30 January 2020 – the overnight press release

Davey speech on Brexit – Progressives must fight on

Today, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey will make a keynote speech addressing party members and activists in Manchester ahead of the UK’s exit from the EU.

Ed Davey will make a rallying call to pro-Europeans ahead of our departure from the EU, calling on them to continue to campaign for close association with our allies in the EU and for the progressive values we share.

Ed will call for the end of the Remain/Leave division in our country and for progressives to unite to tackle other serious divisions.

Ed will declare that the battle against the inequality of wealth and power is an area in which voters from across the Brexit divide can work together.

Ed Davey is expected to say;

Tomorrow will be a celebration for some. But for others it will be a dark day.

For the millions of us who marched against Brexit and the millions who voted to stay, tomorrow will be desperately hard.

We built the largest pro-European movement this country has ever seen. And though ultimately we did not succeed in stopping Brexit, I am immensely proud of all that we have achieved.

How Liberal Democrats will continue to fight

The Liberal Democrats will always be a proud pro-European, internationalist party. We will never stop fighting for Britain to have the closest possible relationship with our European friends.

And we will never stop fighting for our wider liberal, progressive values. We believe the United Kingdom is stronger when we work more closely with other nations and when we work with other progressives across our own country.

Liberal Democrats will work with anyone within our United Kingdom, who share our values, to re-unite our country.

Divisions in the country

We must no longer be a country that is divided by leave and remain, but that means we must heal our country’s other divides too.

For if Brexit has taught us anything, it is there are many serious divisions to fix. The UK is divided by inequality of opportunity. Inequality of wealth. Inequality of power. Inequality of hope.

And the forces of English and Scottish nationalism unleashed by these divisions, cannot bring our fractured country together: by their very nature they seek to divide our United Kingdom further.

Only progressive parties like the Liberal Democrats will fight to disperse power and wealth across our country, and to create opportunity for every child and every community.

We share your frustration

To the many people who voted to leave the EU out of frustration.

Because opportunity has not been fairly shared.

Because too much wealth has stayed in the hands of the always wealthy.

Because too much power had stayed in the hands of the already powerful.

They have. We agree with you. We share your frustration – and your impatience for change.

From the deep reform of Britain’s democracy and power, to our radical vision of a fairer, greener economy, Liberal Democrats offer real change that can truly unite our country.

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8 Comments

  • Christopher Curtis 30th Jan '20 - 10:42am

    I don’t get this idea of ending of Leave/Remain divisions. It genuinely puzzles me.
    It was an extraordinarily inept and corrupt process, but we were asked to set a direction for the future of our country: to remain a member of the EU or to end our membership. Although there was a very wide range of reasons for people to support either stance, and an even wider range of ideas about what each stance might mean, there was a vote between two fundamentally different and contradictory versions of what the UK (if it survives) should be. There is no middle ground. There are possible compromises, but at root you are in the EU or you are not. More than this, as our party clearly recognises, EU membership is core to a deep set of values about openness, co-operation, internationalism, opportunity and our place in the world. Leaving the EU is core to a set of opposing values.
    We all know how votes went, where things are now, and that the fight for values and national direction will continue knowing that we will have to leave the EU, but the split is not about strategy or tactics but utterly core values. The split is real. We who believe in us as a part of a greater polity, a united and inclusive Europe on the way to a united and inclusive world can’t suddenly pretend that we think nation states are right, migration wrong and “taking back control” (or giving up wider influence and partnership) in law and in so many other areas is a tragic mistake that we will regret and must come to reverse.
    Vicious sectarianism has no place, but the remain/leave split is real and will not go away. I can’t understand why we are saying it should.

  • I can only say” Hear Hear” to Christopher Curtis,s statement and if the two sides are to become closer I would say” it takes two to tango! “

  • Matthew Huntbach 30th Jan '20 - 12:18pm

    Christopher Curtis

    I don’t get this idea of ending of Leave/Remain divisions. It genuinely puzzles me

    As Ed Davey put it, many people voted Leave out of frustration.

    We should have worked hard to explain to those people why leaving the EU won’t solve the concerns that Ed Davey mentions. Instead, by just giving the impression we didn’t care for those people and behaving in a rather insulting way to them, we lost a lot of votes that we could have got.

    The really frustrating thing for us is that many people voted Conservative to support Leave, but they thought Leave would reverse the growth in inequality in our country. I.e. they voted Conservative in order to oppose what the Conservatives are really about.

    We need to work in a way that reverses what happened, not to continue pushing the Leave/Remain divisions in the way that encouraged these people to vote Conservative.

    If things go seriously wrong in this country due to Leave, then we’re in the position where we can come back and say “See what we told you?”. However, deliberately encouraging things to go wrong would not be good. I think we just have to let those politicians who wanted Leave and have got it to organise it all by themselves, and we just keep quiet about it.

    It really was crazy that most people before the referendum did not see membership of the EU as the biggest political issue, and in many cases just voted Leave as a way of general protest about how our country is. However, they were then encouraged by both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats to see it as the major issue. This really messed up politics, and we need to get out of it, not carry on pushing it.

  • The reason why most people who voted Leave did so is because they were deluded by the media into believing that the EU is as conspiracy against Britain. In much the same way, back in 1914 a lot more people were deluded by the media and their corrupt political leaders into believing that war against Germany was a noble endeavour, and with much more terrible consequences. The biggest lesson to be learned from this whole sorry mess is that we have to find ways of breaking the ability of the hard right and its media mouthpieces to manipulate public opinion. To “accept” Brexit is effectively to accept the hard right walking all over us. Some Leavers voted for that, but certainly not all of them.

  • Paul Barker 30th Jan '20 - 4:28pm

    My instincts are to agree with Christopher Curtis but there is a wider question : whether it is inevetable that we replace our traditional Politics of “What do we want, how do we get it” with US style Cultural Politics ?
    Our traditional Goal-based Politics had a place for Facts, for complexity & compromise; Cultural Politics has no place for any of those – its simply a matter of choosing a Team.

    A lot of Libdems think we should be focusing on The Climate/Extinction/Soil Emergency but that will be a much harder fight if Cultural Politics wins; instead of looking at the Evidence Voters would just decide what they want to believe, which Team they want to support.

  • Andrew Tampion 30th Jan '20 - 5:00pm

    “If things go seriously wrong in this country due to Leave, then we’re in the position where we can come back and say “See what we told you?”.”
    I suggest that “this is what we feared” is far better than “we told you so”
    Also I think that it is very important not to be seen as wanting Brexit to be a disaster.

  • David Garlick 31st Jan '20 - 3:12pm

    At the outset in conversation with a leave friend I was always aware that, whatever the outcome, we would still be here and in a great country. I expect that those who think that immigration is the problem and that it should be cut to tens of thousands are going to be bitterly disappointed. Those who think Conservatives are better at financial management should take a look at the soon to be no more Northampton Borough and Northamptonshire County Councils appalling performance. Those who think that….

    I think a lot of leavers will become more disappointed by Brexit than those who voted for remain.
    I cannot see a proper healing of the Brexit divisions in this country for a generation, possibly two.

  • Peter Hirst 1st Feb '20 - 12:51pm

    In or out of the eu, we are an internationalist Party campaigning on collaboration, freedom of movement and the rule of law. This has not changed with leaving the eu. As things play out, we will know whether to campaign to return to the eu fold.

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