All over the country, cross-party meetings on Europe are taking place

I cannot recall a political issue since I joined the party in 1998 that has engaged public interest so deeply and for so long as the EU referendum and its aftermath.  Almost 3 months after polling day, you can still hear people you pass at the bus stop, in pubs and cafes and other public places talking about it.

I agree with the analysis of David Allen Green of the FT that Brexit is not inevitable and will be with us as a political issue for a very long time.

Tim Farron has set out the Liberal Democrat plan for Britain in Europe.  We do not want a re-run of the 2016 referendum.  But we demand that the people of Britain should have the final say.  When the government can tell us what the terms of exit actually are, the people should be able to vote on whether they want them or not.  That is the legitimately democratic stance. The public did not vote on 23 June to give a blank cheque. They did not vote for “Leave on any terms”. Quite the opposite.

The public may have instructed the government to negotiate exit terms.  The public can give further instructions on whether to accept those terms or not.

All over the country local meetings are taking place between people from progressive parties (and people of no party) about this issue.

Last Friday I spoke at such a meeting in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, where the local MP campaigned for Leave despite most local people voting for Remain.  Over the summer, I have spoken at a number of other meetings in other counties too.

amersham-meeting-cross-party-sept-2016

Last Friday at Amersham saw a packed meeting with Liberal Democrat, Labour and Green speakers.  I explained the Liberal Democrat position and invited progressives of all parties to get behind this.  Many people said they agreed with what Tim Farron has said.  Pictured above are just some of those who attended.

It will take many years before the government is in a position to say “here are the draft terms for exit on offer”.  It is vital that we do not wait until then to organise our campaign but make our case now, and continue to make it.  Our case is a liberal, open, prosperous Britain, which is in the Single Market, protects the environment and gives UK citizens all the benefits they currently enjoy as EU citizens.

Over the years ahead, more and more people will come to conclude that they were lied to in June 2016.  They were lied to about £350 million per week.  They were lied to about immigration.  They were lied to about Turkey.  And, fundamentally, they were lied to that exit could be beneficial and not harmful.  As with Blair’s WMD in Iraq, time will expose these lies.  Our job is to prepare a better option for the future.

We are one people in Europe, with a shared history and a shared future, shared problems and shared strengths.  We need to say so and go deeper than the vacuous arguments of Cameron and Osborne that failed so badly on 23 June.

Public meetings like this should be encouraged to continue to take place and so should taking every opportunity to get the Liberal Democrat message across.

* Antony Hook was #2 on the South East European list in 2014, is the English Party's representative on the Federal Executive and produces this sites EU Referendum Roundup.

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24 Comments

  • Christopher Lyddon 13th Sep '16 - 8:04am

    Great to see an encouraging positive piece. We mustn’t accept the Brexiteer’s insistence that there’s nothing we can do to stop their dystopic nightmare for Britain becoming reality.

  • Richard Underhill 13th Sep '16 - 9:24am

    Luxembourg’ foreign minister Jean Asselborn has called for Hungary to be suspended or expelled from the EU because of “massive violation” of EU fundamental values.
    He cited treatment of refugees, treatment of judiciary and freedom of the press.
    http://civitas.org.uk/2014/07/29/will-hungary-be-expelled-from-the-eu/
    https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2014-04-07/is-hungary-the-eu-s-only-dictatorship
    http://www.errc.org/article/hungarian-city-set-to-expel-its-roma/4293

  • “We do not want a re-run of the 2016 referendum.”

    My understanding is that Tim wants the choice ‘Remain’ to be put on any second referendum. That makes it a re-run of the 2016 referendum.
    If Tim genuinely respected the EU in/out Referendum result, he would respect that it was a… ‘Leave’. [ The Remain choice is now gone ! ]. Tim is perfectly entitled to ask the question,.. ‘What version of Leave?’,.. but it must be a ‘Leave’ version, otherwise he is not respecting the original in/out result, which is very definitely ‘Leave’ ~ with version of Leave,..to be decided by negotiation.?
    You must have a seriously low opinion of voters if you think they can’t spot such cack-handed subterfuge.?

  • Daniel Walker 13th Sep '16 - 11:00am

    @J Dunn “That makes it a re-run of the 2016 referendum.”

    That is clearly not true. It is possible, indeed likely, that Remain would be preferred to any actually available Leave, particularly if the options are selected by AV. e.g.:

    Place these options for the UK’s relationship with the EU in order of preference. You may vote for as many or as few as you wish.

    a) Leave, WTO rules (“Third country status”)
    b) Leave, EEA membership
    c) Leave, with custom deal (with details included)
    d) Remain an EU member

    If, in those circumstances, Remain won, would you regard that as illegitimate?

  • Daniel
    Remain was totally discounted in the first referendum. To try to put in on a second referendum is a not so clever attempt at a re-run, and frankly disrespectful to the 17 + million who *won* the LEAVE option.
    Remain is not now an option,.. it is now a question of some form of Hard or Soft Brexit.? If T. May attempts a too soft Brexit, half of her backbenchers will rebel, and for sure a re-branded Ukip will let loose the dogs or war,.. on any constituency not nailed down. That is a promise.

  • Peter Hayes 13th Sep '16 - 1:02pm

    Strange, the leavers have been moaning and campaigning for over 40 years but expect remainers to ‘put up and shut up’. Forget it, we can moan and campaign for another 40 years if necessary.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 13th Sep '16 - 1:46pm

    I admire the strength of feeling of Antony , hope is a marvellous thing.

    I do not know if Antony is of any other European origins ,I find it interesting that I am half Italian and part Irish , yet do not feel the emotional or intellectual level of enthusiasm, or interest, for this, which he does.

    He says we are one people in Europe , but that makes me ask , are we really talking ethnically , geographically, or politically , culturally? Clearly on the first two yes, the second two , not so sure.And why then is that so important ?

    I feel at one with the world for the world is full of one thing above all, people. I make common cause with individuals ,not groups , on the whole , or groups of individuals who share values.

    India is a country I have never been to , but I feel related to, not by religion or geography , but historically and culturally. I grew up with close neighbours and friends of Indian origin. I feel it too, for America, a country that is an extension of this one in many ways , but with much that is different too, but I married one of American origin.

    I feel more kinship with someone from a country that I do not know well at all ,or know like the back of my hand, based on a connection that is personal above all.

    The politics of the EU shall play out for years it is true. I am glad that people like Antony are involved.I shall play my part. Yet I shall be rooting for humanity , the needs of individuals, and for a range of even more urgent and pressing issues as a result.

  • Daniel Walker 13th Sep '16 - 2:36pm

    @J Dunn

    Okay. So (to pick a deliberately trivial example) If I say to you “Would you like plain crisps or another flavour?” and you say “Another flavour, ta, mate” And I go to the bar and come back and say “They’ve only got Tomato Ketchup and Prawn Cocktail. Would you prefer plain?” is that question illegitimate because you were hoping they’d have your favourite salt-and-vinegar?

  • Daniel
    Crisps..?? seriously?
    O.K….let’s do the crisps thing. I’m up for a laugh

    Salt and Vinegar crisps have been giving me increasing bouts of Irritable Bowel Syndrome over the last 30 years or so.
    First question :
    ~ Do you want to continue eating Salt and Vinegar crisps.? [Remain]
    ~ Do you want to stop eating Salt and Vinegar crisps.? [Leave]
    Answer : I want to stop eating Salt and Vinegar crisps because they give me IBS.
    So,..Second question :
    Having full respect of your first answer,…What flavour of crisps do you want from the choices below :
    ~ Prawn Cocktail
    ~ Smokey Bacon
    ~ Cheese and Onion
    ~ Salt and Vinegar.

    So,… Where is the so called respect to my first answer, by you putting Salt and Vinegar on the second ballot, when I outright rejected Salt and Vinegar on the first ballot, telling you that they gave me IBS.?

  • Daniel Walker 13th Sep '16 - 4:29pm

    @ J Dunn

    The “crisp flavour” technique has good validity when discussing electoral systems/voting/etc., as it takes the partisanship out of it, as most people don’t care what crisp flavours other people like. So:

    If you’re fatally allergic to Prawn Cocktail, Smokey Bacon gives you worse IBS, and Cheese and Onion triggers blinding migraines, you’d probably take the Salt And Vinegar. See? In your “IBS” example, you’re trying to indicate that you think Salt and vinegar is bad, even if I agreed that was true, which I don’t, I like salt-and-vinegar, it doesn’t follow that it isn’t still the least bad option.

    (For the purposes of this exercise, we’ll assume you have to have some crisps and can’t just have peanuts instead, which is where the analogy breaks down, of course, but I trust you see my point)

  • Daniel
    I’d like to give you 10 out of 10 for tenacity, but you’ve sort of,.. shot your own fox, by pushing the analogy into peanuts.

    First question :
    ~ do you want a Curry containing peanuts.?
    ~ do you want a Curry containing NO peanuts.?
    Answer : I want a curry containing NO peanuts because I’ll go into shock and likely die.
    Second question : After respectful consideration of your first answer, please choose your curry from list below
    Chicken Jalfrezi ( No peanuts )
    Lamb Masala ( No peanuts )
    Mixed Rogan Josh ( With peanuts )
    Given that my first answer to your first question was NO PEANUTS, is it too much to ask that you respect my peanut allergy, and don’t put a peanut containing choice on the second menu,… that you know might kill me,…!?
    I’m starting to get hungry now……. and it’s all your fault Daniel.

  • Daniel Walker 13th Sep '16 - 5:28pm

    @J Dunn

    Your peanut curry example is functionally identical to your crisp one, so I refer you to my answer. Still nice try, and enjoy the curry I sense you’re planning on having for tea.

  • I give in Daniel,… you win,… and yes,.. my stomach is rumbling.

    So,… I’ll have a Salt ‘n’ Vinegar starter, with a main of Mixed Rogan Josh, with extra peanuts on the side,… and a couple of Epi-Pen Adrenaline injectors just to be on the safe side. 🙂

    I really like your doggedness style Daniel. We’ll maybe meet again.

  • Yellow Submarine 14th Sep '16 - 12:52am

    #1 Unfortunately the referendum rejected our current membership terms as amended by Cameron’s renegotiation. The European Council has since voided that agreement. So any second referendum on Exit Deal vs Status Quo would be on ” worse ” Remain terms than the first referendum was. I can’t see it succeeding myself. #2 Any Exit Deal vs Status Quo referendum is contingent on A50 invocation being reversible. There are opinions that it is but ultimately it would be for the ECJ to decide. So demanding a second referendum might be good tactics to pick up militant Remainers ( of which I’m one ) but in terms of achievability it’s for the Birds.

  • Stevan Rose 14th Sep '16 - 7:39am

    Have you got anything without spam?
    Well, the spam, eggs, sausage and spam That’s not got much spam in it
    I don’t want any spam!
    Why can’t she have eggs, bacon, spam and sausage?
    That’s got spam in it!
    Hasn’t got much spam in it as spam, eggs, sausage and spam has it?
    Could you do me eggs, bacon, spam and sausage without the spam, then?

  • “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

    That question is not half as ambiguous as many remainers seem to think it was. It is pretty to the point. And I say that as someone who was bitterly dissapointed by the result.

  • Robin Grayson 14th Sep '16 - 9:00am

    We cannot leave Europe…

    The UK is an integral part of the continental crust of Europe, so BRE-EXITERS will need to sail away to far-flung lands. Meanwhile the UK stays part of the European continent.
    We are stuck with it.

    Meanwhile, the Atlantic Ocean gets a bit wider every day due to ocean-floor spreading taking Trump way. Maybe a bit too slow for my liking.

  • “We cannot leave Europe…”

    Nor do we Brexiters want to. Let’s keep the geographic bit which we call Europe, and have been part of for hundreds of years, and instead, ditch the unelected layer of unwanted governance that no-one actually voted for,.. which is denoted as the EU.? We can only hope that the rest of sovereign countries in Europe eventually see sense and also ditch these meddling EU sociopaths.?

  • jedibeeftrix 14th Sep '16 - 10:50am

    Robin, as brexiters keep on pointing out here abouts; it is remainers who wrongly keep saying that we are leaving “europe”.

  • All over the country? Not here, they aren’t. There are ongoing links between Remain people, but little talk of it beyond consenting adults in private. Keep it up, but don’t claim too much too soon.

  • rita giannini 14th Sep '16 - 1:49pm

    I really do object to that “meddling EU sociopaths”: there is no need to insult anybody.

  • Nick Collins 14th Sep '16 - 3:47pm

    @ Paul King. I’ve experienced quite a lot of talk (most of it neither enlightening nor edifying) between dissenting adults. The referendum result has left the country bitterly divided, and it’s likely to become more so once it becomes clear that none of the promises made by the “Leave” campaign is going to be remotely deliverable.

  • “Almost 3 months after polling day, you can still hear people you pass at the bus stop, in pubs and cafes and other public places talking about it”

    Weird, wherever I go in the office, hospital, pub, train station, cricket club, there is no talk of the referendum unless I raise it and then it drifts back to cars and football and cricket and Bake Off and rubbish NHS services within a minute or so. The only people obsessed by this are some Lib Dem members chatting away about future referenda that will never happen because 8% doesn’t get you your way. I’m so embarrassed I’ve worked out how not to display the party logo on my posts. For goodness sakes focus on reality and policies that might actually have a chance and we might have a chance of recovery.

    “people will come to conclude that they were lied to in June 2016.”

    I voted Remain and I was lied to about an emergency punishment budget. About immediate economic collapse. You won’t get my vote so easily should pigs grow wings and there is a second referendum because all the Remain fear tactics are a spent force.

  • Nick Collins 15th Sep '16 - 9:33am

    It seems to me that a lot of people avoid talking about it because it is very divisive. I shall not be mentioning it when I go to the pub tonight, because I want to enjoy the evening, not provoke an argument.

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