A message from Tim Farron

Tim Farron has sent this message to members this evening:

Liberal Democrats have always believed that Britain should be outward facing, collaborating with other countries to tackle global challenges. Our membership of the European Union allows us to do that.

Britain has now voted to leave. The margin of victory was small and risks dividing our country. We must respect the outcome of the referendum in how we talk about moving forward.

We also have to understand that for many people this was not just a vote about Europe. It was also a howl of anger at politicians and institutions who they feel are out of touch and have let them down.  Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove won this campaign by deliberately deceiving voters. They offered cheap slogans and easy answers that they knew they could never keep. Their hollow pledge of £350 million for the NHS has already unravelled and people will be right to feel angry that they have been let down again.

We must also remember that there are many, many European citizens who have made Britain their home. We are immensely grateful for the contribution they make to our country and we are committed to ensuring they can remain here and feel safe here.

I believe our country’s future is still best served by our membership of the European Union, despite its flaws. Millions of our fellow citizens believe that. I also believe many of those people share our vision of a country that is tolerant, compassionate and positive about Britain’s role for good in the world. They share our vision of a country that wants to repair its divisions by working hard together, not by offering cheap slogans.

That is why I want to make clear that the Liberal Democrats will fight the next election on a clear and unequivocal promise to restore Britain’s prosperity and role in the world, with the United Kingdom in the European Union, not outside it.

At the same time, we must address the difficult issues that this referendum has raised about Europe and our country – but with real answers, not cheap slogans.

Since the result of the referendum became known, thousands of new members have joined our party. I encourage you all to reach out to family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances and encourage them to join us to build that Britain together.

If you feel inspired to join us, then you can do so here.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • While you’re at it Tim why not write the whole manifesto?

    Or will members be allowed some input? Maybe? Somewhere?

  • A vehement remained, I am concerned we are ignoring the Democrat in our name. People vote for many reasons and by a small majority said leave. I will take some convincing that we should somehow seek to over-rule that decision. Frankly if the election is 2020, it will be too late, anyway. We would be seeking to re-join.

  • Nom de Plume 25th Jun '16 - 11:06pm

    The problem with trying to rejoin is that it will be under worse conditions than we have at the moment. Britain has opt-outs on a range of issues from Schengen, the euro, the obligation to accept migrants – but to name a few which come to mind. All negotiated into the treaties over many years. A hard political sell. Out appears to mean out. Maybe they will get EEA, but I consider it step backwards and there will be fight over that as well.

  • Nom de Plume 25th Jun '16 - 11:13pm

    Indeed, Norway agreed to take some migrants. Britain was better of IN.

  • The first indyref II poll in the Sunday Post puts Yes on a record 59%, No 32%, Don’t know 9%. With Don’t Know excluded that is Yes 65%, No 35%. If that result is even remotely confirmed by subsequent polls then it is most definitely game on!

  • I think once we are out we have to give it a try and see how it works – who knows things might be better. However, providing Tim can answer the very difficult questions about how and under what terms, it could be a vote winner. Lets face it the party has little to lose and there are an awful lot of pro-EU supporters out there.

  • Not only should you pledge to fight the next election on a platform of rejoining the EU but you also committed to ignoring this flawed process. We are governed by a parliamentary democracy not referendum

  • Agree with crewegwyn – but as our Leader at times they must move fast – we have to trust them especially at such fast moving historical event.

  • Tim, absolutely right, twice over. We must respect the result, and not be seduced by big petitions demanding a retrospective 60% threshold. That would be gerrymandering. That petition will only enrage Leave protest voters and harden their determination to give all politicians a kicking.

    But – Right again, we must not accept that Britain’s massive mistake cannot be reversed. If we must do, then we must campaign in 2020 to rejoin. But maybe we won’t even have to do that.

    We should demand a General Election before the UK begins to negotiate the terms of leaving. Why should we let the Conservatives, whose approach has been comprehensively rejected by the nation, come up with their own Plan B for leaving? We should give the nation a new choice. It’s not just Boris versus Theresa. The nation should have the choice as to who negotiates – maybe Nigel, maybe Jeremy, maybe Tim.

    We should then demand a referendum to approve, or not approve, the terms we eventually negotiate with the EU for leaving. Maybe by the time we get there, the nation will see that the terms for leaving are dreadful, and that it will be better to stay. The nation should have the chance to rethink. To offer the nation that chance, some way into the future, would not be unreasonable. On the contrary, it would only be sensible.

    We haven’t left yet. We may never have to, provided we play a careful game, a long game, and we never presume on what the voters might say. We just give them the chance to think again, as and when they want to think again.

  • I will vote for you

  • Farron previously admitted that the EU was very flawed. Everyone else knew this of course including most remain voters who had to hold their nose as they voted for the lesser of two evils. Farron and Clegg though insisted that the EU could be reformed from within but Cameron proved conclusively to the UK public that the EU is not even slightly interested in reform and that is imo why Leave won the vote.

    The EU behaves like the Patricians of Ancient Rome with an abiding distaste for the Plebians that have no power to vote them out. Now newspapers across Europe are all demanding EU reform to stop a potential mass exodus from equally concerned Frexiters, Nexiters, etc. Meanwhile Farron is trying to pretend its all just a bad dream. Liberal non-democrats under Farron will henceforth ride off from irrelevancy to obscurity.

    Maybe the UK could be instead leading a new European experiment – democratic and free of nanny-statism, luddites and pettifogging, business-killing regulations. After all the UK created EFTA in the first place. We are obviously more important than the Remainers have been led to believe.

  • Nom de Plume 26th Jun '16 - 12:32am

    Cameron went to Brussels with a set of demands. The concept on negotiation seems to be foreign to some Tories. Furthermore, as I have pointed out elsewhere, any fundamental change would require treaty negotiation – a long, difficult processs. No one else wanted it. He got some concessions – they wanted the UK to stay.

  • I’m bitterly distraught at the electorate’s vote to Leave.

    However, it is the electorate’s vote on a straightforward question set by Parliament.

    We enter very dangerous territory when we suggest negating the outcome of a set-piece democratic exercise by second-guessing the motives and wisdom of the electorate. Especially if our cover for doing so is the election of a new Parliament: a general election involves every issue under the sun and whatever controversies are topical; even if the EU question is front and centre, it can’t be as clear a mandate on the subject as a referendum.

    Yes, it feels terribly unjust that calculated liars in the Leave campaign have conned their way to victory. But democracy has an in-built response mechanism: as it becomes clear the winners have lied and fantasised, and as the damage takes its toll, the public will learn not to ever again trust their kind on anything. Already, Boris, Gove & Co. look distinctly rattled.

    So on principle, Tim’s strategy feels like a mistake. And practically, why run with a policy that Labour will surely never partner to deliver? The Lib Dem voice then sounds fanciful and loses currency in the real fight ahead: to influence the terms of Brexit in the least damaging and most liberal direction. Also practically, I can think of few things more likely to send deprived, less informed, Leave-voting parts of Britain further into illiberalism than denigrating their intelligence and being seen to ignore their vote. Surely the smart move is to avoid playing into the Farage/Daily Mail narrative of a contemptuous elite that ignores the people, and instead turn fire on those voices for promising what they could never deliver, and for doing so much damage to the whole country. The sweetest victory over illiberals is not just to block them here and there but to win their voters and secure a base for decent politics and a good society.

  • Nom de plume.
    Regardless of how Tories or anyone else negotiate the EU always say non. Cameron warned them what the UK public were most concerned about and he warned them that Brexit was a serious danger if concessions were not made on these points. He obtained from them almost nothing. Treaty change was not required because opt-outs are available and conceded all the time. The EU gambled and lost. Nobody in the UK was allowed to vote on any of those treaties btw. The fact remains that you, I and everyone else knows that the EU needs reform and they need to have some kind of feedback mechanism when their grandiose schemes turn out to be abject failures. Their continual refusal (or inability) to budge is the cause of the widespread European anti-EU sentiment and will likely cause its demise long before Farron has gone from the scene.

  • Nom de Plume 26th Jun '16 - 1:16am


    “Treaty change was not required because opt-outs are available and conceded all the time.”

    -Evidence required. The Germans made clear that freedom of movement was non-negotiable. A red line. I am not a legal expert, but would suggest that it is hard wired into the single market. An issue which would require treaty change. Europe is not run to appease the Tory party.

  • Nom de Plume 26th Jun '16 - 1:31am

    Cameron came back with what he could get and then pleaded for Remain. Perhaps he knows something.

  • Nom de Plume 26th Jun '16 - 1:38am

    He also dodged his pledge to enact Article 50 by resigning.

  • Exactly the right tone. 70% of Liberal Democrats voted Remain; Farron is representing the bulk of the party, remains consistent with the party’s traditional values, and speaks for the 48%. Furthermore, he recognises the present reality while setting an aspiration for the future.

    It hardly need be said that, at whatever time the UK is able to re-enter the EU, it will be on a completely different basis and in completely different conditions from those which have pertained hitherto.

  • “The Germans made clear that freedom of movement was non-negotiable. A red line. I am not a legal expert, but would suggest that it is hard wired into the single market. An issue which would require treaty change. Europe is not run to appease the Tory party.”

    a. It was not the Tory party who voted to Leave but the electorate.
    b. Merkel certainly did not help. The idea of the Germans lecturing to Brits was not likely to go down well. In fact Merkels utterly stupid move of welcoming all immigrants regardless has not gone down well even in Germany. It would have been helpful if some legal expert from the EU had said such a thing but they pointedly have not. Obviously there were restrictions in place already for several year on Eastern Europeans so anything is possible. Talking about treaties is just an excuse not to bother with the realities of the situation.

    Lastly I am really not sure why freedom of movement is so sacrosanct. It is obvious there are really poor countries and better off countries so migration was an inevitable timebomb for all of Europe. The British just happen to be the first ones to vote with their feet but they are not alone on this issue in Europe by any stretch. ie treaty or not the EU have to take these shortcomings seriously to avoid worse.

  • Eddie Sammon 26th Jun '16 - 2:38am

    This is good. About article 50: the EU are trying to kick us out on their terms and we either need to make sure they can’t or send a message to the EU that actually we don’t really want to leave and one way to do that is David Lammy’s vote in parliament. It might also send a good signal to the markets.

    Yes we should respect the will of the people, but things change very quickly and the will of the people is definitely not for less security and more poverty. Plus we live in a parliamentary democracy.

    As I’ve said: The German model looks acceptable outside the EU, but we should tell the French to politely stuff their plans for a punishment deal. But a punishment deal is what we might get if we trigger Article 50.

  • This is great news, great leadership. Thanks Tim

  • Nom de Plume 26th Jun '16 - 3:33am

    Although I have argued for Remain, I have my own set of things I dislike about how the EU works. Including the breadth of the remit of the Commission (other countries share the same concerns) and the rate of expansion into eastern Europe, especially with respect to the opening of the labour market to some of the poorer countries. I remember 2004 when Blair opened the borders to immigrants and the official prediction was, I think, 15000 a year. Even from the straw poll of students I knew in Eastern Europe, I personally predicted the number would be far higher. My initial reaction was that Tony Blair either (a) poorly informed or (b) was ideologically driven and didn’t care. My personal feeling were rather more ambivalent. I personally welcomed it, but knew of the tensions it would create. I have no doubt that it contributed to the result we saw on Thursday.
    My personal view is that most of the problems with the EU are due to badly negotiated treaties. And politicians driven by ideolgy without due regard for the electorate. The question posed to the British People was how they planned to deal with it: stay and fight or leave. Unfortunately they chose to leave.

    Here is the Blair link from a newspaper I never read:

  • I am sure we once had a leader who understood that the Federal Conference made policy and not the leader. So the first problem with Tim’s letter is he shouldn’t try to bounce the party on policy. The second problem is the wording.

    I am sure the party would happily agree that any future government containing Liberal Democrats will open negotiations to re-join the EU on the best terms available as long as we have an opt-out of the single currency and that we would then put these terms to the British public in a referendum.

    The idea that we should re-join the EU on any terms and without a referendum is just silly.

    @ Jamesg

    Free movement of people is not sacrosanct for the Liberal Democrats or our 57 MPs would not have supported a points system for non-EEA countries including limiting the total numbers allowed to come for particular types of jobs (I think the figures were tier 1 (general) – none, tier 2 – 21,700 tier 3 – none) and then send out a booklet to members to boast about it. Our 2015 manifesto didn’t say we would abolish this new system, we clearly would keep it but separate out student numbers in the migration figures (p 126).

  • “About article 50: the EU are trying to kick us out on their terms and we either need to make sure they can’t”

    This is because the UK voted to leave the EU, and the EU’s rules, to which the UK is a party and consented, say that once a country indicates that it intends to leave the EU, it no longer has a say in the EU’s decision-making. The EU will be negotiating with the UK, not as with a member whose fits and temper tantrums it has to assuage in order to assure the smooth working of the organisation, but as a foreign power with alien and possibly hostile interests.

    There is nothing that the UK can do to “make sure they [the EU] can’t” dictate the terms under which the UK leaves because the UK, by free popular vote, decided to put itself in a position where it had no influence on those terms. People were informed of this before voting. It must therefore be assumed that the Leave vote was also a vote to accept whatever terms on which the EU sees fit to associate with the UK henceforth. The UK’s bargaining power is now minimal: rather like Germany’s in November 1918. Instead of choosing to fight for the EU inside it, the UK voted to give up and leave. The UK lost this fight by unilateral surrender. The victors dictate the peace terms, not the party waving the white flag.

  • Christopher Tanner 26th Jun '16 - 6:48am

    We are all still Europeans, and most of us know the EU needs reform. Most of us would love to reverse the Referendum result, and agree with the spirit of campaigning to stay in the EU. But this must be handled with great care. We should not anger Leave voters. I believe the vote was invalid because only 34 percent of ‘the electorate’ – those over 18 – voted Leave. But we will be wide open to sour grapes accusations by the masters of the confidently-delivered lie, Messrs Boris and Gove; and the people who sent a cry for help will also accuse us again of not listening. There has to be a response that means something to them. Leaving the EU is NOT the response; we will never recover the lost billions it cost us over the years, this is money lost, no matter how successful Boris and Co are. But the EU must also change. We must be in this discussion about our Europe, the wider Europe we are still a part of, and which risks being captured by a resurgent European right wing biding its time since 1945. Whether we are inside or outside ‘the EU’. So what is the best strategy? First, let us assume a Boris Government quite soon. We must campaign hard, with Labour and the Greens, against a take over by the far right, and for a General Election. We the people insist on this; it is not something offered by the victorious Boris camp. If they form a new government uncontested, the Referendum will end as a de facto general election, a UKIP-style government by the back door. A very British coup. I read today of many Labour Leave voters saying there is no way they would vote for Boris. This is our electoral advantage, against the idea of a far right government. And if we get the government we want, then we might be able to re-open a conversation with the EU, which hopefully will already be indicating a willingness to discuss genuine reform. I am sure many Leavers would support a General Election strategy of this sort rather than a pledge to reverse the Referendum outcome.

  • Although I actually generally agree with what Tim is proposing, I don’t like the way he has rushed to unilaterally announce future campaigning policy like this.

    The next General Election could be in 2020, or it could be very soon indeed. We need to carefully consider what is deliverable, and the answer may be different in 2020 vs an early election in Spring next year before we are actually out.

  • Bill le Breton 26th Jun '16 - 7:49am

    This is headless chicken stuff.

    One can imagine the pressure the leader is getting from former leaders Clegg and Lord Ashdown – so some sympathy for him.

    But it does suggest that there was no forward planning for a Leave vote. Pretty mind-boggling, that.

    The EU as presently constituted is unreformable. The BBC reported on the eve of the vote – ie before voting day – that one of the Presidents of the EU – I forget which one – said ‘There will be no reform. Full Stop”

    And then there was this yesterday http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/brexit/nach-brexit-entscheidung-berlin-und-paris-wollen-politische-union-vorantreiben-14307968.html

    We delude ourselves if we do not see that the central core of the EU is running towards ever closer political union – the only thing that will stop this happening is public pressure in each country through their hard right political movements.

    So, we want to reattach ourselves to that process? When our move to leave, if accompanied by commitment to EFTA and the EEA, will pioneer a route that other countries can take without violence, without succour to the Far Right.

    You don’t have to be in the EU to be a European.

  • Yes out Leader has done the right thing. To me it does not matter whether we say okay we are out or will campaign for in, what matters is that Tim Farron seized media news last night and got onto a platform that is distinctive and clear. It has for the moment set the party apart and staked a clear, succinct and distinctive place in the political battle that the public will clearly understand, whether for or against. That is what we need. Our future lies in staking out these sort of positions and seizing moments. I was working last night and on the drive home through the darkness was cheered to hear on the lead radio news bulletins “The Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has said etc etc”. I believe this is a first for a very long time. Well done.

  • Paul Revell 26th Jun '16 - 8:12am

    As with some others, I’m concerned at the notion of announcing that we will fly in the face of a fair and democratically determined decision. If a ‘EU new deal’ of some sorts was put on the table that was substantially improved, perhaps an argument could be made that it must be put to a public vote again. However, that is showing no signs of being proposed yet. We risk being seen as a protest party for the losing side.

  • Peter Watson 26th Jun '16 - 8:26am

    @Bill le Breton “This is headless chicken stuff.”
    I think it’s more purposeful than that.
    The SNP were on the losing side of a referendum that was close to their hearts, and appeared to go from strength to strength by recruiting votes from other parties who were divided on that issue. It looks like Tim Farron believes, or has been advised, that he can reverse the electoral fortunes of the Lib Dems by presenting it as the “party of In” and taking disappointed Bremain voters from Labour and the Conservatives.
    For all the reasons given in the thread above, and given that apparently 30% of Lib Dems voted for Exit, I think this is a misguided tactic.

  • I have a question.

    Is this an ‘in any circumstances’ pledge? Like tuition fees? I mean, if the UK has left th EU by the next general election, our manifesto will say we are rejoining including switching to the Euro, joining Schengen and no rebate?

    Sorry, two questions. What else has Tim decided on for the next election manifesto?

  • Too many are swallowing the Tory and Mail line that the EU is in need of reform everyone else seems perfectly happy for a good reason and you live don’t live in the real world if you think the EU will allow Britain to yo-yo in and out your mad. This process has to be stopped by the parliamentary democracy we are governed by.
    But at least Tim is showing some leadership and yet is critisised here by some because first he hasn’t spoken first to a committee of a tiny failed party. Is that really how important you think this is.

  • I may be wrong, but I understand UK law says the Uk government may not take any steps towards changing the relationship of the Uk to the Eu without the consent of the Scottish government. the referendum was merely advisory in law. Scotland has said no. So the legal position as things stand would be that the UK has not decided by its rules to leave and there can be no question of initiating clause 50 against us.

    The obvious bargaining position to adopt if you really do mean to leave is not to initiate leaving until after a deal is reached, and be as bloody minded as necessary until one is. Leave have recognised this.

    The petition to annul the result has now reached 2.8 million signatures, which means probably every liberal MP has had more formal requests from his constituents on this issue than on any other? Yet you plan to ignore it? How arrogant is that? Core voters? traditional long standing liberal policy? same old same old which has reduced the libs to the current situation?

    Aside from the obvious legitimacy of the petition on its own terms that no majority for such a major step has been reached, Leave have now admitted lying to the voters. While I understand that politicians normally do lie to their voters, the whole rationale for the referendum was that voters had been lied to, that this must stop and a vote be called on the real situation. We still do not even know the real situation, but it looks increasingly like the Norway option, which is altogether worse than what we have now. This has not been put to voters, and it would be astonishingly undemocratic if this gets pushed through by parliament without in fact asking voters the real question.

    Oh, and voters seem to be starting to understand they were lied to and have already been changing their mind. A vote right now might well be to remain. I cannot imagine how anyone believes we have gone through a democratic execise of arriving at a true consensus of the nations view.

    And I am a member. And a long term lib voter.

  • Nom de Plume 26th Jun '16 - 8:31am

    Bill le Breton

    The EU will have to reform, if only because of the euro. Any political institution reforms as the society it represents changes. Please source you quotes. The quote you may be thinking of may be this one: “Leave means leave. The times of cherry-picking are over.” by Marcus Weber and Joseph Dahl, taken from yesterday’s Independent online.

    I get the impression that the rest of the EU is closing ranks.

    Now to that FAZ article. I did not want to comment on it because it is quite long and complicated. The best would be a full translation. Here goes a gloss.

    They claim that France and Germany, in response to the Brexit vote, want to make the EU more united and self assertive in the World, especially in crisis mangement. They talk of an ever closer union of France and Germany. But go on to note that the EU must only concentrate on those areas best managed at an EU level, leaving the rest to nations. They also acknowledge that different countries have different ambitions for integration. D&F want a joint security agenda and foreign policy (for themselves). They suggest a common asylum policy. The big German concern is clearly migrants. A better system for registering nationals from third countries. All sensible stuff. Plenty of reform.

    Please, no more scare-mongering.

  • as a political party we are free to represent those who voted for Britain to stay in the EU, I see no reason why we should suddenly change our beliefs and values because of the referendum result and turn into some kind of UKIP-lite. in the coming months there will also be many leave voters who realise they have been deceived who will need a political home. The prominent leave campaigners have already started saying quietly they won’t reduce immigration and the NHS won’t get 350 million per week extra.

  • Helen Dudden 26th Jun '16 - 8:38am

    I think you need to consider, what our reasons are for wishing to leave.

    There was even a pro bono completed for ECAS on the problems of Brussell 11a, I commented. They are our children, our grandchildren, its almost as though it does not matter.

    Beth Alexander, a young Jewish woman is struggling, with any right to have access to her twins, again we are helpless.

    The anti Semitic behaviour within the EU, I too made comments on, lets go into the real world with all that we need to try for some resolve.

    Whatever, anyone feels about me or my comments, I care immensely for those with unhappy lives.

    The time now, not for for blame, but to rethink why?

  • A great headline, but, but:

    1 – it looks anti-democratic to say you’ll campaign against a referendum outcome without pledging a further one
    2 – who knows where the EU will be at the time of the next General Election?
    3 – rejoining after leaving would be further disruption, and probably on much worse terms.
    4 – there may (I live in hope) be a better option on the table. Some form of looser arrangement with fewer countries more trade-focussed.

    What I wish he’d said is:
    “Leavers have won with the following pledges: £100m per week for the NHS, lower fuel on VAT, all EU spending protected to 2020, a points based immigration system, a trade arrangement to protect the economy. That was the basis we voted out; should any of these pledges not be delivered then the country was lied to, and would demand a second referendum as the terms had fundamentally changed. We will bring that second referendum about in that event, and we will unequivocally support our continued membership.”

  • Nom de Plume 26th Jun '16 - 8:59am


    You don’t get it. Once you are out you are out. You are a third country. There is not and can not be a “continued membership”. It is fantasy. Any reentry will be along the normal application procedure, with all it implies.

  • I am impressed with Tim Farron’s swift and decisive response to the worst political mistake of my lifetime, and act of self harm that eclipses Suez and the invasion of Iraq. Like our response to the invasion of Iraq, we are fortunate to have a leader who is responding with decisive clarity and appealing to a vast number of the electorate who are appalled at the turn of events.

    Commitment to the position of the UK within the EU is in the Liberal Democrat constitution, the alternative would have been to rip this apart. A backlash to the referendum result is already gathering apace, the only question is how deep and intense this backlash will be. Up to now I had despaired of Liberal Democrat politics in the wake of the 2015 election, but amidst the unremitting gloom in the wake of the referendum Tim Farron offers a glimmer of hope.

  • Paul Murray 26th Jun '16 - 9:12am

    @Bil le Breton – it was Jean-Claude Juncker. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/eu-referendum-reform-uk-brexit-vote-live-remain-jean-claude-juncker-european-union-a7095601.html

    Here is what Mr. Juncker said : “The British policymakers and British voters have to know that there will be not be any kind of renegotiation. We have concluded a deal with the Prime Minister, he got the maximum he could receive, we gave the maximum we could give. So there will be no kind of renegotiation, nor on the agreement we found in February, nor as far as any kind of treaty negotiations are concerned. Out is out.”

    This is crystal clear. Mr. Juncker will have known the potential impact of this comment on UK opinion and I can only conclude that he is making this comment not to the UK but to the other member states.

  • I think this is the right course of action for several reasons:

    1) People who voted Leave in good faith have been deceived by Gove, Johnson and Farage. Normally you see a few months before election promises unravel. but we had a few hours. We should not enable this mass deception of the British people and should allow them another chance to express their view. We also need to lead the debate on that so that it doesn’t become a re-run of the toxic referendum campaign.

    2) We are going to be the only party able to articulate a coherent strategy to keep the UK together within the EU. Given the likelihood of an election later this year, we need to get going with that now.

    3) A key part of that is to motivate and inspire to activism as many of the 48% as possible to help us deliver that message.

    4) We must not abandon the 52%, especially those who face the biggest struggles with poverty, housing and employment. We have to show them that we get it and offer them real hope. Otherwise the people who will be speaking from them will come from UKIP and the murkiest parts of the far right and that would be really, really bad for our country.

    5) This is hardly inconsistent with our position that we are a pro EU party and have always been.

  • David Evans 26th Jun '16 - 9:27am

    I think those of us who are worried about ‘undoing a democratic decision’ are in danger of being too narrow in their focus. I think every Liberal Democrat will agree that the EU campaign was littered with more lies and deliberately misleading statements than any they can remember. Whether it was the ‘£350m for the NHS’ on the leave side, or Osborne’s ‘Brexit will cost us £4,300 per household’ on the remain side, the outright falsehoods thrown about were a travesty.

    The question is how do we oppose this travesty.

    My view is that this initiative is a good start. There are problems that will have to be overcome, and questions that need to be answered (like gwyn’s who makes policy question and macs’ are we ignoring the democrat bit), but I think they can be answered clearly and honestly as this is a response to what was a despicable and deliberately misleading campaign.

    Overall, as a clear statement of intent, I think it has more points in its favour than against. My only concern is that alongside all the other things being said, there is a big risk it will not get noticed. I believe we need to go further and clearly say we will oppose and seek to get a mandate from the British people to reverse the decision through every democratic avenue we have open to us. This is not as mac implies that ‘we should seek to over-rule that decision’ because we do not have the right to do it, but the British people do have that right and it is them we should be helping in this endeavour.

  • Brilliant, just seen interview Sky News with Our leader. This is heaven to me, long interview plenty of publicity whether one agrees or not. Keep it going.

  • David Evans 26th Jun '16 - 9:30am

    P.S. I agree with Caron, especially on her fourth point which I didn’t address in my previous post.

  • Barry Snelson 26th Jun '16 - 9:39am

    I thought this was a mistake at first but I’m warming to it. Tim needs to find some allies across the spectrum, though. It would be easy to position the LibDems as devout pro-EU sore losers.

    The theme must be unrelenting attacks on the lies, deliberate deception and Johnson’s promises he knew full well would not be kept. We must not be afraid to attack the right wing media as a propaganda tool.

  • Adrian Sanders 26th Jun '16 - 9:43am

    I wasn’t with Bill before the referendum but he is spot on afterwards and his proposed EEA arrangement between the UK and the EU is our best chance of restoring some stability and security. We should be leading on the new relationship we wish to see with the EU, not telling people they got it wrong.

    The idea of promising to undo the will of an electorate is not very sensible, certainly not when viewed from Euro sceptic parts of the country unlike the Westminster bubble. Not many of the seats we are best placed to win next time voted remain but many leave voters agree with the idea of democracy and constitutional reform. Let’s not alienate a large part of our existing and most potential support over the most divisive issue in UK politics.

    And before events trigger a General Election can people consider the election expense allegations that if left unresolved will hand the next election to the Tories again whatever our policies.

    We should be campaigning now for the new Europe, not telling voters they got it wrong.

  • I am 60 year old life long liberal voter. But I am starting to dispair at the absence of Lib Dem radical vision on what the UK must now strive for.
    Since early Friday I have made sure I have the widest range of views from the Guardian & Observer to the Telegraph and Times plus the balanced i which should be the home of liberal thinking. But where is the Lib voice? Nowhere I can find.
    Then I go on this site and read Tim Fallon’s knee jerk statement. So disrespectful of what was the highest turn out for ages. Moreover a vote out in every UK region bar London, Scotland and N Ireland.
    The Tories will be damaged by this. Labour , fraudulently funded as the official opposition, could well implode. This is a golden chance for us and our country needs us to be showing a calm clear optimistic vision. A vision not a knee jerk. Just a Lloyd George did on the slopes of Snowdon 12 miles from me around 100 years ago.
    We so let down our country and we will never get the break through to power by issuing weak statements that moan about the out decision and then say the Lib Dems will campaign against it.
    Let’s get out there with a loud 6 point mantra that LD’s say:
    – UK should be calm and re-assured that we can make this work
    – UK remain Europeans. Just like Norway and Switzerland
    – UK is internationalist too and we can now stop awful EU trade barriers to poor countries
    – UK will hold on environmental standards. But can now get farm support focused and not subsidising grouse moors
    – UK will always welcome and nurture right size immigration and refugees
    – But UK can now get back to planning and inv

  • Bill le Breton 26th Jun '16 - 9:58am

    Thanks Adrian. You are so right about your warnings over a quick general election.

    I think the party would be wiped out at Westminster. Completing the job done by the previous leader.

    Whatever your views on Johnson, he did have an electoral triumph on Thursday – witness the huge reaction he got at that last big debate, that should have warned everyone what was going to happen on Thursday.

    He (and Leadsom) will win the Tory leadership campaign.

    Considerable parts of the for both Labour and UKIP would move to him in any subsequent GE.

    The wiser course is to shepherd his instincts which at the moment – before a GE drives him to greater extremity- is to go down the EEA route.

  • jedibeeftrix 26th Jun '16 - 10:11am

    @ caron – “We must not abandon the 52%, especially those who face the biggest struggles with poverty, housing and employment.”

    According to ashcroft 49% of that fifty two said sovereingty was their primary motivation. Only 33% said immigration & security was foremost.

  • I am a 60 year old life long liberal voter. This is the first time I have ever joined these political discussion web chats.
    But I am totally frustrated. The Lib Dem voice on all this is nowhere to be hard or read. Where is Tim Fallon? Oh I now see , he has crafted a statement that moans at the vote and is so disrespectful to voters who were an out majority in every region bar London, Scotland and N.Ireland by saying we will campaign for rejoining.
    I get the policy if you believe a new PM will have to call a snap election.
    I don’t get the policy and nor will other silent radical voters if, as is more likely, an election is 4 years out post the UK’s exit.
    I work a lot down in central London and understand they have a different metropolitan outlook. We Lib Dems need to focus our vision and values on all of the U.K. Just as 12 miles from my home on the slopes of Snowdon, David Lloyd George delivered a vision for an inclusive, caring GB some 100 years ago. Let’s get our vision out loud and clear.
    And Tim please up your stature big time.

  • It seems very clear that Britain should tell the EU that it is NOT starting the leaving the process. The new Prime Minister and his new government will determine what Britain’s policy will be on the referendum result. Our policy should be a second referendum on the terms of exit and only after the people agree to them should the government inform the EU that we are going to leave. We can then keep our position of being in favour of being in the EU on the current terms.

    We should use our influence in ALDE to encourage the EU to reform. These reforms to include:
    No requirement for any Non-Euro countries to join the Euro in the future;
    End the Stability and Growth Pact that limits a national government deficits to 3% of GDP and debt to 60%;
    Stop the ECB running the Euro zone for the benefit of Germany;
    Put in place a process to give regional aid in vast amounts to the poorer areas of the Euro zone and the EU to reduce the economic difference between areas substantially to reduce the pushes for economic migration across the EU.

    If we truly want to address the concerns of the Leavers we need to reject the idea of a balanced budget and deficit reduction;
    We need to agree a full employment policy and have an interventionist employment policy;
    We need to commit to building at least 200,000 houses a year (and maybe consider 400,000 to end the housing shortage in five years);
    We need to commit to increasing NHS spending to the 2007 level plus NHS inflation (and maybe finance a commitment to everyone having the right to see a GP within 48 hours [including the right to be able to make an appointment one week in advance]);
    We need to ensure that every education authority has space capacity for new pupils.

  • Philip Rolle 26th Jun '16 - 11:01am

    I’m not sure whether it has been said already but IMO Lib Dems should not labour the point about the EU campaign “lies” Was the tuition fee debacle really that much different? Besides, aren’t there always campaign lies?

    In effect, you are also telling a majority of the voting public that they weren’t smart enough to spot the lies…

    It’s just not an attractive argument for so many reasons. Surely I am not the only one to think this?

  • Philip
    For many years there have been endless euro-myths.

  • Jim, did you see Tony Blair on BBC1 this morning? I thought he had a very sensible, pragmatic and, yes, wise, approach.

  • Bill and Adrian. We might be wiped out. We might not.
    But I’m sick of endless political expediency and pulling our punches. Let’s, for once, just go out and fight for what we believe in. Europe, Youth, Enterprise, Multiculturalism and internationalism. We might be surprised by the results.
    Another referendum? Why not? The leave campaign just lied as electors have found out and sadly remain all to clearly told the truth.
    Nonsense to say this is somehow ‘undemocratic’. I assume Bill and Adrian will fight the elections every May? Decisions are not forever and referenda are not binding.

  • The more I think about this the more it feels like an emotional (grief laden in effect) response to Thursday. It lacks clarity about just what is meant. What is the party’s response now – is there an intention (and strategy/tactics) to delay an Art 50 notice for a while. That is a very fraught route – if Parliament were to vote note to follow the result of a referendum it called then it is time to stock up on canned goods.

    Is this the policy for snap GE in autumn of 2016 or early 2017. If that is pre an Art 50 notice (which I doubt will be the case) then what is the basis for ignoring that other than not liking the result or claiming that people were misled. If post Art 50 then the party needs a response on what the negotiations should involve

    If it is a longer term policy that is probably the most sustainable idea – it is a reasonable viewpoint to say “we accept what people decided whilst disagreeing with them. We would campaign for a future UK entry into the EU and seek to persuade the British people that this is the best route for the country.”

  • John Barrett 26th Jun '16 - 12:15pm

    Telling the voters that they made a mistake is not the way to move forward.

    Tim announcing our campaign strategy for the next election without any consultation with the membership or anyone else outside the “bubble” looks like a rash decision which will come back to haunt him.

    Both sides of the campaign were guilty of telling lies and both sides know this. Each side will say the other side told more, but regardless of which side was more guilty than the other, insulting voters by saying they did not know what they were doing is no way to rebuild our vote. Remembering that most voters are not political nerds or are even swayed by campaign literature or media would be a good start.

    The prospect of an early election (this year) is something we need to have a plan in place for, especially when key seats like my own in Edinburgh West have no candidate in place.

    In Scotland we need to devise a strategy for the possibility of an early election and the immediate prospect of a second independence referendum, remembering that an estimated 30% of party members voted for independence last time.

    We need leadership – not knee jerk reactions – both north and south of the border.

    I am now heading off to an emergency meeting to hear what party members in Scotland think. Hopefully Willie will not just announce what he has already decided, but will listen – before he makes up his mind, unlike Tim.

  • @John Barrett – absolutely correct. I had the misfortune to go over to The Guardian website and read some of the utterly outrageous BTL comments posted there by disappointed Remain supporters against people who are old, working-class, northern or lack a University degree. If these comments were directed against other groups they would have been moderated out. If you don’t believe me take a look at this: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jun/25/view-wales-town-showered-eu-cash-votes-leave-ebbw-vale#comments

    These are of course the exact set of “three quid Trots” who propelled their former hero Jeremy Corbyn to leadership and the rich irony of their description of the working-class as “ignorant” on the assumption that they didn’t understand the consequences of their actions is beyond parody.

  • @Nom de Plume – I’m assuming we won’t have left by the time of the next general election, which looks a fair assumption this morning. If not, then as you say it’s a very different place.

  • I’m just off to the same meeting as John Barrett, with roughly the same views as John. Instinctively I warmed to Tim’s announcement. But the problem is I’m not exactly sure what it means. He says, rightly, that as democrats we must accept the result of the referendum. So what exactly does it mean when he then says we will campaign to get back in the EU? Maybe I need more sleep, maybe I’m still too emotional about it all. but I don’t know what our message actually is. I do also share the concerns expressed here about pre-empting the party’s policy-making process.
    Again, I love the headline, but what’s the detail? I’ve read the statement and I’ve now seen/heard him give 2 interviews about it on TV – but I still don’t know what it actually means. If we are accepting the vote (which we must) then what exactly is our strategy to get back in? Another referendum? Blocking the negotiations? Letting the process play out and then re-applying?? I love the idea of us somehow becoming the rallying-point for all those who are pissed-off, but we need clarity.

  • Christopher Haigh 26th Jun '16 - 12:55pm

    This statement is only ok if it concerns a pre-brexit general election. Otherwise we should wait to see what happens with negotiations etc.

  • Peter Watson 26th Jun '16 - 1:45pm

    I believed the Lib Dem position before the referendum was dismal and depressing.
    The party followed the official (Tory led, Osborne co-ordinated) Remain campaign line: no positive depiction of the present state of Europe, no positive vision for the future of a strong UK within the EU, plenty of fear-mongering, shouting down discussions about immigration, personal attacks on individual Brexit campaigners, failure to address genuine concerns of those considering the huge step of Brexit, etc.
    I voted Remain in spite of that campaign, not because of it.
    But the knee-jerk Lib Dem reaction after the referendum looks even worse. Angry, noisy, confused, illiberal, undemocratic, …
    Thank goodness for people like Paul Walter (https://www.libdemvoice.org/the-people-have-spoken-trust-the-people-51087.html) who appears as an oasis of calm and rational thought.

  • “a howl of anger”

    More animal-related metaphors about the working-class people who disagree with you and you will be sure of an overall majority.

  • Peter it would be a knee-jerk reaction if we changed our beliefs about European co-operation overnight because of one referendum. Thank goodness the Lib Dems are doing exactly the opposite and sticking to what we believe while listening to all our fellow citizens (leave voters, remain voters and disenfranchised voters) about their hopes and fears for the future. Remember that more people were barred from voting than the majority obtained by leave.

  • Richard Underhill 26th Jun '16 - 3:52pm

    There is a general election in Spain on Sunday 26/6/2016. They will not have had much time to assess the result of the referendum in the UK.
    The possible consequences could be serious for lots of UK citizens living in Spain for which the current government did not do enough. If they need or decide to return to the UK in large numbers they will affect the numbers of net migration into the UK.
    Net immigration will also fall if the UK has 2 consecutive quarters of negative growth, or more.

  • David Evershed 26th Jun '16 - 4:17pm

    We could have a policy to hold another referendum on re-joining the EU but it would be undemocratic to ignore the result of the last referendum and just say we will take Britain back into the EU without another referendum

    A better policy would be to embrace the LEAVE position of being outward looking to the whole world, rather than inward looking to a protectionist EU.

    Lets fight for Liberal policies of being internationalist (not Europeanist) and having free trade with 100% of the world not just the protectionist 20% in the EU.

  • Eddie Sammon 26th Jun '16 - 4:26pm

    Tested the idea of blocking brexit on some brexiters now the consequences are clearer. It didn’t go down well.

    But whatever happens we need to get the best deal possible for Britain. It’s going to be hard anyway, the last thing we need is to accept people trying to make an example out of Britain.

    Get Tim Farron and senior Lib Dems on the brexit negotiation team.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 26th Jun '16 - 4:56pm

    Tim has impressed me more than really any leader I thought would in our party at a time and on an issue I take a middle way on.I am a EUpragmatist. Only the German Chancellor now in the whole panoply of opinion , is being reasonable. Tim,this very day ,I staunchly spoke for, to others not as keen.Yet not on this , not now and not in this way.

    Some very sensible views today on here.The fine and uplifting contribution of Paul Walter,added to by Paul Murray , peter Watson , Adrian Sanders.

    We cannot be other than internationalists.We are Democrats.We must not commit the party to what it has not decided to do !

  • The Professor 26th Jun '16 - 9:06pm

    Here is my version of Tim Farron’s first paragraph (as a Leave voter):

    I have always believed that Britain should be outward facing, collaborating with other countries, organisations and institutions to tackle both UK and global challenges. Our membership of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, NATO and Council of Europe allows us to do that.

    Furthermore membership of OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) and WTO (World Trade Organisation) means that Britain is well placed to take full advantage of the vote to leave the European Union.

  • @David Evershed

    “Lets fight for Liberal policies of being internationalist (not Europeanist) and having free trade with 100% of the world not just the protectionist 20% in the EU.”

    Absolutely. Well said.
    There is a whole wide world out there with like minded people who would share our values and aspirations.
    The world does not start in Ireland and end in Greece.

  • That is why I want to make clear that the Liberal Democrats will fight the next election on a clear and unequivocal promise to restore Britain’s prosperity and role in the world, with the United Kingdom in the European Union, not outside it.

    Oh dear… hello Tim this is 2016 calling! the battle is here and now not in 2020.

    Yes we have had a referendum and “the people have spoken”, but that is just the first act; the rest of the play has yet to be written. There is much that can be done to influence the nature of the next steps – a casual reading of Article 50, shows that the process of leaving isn’t necessarily going to be a walk in the park. But that ignores the other dimension, making whatever new arrangements that are deemed appropriate for a post-exit UK.

    By 2020 we can probably expect much of the above to have been completed, with people adjusting to the new order; unless the country is significantly poorer, I can’t see people being in a rush to rejoin the EU.

  • A good positive comment from Tim, but the party needs to stress that we are, and always have been, in favour of a federal Europe. That does not necessarily mean automatic acceptance of the EU as it is. Even Nick Clegg acknowledges that the EU needs reform. It would have been better to argue for changes from within, but we should revisit our federal policy and promote those.

  • David Evershed 27th Jun '16 - 12:32pm

    “That is why I want to make clear that the Liberal Democrats will fight the next election on a clear and unequivocal promise to restore Britain’s prosperity and role in the world, with the United Kingdom in the European Union, not outside it.”

    This is a promise by Tim Farron that he can not deliver and will be broken.

    Have we learned nothing about making promises we can not deliver?

  • Keith Browning 27th Jun '16 - 3:54pm

    The social demographics of the 52% and their subsequent (I didnt realise what I was doing) statements show the whole process was flawed. How many ‘leavers’ thought there would be repatriation of their multi ethnic neighbours. How many actually think that Pakistan, India, Somalia etc etc are members of the EU. This is a cock-up of gargantuan proportions that has already sent large waves around the World. This still seems to be a Blue on Blue argument, and by the way Cameron was campaigning I also thought he was intending the answer would be Leave. He then gets off the hook and wanders off to spend his family millions.

  • Some above argue that many brexiters will be upset by this issue being revisited. Absolutely they will. There are plenty of people with completely fixed views on both sides. But the great majority are not like this, either way, and are swayed by what they have heard, whether that was in depth knowledge or a bit of gossip from the neighbours. The margin of the win is tiny. The polls were not helpful in predicting the result, but did show support going up and down on each side as arguments went along. The purpose of this exercise was to obtain a definitive and informed answer to the question, but leave have admitted they simply lied. Others have argued Remain lied too. While I see the balance of truth was on the Remain side, if others think both sides lied, then the result is more invalid not less. The result is meaningless where the people voting were lied to and no appeal to democratic process having been completed can change that. I am sure the referendum legislation did not say the parties could not lie, but this is so fundamental a part of democracy that it has to be paramount. There is no clear result from this referendum what is the will of the British people about this situation. Any politician saying the opposite is….lying.

  • David Hollingsworth 28th Jun '16 - 3:56pm

    I absolutely agree we should fight Brexit at the next General election. There is a lot of talk of an early General election. At the Election we should say if you vote Liberal Democrat you are voting to say in the EU
    Leaving the EU on the basis of a leave campaign full of lies which misled people . They did not tell them the truth about the massive economic damage it will do to Britain.
    We entered the EU without a referenduim and stay after the 1975 referendum. I think its perfectly reasonable for General election vote. Voters can supports the party who’s position on the EU they want.

  • Bill le Breton 28th Jun '16 - 4:35pm

    So, what if present Government under new leader negotiates EEA (Norway-like) deal and puts that to the country in Referendum ?

    Farage/UKIP campaign against the deal.

    EEA deal would unite the Tories as it answers their concerns on Sovereignty (see this report http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/03/06/what-if-britain-left-the-eu-and-could-be-more-like-norway/ ) and win Labour backing both under a continuing Corbyn regime or some other leader.

    Tory/Labour campaign would bill its as vital chance to defeat UKIP and racism.

    What would we do?

  • @ Bill le Breton

    If we join the EEA (Norway-like) then being in favour of being a full member of the EU would make sense, especially if there was no requirement to join the Euro and the Schengen area. This of course assumes that we are allowed to join EFTA by its four members who seem to have a veto.

    A referendum on joining EEA would be interesting and I think vital if the government decides on this option. It has been argued that being a member of the EEA has all the down sides of being a member of the EU but without a vote in the decision making. The argument that we would have no control would likely be stronger. I voted Remain, but I don’t think I would vote to join the EEA.

    Bill has argued that the ECB has a failed economic policy and I agree; economic migration is a result of this. The failed economic policy of the EU needs addressing and we will be adversely affected if it is not, even if we were only in the EEA.

  • I’m afraid I just don’t think remaining in the EU, or campaigning under such a policy as a sort of protest is going to look like a sensible proposition by the time of the next GE. For one thing I suspect that election is further away than people think. I don’t think once the Brexiters have seized power they will be all that keen to face the electorate.
    It does look likely that a consensus will build around the Norway option and that we will end up as a sort of third class member of the EU dictated to by people over whom our elected representatives have no control. Years of economic and political instability and all that will be achieved it to make real the specious complaints of the eurosceptics. And that is the best option. The worst being that we won’t be able to contain the ethno-nationalism of UKIP and the far right.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 28th Jun '16 - 6:31pm

    If there is a snap election before any article 50 invocation or whatever begins the true leaving timetable , Tim has every right to put the notion of resuming or rather continuing in the EU on the basis of strong support in an election manifesto.

    This needs to be put in a way that can command the support of us as a party and then and thereafter , as a nation .And indeed , to run as an unyielding champion of keeping the UK together as a result .

    This would , with a strong advancing of the case for PR make us the party of internationalists ,patriots and democrats .That would be the most exciting way this party could ever revive !

  • Lorenzo Cherin 28th Jun '16 - 7:05pm

    Leave EU , indeed ! I am no fan of the EU as it is .Throughout years and the campaign , I have sounded very anti EU sometimes, though arguing for Remain in the referendum.

    I advocate us being in the EU but as advocates of reform.I was a noticably strong , and not with mass support on here , defender of Camerons efforts to secure a deal.I believe he deserved support for that and further special ways we could be different within the EU.

    Yet what I want for us , I want for all who want it .A truly Liberal and Democratic EU !

  • Leave won the referendum, so for heaven’s sake get over it and stop sulking. The issues were aired endlessly for months, so saying that the electorate got it wrong just comes across as breathtaking arrogance.

  • Ron Sanders,

    Every time a planning application is made there is a resident consultation. Often, residents object. Sometimes, objections run into thousands. In most cases, however, the objections have zero effect on the ultimate outcome. Indeed, Planning Inspectors frequently make awards of costs against local planning authorities for giving weight to objectors’ views!

    The referendum was a consultation exercise, nothing more. If Parliament had intended it to be something more, then the enabling statute would have stated that expressly. It did not.

    The United Kingdom has a sovereign Parliament. The decision as to what happens next is therefore one for Parliament and Parliament alone. We fought two civil wars to establish that principle, and we yield on it at our peril. Government by plebiscite is for the rednecks of the American backwoods and ultra-conservatives in small-town Switzerland. It has no place in our democracy.

    By the way, I am not sulking. I am quietly confident that there will be no Brexit. It is in Britain’s interest and Europe’s interest that a deal is struck as quickly as possible which keeps Britain inside the EU, so that is what will happen. Whether or not that means a general election or another referendum or both, we shall find out very shortly.

  • Allan Brame 29th Jun '16 - 3:42pm

    It is worth noting that activating Article 50 does not of itself mean we leave the EU.
    The House of Lords European Union Committee produced a report a couple of months ago entitled “The process of withdrawing from the European Union”. Here is a key section:

    “Can a Member State’s decision to withdraw be reversed?
    10. We asked our witnesses whether it was possible to reverse a decision to
    withdraw. Both agreed that a Member State could legally reverse a decision to
    withdraw from the EU at any point before the date on which the withdrawal
    agreement took effect. Once the withdrawal agreement had taken effect,
    however, withdrawal was final.”

    In other words, if an acceptable deal cannot be reached during the two years of negotiations, it would be open to the government to say that the proposed arrangements are so disadvantageous to our economy that we must remain within the EU.

    We need to be prepared to play a long game.

  • The Green Party is calling for a progressive, pro-European alliance. We need to listen to that call and remember what those words “there is more than unites us that divides us” mean. It would be a massive mistake for Liberal Democrats to turn away from this call. There is a very real, very serious swing to the right, to isolationism and racism happening in this country, with Tories unopposed by the vacuum where Labour used to be. This is the time for progressives to unite and take a stand – there is real strength in numbers.

  • @Allen Brame: This is contrary to the express language of Article 50 and also the way it is understood by other EU members. Once a request to leave under Article 50 is submitted, the UK is committed to withdrawal and the request cannot be retracted. It can reapply for admission, but only once the two years are up and the UK is, under whatever conditions are agreed on, separated from the EU. During those two years, the UK will continue to have most of the obligations of an EU member, but will gradually lose its rights. The two years are to provide time to replace EU membership with new arrangements, not to give time to change the decision.
    Once out, the UK is free to apply for readmission, but one can imagine that other EU members would be loath to readmit without reassurances that (a) the UK would no longer be begging for special exceptions and (b) the UK could be relied upon to live up to its commitments and not threaten to leave again.
    While supporters of Leave like to believe that Brexit makes the UK look strong, proud, and independent, the fact is that this now-in-now-out attitude makes the country look weak, irresolute, and unreliable.

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