And, as we say au revoir to the European Union…

It’s an emotional moment for those of us who campaigned to remain in the European Union, the last moments during which we are part of something more than the sum of its constituent parts, a pooling of some national sovereignty in return for freedoms to live, love and work across twenty-eight nations. It is not a time to celebrate.

It isn’t a time to mourn either. If the United Kingdom is to go its own way, we need to be there, campaigning for a more liberal society, because if we don’t, nobody else is going to do it for us.

So, to remind us why it was we fought so hard, and for so long, here’s a performance of “Ode to Joy” that kind of sums up how European unity grew and developed, haltingly at first, but becoming more organised and diverse over time…

Goodnight, and Gods bless (other belief systems are available)…

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This entry was posted in Europe / International.


  • Kit: Britain cannot leave Europe. European states will always be the UK’s closest partners in commerce, research, defence, and everything else.

    Far from making the UK “free from an undemocratic superstate” Brexit simply leaves the UK economy subject to the decisions of European rule-making bodies which the UK has chosen not to be a part of. That’s less democratic (for the UK) but apparently you are under the impression that not having a voice and vote is more democratic than having one. However, that’s not actually how the world works.

  • Second and last time: I do wish people would people stop telling me not to mourn, to get over it.
    It’s clear from the first comment on this thread that Leavers are no more going to embrace us now than they did yesterday. They will always regard us as either irrelevant or a threat (same as other political parties).
    Campaign, yes. But my friends and I spent last night angry and woke up in shared despair. And none of us is going to say ‘oh well’ after breakfast and stop caring about what we’ve had taken away from us.

  • David-1, that’s art if the problem. Population becoming more and more removed from the political decisions. As a remainer i didn’t want to leave, but can acknowledge the reason people did vote to leave. EU 🇪🇺 as a construct for somr was a step to far to quickly.

  • Cassie, I went to bed upset like you. But i actually feel quite liberated. Brexit is done and now can move on

  • There is no end to Brexit, it just moves to stage two the consequences phase. When the car industry starts to close and other industries follow do you think those thrown onto the scrap heap will be other than very, very angry; and they will be looking for scape goats.

  • John Peters 1st Feb '20 - 9:29am

    The UK electorate rejected the EU with the first chance they had.

    Perhaps now we can concentrate on fixing the problems in this country, the ones we have patently failed to correct whist members of the EU.

  • Speaking of Boris Johnson…Did I miss his inspired speech broadcast on the BBC at 11pm last night?
    This was the man who promised to ‘die in a ditch’ to get this momentous moment of history done (although that was for october 2019) ; so, where was he?
    Even HM spends a fair bit of time preparing a ‘Christmas message’ (and that is every year).
    As far as the EU goes, after the ‘spiteful and childish’ last actions by the Brexiteers, they’d be forgiven for just saying ‘Good Riddance’; of course they won’t, but neither will they do us any special favours.

    I’m concerned that, as one ‘star spangled banner’ comes down across the UK, another, far less beneficial one, will take it’s place.

  • Barry Lofty 1st Feb '20 - 10:27am

    Not only is it a really sad time for our country but to have our future in the hands of such an awful populist government is even more worrying.

  • Indeed John you and the rest of the Brexi’s and Lexi’s need to crack on and make Brexit a success. No time too post, no time for retirement, you voted for massive change so start the change, put your shoulder to the wheel and crack on. Feel free to pop by very, very occasionally and let us know how hard work is treating you. Or are you one of those that voted for others to take up the challange, because you’ve done your bit?

  • Depeffle us keeping a low profile because reality is upon them and they are having to fess up to some hard truths ( very, very quitely and hoping the lumpenbrexiteers don’t pick up on the significance of these truths). For example Groves latest hard truth in one of the Brexit house journals

    But he conceded that the UK’s plan to diverge from some Brussels rules and regulations would mean the introduction of ‘some bureaucratic processes there that aren’t there now’.

    Mr Gove said the EU had made clear that ‘you can only have fully frictionless trade if you accept all of their rules’ – something ministers have ruled out.

    His remarks came as it was claimed Mr Johnson will use a big speech next week to ask the EU to negotiate a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK similar to the one Brussels struck with Canada.

    Such a deal would allow for the almost tariff-free movement of goods but would not include services and would require customs checks at the border.

    Without friction less trade “just in time” doesn’t work and many industries won’t work either. I feel brave Sir Peter of Sunderland had better get ready to beat back reality or Sunderland is toast. The same goes for our other Brexi’s and Lexi’s too.

  • John Peters 1st Feb '20 - 11:30am


    As a Tory voter my main concern is poverty. Until the Lib Dems understand poverty they will be unelectable.

  • John Marriott 1st Feb '20 - 12:04pm

    It’s 11.45am on Saturday, 1 February and the sun is shining brightly in North Hykeham, Lincs. So, life HASN’T stopped yet? “Ah”, as ‘frankie’, might be inclined to say; “early days yet. Just wait, all you Brexis and Lexis, we haven’t really started yet!” He might probably have a point; but trying to rub Brexiteers’ noses into the mess he reckons they have created is a poor substitute for reasoned argument and an acknowledgement that, in the blame game that the past three years have become, it takes ‘two to tango’!

    Sorry if I’m trying to be funny again. I know that some of you LDV folk don’t like it; but what’s the alternative? Of course I think we’ve made a mistake; but so has the EU in not realising that the only way to succeed is not to have a ‘one size fits all’ but rather a ‘two speed’ Europe. I’m more than happy to be in the ‘slow lane’, as long as, when feeding time comes, I get my fair share. Of course we will continue to be closely linked with the continent; geographically and historically we really have not choice.

    What will happen to this plucky little island of ours as we, as super middleweights, enter the trade ring against the super heavyweights? Just watch out for low blows! One thing I do hope will happen will be that we might just stop blaming other people for our own failings. If things do go wrong, the search for culprits might begin AND end with a quick look in the mirror!

  • John Peters 1st Feb ’20 – 11:30am………As a Tory voter my main concern is poverty. Until the Lib Dems understand poverty they will be unelectable………..

    Tories certainly understand the value of poverty; without it, and its threat, how would austerity work?
    The idea used to be a package of both government spending cuts and tax increases; the Tory way precludes the second, so the whole burden falls on the poorest in society.
    ‘Low wage low tax’ equals the Tory idea of heaven;

  • Barry Lofty 1st Feb '20 - 12:24pm

    The Tories understand poverty, blimey that’s a new one and until the ordinary man in the street realises they don’t this country will never change.

  • Barry Lofty 1st Feb '20 - 12:26pm

    Sorry I should have said man and woman in the street!

  • “Without friction less trade “just in time” doesn’t work and many industries won’t work either.”

    Well it does, it just needs more planning, logistics and longer lead times to make sure everything still arrives ‘just in time’. It does potentially become less efficient/more costly, I’ll concede. Maybe that’s what you actually mean.

  • Planning? As a car industry ex management employee, no-one will risk the line going down because a truck is stuck in Customs. The cost of a day is massive. It’s like signing your own P45. And no one will carry more stock.

  • Philip Moss 1st Feb '20 - 12:49pm

    I would be grateful if John Peters could explain why we did not have time to deal with our own internal problems even though we were members of the EU. We had a separate functioning government paid to deal with our affairs they decided not to do so, certainly in the last 10 years.You cannot regretfully improve public services unless you raise the money to do so, the Tories are unwilling to do so as it means more taxation. You cannot have more money in your pocket and expect more police on the street and A&E functioning as a first class service.

  • David Becket 1st Feb '20 - 1:49pm

    We now need a vision for the future, and on Brexit day we should at least outline what that vision will be. Our leadership has had a month to at least work on some soundbites, if not put the whole package together.

    There are some obvious visions

    Preserve existing jobs and create more
    Combat Climate Change
    Eradicate poverty
    Reform our constitution
    Repair the NHS

    and so on

    What have got today? The Web site is an obvious place to start.

    Vince Cable and Jo Swinson prominent.
    Still a lot of Stop Brexit around.
    Posters claiming we are winning here.
    Leadership patting members on the back for a good job.

    Would anybody looking at this see the party as the one for a vision for the future?

  • Paul Barker 1st Feb '20 - 2:38pm

    We should take time to mourn if we need to, sometimes looking after ourselves is more important than delivering the next Focus.
    The general tone of LDV comments is still grumpy/bitchy with far too many looking for someone (Else) to blame.
    Lets all have a breather before the next Crisis hits.

  • Tony Greaves 1st Feb '20 - 3:40pm

    Sorry, I cannot watch and listen to that. Not yet.

  • Tony Greaves 1st Feb '20 - 3:45pm

    “As a Tory voter my main concern is poverty.” Is that a sick joke?

  • John Peters 1st Feb '20 - 4:01pm


    The answer appears to be no,

    I will give you one clue. Embrace consensus.

  • John Marriott 1st Feb '20 - 4:49pm

    @John Peters
    Essay question : ‘Poverty – please define’. Is that lack of money or perhaps lack of ideas?

    Oh, and let’s be accurate. 38% of the ‘UK electorate’ rejected the EU. Mind you, it’s all academic now, isn’t it? I just wish that people ON ALL SIDES would stop making sweeping statements like “we voted to leave”, or “the majority of the British people voted to leave”. Since when was 17.4 million ‘people’ out of a population of over 60 million a majority? Well, I suppose that children don’t count as people then. For balance, what about “ the EU has maintained the peace in Europe since WW2” ? Aren’t they forgetting the Balkans?

    Let’s see how things are this time next year. Our future is now very much in our own hands. There’s now nowhere to hide and nobody else to blame. Can we cut the mustard as a nation any more? The jury is clearly out.

  • We could soon be saying au revoir to Gibralter too

    The EU will back Spain over its territorial claims to Gibraltar in the next phase of Brexit negotiations by giving Madrid the power to exclude the British overseas territory from any trade deal struck with Brussels.

    The Observer has learned that the Spanish government has insisted on reference to the Rock in the EU’s opening negotiating position, which will be published in draft form on Monday.

  • Innocent Bystander 1st Feb '20 - 5:40pm

    What do ‘we’ need Gibraltar for? When Britannia ruled the waves it guarded the route to our “Empah”.
    Some may have noticed that our once mighty fleet of Dreadnoughts have all gone and don’t need its harbour.
    I say this with some nostalgia as a long time ago I served in the RN when we still had Gib, Malta, Singapore, Hong Kong (and Portland, Chatham and lots of others as well). But that was then and Spain may as well incorporate Gib. No one will suffer.

  • David Evershed 1st Feb '20 - 6:06pm

    Reg Gibraltar

    Spain and the EU seem to have forgotten The Falkands. And also self determination.

  • @ David Evershed. Self determination ? Is that something you would apply to Scotland, Mr Evershed, or do you agree with Johnson’s stance on this……. and, would you support armed conflict to retain Gibraltar up to the point of Ms Swinson’s advocacy of using the ultimate deterrent ?

  • Innocent Bystander 1st Feb '20 - 10:35pm

    “Sacrificed”!! They would be Spaniards, would be citizens of the EU and all the things you think are right and good, the situation you say you have fought for over three years and tearfully bewail the loss!!! How do you think that stuff up ?
    When Scotland goes there won’t be a ” Britain” any more anyway, so what then?

  • Innocent Bystander 1st Feb '20 - 10:48pm

    BTW I am far too old to emigrate and too close to my children, but I would welcome the chance to have a European passport and Spanish would do nicely.

  • The ability of the Brexi and Lexi’s to throw others under the bus is breath taking. First it was the DUP, now Gibraltar, is there no one they won’t throw under a bus, just so they can feel young and important again. Bless, just bless. A cautionary tale for them the bus can and will come for you just ask the DUP

    She tells me that among her family, friends and neighbours, she thinks she is the only one who voted in 2016 to remain in the EU. “I knew the role the EU has had in peacebuilding here and I knew it allowed the inward investment of migration when Northern Irish people were leaving,” she says. “Westminster didn’t care about us and nor did the south. The EU did.” Why did the rest of her circle vote for Brexit, I ask her. “A border as high as you can get and all the foreigners out,” she says.
    Instead they got what loyalists and many other unionists of a less staunch stripe, who had other reasons to support Brexit, are calling the betrayal act.

    Ask not who the bus bell rings for my poor Brexi’s and Lexi’s it rings for you.

  • John Roffey 2nd Feb '20 - 8:53am

    From the Guardian: Maldives rejoins Commonwealth after evidence of reforms

    [President] Solih said: “Today is a happy day for Maldivians as we return to the family of Commonwealth nations. As a young democracy, the Commonwealth’s foundational values of the promotion of democracy, human rights, good governance, multilateralism and world peace remain relevant to us more than ever.

    “We gratefully acknowledge the support and help of the Commonwealth to the Maldivian democratic movement, and we look forward to the support of fellow member states to ensure the long-term entrenchment of these values in our society.”

    Is it not possible for the Party to transfer its liberal values to the Commonwealth? The quote above sounds very close to values promoted by the Party.

  • Paul Murray 2nd Feb '20 - 9:51am

    Beethoven has the whole chorus sing these uplifting words from Schiller’s An die Freude: “Seid umschlugen, Millionen! Diesen kuss der ganzen Welt” – “Be embraced, you millions! This kiss for the whole world”.

    Or “17 million …”.

    Whatever your views on Brexit it’s not hard to work out which is the better sentiment.

  • Innocent Bystander 2nd Feb '20 - 2:31pm

    “You won” ? You jump to conclusions.
    I didn’t vote leave at all because I am a realist and our economy is fragile and does not need the disruption it is now going to get. I am an engineer, trained in cause and effect, and see no reason why any of the Leavers’ dreams should come true ( and many why they won’t).
    Gibraltar hasn’t been British since the time of the Beaker People, only since 1713 and things change. Most of Europe has changed nationality since 1713,_often lots of times and we can throw a nice farewell party and pull down the Union Flag (we’ve had lots of practice).
    No sacrifice involved at all.
    I believe in all those things you believe in, was once a member of the party, and want to see a viable third force push into UK politics. The opportunity for that is huge and timely but no one has got their act together yet. The most promising is actually Farage and a party talking “Reform” and God help us then.
    My aim (and I detect the aim of some others who seem to “disagree”) is to offer advice, in this public space, which would be to stop going round in circles before Farage (or some other mini demagogue steps in) and captures the publics’ attention with concrete proposals and not endless talk of ‘values’ ‘social contracts’ and ‘liberalism’.

  • John Roffey 2nd Feb '20 - 3:15pm

    The Commonwealth
    Home to 2.4 billion citizens, The Commonwealth includes some of the world’s largest, smallest, richest and poorest countries, spanning five regions.

    Now with the Maldives joining – 54 nations

  • John Roffey 2nd Feb '20 - 3:31pm

    Commonwealth Anthem

    … and to play cricket!

  • Innocent Bystander 2nd Feb '20 - 8:10pm

    Then just make this a private site for members only and you won’t get any external perspective at all, snide or otherwise.
    As to Gibraltar you said they wanted to be British and European (I presume that would be as citizens).
    As as been painfully established, they can not now be both. If pointing out this obvious reality is ‘snide’ then I can only apologise. Which do suggest they go for? If I were them I would go European without hesitation. Britain may not exist in five years time.
    The opeds all have a public comments section. If you only want comments which endorse, uncritically, the offered view then fine. I would not see any progress from that, myself. There are very few commenters who are not constructive here and I think I am also well intentioned but I am clear and plain and don’t tactful very well. The centre of British politics is a void, at the moment, and if the LibDems want to fill it I would suggest confronting the thoughts of “outsiders” .
    But I don’t mind either way. I have no reason to vote for you (yet) but I hope that will change before some populist emerges with less wholesome, but more concrete proposals.

  • John Roffey 2nd Feb '20 - 9:28pm

    Mark Valladares 2nd Feb ’20 – 7:07pm


    It is not impossible that BJ would like to develop this further – as there is little doubt that he would like to extend his influence as far as possible [you will remember his earliest ambition was to be king of the world!].

    He might not achieve that – but the Prince of Wales’ most recent endeavours do give the impression that he believes he can be a significant global force for good – now that we have left the EU.

  • Mark Valladares 1st Feb ’20 – 10:06pm:
    …with the mostly frictionless border between [Gibraltar] and Spain likely to become much less so.

    It’s not a ‘frictionless’ border now. Gibraltar is already outside the EU Customs Union and is not subject to EU VAT and excise duty rules. Nor are they in Schengen.

    ‘Territorial status of EU countries and certain territories’:

    EU territories not covered by EU VAT rules.

    Which VAT applies to goods arriving from EU territories not covered by EU VAT rules?

    Goods in free circulation coming from these territories are subject to the import VAT of the EU country they arrive in.

    This is because EU countries are obliged to treat goods from these territories the same as goods coming from outside the EU.

    Which VAT applies to goods leaving to EU territories not covered by EU VAT rules?

    Goods leaving to these these territories are subject to the export formalities and for VAT purposes are considered as transported outside the EU territory.

  • Alex Macfie 2nd Feb '20 - 9:59pm

    Please, all of us who oppose the UK government, could we please stop calling its leader by his stage name? It should be Johnson, or possibly Mr Johnson (although I’m not sure he deserves that honorific). Calling him “Boris” implies buying into his brand, his desired public image. Opponents of his regime should not be doing this.

  • John David Raw 3rd Feb '20 - 12:18am

    Delighted to be able to agree with Alex and Martin. Let’s call Johnson, Johnson. None of this over familiarity with ‘Boris’ first name usage.

    In fact there is nothing cuddly about Johnson. He is a ruthless selfish cunning operator who practise in self serving schemes and gimmicks. Indeed, to call him Johnson is a generous courtesy.

    The only consolation is at some future stage he will almost certainly be involved in some form of self destructive activity. One can only hope it impacts solely on him and not on the rest of us. For once, Gove was right back in 2016. As used to be said, it takes one to know one.

  • John Roffey 3rd Feb '20 - 5:42am

    Mark Valladares 2nd Feb ’20 – 9:42pm


    Now that the Tory immigration bill is in place – clearly freedom of movement is hugely restricted – so the far larger population of the Commonwealth [compared to the EU] can be viewed primarily from the prospective of trade.

    It seems that there are trade deals in place between some Commonwealth countries and the EU, but deals with the 3 countries you mention were not under consideration. Presumably because a key purpose of the EU is to protect living standards of these rich nations by blocking trade with nations that have a large population of cheap labour. [That’s left to the global corporations].

    Reading between the lines, it seems very likely that BJ does want to develop trade within the Commonwealth – given the hints to date. He is due to announce his plans on trade with the EU later today.

    For those of us who are greatly concerned about climate change, the fact that Prince Charles is to be the next head of the Commonwealth means that we are assured that he will press this issue on member states at every opportunity.

    Given that the UK’s primary exports are services, free trade deals with Commonwealth countries should, in time, be extremely valuable to the UK. Services in return for much cheaper food to make up for the 50% shortfall in our own food production.

    BJ does defend his occasional racist comment [which he knew would appeal to his Telegraph audience] saying his true views cannot be judged by his work whilst a journalist.

  • John Roffey 3rd Feb '20 - 6:02am

    Alex Macfie, Martin, John David Raw

    Is there really any justification for righteous indignation by Liberal ‘Democrat’ members after NC was prepared to risk the very survival of the Party on blocking the implementation of the result of the EU Referendum?

    There is little doubt that BJ is evasive – but few would deny that by the time he was made PM – he had a very difficult hand to play. Just how ruthless, selfish and cunning he really is should emerge over time.

  • @ John Roffey NC ? A charming but complete disaster area. Please don’t attach any of my ‘righteous indignation’ to him.

  • Dilettante Eye 3rd Feb '20 - 10:00am

    “I stand to be corrected, but given that the European Union has been relatively open to imports from developing countries,….”

    Yes, the EU is open to imports but you fail to mention the protective tariffs on coffee beans and citrus fruit, which keep German coffee processing rolling in cash, and Kenya in an economically suppressed state of poverty and permanent development?

    It’s time to wake up to the reality. The EU is nothing but a malevolent gravy train for the few with a protection racket mentality, and with less cash to throw around post-Brexit, this bloated EU ‘mafia’ construct, will begin its slow ‘circling of the drain’, very soon

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