that deal to the voters in the UK.

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What the Electoral Reform Society Report on the Referendum missed out

Recently, the Electoral Reform Society published its report on the EU Referendum. It’s an interesting read.

It’s main recommendations include:

  • greater pre-legislative scrutiny of a Referendum Bill
  • a more deliberative approach
  • a body which can rule on the veracity of claims

In the immediate aftermath of the referendum, ERS conducted a poll to find out the key influencers of  and perceptions about the campaign.

This graphic, showing where people got their information from, sums up how well the Leave campaign hit its target market and how completely rubbish the Remain campaign was.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 26 Comments

LibLink: Willie Rennie: Why Sturgeon no longer has my backing over Brexit

In June, Nicola Sturgeon erected a very big tent as she said she was going to explore all options to ensure Scotland’s continuing place in the EU, given the huge Remain majority north of the border.

Since then, SNP ministers seem to have narrowed the options to independence. They are talking about nothing else. Mike Russell, a man who spent 7 years as education secretary upsetting people, has been appointed as Brexit minister. It’s not the best appointment to a job that needs finesse and diplomacy.

Sturgeon, says Willie Rennie in an article for the Scotsman, has broken the …

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged and | 7 Comments

Farron: We must not let racists hijack the referendum result

As the Cabinet gathers rather awkwardly at Chequers to discuss the implementation of Brexit, Tim Farron makes a keynote speech to the Institute of Public Policy Research in Manchester this morning.

It will be interesting to see if and how he tackles the question of the Open Britain organisation, much discussed on here in the last couple of days.

The advance extracts of his speech concentrate on the need to do something about the increase in hatred and open racism since the referendum and he again emphasises that the Liberal Democrats will stand up for those EU citizens already living here.

He also addresses the real concerns and disadvantages faced by many of those who voted to leave the EU.

Here’s what he is going to say on these topics:

Divided

We, the political classes, have left a country bitterly divided as a result.

Between parents and children, families, neighbours.

Between the nations of our own union, who have worked and fought together for centuries.

Between us and our continental neighbours.

And now the biggest danger of them all.

That because of those divisions, we are in danger of letting malevolent forces hijack the result.

Plenty of my mates voted leave and I can tell you that the majority of those who did vote leave are utterly appalled that Farage, Le Pen and their ilk now seek to claim the result as a victory for their hateful brand of intolerance, racism and insularity.  Britain is better than that.

But I’m not so blinded by those emotions that I don’t see the new divisions that are opening up between us.

New political boundaries which chop the old certainties of Tory and Labour into little pieces.

Because there’s a new battle emerging.

Between the forces of tolerant liberalism and intolerant, closed-minded nationalism.

And, of course, you know that, as leader of the Liberal Democrats, which side I’m on.

To EU citizens

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