Author Archives: Irina von Wiese and Humphrey Hawksley

How should Liberal Democrat MPs vote on any trade deal? Irina von Wiese and Humphrey Hawksley set out the options

We acknowledge the Liberal Democrat parliamentary party is not big enough to impact the vote on any Brexit deal and believe abstention is not an option. It would be seen as weak and give rise to attack from all sides. We do have opposing views on what the Yes or No vote should be, but we do have opposing views on what that vote should be. With whom do you agree?

Irina

Anything but a vote against would be a betrayal of our most loyal base and our core values.

Most vote for us because of our unapologetically pro-EU stance. This is the only thing that still distinguishes us from Labour. Voters remember backbones – Paddy Ashdown and Kosovo, Charles Kennedy and Iraq – and punish cave-ins – Nick Clegg and tuition fees. Only a vote against a Tory Brexit deal will show that we stand by our principles. We cannot endorse any form of Brexit.

A shambolic trade deal is not the ‘will of the people’.

We accept that a majority of people voted to leave the EU, but they never voted to leave the Single Market and Customs Union. Faced with the current situation, only 38% still think Brexit is a good idea. Whatever is agreed now will fall a long way short and cannot deliver what was promised in 2016.

A vote against ‘the deal’ is not a vote for ‘no deal’.

It is difficult to judge whether any deal short of a customs union will prove ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than no deal (WTO terms with the possibility for a trade deal in the future). Economically, a deal may mitigate the worst Brexit fallout but politically, it could be spun by Johnson’s propaganda machine as huge success and help him stay in power. ‘Whatever the verdict, given the Tory majority in the Commons, a LibDem vote against a deal will not bring about a ‘no deal’ result.

This vote is about standing by our principles. NO deal can be as good as the deal we had as full members of the EU. Now is not the time to give up on our principles, and our hopes for an eventual return to full membership.

Humphrey

Just about every British institution — parliament, the courts, the police and two general elections – has tested Brexit and it is happening. The Lib Dems have courageously opposed it and, yes, it is a bad thing. But the democratic process, which this Party signs up to, has delivered it.

A Brexit agreement represents far more than just more Tory lies and stitch up. Far more is at stake than bickering domestic party politics. Its impact is global. An agreement will be intricate and detailed. Twenty-seven other countries, whom we count among our allies, see it as the best way forward. A yes vote will be a vote for them, showing that we support limiting the damage that Brexit will cause to European lives, and that we support ensuring things can continue as well as can be in a bad situation.

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