Are we getting the messaging wrong on Brexit?

Recently, an active and experienced Liberal Democrat campaigner challenged me over the party’s messaging on Brexit. He suggested that this was coming across as confused. My first instinct was to defend what we have been doing, but on reflection, I think he has a point. The aim of this article is to ask the question a little more widely.

From the inside

My impression is that there our parliamentarians and media office have been doing an outstanding job in trying to hold the government to account in the mess over Brexit, and of making people aware of this. I was in the debate at Conference which affirmed the Liberal Democrat policy of seeking a referendum on the deal, and can see the wisdom of this, but can also see that it can need explaining — which is a hostage to fortune.

From the outside

But, I’ve had people on street stalls ask me what our position is before signing a petition for a people’s vote on the final deal. I’ve had people read that text and still want to check that this means they are signing something against Brexit. That comes across as a measure of the anxiety and paralysis Brexit is inducing.

I wonder what proportion of the British population could give a meaningful account of the differences between “the single market”, “the customs union”, “a customs union”, “the widest and deepest possible trade deal” and “a deal with the exact same benefits we now have”.

I recently saw a leaflet appealing for us to stay in the Single Market. That is clearly better than a hard Brexit, but during the referendum campaign, we were right to point out the absurdity of being in the single market but not the EU when the likes of Nigel Farage and Daniel Hannan suggested this.

I’m hearing people (mis)quote the story of two referenda in Ireland on the constitutional change needed to ratify the Lisbon treaty in terms of a fear “the establishment” will want repeated referenda until “they get the right result”. We’re not suggesting that, but the stories around Aggregate IQ / Cambridge Analytica and rumours of rule-bending by the Leave campaign are fuelling the sense that there was cheating in the referendum. It’s hard for that not to lead to anxiety about a future referendum. Talking now of a “people’s vote” on the deal will help defuse this, but we are in danger of being mis-heard.

Bewildering unreality

People would normally look to government for wisdom and stability. Instead Andrew Adonis speaks of a Brexit “causing a nervous breakdown across Whitehall”. Parliament was seeming to be dysfunctional, even before Theresa May’s attempt to sideline it to join Trump in attacking Syria, and the shameful chaos around Windrush, and the unfolding farce around the EU Withdrawl Bill.

In this chaos, I could understand a lot of people being both worried about Brexit, and sick of a debate that does nothing to allay those fears.

Local elections are not national

A big part of me agrees with encouraging people to vote for anti-Brexit parties in the local elections, and brutal reality is that the Brexit would have a devastating effect on local communities up and down the country. But the danger in over-stating this is that we could be heard as saying that potholes, transport, education, planning applications (etc) have ceased to matter. There is already a message about the damage Brexit is doing in terms of staff shortages in hospitals, hostility to immigrants and slower economic growth and the weak pound making life difficult.

A possible solution

This seems the moment for brevity. The hash tag might need to be #ExitFromBrexit, backed up with visual images that give a sense of a vision of the UK as a country that is open, inclusive and engaged with the rest of Europe.

I am increasingly meeting people who are worried by Brexit. This seems the moment to say “so are we” rather than “it’s complicated”, and to speak with a clarity missing in the Brexit chaos of the Conservatives and Labour.

This is not to back away from policies like supporting a People’s vote on the deal, or the best-possible relationship with the EU27, or emphasising our European values. All of these things matter in the follow-up conversation, but I am now thinking to revise the artwork for banners at street stalls (and the like) to an un-wordy #ExitFromBrexit. Is this fitting with others’ experience?

* Mark Argent was the candidate in Hertford and Stortford in the 2017 General Election

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39 Comments

  • Interesting piece, thank you. With regard to the wording on the “Peoples Vote” pledge, I question it too. It does not mention having a referendum (but some sort of vague vote) & it does not specify that there will be a #remain option on ballot paper. For many, these go without saying, but with the semantics around “a” & “the” with the Single Market & Customs Union – & other such things, my opinion is that it should state clearly what it is asking for.

    On the day of the street stalls, it didn’t.

    I do realise that many campaign groups together will involve compromise, but it could have been worded more clearly.

    Likewise, I have seen many people saying that the policy of the LibDems isn’t clear enough. Why not come right out & say you will fight to remain in the EU. Not ” we have always been the party of remain”. It allows attack from others & weakens the message.

    I am not a Libdem, I am politically homelesss right now, but support a lot of the actions you are taking.

  • Been saying from the day after the referendum that we need to be clearly and obviously against brexit. It’s fallen on deaf ears so far…

  • About time someone other than me was saying this. Like Jennie I have said it repeatedly. Only 25% of the electorate are aware that we’e against Brexit, so the idea that we have become a one issue party is clearly nonsense because the people at large don’t know what we stand for on this, the most vital issue in UK politics!
    An amendment from the Calderdale local party proposing amongst other things that we introduce a new/additional strap line – Lib Dems fighting to stay in the EU – was not accepted by FCC and we had the usual confused debate around the referendum instead of establishing ourselves as the anti Brexit party.
    There are still people in our party saying that we mustn’t state our opposition to Brexit in our leaflets this May, because some people won’t like it. Just like for years the same people kept on saying we mustn’t fight the EU elections on EU issues because the EU was toxic!
    Time to get real. We will leave the EU, with or without an agreement in March next year, unless we can persuade enough people to stop it. The time is long past for procrastination on this issue for fear of offending determined leave voters, many of whom don’t vote for us anyway. It’s time to stand up for the remainers, including most of UK business, who are desperate for someone to speak up for them and understand only too clearly the problems of leaving the EU.
    Please Vince, Jo and the rest of the leadership stop worrying about the niceties and get out there and campaign to stop us leaving the EU, before it’s too late.

  • I am a committed Remainer, but this is a very difficult situation and I don’t think simplistic solutions are the right idea. Why not just a slogan like “a second referendum once we know what’s on offer”?

    On a point of honesty, that youtube video you linked is highly misleading. Brexiters have told me that all the pro-single-market clips it contains were from *before* the referendum campaign, and it is a little suspicious to note that they don’t appear to have any dates on them. Now I do think they successfully created in the public mind the idea that you could leave the EU and be like Switzerland, but it’s not really true as far as I can see that they did it during the referendum.

    It’s amazing how much you still come across real ignorance about the EU — such as for example the claim that there were no customs checks between the UK and Ireland before 1973, or that freedom of movement of labour is a recent things. I don’t think well get far while these myths are out there.

  • Innocent Bystander 30th Apr '18 - 2:07pm

    “Only 25% of the electorate are aware that we’e against Brexit,”

    That could be the 25% who have never heard of the LibDems (or don’t pay them the slightest attention if they have).

  • Innocent Bystander, I think you may be confusing 25% with 75%.

  • Mick Taylor 30th Apr '18 - 2:16pm

    The 25% comes from a poll – on Mark Pack’s blog if I recall – that asked people what the policies were of the parties re Brexit.

  • I don’t know who were ‘polled’ but I’d love to know the answer to the question, “Apart from Brexit, name a single LibDem policy”?

  • @expats I bet for a substantial fraction of the population, it would still be “abolish tuition fees” 🙁

  • Peter Watson 30th Apr '18 - 3:59pm

    @Mick Taylor “the idea that we have become a one issue party is clearly nonsense because the people at large don’t know what we stand for on this”
    I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive (sadly).

    Opposing Brexit has definitely become the single issue which defines the Lib Dems in the last couple of years.

    Unfortunately though – and this is where I agree with you – the party has been rubbish at communicating that pretty simple message. It has all been wishy-washy (and often inconsistent) words about “respecting the result of the referendum”, “people voted for departure but not a destination”, we want a referendum / we don’t want a referendum / we don’t want a neverendum / referendums are bad / let’s have another referendum, “it’s not a second referendum it’s a first referendum on the terms”, and now it’s being re-branded as a “people’s vote”.

    It’s little wonder if people are confused about the Lib Dem position. Very little of the message has been about how brilliant the EU is or what is the Lib Dem vision for it’s future (hard to get inspired by “pretty much the same”). Even the attacks on the Brexiters dubious £350 million per week were hopeless and didn’t bother to explain why it was worth paying a smaller, more accurate, but still very large figure.

    Perhaps Lib Dems should simply and clearly state that their party rejects the result of the referendum because voters got it wrong (“Any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one already”) and that the party will fight to ensure that the UK remains in the EU (and failing that, will endeavour to return) because of all of the great benefits that being in the EU brings. And importantly, clearly identify those great benefits. After all, what has the party got to lose?

  • @Peter Watson
    Absolutely.
    Then
    ‘No more broken promises and no rise in student fees’ resulted in ‘you can’t trust the LibDems’
    Now
    ‘it’s not a second referendum, it’s a first referendum on the Deal’ Not to mention that if the Deal is rejected we will interpret that as a vote to stay in the EU,
    More dishonesty.
    I wonder what sort of bubble exists at the heart of this party that thinks this sort of messaging is OK.
    Lets start being Honest.
    The people voted to Leave the EU. (marginally)
    We recognise the result but think it is a serious mistake.
    We think the referendum was flawed with misinformation and dubious practice.
    We think that as negotiations crystallize the result will be very different from that which the British people were promised (£40 billion divorce bill for starters).
    That being the case we think the people should be asked.
    ‘Do you wish to nullify the referendum decision of 2016’
    Treat people with respect (not prejudiced old white guys) and be honest.

  • paul barker 30th Apr '18 - 6:16pm

    Its impossible to exagerate how little interest most people take in Politics, for a message to get across it has to be childishly simple & endlessly repeated.
    I would suggests “Stop Brexit” or “Stay in The EU”.
    The whole give the People a vote thing is too complicated & very hard to get through Parliament in the time left; at some point we will have to drop it because everyone can see that theres not enough time left. Why have a policy thats time-limited in this way ?

  • Martin Walker 1st May '18 - 8:23am

    I agree with your diagnosis of the problem with our position. However I would go further in the solution to that problem – its not about messaging when our policy is so unappealing. We should simply oppose Brexit. We have achieved the seemingly impossible, in uniting the country, through devising a policy position which is aimed at selling something (a referendum) which virtually nobody really wants. The outcomes of this position are that we trail the Tories among Remainers in London, we spend our lives trying to differentiate between the first and second referenda, and we risk appearing manipulative and arrogant. Just stick to our guns. Oppose Brexit. Our mandate for doing so would come from every vote cast for a Lib Dem in any election in the country.

  • Ian Hurdley 1st May '18 - 8:36am

    That appalling brand name, Brexit, continues to dominate everything we say. More to the point, it’s in effect proposing a negative when we bang on about Exit from Brexit. If anyone is listening the obvious question is Why? And we’re not telling them. That’s point one; the people we can appeal to are those who voted to remain and those who now have doubts about having voted to leave. They already think that leaving is a bad thing. We should be talking about why staying in the EU is a good thing. The reasons are the ones we are giving that no one is listening to because people don’t like negative messages. For example, instead of saying that our children will not be able to study in other EU countries, we should be pitching that thought as membership gives our children that opportunity – a positive message not a negative even though the content is the same.
    Point two a lot more contentious I’m afraid. I’ve come to the conclusion that I am opposed to a referendum on the final deal. I previously favoured the idea, so why the change? Well, my impression is that many of the people who didn’t vote in 2016 took that path because they didn’t feel confident to make a choice (and of course the referendum was advertised as advisory and so it was less important to express a preference). They were right to find it too complex and as we have heard people complain in the past when difficult choices have been called for, “That’s what we pay MPs to do.” They are right; constitutionally MPs are elected to represent the people they serve. Constitutionally MPs are the voice of the people, and thus express the will of the people; whipping gets in the way by insisting that MPs express the will of the party. At Westminster we should be working across parties for like-minded MPs to state clearly that come the day they will vote freely according to their consciences and the interests of the people they represent.

  • Peter Watson 1st May '18 - 10:00am

    @Ian Hurdley “and of course the referendum was advertised as advisory and so it was less important to express a preference”
    I don’t think that the referendum was advertised as anything other than a once-in-a-generation decision of great importance, the outcome of which would be respected by the government. I don’t think the “advisory” nature of the referendum was mentioned much until afterwards, and then only by the losing side.
    I don’t disagree with much of the rest of your post though!

  • Dean Crofts 1st May '18 - 3:22pm

    OK so look at it from this view – Labour do not say anything about Brexit but get votes, Conservatives spend all their time trying to do brexit and nothing else, they still get votes.

    Lib Dems talk about Brexit all the time and no-one is listening or has heard our message. Our national vote reduces.

    The long term answer is what we will do regarding the economy, housing, jobs, income inequality, welfare state, austerity, the NHS – all the things we had control of before the referendum until the public were duped into thinking that it was the EU stopping us from resolving these things.

    Let us campaign nationally on saving the NHS, building more houses, creating a national building programme of infrastructure via an investment programme/bank, stopping austerity, telling people what we can do for them instead of talking just about Brexit.

    Yes, we will always be pro-EU because of our principles on free trade , pro co-operation, tolerance and uniting countries worldwide. Does that make us a pro Euro party?, a pro European army party? – we need answers to these questions if we are to persuade more than 50% of the population to remain or re-join the EU.

    This must include a positive message about freedom of movement, to help the economy and increase peoples choice and liberty.

    We need to get back to basics and the brexit issue will look after itself once the electorate can see an actual party that will tackle and try and fix all of the above.

  • Ian Hurdley 1st May '18 - 4:03pm

    @Dean Crofts Empty, uncosted promises don’t impress any more; Labour have shown that too often in the past. We need to be pushing the idea that it’s full EU membership which gives us access to the additional doctors, nurses and social and healthcare professionals that we have failed to produce ourselves, that construction workers from the EU can boost the production of affordable housing, skilled agricultural workers coming to the UK on a seasonal basis make sure farmers crops can be picked, packed, and distributed to stores, that easy flow through our airports and ferry ports mightily boosts our tourism and hospitality industry. Being an anglophone gateway to Europe attracts manufacturing and its associated jobs.
    So instead of saying “Brexit will harm us thus, thus and thus “, we say “EU membership gives us this, this and this”. Such an approach has the spin-off bonus of a whole range of credible policies when ‘Leave’ is defeated and we have to have a cogent continuing programme.

  • @ Ian Hurdley “uncosted promises don’t impress any more; Labour have shown that too often in the past.”

    Oh, are they the folk that promised to abolish student fees back in 2010 ? I thought it was somebody else.

  • Arnold Kiel 1st May '18 - 4:54pm

    Interesting question, Mark. I agonised over it a long time until I realised: it is an irrelevant one for the following reasons: 1. four decades of EU-brainwash were perfectly done. 2. People relished their one rebellious moment too much to accept that they were fooled again. Therefore: 3. All reachable Bregretters are already in the bag (not many, but likely enough). 4. Maximum mobilisation of hardened leavers is guaranteed. Besides: 5. No further mobilisation of reachable remainers that did not participate last time (a majority) possible. 6. Strong mobilisation of non-participating leavers unlikely.

    As a consequence, 55% remain would be a best case, not enough swing to push MPs. So what’s needed is autonomous, responsible Parliament action, irrespective of minor swings in public mood (anyhow their job).

  • John Marriott 1st May '18 - 5:45pm

    My wife and I (reluctant Remainers) returned from a week in France and Belgium with friends (confirmed Leavers) trying to avoid the dreaded ‘B’ word. We had an interesting discussion with a couple on the ferry to Dover today, who were returning home after four months touring around Europe in their mobile home. They were typical of many people we meet in that they just want HM Government to get on with it. You cannot get round the fact that trying to argue for another vote smacks of hubris. Indeed I get a strong feeling that many people are sick and poisoned to death with elites telling them what to do and consistently ignoring their wishes.

    For whatever reason a majority voted to leave the EU nearly two years ago. You can’t alter that fact and no number of fine words, threats etc are likely to get them to change their minds. Let’s stop beating ourselves up and GET ON WITH IT!

  • Teresa Wilson 1st May '18 - 10:12pm

    I was told by someone on Twitter the other day that the Lib Dems were in favour of a soft Brexit the same as the Labour party, and that Vince Cable has said the referendum result must be respected. Maybe he was just trying to stir things, but the very fact that he felt he could get away with it speaks volumes.

    Perhaps we should have a new tag #RejectBrexit. It sounds more like an invitation to the public to change things. We have to get away from the Daily Exmail narrative of elites trying to block the Will of the People (whoever he is).

  • John Marriott 1st May '18 - 10:31pm

    @Martin
    I’m not contemplating suicide. However, the Lib Dems are running that risk if they continue to be obsessed with an issue whose end result is by no means certain. As I said before, let’s reserve judgement until we see the results next Friday. I still get a strong feeling that there has been little definitive movement between those who voted Leave and those who voted Remain. If the 52/48 were reversed that would still cause problems.

    The couple we spoke to on the ferry today also said that they got the feeling that many Italians, French and Spanish they had been speaking to over the previous four months were waiting to see how we got on before contemplating something similar. OK, it’s only two persons’ opinion; but how can you be absolutely certain that our country actually is committing “hideous self harm”? I still, on balance, think that the going post Brexit will be tough; but, if that’s what the majority wants, for whatever reason, rational or not, then who am I to deny them that right?

  • I think even if there was another referendum we wouldn’t win it, because we haven’t come up with a solution to the issues that mean a majority of the British public don’t like being in the EU – the free movement of labour and the idea that we get laws we didn’t agree to. I offered an amendment for members to support in the hope we could get a policy to discover if the 27 could agree to some compromise on these issues but while there was some support it wasn’t sufficient for me to submit my amendment or an amended version for conference.

    For those who think the EU has been a great success and want a positive message I suggest you take a leaf out of the Life of Brian film – What has the EU done for us?

    I’ll start you of:

    Nissan built a car plant at Sunderland;

  • Arnold Kiel 2nd May '18 - 6:08am

    Michael BG,

    you agreed to every law by not using your veto.

    Nissan (and Honda and Toyota) mistook the UK as a EU-single market location. They will correct their mistake (as practically all other investors in UK-based manufacturing).

  • Peter Watson 2nd May '18 - 7:51am

    @Teresa Wilson “I was told by someone on Twitter the other day that the Lib Dems were in favour of a soft Brexit the same as the Labour party, and that Vince Cable has said the referendum result must be respected.”
    Given that’s pretty much what Vince Cable said (https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/political-parties/liberal-democrats/vince-cable/news/79094/vince-cable-hits-out-tim-farrons), is it any wonder that someone on Twitter might not realise he’d changed his mind?
    Tim Farron himself talked about respecting the result of the Referendum when describing it as a choice for departure not a destination (and his pre-election interview with Andrew Neill was a bit of a car crash even on the topic of Brexit), and the party likes to emphasise that it is calling for a referendum on the deal rather than another In/Out referendum, potentially giving the impression that some versions of Brexit might be OK.
    So even on the issue of Brexit, something that is so essential to Lib Dems these days, the party has made a bit of a hash of communicating its position.

  • @ John Marriott Whether we like it or not, my judgement is the same as yours, John.

    I’m afraid the public don’t take to people they judge to be bad losers – nor do they like to be told they’re wrong even when people they take to be ‘superior beings’ tell them that they are. It’s a pity, but that’s how I read it.

  • I note no one has added to my list for what has the EU ever done for us?

    @ Arnold Kiel
    “you agreed to every law by not using your veto”

    I have never voted for any law whether in the UK Parliament (but I would like to) or as a member of the law making institutions of the EU!

    The UK government has accepted most EU laws (not all because we often have opt outs). However I had written “the idea that we get laws we didn’t agree to”. My solution to this IDEA was that before a member of the Council of Ministers could vote for any law their own Parliament would have to have voted for it, which would have removed the decision from “the government” and given it to the national “parliament”.

  • Arnold Kiel 2nd May '18 - 3:09pm

    Michael BG,

    I was politely interpreting your question as rhetorical, but here is the short answer: 9 out of 10 UK manufacturing jobs. I won’t bother with the long list.

  • Ian Hurdley 2nd May '18 - 3:31pm

    @David Raw. If you have never had the experience of being unable to do what you wanted to because you were outvoted, then you have led a charmed life indeed. Can I remind you that that was eight years ago, whereas Jeremy Corbyn was clear that Labour would oppose a hard Bexit only ten months ago but now ducks every opportunity to do so.

  • Peter Martin 2nd May '18 - 7:33pm

    There’s a general concern about trade after Brexit. Particularly if tariffs are applied. Most would think that if no-one applies tariffs then trade will be maximised. I think we can all agree that trade will fall as tariffs are increased. If tariffs are extremely high, ultra high even, then trade could fall almost to zero. But on the other hand, if tariffs are negative, then it would make sense to import and export just for the sake of it. So you’d have a situation where consumers in countries A and B would deliberately buy each others produce just to benefit from the negative tariffs applied.

    So if 10% tariffs all round are bad and 0% tariffs are better, does this mean that -10% tariffs would be better still? I’d have to say no but it is a point for discussion.

    Higher tariffs wouldn’t necessarily mean that one side or the other would be in a position of better or worse trade deficit. The current account trade deficit has always to be balanced by a surplus in the capital account. So it wouldn’t make a lot of sense for a the central bank, say of Germany, the Bundesbank, to continue to buy gilts just so that German industry can continue to run a trade surplus, if at the same time it was applying import tariffs against the UK. If trade did fall then it would have, logically, to be closer to balanced. If it fell to zero it would be perfectly balanced. If you take the view that a trade deficit is a bad thing for the UK then, logically you should be in favour of higher trade tariffs.
    Tariffs are generally applied to imports. The simplistic idea is if we restrain imports then exports will continue as normal and they will give us an advantage in terms of the balance of trade. But it doesn’t work quite like that. If we restrict imports from a particular country they won’t be able to afford to buy so many of our exports. The only purpose of tariffs is to reduce trade generally and it really doesn’t matter whether you apply tariffs to imports or exports – as Lerner showed with his symmetry theorem. It’s a bit tricky to get your head around, at first, but if you think about for a while then it makes perfect sense without getting too mathematical about it all.

  • Peter Martin 2nd May '18 - 7:34pm

    The upshot of all this is that tariffs are a bad thing! The so-called Customs Union is just a group of countries who have decided to impose the same tariffs everywhere. But if tariffs are a bad thing then so are these so-called ‘Customs Unions’. We should stand out for the ideal of genuine free trade. Or at least as free as is possible to make it and oppose high tariff trading blocs everywhere.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lerner_symmetry_theorem

  • @Peter Martin

    There are good reasons why a nation may wish to reduced or inhibit trade, the primary one being maintaining a healthy internal economy; a consideration notably lacking in your thinking…

    For example, if the UK wishes to have a “world class” manufacturer of solar panels then it is going to have to invest, part of that investment might be through the levying of tariffs on imported solar panels, naturally such tariffs will vary according to production cost differences, so German panels might incur a smaller tariff than panels of Chinese origin…

    Also, zero/near zero trade is not necessarily a bad thing…
    As for the “The so-called Customs Union is just a group of countries who have decided to impose the same tariffs everywhere. ” you are forgetting that the UK was a prime mover firstly in setting up the Customs Union and Single Market and secondly in moving it forward, step-by-step to something that is beginning to look more like a single market. If your objective is to achieve “genuine free trade”, I suggest you stand a better chance if you start small, among a group of ‘friends’ and gradually enlarge the group…

  • @Peter Martin
    ‘The upshot of all this is that tariffs are a bad thing!’
    I am really surprised that you, with your socialist leanings, propose this.
    Tariffs are as much a social phenomenon as one of economic efficiency. If we want to protect labour and welfare conditions and still compete with the likes of India and China we have to impose tariffs or bring our labour laws in line with theirs. The alternative is to quit the market. But quitting the market can allow monopolies to develop and subsequent price distortion. There are significant barriers to entry in many industries. They cannot be turned off and on depending on currency adjustments. If a blast furnace cools down it costs millions to put it back into production. Labour force skills are lost. It would take 50 years to build up our ship building capabilities again. A similar argument applies to health, animal welfare and a whole host of other ways in which we want to see the world develop. Obviously a country will not optimise the benefit from trade by having all it’s own rules in this respect but it can by trading within a block that has agreed rules of social and environmental standards. Something like the EU for example. You can look at this in terms of the pricing of Capital over Labour if you want to, which is a little deeper, but just as important in the EU debate. I don’t believe for one second that the working man will be better of when we leave the EU. This is as much about the re balancing of capital over labour as overall economic performance. Before you come back at me with the argument about the Euro I confess that I largely agree with you in that respect. The Euro is still in play and will either lead to fiscal transfers or break down in spectacular fashion. My money is on fiscal transfers.

  • @Roland

    > As for the “The so-called Customs Union is just a group of countries who have decided to impose the same tariffs everywhere. ” you are forgetting that the UK was a prime mover firstly in setting up the Customs Union and Single Market and secondly in moving it forward, step-by-step to something that is beginning to look more like a single market. If your objective is to achieve “genuine free trade”, I suggest you stand a better chance if you start small, among a group of ‘friends’ and gradually enlarge the group…

    Eh? The Customs Union was well in effect long before the UK and Ireland joined what is now the EU. I believe the Customs Union dates back to the Treaty of Rome.

    This is why I think Remainers should be cautious about accusing Brexiters of ignorance. There is huge ignorance of the EU on both sides of the debate.

  • Peter Hirst 4th May '18 - 12:23pm

    One issue is that we won’t know the result of Brexit, if it happens until about a decade later. So we need to offer a fresh look somewhere down the road. Promising another referendum in say ten years might seem a bit fanciful though it will come soon enough and would suggest we understand the complexities of the decision.

  • @Former Dem – Yes the Customs Union was established back in 1958 when the EEC was established. So in the context of the Brexit ‘debate’, you are probably right.

    However, whilst, getting this wrong does detract, my point still stands; moving from rhetoric to action, it’s best to start small and locally – who are our neighbours? Europe and the EU…

  • the euro was developed and started via digital use. 6 years before becoming hard cash use. customs is very much a british policy creation when 73% world land mass was B.E. wto, thereafter . e.u, ecu and eec ALL are from what? ECSC. a sanction and monitoring based group over 6 countries. The same inner 6 of e.u. lol. and treaties/??? all are void. these 6 were never allowed to gain political, military or economic world power stage levels again, EVER. and if real history was taught and ANYONE ever actually looked, found, and learnt the truths, then this country would be at this point, and sure as hell not fighting their very own actual born n breds. try and live in europe or ANY country, as an english lad, WITHOUT a work placement sorting everything out for you. See how you get on, if in need of help or support. lol. 6 times, 6 countries,,,same result every place. and no, different ‘6’

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  • User AvatarDavid Raw 19th Jul - 9:55pm
    A good question from Geoff Reid. I'd also ask, what are Regional Parties for if not to provide support in byelections and we're they involved...
  • User AvatarMichael 1 19th Jul - 9:45pm
    I absolutely reject the notion that we should only put up a candidate if we are going to do well. I think it's easy to...
  • User AvatarGeoff Reid 19th Jul - 9:23pm
    I normally agree with David Raw whose years of loyalty is similar to mine. However while accepting the always stand advice I still think a...