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Should Parliament put a stop to Brexit?

Most suggestions for resolving the “What the (insert expletive of choice) do we do now?” conundrum tend to involve various degrees of access to the Single Market or a General Election. Few are brave enough to suggest that Parliament simply declines to invoke Article 50. Until now.

Professor A C Grayling, Master of the New College of Humanities in London, has written to all MPs telling them that they have a responsibility not to support any such motion. He lists several reasons, not least the paucity of the campaign, the likelihood of the break up of the UK if we leave the EU and the fact that the threshold for such a huge change was set way too low. He has a point. You can’t change the number of places on a toddler group committee without a 2/3 majority. When the party conference considers a vast swathe of constitutional amendments in September, they will need a 2/3 majority to pass. With hindsight, you have to wonder why on earth we let such a major change through on a simple majority.

Harvard’s Professor Kenneth Rogoff agrees that the threshold is too low:

In terms of durability and conviction of preferences, most societies place greater hurdles in the way of a couple seeking a divorce than Prime Minister David Cameron’s government did on the decision to leave the EU. Brexiteers did not invent this game; there is ample precedent, including Scotland in 2014 and Quebec in 1995. But, until now, the gun’s cylinder never stopped on the bullet. Now that it has, it is time to rethink the rules of the game.

Grayling isn’t a fan of referenda anyway:

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The Liberal approach to immigration

The Liberal approach to dealing with the unpopularity of immigration and immigrants is to challenge that concern. It’s to robustly make a positive case for immigration as a policy and — crucially — immigrants as human beings.

The Liberal approach is to shift attention unfairly directed at them to where it belongs: Government unwillingness to fund housing, the NHS and other public services.

The Liberal approach includes strongly differentiating between migrants and refugees, which lately have all too often conflated by media and politicians, so that everyone understands the different reasons that people want to be welcomed into the UK, be they economic migrants, asylum seekers, refugees, students, or any of a host of other categories that people in different circumstances will find themselves in.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 63 Comments

Vince Cable writes…The birth of the 48 movement

For our party and its supporters in the country the last few years have brought one defeat after another:  local councils, devolved government, national government, AV referendum, now the EU referendum.  There is a limit to the number of times a boxer can climb back up off the floor.  What fortifies me is the adage that winners are losers who never give up.  And perhaps we should think bigger: not as a small party with an 8% core vote but the centre of gravity of a broad movement of 48% of voters who chose Remain.

The first step in responding to defeat has been to look for scapegoats: the people who led a poor and failing campaign.  Cameron has gone and (hopefully) Corbyn and Osborne are going.   But in truth the Remain campaign as a whole failed to grasp the strength of the opposing coalition: not just conservative pensioners who want the past back but the’ left behind ‘who have suffered declining living standards and public services, the Commonwealth voters who felt Europe was at their expense and many who felt this was the best way to give an unpopular and unrepresentative government a good kicking.

That is why we have to approach the result with some humility.  There is nothing to be gained by denial: crying foul. We wuz robbed, ref.  I see petitions demanding a re-run, legal challenges and appeals to parliament to ‘do something’.  Dream on.  Of course the Leave campaign was mendacious; of course the referendum shouldn’t have happened; of course parliament was negligent in not building in thresholds. But the public was clearly told by both sides that the result would be final. And there was a big turnout.  That is it..

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 132 Comments

6000 and rising

HQ tells us that by last night 6000 new members had joined the Liberal Democrats, echoing the big increase in membership after the General Election last year.

We love having new members so we hope you will all get involved and help push the party forward. Encourage your friends to join; if they think like you then they probably won’t need much persuading.

Caron Lindsay has written a post full of useful information for new members. Also, search us out on Facebook and Twitter (@LibDems, @timfarron, @libdemvoice) if you haven’t found us already. Lots of local parties and activists are active on both.

Posted in News | 16 Comments

1000 new members join Lib Dems as Farron says “We will keep the vision of an open, optimistic, hopeful Britain alive”

So I still haven’t gone to bed yet. I feel just about alive. There seems little point in sleeping now as I need to get up at 4:30 tomorrow morning to catch a flight to London for Federal Executive where we have a whole day of constitutional amendments ahead of us. I suspect we may mention the Referendum result as well. Just a bit.

“I’m for the 16 million, the 48%” said Tim Farron in a speech on the referendum result. By 1pm,1000 people had joined the party, reminiscent of the surge last year.

Tim’s speech was heartfelt and hopeful. He was furious about the way the campaign had been fought, so divisive and deceitful. He understood the concerns of those disengaged people who had voted for Leave but he also empathised with young people, who had voted for Remain in huge numbers but “whose future had been taken away by older generations” who had enjoyed the benefits of greater European integration.

He also announced that 1000 new members had joined the Lib Dems today.

You can watch the speech here on the party’s Facebook page. It darned well made me cry. Up until seeing it, I had been shocked. This tugged at the heartstrings. .

I am devastated and I am angry. Today we woke to a deeply divided country.

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Referendum Results open thread

So, it’s all over bar the counting.

First of all, thanks to every single person who pounded the streets and melted phone lines today getting out the Remain vote. You are all legends. I want to say a particular thanks to the fantastic West Lothian Stronger In team.

If you are not going to a count, the best thing I can advise is having a nice mug of cocoa and going to bed. Seriously. Set your alarm for 4-ish. It’s likely that nothing is going to even start to become clear before then and, as Stephen Bush wrote in his guide in the New Statesman,  it’s likely that Leave will be well ahead in the early part of the night and that’s just bad for the blood pressure.

This has been the most unpleasant few weeks in politics that I can remember. It was when someone told me in all seriousness outside Morrisons this afternoon that if we voted to stay in, 76 million Turkish people would be arriving here in September. It’s total nonsense and straight from a Leave campaign leaflet.

I asked them to think about how that would happen. When in history had an entire population of a country just upped and legged it to somewhere else? I asked them to think about the logistics of moving half way across a continent. How much would it cost? What arrangements would have to be made. I asked them to think about the number of flights that would entail. Would there be enough capacity for all those people? Of course not. I wish I’d brought to mind Meral Ece’s oft used stat that only 7000 Turkish people resident in Turkey actually have passports.

They got it in the end, but, sadly, because one side had been caught out in a lie, it didn’t make them trust the other lot. It made me more angry about Leave’s cynical manipulation, their barely disguised racism. I don’t actually think that any of Leave’s key figures are fit and proper people to hold office of any sort. I don’t think a Prime Minister should have them in his cabinet and he should be upfront about saying why.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 40 Comments

Nick Clegg writes…Europe makes Britain great

Unlike many of our neighbours, Britain did not join the EU as a way of embracing a new, modern identity. For the Germans, French, Italians and the Benelux countries, European co-operation represented the victory of peace over war. For Spain, Greece and Portugal, membership signified the victory of democracy over fascism. For many newer members, it was about throwing off the tyranny of Soviet communism.
Not us. Joining the European Community was a pounds and pence calculation of what was good for us, done with a shrug of the shoulders and an ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ acceptance that the age of empire was over.

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

  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 27th Aug - 1:35am
    Matthew Huntbach re comments to Stevan Rose and to anyone who cares about this party Please read this and take it in and take it...
  • User AvatarMatthew Huntbach 27th Aug - 12:25am
    Stevan Rose That’s rich coming from one who tries to close others down by firstly suggesting a group of fellow members should hold their heads...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 27th Aug - 12:15am
    Stevan Rose As often , I like your stance , but the thing about Labour splitting , if they do , that is when the...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 27th Aug - 12:05am
    I have preferred to see the video of the whole of Hillarys speech instead of Assanges , and for good reason . If we go...
  • User AvatarStevan Rose 26th Aug - 11:42pm
    Lyn Newman made some excellent points in this discussion that I mostly agree with, except cancelling the membership for the moment. We can't even elect...
  • User Avatarfrankie 26th Aug - 10:06pm
    As I have just rejoined the party, it appears I now have my get out of moderation card. I just hope my decision doesn't come...