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..

The other unhelpful response is to try to rerun the debate,: ‘make the case for Europe”, again, better, in the hope that somehow we can prevent the inevitable happening by pretending last Thursday never happened.  Sorry.  Let’s get real.

Some argue that there should be a commitment to a second referendum to ratify the results of the renegotiations and then, somehow, get back to where we were..  Again, this is hiding reality behind procedural dodges.  Anyway, the end point is years away. And surely parliament should accept responsibility which it has shamefully ducked over this referendum.

Then there is the hope that a General Election in the autumn will provide an opportunity for a fight back.  An election is possible.  And Lib Dems would certainly benefit.  But is it likely?  The process of calling an election within a fixed term parliament is complex and difficult.  It requires a majority greater than the government’s.  Why would Labour turkeys vote for Xmas?  Or Nats put at risk their hegemony ? Or, for that matter, the Tories risk letting in a batch of Ukippers.  We have to be ready for an election but also recognise that it is far from certain.

What is needed is something which reaches beyond the tribe and doesn’t rely on conventional party politics within the existing structures.  Somehow we have to  try to give direction and hope to  those who voted to remain but are now fragmented, demoralised and frightened.  We must confront the Leave leadership, who have no idea what to do next, with a post-Brexit programme which respects the result but retains the outward-looking, inclusive values of those who voted to remain: many moderate Tories, Lib Dems, most of the Left,  business people and trades unionists, most young people.  The 48 Movement.

Concretely that means aiming for a form of close association with the EU which keeps those things which we collectively value.  These include economic integration through trade, environmental and social protections,  human rights, cross-border cooperation on security and defence: crucially, the values rather than the institutions.  It is for the post Brexit Conservative government to take full responsibility for negotiating its way through the many obstacles including unfriendly European governments.  What we need now is a coherent opposition , based on the wider 48 Movement, which will hold its feet to the fire.

A movement of the kind I envisage would start with a set of propositions which would form the basis for campaigning and political action..  My list is short and not everyone will share my priorities.  But, here is a start

Fighting the Brexit Recession.

There will be an economic shock as the Governor of the Bank of England, the IMF and others have warned.  This is how Brexit will affect ordinary people.  I already hear many reports of businesses cancelling investment plans.  Consumer confidence is plummeting.  Once the reality sinks in the Right will reach for their traditional remedies: scrapping labour protection and environmental regulation; further cuts in public spending.

We need a rescue plan which recognises the reality that there are no easy ways of dealing with a recession caused by a collapse of confidence.  There will need to be a radical programme of public investment to stave off unemployment, making a break with the Osborne obsession with rapid cuts in public borrowing and taking advantage of very low interest rates to borrow to invest.  There is a stalled rail investment plan to revive.  Councils and housing associations must start building houses to offset the impending collapse in private building.  There are strong legacies from the Coalition –the Business Bank, the Green Investment Bank, the Regional Growth Fund-to mobilise investment.

Long term planning and industrial strategy.

Business confronts massive uncertainty.   There is a danger of investment slowly leaking away.  Skills and innovation will dry up.  There will be an urgent need for a national plan, getting business and government working together to coordinate skill training, business finance, public procurement, exports and research.  The Coalition’s long-term industrial strategy was working well but has been allowed to decay; it urgently needs reviving.

Managing immigration.

Here I will be controversial. I have always been liberal on immigration and believe that it is good for the country.  But it is blindingly obvious that the perception of uncontrolled EU immigration cost us the referendum.  Not just Daily Mail reading pensioners but working class, Labour, voters and even many Asians who felt discriminated against.  In truth the current position is totally unsustainable.  Non-EU migration is being held down doing great harm to universities in particular. At the same time free movement of labour in the EU is wholly uncontrolled.  I believe we must accept the political reality that there should be some control over migration from the EU. (exempting Ireland for obvious reasons) within a broadly liberal regime.  This will however make it difficult to retain Single Market status unless the EU becomes less dogmatic.  It may be that the Conservative government will have the responsibility of telling its friends in the City that some of them will have to be sacrificed.  To govern is to choose.

Local power.

One of the biggest dangers moving forward is that the UK fragments: not just Scotland and N Ireland but successful parts of England (London, Manchester, Cambridge, Bristol) demanding to keep more of their tax revenue at the expense of poorer areas. The Scottish problem is most immediate and, if I were Scottish, I would feel like voting for independence in Europe.  It may be that economics might make independence unattractive fight now but in the longer term the only thing which will keep the union together is the emergence in England of a powerful movement with the same liberal and social democratic values.

More broadly, the process of devolution in England will, and should, gather pace but must be done in a way which supports the ‘left behind’ as well as the successful. That cannot happen if the Conservative government keeps eroding the financial base of local government: another reason for demanding a fundamental rethink of fiscal policy.

Inequality.

There is no doubt that seething resentment over widening inequalities in the wake of the financial crisis played a big role in boosting the Brexit vote.  Production line workers at Nissan in Sunderland and JLR in the Midlands simply ignored company advice.  Low pay and insecure jobs have taken their toll.  In the post-Brexit world,  issues like executive pay and the taxation of incomes and property will have to be revisited in a more progressive spirit.

There are people more skilled than I in crafting slogans and writing manifestos and others will have a different view about the key essentials .

But if we were to develop a programme around which a wide segment of the population could unite, there is then the issue of how to deliver the programme politically..  Within the current parliament the government has a small majority and most MP’s are Remainers.  The Lords is a formidable obstacle to damaging legislation.  So , there are realistic prospects of  stopping seriously bad outcomes.

But more is at stake than parliamentary arithmetic.  It seems likely that the Labour Party will split.  It is more than possible that many Conservatives will look to leave when they grasp the scale of the havoc their party leaders have wrought.  We could well be facing a major realignment.  Our party can play a leadership role if it is willing to be part of it.  That is why we need to define, now, what a broader movement would fight for.

* Vince Cable was MP for Twickenham from 1997-2015 and Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills from 2010-2015

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132 Comments

  • A real tour de force on the way forward by Vince Cable.

  • You lost me at the immigration bit. Sorry, Vince.

  • Sound as always from Vince. I have resisted signing the petition for a rerun of the referendum for similar reasons.

    However, I don’t think we should rule out the possibility of another vote, in the event that public opinion shifts substantially in our favour. The Economist Intelligence Unit are predicting an economic contraction of 1%. Faced with job losses, declining living standards, more austerity: the reality of Brexit and the proof that being a member of the EU is in our interests, a new vote, a choice between two realities (as opposed to the reality and the fantasy) may be just what is needed.

    We can’t bring this about but we should be ready for it.

  • Jane Ann Liston 30th Jun '16 - 1:07pm

    I like the idea of the ‘Preludes & Fugues’ movement but please don’t write off Scotland.

  • Allan Heron 30th Jun '16 - 1:10pm

    Lots of good, interesting ideas and much to agree with but, like Jennie, I disagree profoundly about immigration.

    True, people see it as a problem but it’s also one that’s largely a totem pole for other issues. As has the EU.

    Let’s try and solve the very real challenges that exist. But let’s not continue to pander to populist issues that won’t sort problems.

  • Phil Redshaw 30th Jun '16 - 1:12pm

    It seems likely that the next General Election is still 4 years away, and the Article 50 button will be pressed.

    So we are going to have to accept Brexit will now happen, however unpalatable. We need to adapt to this Brave New World and quickly. Never has the UK needed a Liberal opposition more.

  • This is a great piece but for once I think I agree with Joe Otten (bit of a shock to the system) that if there does turn out to be a change of mind of the public as the consequences of the Referendum vote become clear, and if there is a General Election which includes commitments on the EU in manifestoes, then the final outcome may be another referendum or the setting aside of the result. I have also resisted signing the petition for a re-run, for the same reason. But we really do need to make a stand for liberal values and a liberal way forward right now, or the country is going to slide even more away from the open tolerant place we thought it was into some sort of Farage Island.

  • Antony Hook Antony Hook 30th Jun '16 - 1:17pm

    The Commonwealth voters were lost because immigration policy is too draconian.

    We need to make the case the immigration benefits this country. We need to start using the tax collected from that to fund services better.

  • The Lib Dems have a huge opportunity on their hands in terms of attracting people from normally red or blue persuasions to share the core principles the Remain camp fought for. This needs to happen at both a parliamentary level (the impact of a group of MPs from both sides defecting would send shockwaves through parliament and the media) and also at a local level.

    Labour supporters seem to be rallying around their leadership or attacking it, though many of them are simply looking for something to stand behind which offers hope. The Lib Dems have always offered that hope, but rarely had the chance to shout about it.

    Now is that chance.

    I certainly hope that we have some excellent media experts on board; we have the message people want to hear, now they need to be made to listen.

  • Quite simply I do not expect Britain to leave the EU. There is an awful long way to go, economically, politically and socially. There is too much for everyone to lose. It can be argued it was not a vote against the EU as such, but decided over the immigration issue, whether it was true or false, which wasjust one aspect of a much bigger picture. Come a years time, two years time I suspect something will be conjured up, occur and leave us still a member.

  • Paul Pettinger 30th Jun '16 - 1:18pm

    Lead those opposed to Brexit by saying we accept Brexit? A terrible idea, and a dereliction of duty. As the economic problems hit home majority opinion may be quite different come the Autumn.

  • This article is a good example of why you should stick to the recommended word limit on a Lib Dem Voice blogpost.

  • Joyce Onstad 30th Jun '16 - 1:19pm

    Great thoughtful, inspiring and sober piece. Vince puts the case so eloquently. Balancing optimism with realism and taking advantage of our unique positioning to lead the 48% disillusioned group. The people did speak at the referendum and that can not be ignored or explained away. We are after all Liberal DEMOCRATS. I would go further to say that we should try to find a way to lead the 52% who I believe also want the best for the country and were expressing real and legitimate concerns by voting “Leave”.

  • While I don’t personally like the idea of limiting immigration, I can understand the rationale for accepting it as a pragmatic requirement of winning the grander battle. It is indeed true that a huge proportion of the leave vote in my opinion was heavily influenced by the immigration debate, so to stick so rigidly to our guns and not countenance accepting that gets us nowhere.

    It’s unpalatably pragmatic, but is an uncomfortable thistle that we simply need to grasp.

  • Richard Hall 30th Jun '16 - 1:22pm

    Immigration (in all directions) and freedom of movement is crucial to the success of the UK and the EU single market

    If Liberals are to occupy a central role (in every sense) they must be campaigning vocally for the benefits and moral force for this freedom – removing ridiculous net migration targets which alienated non EU communities, and win back our trust not cave in as you seem to have done here

    We expect more from you

  • Alan Depauw 30th Jun '16 - 1:30pm

    We should not give in on immigration. The underlying issue, surely, is about investing in schools, the NHS and housing.

    In any case, we should be ready for an early General Election. It would be the last chance to fight obscurantism and save the nation from economic and social breakdown.

    I do not subscribe to the view that the referendum result must be respected. The commitment to do so was taken by the present Parliament; a new one may reverse it. And as so many have already said, the Leave campaign was based on lies repeated so often and so loudly they became, for many, truths.

    If a general election were to be called in the next few months, LibDem candidates should commit to remaining in the EU. If all the others did not, as is likely in many constituencies, the Brexit vote would be split and the result for LibDems could be spectacular.

  • David Allen 30th Jun '16 - 1:34pm

    A great deal of good sense, including the immigration bit. So why do I still have the feeling that Vince was an A* grade pundit who became an A-minus grade politician? Probably because the weakest part of Vince’s otherwise superb piece is – what should we now do, and how will we make it work?

    The “48 Movement” does look like an idea that has legs (though with a better name perhaps – Google tells me that the 48 movement is a form of martial arts!). It could be a cross-party movement for the preservation and renewal of our partnership with Europe, with activities ranging all the way from town twinning and cultural excahnge through to political activism and demonstration. That could be a vehicle for bringing together pro-Europe Conservatives with Lib Dems and others, without asking them to do things which their parties could call disloyal. In turn it could be a vehicle to promote a more fundamental realignment if that were to gain (if I can use this word) momentum.

    But there also has to be a clear goal to work towards. Otherwise the Tory Brexiters will win out with “Calm down dear, the decision is final, now just leave it to us, we won’t countenance anyone else getting involved and arguing, move along now, nothing to see here…”.

    That’s why we mustn’t rule out a referendum on the final terms. More urgently, we must surely argue that the Tory Plan B has no mandate. There has to be a General Election. That’s an immediate goal to declare and campaign for.

  • Elaine Woodard 30th Jun '16 - 1:36pm

    Very interesting article. I even think the immigration argument is worth exploring further. Whoever runs the Tory government in the future is going to want to control immigration from the EU so we need to review different options.

  • Chris Bertram 30th Jun '16 - 1:37pm

    @Jennie @Allan Heron @Andrew Hickey – Whether our immigration laws are the most restrictive in the world or not – and I will take come convincing that they are – any perception that we are “soft” on immigration will come back to bite us. It already did, once, at the 2010 election, remember?

    The TV debates gave us a fair hearing for the first time, and Nick Clegg shone in the first two, to the extent that we were ahead of Tories and Labour for a brief period, with David Cameron delaring “I agree with Nick”.

    Then the press discovered our policy, debated, voted on and accepted by Conference, on illegal immigrants, which (I paraphrase) was to allow them to regularise their position within a certain timescale (was it 12 months?), enabling them to become fully contributing members of society.

    The redtops and the Mail and Express gave it front page treatment, and suddenly Damian Green, the Tories’ spokesman on such matters, could not talk about anything else. Yes, I know to us it looks like a reasonable and sensible position. The public, however, weren’t convinced, and from that moment our poll ratings dropped back. Up to that time we could have dreamed about being the largest party in the Commons. After that, no chance.

    Easy to blame the press, as the Corbyn loyalists in Labour are currently doing concerning his plight. But I think we can agree here that Corbyn is a really hard sell to the broad mass of the public, and that immigration policy in 2010 was also a pretty hard sell. Nick did his level best to defend it in the third debate, but he knew that it wasn’t a winner, and he must have been wishing for the leader’s veto that David Steel had had over unsellable Liberal policies before the merger.

    So, where to with immigration? We have to look like we are listening to those who feel disadvantaged by it. A liberal immigration policy need not have completely open doors. Vince is right, we have to consider the effects on our existing population, as well as the desires of those who would make the UK a new home.

    But nobody said it would be easy. And it won’t be.

  • Paul Roberts 30th Jun '16 - 1:44pm

    This misses the point that whilst leave might have won, the referendum does not give the government the mandate required to take the UK out of the EU. I don’t think many are asking for the referendum to be re-run because they do not like the result. But it is now up to parliament to establish a strong mandate for a particular form of Brexit – which cannot come from the referendum result because it did not tell us what form of Brexit the leave voters stood for. And now we have started on this road of asking the people, I cannot see how such a mandate can be established without a general election or a second referendum.

  • Vince Cable writes:

    “What is needed is something which reaches beyond the tribe and doesn’t rely on conventional party politics within the existing structures. Somehow we have to try to give direction and hope to those who voted to remain but are now fragmented, demoralised and frightened. We must confront the Leave leadership, who have no idea what to do next, with a post-Brexit programme which respects the result but retains the outward-looking, inclusive values of those who voted to remain: many moderate Tories, Lib Dems, most of the Left, business people and trades unionists, most young people. The 48 Movement.”

    This Vince, exactly this. The moderate, sensible, pragmatic, outwards looking citizens need to be represented.

  • Chris Bertram 30th Jun '16 - 1:53pm

    @Andrew Hickey – I accept that we have to look to Liberal principles when making policy. But we have to be conscious that wilfully sticking to one highly unpopular policy may rob us of the chance to pursue many, many more policies that *do* resonate with the public.

    Like it or not, immigration is a hot topic most of the time. I’ve seen an analysis of the vote at the referendum suggesting that about 35% of Leave voters were motivated that way by concern over immigration. That’s a big number. You can’t alienate people that feel that strongly and expect to advance significantly. It’s just not going to happen.

  • Slogan? How about…

    We are campaigning to re-unite our disunited Kingdom – so bridge the gap between wealth and poverty; between young and old; to reconnect our law makers with those who are governed and to re-connect with our neighbours and partners, locally, nationally, across our continent and internationally and finally, to tackle the bile and hate that has been unleashed across our nation.

    We seek a better Britain, not a bitter Britain.

  • Andrew McCaig 30th Jun '16 - 2:02pm

    It is an interesting analysis by Vince Cable in many ways but I think we have to appreciate that if we are trying to appeal to the 48%, then for a great many of them, especially younger graduates, freedom of movement is the number one attraction of the EU.

    And if we reject Freedom of Movement there will almost certainly be virtually no relationship with the EU left on the table and we will be as much associated with the EU as Canada (or Switzerland, which is about to have nothing much). If that is the case I have to ask why Vince supported the Remain campaign??

  • Jonathan Pile 30th Jun '16 - 2:03pm

    As usual a very grounded practical & realistic call to arms from Vince Cable. Much of merit here, and little to disagree. As part of the growing 48 Movement we have embraced the 4 million voters who demand a Second Referendum. We should not be so quick to cast aside their cries. The petition grew by 180,000 signatories in 3 days, more than will elect the next Tory PM. By September that will be some 9 million signatories. Fact is that the Leave Campaign have committed a Fraud on the public by their many lies – £350m ,Turkey, We can stop immigration etc. Fact is, that Leave won support of only 37% of the registered voters, versus 35% for Remain, But 23% were content not to vote and NOT willing to support Brexit. THAT IS NO MANDATE. Fact is that some 6 million voters were deliberately blocked from Voting. Polls show some 75% of those voters would have backed Remain. They include 2 million EU citizens in the UK, 2 Million Long Term ExPats , & 2 million 16-17 Year olds. Democracy is not about 37% of the public removing the rights of 100% of the population in their rights of EU Citizenship toLive, work and Study across Europe.
    Vince also brushes aside the responsibility of Parliamentary Democracy to decide the matter and not to be dictated by the mob. The vote was not binding, and Tam Dalyell was right about political courage. We should not appease Brexit, like we appeased the Conservatives and enabled this horrible day to come to pass. David Lammy & Richard Branson are right and Business deserves our help to overturn this. So keep signing the 4 million Great Petition, https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/131215 keep protesting, Leave are divided without a Leader and a plan and the public know it. Buyers regret sees at least a million Leavers wanting to take back their vote. It is time for us to take back our Country, not roll over. It will be a vote in parliament, a Second Referendum or a General Election but we must win or lose forever in a nightmare right wing state dominated by UKIP

  • @Chris, that’s silly. We’re on less than 8% of the polls. If we just got the vote of half the Remainers that we don’t have – and not a single Leaver – that would be the best result since 1910.

    If we somehow united all the Remainers, we’d win in a landslide.

    There are already three parties – UKIP, Conservative and Labour – bidding for the votes of people who are against immigration. And Labour aren’t getting them because those people know that Labour don’t believe it.

    What is the point of being the fourth party against immigration when we can be the first party for it? And we’d have the advantage of saying things we believe and being far more convincing, rather than lying for votes.

  • Katie Waring 30th Jun '16 - 2:13pm

    I agree that we need to build a programme that appeals to those beyond the rump of votes we still attract and tackling the worries of those who voted to leave is a critical first step. We believe that every vote counts and therefore we must respect the referendum result and confront what it really means about what people want from their Government. Our liberal values can form the bedrock of reforms that can reach out to these people as well as those who voted to Remain.

    The danger is that we retreat to our comfort zone and fall into a trap of believing we can ignore those that disagree with us on Europe and that it is a proxy for everything else. I’m sure many who voted to leave would say they are libertarians that believe in personal freedom and we should still speak to them.

    Finally, I am disappointed to see we are defining ourselves as ‘the 48’ for several reasons:

    Firstly, before the referendum people did not put Europe as the top of their concerns and wouldn’t now – they were asked to vote on one question so we shouldn’t now say we don’t have an interest in representing them on the issues they prioritise like public service reform and civil liberties because they answered differently to us on the only question put in front of them.

    Secondly, we argued for PR and electoral reform but say we are comfortable ignoring the majority who took part in a democratic vote? Its intellectually incoherent.

    Finally, it implies we are happy to appeal to and represent a minority of the country. I appreciate this appears academic when we are hovering at 8% in the polls but we can’t concede that liberal values are marginal or we’ve lost the argument before we started. And we can’t accept we are a party for London and Scotland.

  • I am with Jennie, Allan Heron, Andrew Hickey, Antony Hook, Alan Depauw and Andrew McCaig on this. Good company to be with !

  • Chris Bertram 30th Jun '16 - 2:27pm

    @Andrew McCaig – the principle of freedom of movement is fine. However, that works well when the economies of all the EU member states are on a fairly even footing, and wages/standards of living can reasonably be compared. They don’t have to be equal , just somewhere in the same ballpark.

    But is that the case now, all the way from Pwllheli to Plovdiv? I’m not sure it is. There’s felt to be more of a pull for Bulgarians to come to the UK for the much higher pay here, than there is in the reverse direction. With exceptions, of course.

    Question is, how to square the circle on this. And on the wider immigration issue, what, if anything, do we do about immigration from *outside* the EU, which the Brexit campaigners ignored completely.

  • Neil Sandison 30th Jun '16 - 2:29pm

    Most of us would want to see freedom of movement retained to enable people to seek employment ,education training and opportunities indeed my neighbours on both sides are both EU and Non EU migrants who have taken up employment opportunities in the area and are brilliant neighbours But we have also had the other side of the coin those without any employment squatting in empty buildings ,using public wildlife havens to pitch tents and use the land as a public convenience heavily littered the bootleg beer cans and vodka bottles but I live in a inner urban area perhaps you see less of this in the suburbs and rural areas so I understand the stresses it can put on some communities .Freedom should also come with responsibility.

  • jedibeeftrix 30th Jun '16 - 2:30pm

    Excellent article, vince.

  • I can’t agree with you on immigration, Vince. Sorry. I want the right to live, work, study, etc. in other countries, which means we have to offer the same in return. I do not want to surrender that right.

  • Holly Matthies 30th Jun '16 - 2:42pm

    The Liberal approach to dealing with the unpopularity of immigration and immigrants isn’t to appease it. It’s to robustly make a positive case for immigration as a policy and — crucially — immigrants as human beings.

    It’s to shift attention unfairly directed at them to where it belongs: Government unwillingness to fund housing, the NHS and other public services.

    It’s to strongly differentiate between migrants and refugees, all too often conflated by media and politicians lately, so that people understand 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 things.

    We should be detailing what “controls on immigration” are actually like — UK’s treatment of immigrants from outside the EU (or Commonwealth) is surely instructive on how a post-Brexit UK would like to treat people from EU countries as well, and that treatment is shockingly poor. We need less of that, not more.

    We need less appeasement of those misdirected into blaming immigrants for problems that immigrants suffer too. We need more education, and to not be afraid of making a positive case for immigration rather than at best deflecting negative lies about it. We need more empathy (as social media has pointed out, a week of post-referendum turmoil has gotten Brits scrambling for foreign passports whenever possible…and yet we don’t understand why Syrians would want to leave their country after five years of violence and chaos?).

    Whatever else happens in the upcoming weeks and months and years, Britain needs immigrants and it is better for having them. The Lib Dems should be proud to say so.

  • Jenny Tonge 30th Jun '16 - 2:46pm

    Thoughtful as ever but does not grab me with enthusiasm.
    If immigration is the main problem, like it or not, can we analyse it a bit. It is the shortage of housing, medical facilities and school places , plus the added problem that many immigrant children do not speak English, so extra strain is put on schools.
    When employers recruit people from abroad whether EU countries or not, could the EMPLOYER contribute to the housing provision and cost of medical care and education for the children. They are after all getting very cheap labour which is putting our people out of work. They are profiting, the community is losing out.
    Just a thought.

  • Chris Bertram 30th Jun '16 - 2:48pm

    @Richard Gadsden – “What is the point of being the fourth party against immigration when Dwe can be the first party for it?” Does it have to be a binary for/against thing? Actually, I don’t think any of the mainstream parties in the UK are totally *against* immigration. We can seek to frame the most liberal immigration policy out there, and go out to sell it. I’m just not sure that “open doors” should be it.

  • Chris Bertram 30th Jun '16 - 2:50pm

    @Andrew Hickey – I think Tom Brake would argue quite strongly that he *is* a London MP.

  • I don’t agree with a lot of this.

    On principle I am firmly in favour of remaining in the EU, and on principle I am in favour of the free movement of labour that is intrinsic to it.

    Just because a referendum gave the “wrong” answer, I will not abandon my principles. I do not, and will not ever, accept that this result is the right thing for our country. I will fight any way I can to change this result. If some want to call me a bad loser than go ahead – I don’t give a toss. I’m not going to show “humility”.

    I want to change this result by changing Leave voters minds. I want to challenge the Leave lies. I want to show people that immigration is not the disaster they have been told. And I really, really want to challenge the perception that some Leave voters have that this result somehow validates their racist and xenophobic opinions.

    Sorry Vince.

  • Alan Depauw 30th Jun '16 - 3:08pm

    Why do most Leavers reject Free Movement? Because they don’t like foreigners? Outwith a tiny minority, it has been a characteristic of Britain that on the contrary, immigrants have been accepted and made welcome.

    The complaints we heard about immigration in fact concern stretched resources: housing, schools, the NHS. They have been caused by government policy to achieve a budget surplus in 2020. Such a highly ambitious target has placed a terrible strain on the poor in the under-invested regions of England. This is what has led them ready to accept lies to hit out at the people they (rightly!) deem responsible.

    We must borrow to invest and if necessary, be ready to raise marginal taxation on the wealthy. So I agree with everything Vince proposes- except on immigration. LibDems must be the one to point out that leaving the EU will only serve to make the poor poorer. Free Movement is not only part and parcel of the EU, it actually enriches the nation as a whole. And proper investment in housing, schools and the NHS will not only help absorb new-comers; it will benefit us all.

    If there is to be a Movement 48, this should be its message. I’d be delighted if lost Tories and courageous Labour members joined us to support it.

  • @Holly Matthies
    +1

    Well said. I might have said the same myself in my earlier post if I was less angry and more eloquent……

  • Chris Bertram 30th Jun '16 - 3:11pm

    @Alan Depauw: “The complaints we heard about immigration in fact concern stretched resources: housing, schools, the NHS.” Don’t forget jobs. There’s a perception out there that immigrants take jobs that locals could have. If this is untrue, we need to debunk the untruth, and not be frightened to do so.

  • David Allen 30th Jun '16 - 3:17pm

    Upholding the free movement principle versus taking “control” of immigration may be a false antithesis. We could do both.

    As Jenny Tonge above points out, we should make the employer pay the social costs when recruiting cheap labour from abroad. If the employer had to pay for that, then the employer would be more likely to recruit from the ranks of the unemployed, and cut our benefits bill.

    It’s not racist to use market mechanisms to reduce the demand for new immigrant labour!

  • James Baillie 30th Jun '16 - 3:18pm

    I have a couple of major qualms about this (generally excellent) piece as outlining a way forwards:

    Firstly, I don’t honestly think that pandering or weakening our stance on free movement will help at all – the perspective of the anti-immigration types is *already* totally divorced from reality, we have to bring it back there and take positive steps on integration rather than pussyfoot around with migration blocks that will make no significant difference to numbers and will probably just end up trapping and hurting people. Breaking down and giving ground on this issue would – quite rightly – look like complete weakness and a failure of leadership on our part. I was born a European citizen with the right to move freely from Thanet to Thessaloniki; that’s a beautiful and important right to have and we absolutely need to fight for it.

    We can create positive answers on migration by showing communities the financial benefits and also by having better policies to encourage integration and support local and regional culture across Britain. The latter is I think especially important; funding for local history, music, etc and getting it out into communities on a mass scale is a challenge that I think London-based politicians keep somewhat failing at, whereas I think that – celebrating local traditions and making people feel more secure in their identity – is a hugely important part of the jigsaw puzzle.

    Secondly, the 48 movement is entirely the wrong thing to call this – we need to be able to talk to the 52 as well, about many of their concerns. Now is the time to persuade the 52, not just remind them that they weren’t on our side on the day. What’s the point in that? It’s needlessly divisive and doesn’t help us make our case. The 48 will come to us if we provide the passionate, pro-European, internationalist voice the country needs, we don’t need to polarise and sloganise further on top of that.

  • Holly Matthies 30th Jun '16 - 3:21pm

    Thanks, Nick. 🙂

    I’m pretty angry myself, but I’m also so used to this (I’m an immigrant, can you tell? 🙂 ) that it’s become sorta habitual by now.

  • Alan Depauw 30th Jun '16 - 3:21pm

    Chris: And jobs. Thanks to all the hard work of the Coalition, we have low unemployment which in itself debunks the myth. As far as wages are concerned, this is a complicated formula which varies according to skill levels. But traditionally, the lower the unemployment, the higher the wages.

  • Matt (Bristol) 30th Jun '16 - 3:24pm

    I am in favour of this party participating in wider partnerships with other parties to hold a government committed to Brexit to account. So some of what Vince says fits for me.

    And if we do go out and lose freedom of movement, I am in favour of holding up to scrutiny the process by which that agreement is arrived at, and critiquing whom that benefits.

    Therefore, I do feel that that wider partnership – assuming the dual crisis in both Labour and the Tories doesn’t kill the nascent seeds of it – may need to make compromises to find a common line on immigration policy, given that immigration policy will be going through the wringer by then, anyway, and we may be starting from scratch again.

    I don’t really want to prejudge what those compromises may be, but there may be circumstances – for eg – under which I might be prepared to consent to increased usage of basic language testing.

    But within that wider partnership, I deeply want to belong to a pro-EU, pro-immigration, anti-racist party with a liberal line, clearly differentiated from
    a) the economic right who will try to manipulate paranoid and racist agendas for their own ends.
    b) an increasingly emboldened illiberal, intolerant bloc, which is becoming no longer clearly defineable as ‘right’ or ‘left’ just as ‘paranoid’.

    Pre-compromising here will do us no benefits. It will just drive the eventual compromise further away from where we started.

    I was chatting to two people I know a little yesterday about events since the referendum, and I was told a) being in the EU was always going to be a betrayal of all those who fought in WWII to ‘keep us from German rule’ and b) they didn’t think of themselves as racist but neither of them liked what they’d heard about Somalis and c) one person was not sure why they voted Leave but everyone they knew was doing so.

    Some horrible, false ideas are being legitimised very fast.

    There is distress and confusion and we need to be open to talking to people who are being tricked into buying into divisive, hating rhetoric.

    But it is a lie that all our current woes and strains on resources and services are caused by immigration, and if we can’t say that loud, we’re in trouble.

    Be careful on immigration.

    We really, really need to keep some clear water between us and those who use the issue as a totem of allegiance for – or a trick to buy the allegiance of – those who want a racially, ethnically defined Britain.

  • Vince is right on immigration, but I don’t think we can compromise our principles – AKA the truth – here. We’re extremely for immigration. But people think the current system is unfair. And why shouldn’t they? The benefit of EU immigration is invisible.

    The right way is to make people proud of the country again by investment and helping those that need it most. Immigration fear is a symptom of the wider disease. People don’t like being called racist or hateful for that reason – anti-immigration sentiment isn’t usually coming from there. It’s people fearing for themselves in a tough world.

    I think most people who are currently anti-immigrant would be fine with it, if the state could sort out their problems. We need to be proposing ways to strike at the heart of Britain’s socio-economic diseases. At the core of that, we need to invest in creating jobs in poor areas outside the cities.

    If we go into an election saying how we’re going to fix Britain, we’re going to get lots more traction than defensively fighting for immigrants.

  • Andrew McCaig 30th Jun '16 - 3:39pm

    Well, like it or not, the purpose of the EU is to improve the economic prospects of the newer and weaker members, at the expense of the stronger. That is why we make a net contribution along with France, Germany, Holland, Denmark etc. And why EU money is spent on infrastructure in poorer parts of Europe (and in poorer parts of the UK neglected for decades by successive British governments). Freedom of movement is a key part of the strategy, and in general even the UKIP equivalents elsewhere in Europe seem to support it (it is the migrants from outside the EU they are worried about). In the course of time I believe EU migration will stabilise in a way that non-EU migration will not…

    I guess my big problem is that I just find it impossible to think about “British people” as more deserving than “foreign people”… I just see people trying to make the best for themselves and their families. We need to try and deliver more equal treatment for all parts of the UK, because the pressure on schools and doctors and roads is being seen in both places with lots of immigrants, and places without. At the moment the big problem in British society is the huge gap between rich and poor which is just being cemented in place by things like the inheritance tax changes…

  • @Alan Depauw

    Absolutely. As I got tired of repeating pre-referendum, our unemployment is low by international standards, about the same as the US, and lower than Australia with it’s “points system” for immigration.

    There are issues to address with regards to wages and skills. The skills bit is entirely within our control and nothing to do with the EU. Suppression of wages is a global issue that isn’t contained within Europe’s borders.

  • @Andrew McCaig – “Well, like it or not, the purpose of the EU is to improve the economic prospects of the newer and weaker members, at the expense of the stronger.”

    No, one of the purposes of the EU is to improve the economic prospects of the newer and weaker members for the ultimate benefit of the stronger.

    We don’t fund the poorer countries because the EU is a charity. We fund them to grow their contribution to the single market, and to help them become customers for the goods and services we can sell them.

  • Eddie Sammon 30th Jun '16 - 3:48pm

    On immigration I hope to move to France and I want stronger migration controls. Why? Because why should I be allowed to move there, besides for study, if I can’t speak the language or don’t already have a job?

    The thing we need to watch out for are pension rights and public services rights. It is why it is dangerous to focus on cutting benefits for EU migrants too much – any decent worker can suddenly find themselves needing benefits due to bad-luck.

    On inequality I think we should recognise the potential to get rich is a better motivator than simply seeing rich people less rich. We need to see inequality is about social mobility and not simply looking at the top figure and wanting to bring it down a bit.

    A good article from Vince. I sped read it, but I think I got the main points. He is right on immigration, but as I’ve said before about the 48% movement: let’s make sure it connects with regions that voted leave too.

  • Disagree. We lost a vote not the right to argue the point. We need to keep on arguing for what we believe in and show leadership on the pro EU case for the 48%. Sorry Vince – you’ve lost me on this one.

  • Regarding immigration – Vince is right that it should be blindingly obvious uncontrolled immigration is now deeply unpopular right across economic and social divides. That is NOT the media’s fault, its no-ones fault, its an understandable reaction to the pace of change in this country.

    There are plenty of good policies we could endorse which provide at least some assurance to voters on controlling the numbers of migrants, whilst retaining the best of our principles for being open, international, tolerant and liberal.

  • There’s a perception out there that immigrants take jobs that locals could have.

    Well with 1.67m (5%) unemployed and 8.92m (21.8%) economically inactive
    (https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/bulletins/uklabourmarket/june2016 ) there are a lot of people available, so we do have to ask why we need unsustainably high levels of immigration when we have such a large pool of people without jobs already in this country.

  • Paul McKeown 30th Jun '16 - 3:51pm

    I don’t generally read or comment on LDV, and haven’t for a long time. However, this article was brought to my attention, and I feel I must respond.

    I disagree strongly with Vince Cable on this. I feel that it would unpatriotic and a gross dereliction to allow our country to be destroyed by a small group of those on the far right of British politics, exploiting genuine grievances and a foolishly conceived and poorly thought through sop by a Prime Minister in political difficulties with his own party.

    If the referendum was to be held today, polling says that 61% would vote against Brexit.

    If you wish to contest this ridiculous and damaging proposal, you might consider signing up to The 48% group, which since Friday has already signed up 35 thousand: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1214912015208730/

    “We are a campaign group, not affiliated to any political party, which seeks to retain the UK’s membership of the European Union. If this is not legally achievable, then we seek to guarantee that the best possible deal is achieved by our government. No rolling back of our social, environmental and economic protections. Not in our name, we are the 48% and we demand a voice.”

    There is also a Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/the48andbeyond

    There is also a fan-page, which does not require you to sign up: https://www.facebook.com/The48pc/

    There will be a website soon.

    Join your nearest demonstration, make your voice heard.

  • Chris Davies 30th Jun '16 - 4:02pm

    I agree with Nick (Baird) on this one. The 52 do not speak for me. I do not accept that wrong should be right simply because they are in a majority. I want Britain to be a full member of the European Union and I want to belong to a party that will campaign to achieve this and explore every legal means of reversing the nonsensical policy of just ‘getting out’.

    Did people vote Leave in order to deprive British representatives of the chance to shape EU laws that are likely still to apply to us when we lose our EU membership? Did they appreciate that British sovereignty would be weakened not strengthened by leaving the decision-making procedure? If the EU Single Market is really of so little importance to the UK economy why did Brits spend 30 years working to create and extend it?

    I was in Brussels yesterday and the grief, and fear, is all too evident. I share it. The EU is very imperfect but so many of us still nurse hopes for its future as a force for good in the world. Will it hold together now, and what will be the consequences if it does not? The Remain camp said almost nothing about our common values (British values now European values), and Gordon Brown was one of the few to gain coverage for the idea of leading not leaving. We said nothing about the need for more Europe not less, to tackle problems we share in common. No-one challenged me at public meetings when I questioned whether all might think the same if Donald Trump becomes US president later this year!

    Liberal Democrats have seen a surge in our membership. People have joined because they want to belong to a party that will fight to keep Britain within the EU. This is a chance for us to rebuild and grow. I hope we are not simply going to say “we have to respect the referendum result” and let them all down. If you believe in something you fight for it, and you don’t surrender the ground to your opponents. So what are we going to do to pick up the cudgels and get stuck in?

    Chris Davies (North West Lib Dem MEP, 1999-2014)

  • Chris Davies 30th Jun '16 - 4:03pm

    Just a point or two on immigration…

    Immigration will continue I think so long as there are jobs that need doing. The way to stop it is to trash the economy, as Michael Heseltine said ironically a month or so ago. I don’t think Leave voters want to curb EU immigration in order (as Vince seems to suggest) to make it easier for more foreign students to come to Britain, and what do you say to the Norfolk farmworker who says he voted for Leave “to stop the Pakis coming to Britain”!!! What’s that about? (We don’t have many farmworkers here in Oldham).

    It’s quite true that we had no response on immigration that could have helped us win the middle ground. The suggestion of some kind of migrants’ bonus needs working up. Migrants contribute more to the economy than they take so a fund should be available to give extra help to areas with services temporarily adjusting to the arrival of large numbers of migrants in recent years. Of course the money would still have to come from somewhere else….

  • David Evershed 30th Jun '16 - 4:05pm

    An excellent way forwad set out by Vince Cable.

    The Lib Dems should adopt this as official policy.

    My only suggestion is to change the name from the 48 movement to the 100% movement. The 48 movement sounds like we are still kicking against the outcome of the referendum vote for Brexit.

  • Matt (Bristol) 30th Jun '16 - 4:13pm

    We do need to be aware that not all the concerns of the so-called ’52’ are about immigration. Lack of democratic response by governments elected on ‘winner-takes-all’ systems is a big part of it.

  • Paul McKeown 30th Jun '16 - 4:17pm

    We now have a website, too. https://wearethe48percent.org/

  • Well said Holly M, and various others.
    Let’s not give away (another) USP. Let’s not dilute ourselves to be inoffensive to people who will never vote for us anyway. As Nick says:

    “we absolutely should be out there making the positive case for [immigration], and engaging with that very large section of the electorate that agrees with us, not fighting for the scraps that fall off the panderers’ table. ”

    Let’s get out there and do that.

  • Andrew McCaig 30th Jun '16 - 4:42pm

    Nick Baird,

    Yes, I should have said “short term expense of the richer”

    The big problem with the article is that all the indications are that the economic benefits of the free market are only available with freedom of movement, whether in the EU or EEA. If we are not in the free market we will all be poorer than we would have been and that will make it harder to implement what Vince suggests, whatever the political flavour of those in charge… It is possible of course that the EU will somehow change their rules on Freedom of Movement, but they are not going to make an exception for us on this.. (one of the big lies of the Tory Leave campaign, BTW, epitomised by Grayling)

    An EEA deal is certainly going to be on the table in the next months and years and Liberal Democrats will have to decide whether to support it… The alternative I believe will be Govian/Faragian complete severance, trading with the EU as if we were Canada since nothing much else will be on the table. I really don’t see how we can simultaneously argue for rejoining the EU following a general election, and not support an EEA deal in the event of Brexit.

    Regarding the 48%, those are the people who have been hurt and devastated by Thursday’s results and telling them strongly we are on their side is completely the right strategy from Tim, and has resulted in the membership surge we have seen (and badly, badly need, especially of the younger, graduate members we lost so catastrophically in 2010. ). If we ever got close to 48% of the vote I think everyone in the Liberal Democrats would be ecstatic!! However of course we will need people who voted Leave to get elected in any constituency, and I really do not think Leave voters who are inclined towards us are going to punish us for our consistent stance on Europe (or rather I do not think they are going to be more likely to vote for us if we change it…). If we can get back above 15% we will start gaining back seats in all sorts of places, and the 48% approach gives us the best chance of some sort of breakthrough in the polls since the General election. Trying to be all things to all people will not..

  • Conor Clarke 30th Jun '16 - 4:53pm

    Putting aside ethics for a moment.

    It would be a political misstep of the worst kind to fall in line behind the Conservatives and Labour by accepting Brexit as a fait accompli.

    10,000 new members in a week because we’re the only unambiguously Remain, anti-Brexit party.

    This is one of those happy times when our principles and our own best interest align, can we please not muck it up?

  • I’ve recently signed up for membership and I think many more will seek the sanctury and common sense of the LD. I agree with the points above, particularly with regard to managed immigration. We need politicians and political parties with vision more than ever and I felt reassured reading this blog.

  • Some questions for those who favour large scale immigration.

    1. What do you believe is the maximum practical rate of net migration per annum bearing in mind that there are constraints on the speed at which housing, schools, hospitals, infrastructure, etc. can be developed even when the political will exists?

    2. What is the maximum total of migrants that can/should be accommodated over, say, 30 years.

    3. Do you think that cultural differences can and should be ignored even when they are large – and if so, why?

  • Nafees Arif 30th Jun '16 - 5:22pm

    A very sensible way forward – the Lib Dems can be the grown up party while the other two tear themselves apart with infighting. The result of the referendum calls for a measured approach rather than a quick opportunistic grab for members.

  • Andrew McCaig 30th Jun '16 - 5:23pm

    Mark Wright,

    I don’t think that if Vince had announced he wanted to leave the Single Market in the referendum campaign it would have been very helpful..

    And I don’t think it is very helpful now – sorry!

  • Neale Upstone 30th Jun '16 - 5:26pm

    I agree on the need to be pragmatic and not idealistic on immigration, but also I’d add to what Vince has said that we also need to recognise and address the economic drivers that have caused large scale migration for low skilled jobs while many locally are not taking up those jobs.

    For me, that comes down to a broken tax and benefits system that can only be sorted out by the introduction of a Citizens Dividend (some call it Basic Income or Universal Basic Income – I’d be happy to start at that, but the economic aspect is that it should be a redistribution of the tax revenue from taxing the economic rents out of natural monopolies, which I know the likes of Vince and Chris Huhne well understand and it will have contributed to their success in govt).

    If we introduce a UBI, then local workers will become cost competitive even with freedom of movement. As a party, if people really want to be idealistic and resist any migration controls, then you have to start seriously looking at resolving the economic factors that have played such a part.

    I’ve said ever since I was on a tax policy working group that it’s time we as a party looked seriously at our broad economic policy rather than dealing with these things in isolation and failing to address the systemic issues of ours and other developed economies.

  • Andrew McCaig 30th Jun '16 - 5:29pm

    Fundamentally by saying that controlling EU migration is more important than being in the Single Market for goods and services Vince has joined the Leave camp… That would be a very very foolish thing for us to do right now – equivalent to breaking the pledge on tuition fees which Vince also supported strongly.

    I am afraid that after his good work in the banking crisis Vince has shown very poor political judgement…

  • It’s interesting, but I’m far from certain that the 48 are anymore of one voice than Leave are. After all it included the cautious anti EU left of the Paul Mason School, the just plain cautious, right and left wing politicians etc.

    Ultimately people will vote on domestic issues and if it turns out Brexit has advantages then that 48% will dissipate pretty quickly. Conversely the same is true of the Leave vote. Who knows? We are only a week in and Article 50 hasn’t even been triggered yet. For most of this week we’ve been told what will happen when Boris Johnson sweeps to power with Nigel Farage as his wingman. One has ruled himself out and the other has never looked weaker.
    Sure there could be a snap election, but fixed terms means it could be nearly four years away.

  • Katharine Pindar 30th Jun '16 - 5:43pm

    Hang on a bit, it’s natural for Lib Dems with 8% of support in national polling to want identity with 48% of voters, but there were probably many reasons for voting Remain, just as there were many reasons for voting Out, so it’s a nebulous concept. Better as David Evershed suggested to opt for the 100% movement, which takes up what Tim said from the beginning, if you’re a liberal (implication most Britons are) you should join us. As to Vince’s suggested campaign platform, certainly great to ask for public investment to stave off unemployment, for councils and housing associations to build more houses, for putting the ‘left behind’ first, for strengthening local government finances, and for radical taxation changes to reduce inequality. Plus immigration allowed as at present. Plus let’s propose reform of the European Constitution to make it more democratic, and insist on PR here to strengthen our own democracy. Note, we don’t have to leave the EU at all: the Remain majority in Parliament can refuse to repeal the 1972 European Communities Act.

  • Peter Watson 30th Jun '16 - 5:53pm

    @Andrew Hickey “We’re a party that wants representative democracy, not government by plebiscite.”
    Really?
    Aren’t you also a party that in 2010 and 2015, was committed to an EU In/Out referendum in the event of a change in the relationship between the UK and the EU? In 2010 the party manifesto also supported the principle of referenda on joining the euro and introducing a written constitution, and in 2011 Lib Dems delivered a referendum on AV despite there being no electoral mandate for it.
    Lib Dems are party that wants what, exactly?

  • Peter Watson 30th Jun '16 - 6:46pm

    Vince Cable’s article here sets out a very sensible and pragmatic way forwards for the party and for the UK.
    It makes a refreshing change from much of the commentary on this site recently in which Lib Dems simply appear to have thrown their toys out of the pram.

  • “We are the 48” should remain central to our current campaign. We’ve just got going with it – and we are finding new members who understand its message. Most of Vince’s article resonates well with the 48 envelope. But immigration is a divisive subject and we must take care we don’t destroy freedoms and equalities which reside within our principles.

    It is too early to define ourselves as immigration modifiers and produce a new Lib Dem policy which we can agree. Let’s first study what the Tory leadership brings into the discussion on that. Several things which Theresa May stated today made me think more about immigration – and I think some form of a points-based system might become their [Tory] policy. Don’t rush to follow.

  • I have been a Liberal and a Lib Dem since I delivered my first leaflet at age 12. (I’m 58 now). I have been a councillor in opposition and part as a ruling group. I have been to party conferences and much more. I agree with 95% of what Vice says and I have been a great supporter and admirer of him. The 5% I have a problem with is the curbing of immigration. I don’t completely rule it out, but it must be fair to people from all nations, inside and outside the EU. We must never ever let the UK seem unwelcoming.
    Overall, I agree with Vince and this seems like a good step forward.

  • Charlotte Gore 30th Jun '16 - 8:12pm

    It’s terribly disappointing to see Vince Cable wanting to concede ground on the free movement issue (by throwing the UK’s financial sector under a bus to make the EU reconsider their ‘dogma’).

    These are the four freedoms of the EU. The Free Movement of Goods, Services, Capital and People. The free movement of people is /our/ freedom that is being stolen from us, something which will radically reduce the life chances of those of us without degrees and all the other things that make emigrating to non-EU countries so onerous and difficult.

    I firmly believe in Free Movement and I look to leaders that can take the necessary steps to make it work in the UK and stand up to those who disagree with it on xenophobic grounds instead of apologising for our beliefs or pretending to ‘understand their concerns.’

    Don’t, please, sell those of us who WANT the freedom of movement for ourselves and for our EU migrant friends down the river for the sake of the votes of shitlords who hate us anyway.

  • Derek Campbell 30th Jun '16 - 8:38pm

    Regarding Brexit, the parliamentary outcome is currently uncertain. Can/will a new PM invoke Art50 or will parliament have to have a vote? If yes (parliamentary vote required), will the motion to invoke Art50 be carried. If not, what next? Realistically, I would think that there is too much uncertainty at the moment.

    I think that the “we are the 48” is well intentioned. Whether it will attract many of the 48% to the LibDems is another matter. I don’t think that May, Cameron, Corbyn, Benn, Sturgeon will be coming our way any time soon, even though they are part of the 48%. Nevertheless, it captures the mood, which is hugely important. I just think we need to avoid not thinking through what is meant and what can be delivered. “Take back control” was effective, but there doesn’t appear to be a clear understanding of what it meant in practical terms. I for one have had enough of empty rhetoric.

    Can anyone tell me why we don’t address the problem of shortages of housing, hospitals, schools and other public services as a population problem rather than an immigration problem? If the current UK population had all been born here we would still have the same problems. Lets fix the problem of public services. If the UK birth rate was “too high”, which politicians would suggest mandatory birth control? There are people, yes people, who deserve better than what is being delivered, and it really doesn’t matter on which bit of the planet they were born. Referring to the “problem” as “immigration” is disgraceful, to my way of thinking.

  • Matt (Bristol) 30th Jun '16 - 8:43pm

    We need to be aware that immigration isn’t going to go away and as I said before we may need to compromise…

    …BUT the ubiquity of the issue may mean that making policy on this issue quickly to show people we ‘understand their concerns’ could be an almighty mistake, as other parties will continue to scrabble around to do the same and controversies will mutate and escalate.

    Theresa May saying today she would be prepare to barter for Britain’s international status using the settlement rights of EU citizens already living here is a case in point.

    A liberal party should be saying to the country: ‘hang on! are you saying that you will buy your future by threateneing the extradition of your neighbours, your work colleagues, people who have contributed over decades to the wealth and welfare of our nation?’ Not in my name!

  • John Bryant 30th Jun '16 - 8:45pm

    I agree with other comments that we have no obligation to bend on immigration. If 48% voted Remain, most of these were not convinced with the Brexit arguments on this. So let us be proud of representing the 48%. I have also seen legal opinion that it is not appropriate for the future PM to trigger Article 50, but it needs to be a vote on an enabling bill in the House of Commons. Our membership of the EU was enshrined in a series of parliamentary acts. To withdraw also requires a parliamentary act. It cannot be triggered by a PM using the Royal Prerogative. So that means Tim Farron should start by tabling a motion setting out a preferred route for leaving – and I believe that should be to replicate the terms enjoyed by Norway, with free access to the market and free movement. The words on the ballot paper were “Leave the European Union” They were not “and control immigration” or “leave the free market” or “stop free movement”, just as they did not say “and spend £350m a week extra on the NHS”. We can comply with the advisory referendum while still enjoying the benefits of the EU.

  • Carl Rylett 30th Jun '16 - 9:01pm

    Even if the petition for a rerun is unlikely to succeed it sent out an important message. On the Friday evening after the referendum it was the first item in the German news (Tagesschau), so the Germans took note and were reminded that large numbers of Brits are not anti EU. The next day Angela Merkel gave a speech against rushing into Article 50.

  • How can we stand as people and pretend that the 52% don’t share many of these same values? This piece by Vince, and the use of the 48 by Lib Dem leaders, is a good strategy to get new members and votes, but feels so divisive towards the rest of the country.

  • Jayne Mansfield 30th Jun '16 - 9:35pm

    @Nick Baird,

    Well said.

    Our parliament is sovereign, something the leave campaigners said they were voting for.

    If MPs think that leaving the EU is putting the social well -being and prosperity of the country in peril, they should have the courage to vote according to their conscience.

  • Gregory Connor 30th Jun '16 - 9:55pm

    Great to see Vince engaged. We should be unashamedly pro-immigration and unequivocally pro-immigrant but the immigration debate for non-racists comes down to three distinct elements: compassion, capacity and contribution.
    We must be a safe haven country for fellow human beings who are displaced and persecuted. We must maximise the capacity we have to incorporate new people into our societies by investing in the social infrastructure so that our current population benefits as well. We need labour and skills and if you want to come here for economic rather than human rights reasons then you need to contribute to the investment in social infrastructure (and this is almost universally the case as I understand it).
    This approach spikes the guns of the racists and allays the fears of the non-racist majority by setting a nationally determined framework based on liberal and social democratic principles.

  • Peter Watson 30th Jun '16 - 10:17pm

    @Carl Rylett “”Even if the petition for a rerun is unlikely to succeed it sent out an important message.”
    What message? That, of 16 million people who voted to remain in the EU, 12 million don’t want to rerun the referendum?

  • I agree with David Evershed (30th Jun ’16 – 4:05pm) over the name of the movement, namely: the 48 movement sounds more like a protest against the (advisory) referendum result when in fact it seems to be demanding much more, namely the continuation of political co-operation and collaboration across Europe. It also directly plays to the lie that the majority of the UK electorate voted Leave when in fact only 17m out of 46m voted Leave.

    I think the movement needs, like UKIP, a ‘Ronseal’ style of name, namely “It does exactly what it says on the tin”. Because I expect the movement to still be going long after this referendum has largely been consigned to history and hence references to “the 48” will draw comments along the lines of “still living in the past”…

  • It is sad to see one of our grandees repudiating the sovereignty of Parliament in such a contemptuous fashion. Were two civil wars fought for nothing? I guess Vince is counseling caution over the making of unkeepable promises, but his peroration has the acrid feel of a headmasterly put-down of our younger leader.

    Vince tells us that Brexit is a done deal, and suggests that anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding themself.

    Is Brexit really so certain?

    Listen to what Barack Obama and John Kerry have to say on the subject. The former uses the word “if” rather than “when”, while the latter states that there are various ways in which Brexit can be “walked back”.

    Are the US President and the US Secretary of State deluding themselves? Or are they hinting at the deal that they are about to broker?

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/video/2016/jun/29/reversing-uk-leave-vote-john-kerry-video

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/video/2016/jun/30/obama-talks-brexit-video

  • Mark Seaman 1st Jul '16 - 2:05am

    At last … A sane Lib Dem response to the EU referendum result.
    Thank you Mr Cable.

  • A very enlightening and rich conversation here. Thank you.

    On the strange paradox of ethnic minorities voting to LEAVE:

    Black and Ethnic Minority Youth employment (18-24) January to December 2015
    White: 13.1% (down 2% percent from last year)
    Black: 27.5% (up 50% for those unemployed for more than one year)
    Asian: 24.3%
    Other Ethnic: 20.7%

    Total Black and Ethnic Minority unemployment is double white in all age categories but lower than amongst youth. I have spoken to many employers about this and one of the reason they often state is that employers would “rather hire Europeans”.

    This has been a BIG problem that has been without a voice for many years as low skilled BAME workers compete with low skilled EU migrant workers and lose. Would be great to get this one on the table once and for all.

  • John Shoesmith 1st Jul '16 - 9:02am

    There are several real problems with immigration control from Europe. Suppose a problem arises with a small bit of equipment at the Airbus plant at Broughton and they need to bring in a specialist from a sub-contractor in Germany. Can she come here immediately, without question? Production may be halted with millions of Euros at stake. The same applies to many other European companies here. Companies cannot accept risk and inconvenience.

    Or suppose that a consortium of European companies is trying to develop a new material. The normal formula is for say 6 companies and 6 universities to pool their talents and resources and then share the outcomes. The EU contributes matching funds. They travel freely to coordinate the project, which is often very technically difficult and needs face to face contact. As the proposal writer (I’ve done this) it is dead easy to cross out the British names and substitute the name of a partner in the EU. These proposals are difficult enough without having paperwork dealing with border controls. This can be done at a low level in most businesses, and many similar actions will see the British technology base quickly die. Once a technology base is gone, it takes many years to recover.

    Lastly, and most important of all, whatever we do is likely to be reciprocated. So if we introduce a points system so will they. So our young people will face the prospect of spending 5 years and £50,000 learning (say) aeronautical engineering to discover that the 200,000 plus jobs in the UK are shrinking fast and that there is no recruitment here. The points system for the EU will say they must speak French or German and maybe the EU will itself have limited jobs for such engineers so that they will take this profession off their wanted list. A complete personal tragedy! To be repeated a million times over during the next 20 years.

    The answer to immigration is not border controls. It is the market. We may all want to live in Windsor, and there is no border stopping us. We don’t because it is too expensive. Likewise with open borders the UK will not have a population of 100 million people, there aren’t that many houses. We just need to control dwelling standards and multiple occupancy and the price of accommodation will rise to make France or Germany more attractive.

  • @Roland – I agree, we need a better name.

    As to the living in the past, I feel that it is important that we try and (finally) lay the ghost of the British Empire. We need to work for exit from the Commonwealth and put that illusion of the leave side behind us.

  • Neil Sandison 1st Jul '16 - 10:10am

    Everyone agreed Europe needed ,still needs reform .The negative people in Brexit didn’t believe it could be done. The positive people in Remain were willing to give it a try .
    That would indicate to me the Liberal Democrats should be fighting to return to a reformed European Union and that the liberal and democratic movements should be fighting for that cause both internally and externally of the EU.

  • Richard Underhill 1st Jul '16 - 10:15am

    Typo?
    ” It may be that economics might make independence unattractive fight now ”
    or
    It may be that economics might make independence unattractive right now

  • Richard Underhill 1st Jul '16 - 10:57am

    Andrew Hickey “We already have the strictest, most illiberal, immigration laws in the world (with the possible exception of North Korea where no-one would want to move)”
    Perhaps this is an idea for a sequel to The Night Manager. Let’s postulate a South Korean intelligence officer with a moderate budget, a Chinese former diplomat who accepted early retirement but is still physically fit and an American billionaire with unusual ideas, …

  • Graham Jones 1st Jul '16 - 11:10am

    I’m late with this comment (spent yesterday travelling to Tarragona, where I have a research associateship), but must pin my colours to the Free Movement mast, in spite of holding Vince in very high regard and welcoming his piece. Free Movement is my right and that of 500m fellow Europeans, a right which underpins peace and cohesion.

    So much for principle. As for practicality, if the UK economy continues on its present path, over the next 30 years we shall have 13m job vacancies and 7m school-leavers. I’m chair of governors at a school where 75% of pupils have English as an additional language. Our school is not full, nor does EAL teaching add unmanageable costs. How as a nation we manage education, housing, and health is up to us, but with an ageing population, who is to pay for new hospitals and schools if not the young, fit workers from abroad?

    So on both principle and practicality, with half a century of being a Liberal and Liberal Democrat, I trust my party will compromise on none of the Four Freedoms – one of which, freedom of services, is still to be completed.

    As I commented on another post, we must hope for a House of Commons unwilling to press the button on Article 50 and use the next few months discussing with our fellow European member states how we can further democratise the Union without the need for treaty change. We should also see what more can be done to use structural funds to aid areas experiencing the greatest demographic changes as a result of in-migration.

    Norway? No vote, no thanks. Forced into Brexit, we might explore how to democratise EFTA (currently coordinated at ministerial level). We might even begin to think how the EEA as a whole might be democratically structured. But for now, let’s hold our nerve, and provide the rallying-ground for the Four Freedoms.

  • Some Leavers are so vicerally opposed to immigration that they would destroy their own economy and living standards to block it. That is what Remainers failed to appreciate.

  • Suzanne fletcher 1st Jul '16 - 1:31pm

    On hols in EU so only skimmed these comments but a lot about immigration being said. Can I suggest people refer to our policy doc 116 a few years ago on MAKING MIGRATION WORK For BRITAIN. http://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/libdems/pages/4138/attachments/original/1392840151/116_-_Making_Migration_Work_for_Britain.pdf?1392840151 Which had a lot of thought and research put into it, even if some compromises and was agreed at conference. In particular the removal of students from immigration cap, and importantly policy on enforcing rights under employment laws that would dish the agents who encourage such as Eastern Europeans to come here and then treat very bad,y.. LD4SOS views on more on our website..

  • David Harvey 1st Jul '16 - 2:21pm

    Excellent analysis, as usual, Vince, and thanks very much. If there is to be a General Election prior to 2020, I recognise, as I suspect you do, too, that the Liberal Democrat banner still does not represent a particularly amenable home, either to dissatisfied Tory remainers, or to disenfranchised, and probably de-selected (new) Labour remainers. Nor do I think that the Lib Dems have a realistic chance of attracting uncommitted voters in any substantial numbers (though hopefully in substantially greater numbers than last time). Nevertheless, there would seem to be a very substantial middle ground which will not be catered for properly in any forthcoming general election.

    Can I suggest that the electorate is offered a Union Coalition (48 Movement) candidate, with the express and top priority of preserving the United Kingdom and re-asserting our membership of the Single European Market. Candidates running under this banner would need to agree not to run against each other. This Union Coalition could run under a very simple manifesto, with preserving the Union and membership of the SEM as the top priority. Since it might not be possible to put forward an agreed slate of PM and cabinet ministers, and the electorate would need to know the ‘government’ they were being asked to vote for under this banner, I suggest that the Coalition simply agree to exercise the constitutional duty of the Members of the HoC if and when elected, and vote for (i.e. elect) from within themselves their PM and cabinet as the first duty of the new HoC. In so doing, the Coalition could offer the electorate a new model of representative democracy which makes government directly accountable to MPs, and hence to constituents.

    We can sort out party alignment, and even our political system, once we have the chance to actually make a sensible choice about governmental strategy for our country – which a referendum can never, ever do.

  • Alastair Ross 1st Jul '16 - 4:24pm

    Very welcome analysis Vince and I agree with what you say. There are of course different flavours of support form different folks and that’s OK too. We welcome diversity and that includes diversity of opinion. Frankly I wouldn’t be a member if it were otherwise!

    Clearly the issue of immigration is a big one that we need to show leadership on. I’m not in favour of pandering to the racists and bigots and I cannot imagine anyone else in the party would be either. At the same time we need to recognise that it was a card that our opponents played as often as they could. Nevertheless, I take your point about immigration. If we are to win we need to be able to negate the value of that card for our opponents and that is key to progress. I also believe, like you, that this is a possible point of departure in UK politics with a lot of realignment possibilities bubbling up. The extent to which we can grow the centre in British political life will depend to some extent on our ability to choose the right battles for the right time. Winning the war is the goal, and that happens one battle at a time. There are a few things I guess we might be willing to die in a ditch for but let’s remember that it’s winning the war we are after here. Success at the price of our core values is no use, but neither is failure where we crawl away to nurse our injured pride.

    Our country needs a strong centre in politics. Let us not fail the country.

  • Sue Sutherland 1st Jul '16 - 6:32pm

    Thank you Suzanne for the link. I have only taken a brief look at the paper because I wanted to comment here. It looks as if the Lib Dems have already made a dispassionate study of migration so it seems to me that it should be revisited and updated in the light of recent events before the Autumn conference and presented to members again.
    I see no reason why we cannot be committed to the ideal of free movement of people while seeking to implement it in a sensible fashion and manage it so that communities don’t suffer from a rapid increase in population.
    Of course the main problem is the Thatcherite economic consensus which has resulted in more poverty for some people and a lot more wealth for others but add an influx of strangers and consistent anti EU messages by newspapers and some politicians and, hey presto, the rich get away with it again and the EU gets the blame.
    We have to try to tackle this and denying the community problems that many people have won’t help. We cannot fight for the sort of diverse society we want unless we work to assist those who find themselves without hope for themselves and their children.
    Before she was assassinated, Jo Cox wrote an article asking for overstretched communities to be helped by hypothecating migrants’ taxes to improve the services in the communities in which they reside. I think you’d be hard put to call her a racist or anti immigration.
    This is not compromising our ideals. It is seeking to ensure that they can receive the widest possible support.

  • Isaac Westwood 1st Jul '16 - 8:47pm

    I have been a lib dem voter for the last 18 years: my whole voting life.
    I’m sorry to say I cannot agree with a lot of what you wrote here, Vince.
    On immigration, you say that non-EU migration is being held down, to the detriment of universities. It isn’t being held down in overall terms: in the last figures around 180,000 non-EU migrants came to the uk. What really hurts universities is the massive red tape required to hire staff from overseas, the visa system is horrendous. Most university jobs are not all that highly paid, so it’s particularly difficult from a visa perspective.
    Secondly, why should you hope that Jeremy Corbyn goes? Tory austerity is crippling the poorest in our society right now, and Blairites have consistently failed to oppose laws which disadvantage the most needy. Ignoring the mainstream media (which we must remind ourselves constantly is funded by super rich right wing offshore tax avoiders), and you see that Corbyn enjoys considerable grassroots support within labour: 60% of whom overall voted to remain. Those people understand the link between austerity and the protest vote we observed in the referendum, and it is imperative for us to listen to the protest and react in the best interests of our nation. Right now that means forging alliances on the left to combat the ideological destruction of public services and the privatisation on an industrial scale that the Tories are undertaking. I fail to see how going ahead with invoking article 50, which will undoubtedly double down the economic suppression of which we have just had a glimpse, will help when the sheer amount of public finances required to reverse the damage the right wing has already done is so vast.
    Since November, I have been self employed making educational scientific apps and games, prior to which I spent over a decade since my DPHIL degree in academic drug discovery, first for antituberclar agents then for 8 years in cancer drug discovery. I know from first hand the benefit that free movement of people affords, and I know just how much we need to be in the single market. There is no position other than remaining which can provide us with the what we need that gives us a stronger position as a nation: it is not in the best interest of our country.

  • Isaac Westwood 1st Jul '16 - 8:47pm


    That is why all MPs must now make the hard decision, which for many may mean losing their seats, not only to oppose invoking article 50, but also crucially to oppose austerity measures and to make it absolutely clear to the public that it is the Conservative idealism that has led us to this point. No party should ever be allowed to make a power grab in the way the tories did in 2015.

    If you cannot be bothered to do what every expert tells you is best for our country, because the emotional challenge from the far right has had a very very marginal victory, then I cannot see how I can continue to support that position.

  • More delusional stuff from anotyer politician unable to see the wood from the trees. Before Article 50 can be triggered, Parliament must repeal The European Communities Act 1972. There may well be considerable opposition to that. The Government’s majority is not great. On immigration, does Mr Cable not listen or see what the EU will offer? A trade deal in return for the free movement of people. There will be no question of us being able to negotiate one deal for Ireland and another for the rest of the EU. I do wish that politicians would have more sense. The only sensible way forward is (assuming we do actually leave) to negotiate our way out of the EU in the fastest possible time so that trade deals can be reached with the numerous countries knocking on our doors. Once done, we will then have some experience in trade treat negotiations, of which we have none at present, plus we’ll be able to act as a bridge between the EU and those countries, many of which currently have no deal with the EU. That will put us in a position of strength rather than the begging position which we currently find ourselves in.

  • ’48 movement’ – misses massively with the wrong number ! 76% of the UK population did not vote to leave the EU. That is the figure that should be being used.

  • Alan Depauw 2nd Jul '16 - 7:33pm

    The first priority, surely, is to demand an early General Election.

    The Chancellor has told us the government’s economic policy has been abandoned. Whatever new policy replaces it will have major consequences not for 48%, but for 100% of us. No-one will have voted for it. What will be the reaction of already angry people when they discover it leading to job losses and even more stringent cuts in public expenditure? Who will they choose as scapegoats, what minority community might they turn against? The future PM should not hope to cower behind a mandate won by her/his predecessor on a completely different platform.

    A fresh mandate is required providing legitimacy to policies no MP had presented to their electorates last year. That is why our demand should be: a new Parliament now!

  • Jackie CHARLTON 3rd Jul '16 - 8:24am

    I have just read Vince Cable’s piece but not had time to read all the responses so I may be repeating some but Hey! what’s wrong with that.

    I understand and largely agree with what has been suggested as we cannot re-run something like this. Standard response to a democratic process. There are things that the Lib Dems can influence. If UKIP can demand a seat at the table with one MP then the Lib Dems can demand something with 8.

    What is written here by Vince Cable takes me back to my degree and studying Keynes. I always thought this was a sensible economic and fiscal approach as a history student. I still believe it is a way out of a crisis and that is what we have here an economic and fiscal crisis made worse by political Machiavellian leaders. But immigration or attracting people to contribute to our future must be debated sensibly and until we find the right language which is shared and supported by all this will not happen. I don’t agree that quotas will solve this. I don’t agree that Lib Dems need to change it’s policy on this either.

    The Lib Dems must play a part here and I wholeheartedly support an approach which shows leadership and energy. 48% is no mean figure here and I am sure the anecdotal evidence will become real evidence pretty soon that there are people out there who voted to LEAVE because they wanted to be part of a high percentage losing figure. Many appear to regret the vote they used on 23 June and could very well be looking for somewhere to rest their weary heads in safety and security with a grouping that is working to perhaps keep the UK in Europe with consensus.

    48% +

  • A strong piece from Vince as always. He is right not to duck the thorny issue of immigration policy. We went into the 2010 general election with a policy based on regional quotas for non-EU immigration that appeared ill-thought through and largely unworkable.

    In developing policy for the future, student migration should be either discounted or separately categorised and policy needs to factor in safeguards that can mitigate the short and medium term social disruption effects of mass-migration e.g. longer transitory periods that allow for a gradual relaxation of restrictions based on relative economic convergence.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 4th Jul '16 - 3:20am

    I agree with this strongly. When are people going to realise our party is in keeping with an approach that is about individuals and communities , freedom not a free for all , the harm principle, of Mill is social Liberalism ,not laissez fairism!

    Completely open boarders to anywhere , restricts those we need, and who need , to come here.

    It rejects those who could come in favour of those who now do and need not.

    Freedom of movement has been rejected but does not mean pandering to people, especially not the prejudiced. It should mean listening to people , especially the ignored.

    It can help refugees, nurses, doctors, spouses, families, if we stop allowing any individual EU citizen who wants to come here, regardless of any connection or profession, to do just that ,and even beyond the EU, stop allowing, big or small, business es only , to call the shots, and the city , to come first , and recognise communities cannot cope if services are at breaking point.

    We do not have a private sector oriented supply and demand based public service organisational flair.That means only a neverending wait of people for schools , hospitals and good homes.

    It is unsustainable .

  • Dear Vince,

    I am an EU immigrant, who has worked here for 22 years (all my working live following an expensive University Education that my home country financed), first paid taxes as an employee and then created successful businesses here. I naturally disagree with your statement that one of the most wonderful achievements of the EU – to enable natural and easy exchange of people across the EU should be sacrificed because right wing propaganda have used it a scapegoat for issues that first and foremost have to be solved within the UK itself.

    In the next comment I have outlined my analysis of the situation as I would like to discuss with you and the other Liberal Democrats – I feel you have a very important role to play in the next months as a voice for poor people who have been misled by the leave campaign!

    I have joined the Liberal Democrats – because throughout the campaign I felt that Tim Farron was the only politician who did not pay lip service to Xenophobia and constantly reminded Parliament and the public what nonsense it is!

  • Isn’t it strange that London with 37% foreign born inhabitants voted for Remain, when the number of migrants is the problem, that make people’s lives so unbearable that they felt their only option was to vote to leave the EU?

    In the North only 5 people out of 100 are actually foreign born – if you then take into account that most of the foreigners probably live in the big cities, who have also voted to Remain – the percentage of the foreigners living in areas that voted Leave is probably even smaller – so are migrants really their problem?

    Isn’t it rather the inequality of living standards for which migrants have been made a scapegoat by irresponsible propaganda?

    Shouldn’t the government do everything to help these people with jobs, education and public service, rather than destroying the economy, killing off investment and reducing tax income that could be used to help?

  • The referendum result has put an unprecedented and enormous amount of political power in the hands of the poorer people and poorer regions of this country. If there was a sensible political speaker on behalf of these people, who could negotiate concrete, immediate and irreversible steps to improve their lives rather than making it worse by leaving the EU – there might be a possibility to gain a political consensus across the nation not to invoke article 50.

    There would be a much smaller Leave fraction left that wanted to leave the EU for sovereignty, pride in being British and reduction of red tape, which for most people do not have any effect whatsoever on their day to day lives. And obviously the determined racists and xenophobic that are hopefully a very small percentage of the population.
    I believe, when faced with real choice of: Do I want a job next year or possibly in 10 years and do I want new excellent facilities for my local school for my kids now or do I want more doctors in my local NHS now or do I want a top up of my pension now most people would choose the job, the school, the NHS, the pension now rather than hope for some not very likely improvement in 10 or 20 years time.

    On the wealthier Remain side this would mean some sacrifice of wealth that is generated or rather not lost by remaining in the EU, but if article 50 is invoked they would loose it all anyway – so they have very little to loose! Large businesses could plan tomorrow to build a new call centre, a new factory, a new office etc in the North and could be held into account by the government with large penalties if they try to break their promise after article 50 is not triggered.
    Even international businesses and countries who have a lot to loose by the UK leaving the EU might have an incentive to chip in.

    This referendum interpreted in this way could mean a real push to the pragmatic centre – left in British politics rather than the incredibly dangerous lurch to the far right we are currently experiencing.

  • My question is – could the Lib Dems be these negotiating champions of the poor? Could the Lib Dems reach out to business leaders and ask the concrete question: As the poor now have the power (legitimised by the referendum result) to push the self destruct button on the economy for the next 10 years – what are you prepared to give to avoid this? Do you see now that it was dangerous not to listen to people who lost out in your strife to overcome the 2008 recession?

    And to go to Leave voters and ask the question – if you set aside your ideological demands, what do you really want to happen for your local area and for you personally in the next 2 years? What would make life truly better for you and for what would you be prepared to give up your hollow ‘win’ in the referendum, which would only lead to more pain for you?

  • Mr Cable you would certainly get my vote for being our next prime minister. But having voted LibDem for the last 40 years or more I have to be realistic and say that the party has been tarnished by the coalition years possibly beyond repair in the voter’s minds. If we are going to see a centre left party really have a voice in our country once more I feel that we need to create a new progressive alliance party. We have seen over the last few months how politicians from all three major parties can all come together to fight one cause. On both sides of the debate. We didn’t feel the need to lean on our one party mentality. With the absolute chaos and division in all of the big parties at the moment surely there will never be a better time to create a new group of like minded thinkers.

  • I have to agree about the comments on immigration, the last statistic I heard on unemployment is that 1.5 million are unemployed and there are circa 750,000 unfilled vacancies.
    The simple truth is that the baby boomers did not have enough children and nor have their children creating a vast shortage in the younger demographic of the employment spectrum.
    This has been further compounded by government policy to allow the market decide where employers locate by investing in schemes that give patronage to benefactors and voters rather than are the most economically sensible thing to do. Few could argue that HS2 is more beneficial than a complete upgrade to the Trans Pennine Express – except that it would benefit labour constituencies!
    Another insidious policy is to allow brownfield sites in towns to be converted to residential. This is closing down all the little scratchy industrial estates where micro businesses operate, but importantly also shuts off a source of employment for apprentices , unskilled and semi-skilled workers. Being able to walk/cycle to work rather than have an hour’s commuting makes a significant difference

  • Chris Randall 13th Jul '16 - 10:05am

    Absolutely right on the nail!
    Can find very little to criticise

  • J George SMID 13th Jul '16 - 3:56pm

    Only one topic of contentious: I believe we must accept the political reality that there should be some control over migration from the EU.. There IS immigration control within the EU – see the border closures in Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Austria, Sweden. The tragedy is that the Leave campaign together with the Government forced upon us an argument of old. And we, the Remainers, did not have enough firepower to expose this (and many other lies).

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