Brake urges Corbyn to back single market membership

We know from the Observer that Jeremy Corbyn is now coming under public pressure from 80 senior figures to back participation on the single market to save public services.

Our Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

Jeremy Corbyn has been weak on Brexit, and his continuing failure to back Britain’s place in the single market and customs union is economic self-immolation. I am pleased to see that there are progressives in the Labour party willing to call him out on this. Liberal Democrats believe Britain is stronger in the European Union, and avoiding Brexit and the damage it will do to our economy is crucial in building the world class public services the public deserve.

Alongside listening to those in his party calling for a rethink on the single market, Corbyn must also back the Liberal Democrats in demanding that the people get to have their say on the Conservatives’ Brexit deal when it is done, so they can have an exit from Brexit if that is what they want.

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64 Comments

  • I rather thought Keir Starmer had already said that Mr. Corbyn was going to announce this tomorrow,

  • Perhaps Labour’s long march will go something like this:
    Tomorrow – Labour announce that they are in favour of the single market.
    June – Labour announce that they are in favour of the customs union.
    October – Labour announce that they will support a vote on the EU deal either in a referendum or in a General Election.
    January – Labour assures supporters that none of us likes admitting that we have been fooled by a bunch of confidence tricksters but sometimes you just have to. The Tories have been abandoning the duties of government and betraying the interests of the country. So please can we vote to stop this farce and get on with rebuilding our country and reforming the European Union.
    Maybe I’m a dreamer …. but we are currently wading through an interminable nightmare.

  • Arnold Kiel 25th Feb '18 - 7:46pm

    Labour’s support for single market membership will come, but some more immigration-rationality must spread first. EU net immigration is likely to fall further in the next quarter, and staff-shortages in the NHS, agriculture, hospitality, and construction must be more painfully felt before the “control of our borders”-nonsense will subside sufficiently.

    This is, IMO, also the reason why the unions are surprisingly silent thus far. They will not refrain from using their considerable leverage over Corbyn if that becomes necessary.

    Once customs union- and single market-membership are broadly accepted, leaving becomes not only undesireable, but logically utterly senseless. It would simply amount to giving up the UK’s voice in EU governance without gaining any freedom in return.

  • Andrew McCaig 25th Feb '18 - 9:53pm

    David,
    Keir Starmer has announced that Labour will now back “A Customs Union”. But not the Single Market. That has been ruled out by Corbyn again and again. Instead Labour are copying the Tories by aiming to negotiate a deal that will gain “all the benefits of the Single Market”. The EU have of course ruled THAT out again and again.

    To enable frictionless trade acros the NI border “A Customs Union” will have to be almost identical to “The Customs Union”, as it is for Turkey. And we will have to effectively keep to all the Single Market regulations and accept ECJ judgements, even if not directly.. However we will not be able to enter into new trade deals unless we maintain a common external tariff with the EU, and the existing deals of the EU with other countries will become asymmetric, in that we will have to let their goods in for free but not necessarily vice versa. Turkey have been negotiating for decades to try and change that…

    I don’t think Labour and the Tories have any idea how complex these things are. Take a bespoke deal such as EEA + customs union or wait at least 5 years, I would say..

  • Apologies for getting customs union and single market in wrong order in my above fantasy – too much frost on the brain during weekend delivery marathon!

  • Peter Martin 26th Feb '18 - 9:18am

    To take a very much worst case scenario, which is unlikely, we could envisage that the UK’s GDP (per person) will fall by 10% after Brexit. A very much best case scenario is that we thrive in the freedom to trade in world markets and we’ll be 10% better off. My expectation is that we’ll end up somewhere between the two. But we should prepare for the worst case and this will take us back to around what we what we had in 2005

    So has a 10% growth in GDP since then meant that we all are 10% better off or that our pubic services are any better now than they were then? I don’t think many people will say they are!

    The economy doesn’t work like that. If we have people available to be teachers, we can have teachers. The same with doctors and anything other necessary profession you can think of.

    This is not to say that the GDP isn’t important. It is, but it isn’t the be all and end all of our economic well being. How it is shared out is important too. Our GDP is £2 trillion p.a Divide that by 65 million and we end up with £30,700 p.a. each.

    We should be able to manage on that or even slightly less than that! Whatever the merits or otherwise of the single market the phrase “economic self-immolation” is rather OTT even if we make what some may consider to be the “wrong” choice.

  • Peter Martin 26th Feb '18 - 9:41am

    @ Arnold Kiel,

    “EU net immigration is likely to fall further in the next quarter, and staff-shortages in the NHS, agriculture, hospitality…….”

    After we leave the EU we’ll still have immigration for doctors, nurses, hospitality workers etc. That is if we think we need them. But we might not have more ex-miners, clothing workers, tv repair technicians etc or more people without any describable skills at all, because we don’t really need them at the moment in the economy.

    But the way it works, or rather doesn’t work, at the moment is that to recruit a single nurse into the NHS we also have to allow entry to a dozen or so others for whom there are few obvious job opportunities.

    I would hope this change would give us some extra freedom to allow entry for more of those in the world who are genuine refugees and probably don’t fit into a category for desired economic migration. In any case, the EU is supposed to be a prosperous economic region. There should be no need for the level of net economic migration we are currently seeing.

    Remove the unnecessary economic austerity imposed on EU countries and this problem is easily solved.

  • John Marriott 26th Feb '18 - 10:00am

    Why can’t we have Free Movement of LABOUR rather than Free Movement of PEOPLE?

  • As a returning member [after about 5 years] – is there any chance that the Party will accept the arrangement set out by Labour?

    I watched much of Vince Cable’s speech at the September Conference last year – and was left withe impression that the intention was to continue with a policy of trying to keep us in the EU – whatever the two main parties decided? Once we are out – would the policy be to take us back in?

  • Peter Hirst 26th Feb '18 - 1:16pm

    It is most unlikely that Labour will consider giving the people another vote in a referendum being the top down Party that it is. We can therefore remain distinctive in this regard. It will remain a constitutional issue that they did not know what they were voting for whatever the result that can only be concluded by another vote. We should hold this stance while welcoming any moves Jeremy Corbyn makes in making a softer Brexit easier. The genie is out of the bottle and cannot be returned and in the long-term this makes Britain a more democratic country.

  • John Marriott 26th Feb '18 - 1:32pm

    ‘Martin’, as a ‘Liberal’, might reject my suggestion out of hand. However, when I emigrated to Canada back in 1970 I would not even have contemplated giving up my job in the UK unless I had had a job to go to over there. What’s wrong with that? I’m not that bothered, therefore, if a few Estonians, or any other nationality fit that matter, had forms to fill

    It’s clear that the present position is what has caused so many ‘dysfunctional’ people to vote Leave. If all ‘Liberals’ are like ‘Martin’, it’s no wonder a) that they are in such a minority and b) that we are failing to make progress.

  • John Roffey 26th Feb '18 - 2:07pm

    @ Peter Hirst

    Thanks for your reply Peter.

    My concern is that, after watching VC’s speech at conference last year,  the Party seems to accept that by continuing to press for another referendum and to continue to ‘beat this drum’ until an EU deal is agreed [and after?] that it will not be popular – but will do it because it is ‘the right thing to do’.

    Although I do accept that our relationship with the EU is important –  it is also important that the third largest party plays an active role in UK politics [particularly during these turbulent times] – and the extent that this is possible is determined by the number of MPs it has.

    If it is to increase it representation at the next GE – it will need to focus its limited resources on the existing problems that are being faced by the voters – and to provide popular policies that help to alleviate the increasing hardships that they are having to endure.

    These two strategies do seem at odds with one another.

  • @ John Roffey “it is also important that the third largest party plays an active role in UK politics”.

    Quite agree…….. but it may have escaped your notice, John, that the third largest party in the House of Commons is the SNP with 35 seats (the SNP support staying in the EU). On Mr. Corbyn’s statement, I suspect it may well be popular – leaving the Lib Dems up the creek with a few paddles but no canoe.

    And did you notice last Saturday Scotland beat England 25-13 at Murrayfield ‘sending the English team home to think again’ ? Maybe the worthy Sir Vincent should think again too…… and consider that now it may be a case of a referendum too far.

  • John Marriott 26th Feb '18 - 3:25pm

    Now then, fellow contributors, what DID you all make of that Corbyn speech in Birmingham today? And whose supporters is he trying to steal?

  • Lorenzo Cherin 26th Feb '18 - 3:25pm

    John Roffey

    Why back here and why not Labour, keen to know, as an ex Labour member Liberal Democrat a decade and a bit more.

    John Marriot

    Very apposite. This party has had excellent views and rules on immigration.

    It talks too soft now, but in office was too harsh.

    Neither work. We should listen to people, this country wants common sense.

    David Raw

    I have studied Corbyns speech. Woolly only on the precise arrangement on say, customs. But other than on that, the very best speech in detail of intention I have hear from him. We should stop the soundbites exit from…BREXIT!

    I dislike the associations and affections of the pre leader Corbyn and am concerned about the farther left symptoms of his leadership in activist infiltration from say Communist party .

    All the more , thus I think we may need an alliance , to bring him to the centre left in government. Today I hear little from him not to like on the EU.

  • Arnold Kiel 26th Feb '18 - 3:51pm

    It is now well established that EU immigrants to the UK work, contribute, and do not displace any able and motivated Briton.

    The home office has not published a single thought about how to establish labour market “needs”, how to source, evaluate, and decide corresponding applications, how to make sure the two are being matched, and how to monitor immigrants’ subsequent movements (job- and residency-wise). They will find that it is unworkable. Since years, the fully “controlled” non-EU immigration alone exceeds the “tens of thousands”. Trying to do that will create an administrative monster that costs a lot more to administer than would be gained by filtering out the few “unwanted” cases (provided they can be defined). Cameron and May knew for years that immigration is a favourite UKIP-topic and that EU-rules allow a much more restrictive registration- and control-regime. They did not bother because of the poor cost/benefit balance of any such procedure.

    EU-immigration as a problem is probably the greatest Brexit-myth of them all.

  • Arnold Kiel 26th Feb '18 - 4:05pm

    Corbyn’s speech was literally disappointing but strategically exciting. It could lead to a Brexit-defeat of Government in the Commons, possibly subsequent elections. If he takes over the negotiations, his team and Brussels will quickly force him on a remain position because he will have to learn that the rules of the single market constrain his agenda a lot less than the cost of leaving it. The next logical conclusion that single market-participation means EU-membership is just a small step.

  • Peter Hirst 26th Feb '18 - 4:10pm

    We must also, John show ourselves to be a principled Party and when appropriate act accordingly. These are delicate balancing acts and I am sure our elected representatives have the wisdom to keep upright. It takes more than sound policies to attract voters.

  • @Arnold Kiel

    The home office does not need to publish at the moment how it will administer immigration, it has nothing to do with the EU negotiations per se, because it will be up to the uk how we manage immigration once we have left the EU.

    Quite why you think it would be an administration monster is a mystery, considering countries like Australia manage a system quite efficiently.

    ““controlled” non-EU immigration alone exceeds the “tens of thousands”.”
    Yes and the good thing about controlled immigration, is it only allows the people in who has the skill sets that we need, they also do not have entitlement to social housing or automatic access to social security. They have to be self sufficient until a time when they are granted indefinite leave to remain or residency, which is how it should be.

  • Arnold Kiel 26th Feb '18 - 5:04pm

    Barnaby,

    thanks for the link. I found nothing that contradicts my statement.

    matt,

    of course the UK can regulate immigration as it wishes, if it is not interested in any future trade-agreement with the EU. It can also procrastinate forever, if it is not interested in domestic employment and job-creation. Is anybody on your side (including your Government) aware of the fact that there are 1 Million very nervous Britons living on the continent?

  • @Arnold

    The Britons already living on the continent will be able to continue to do so as part of the agreement reached with the EU and of course those that have been living for 5 years or whatever the requirements are for that country, will be able to apply for residency.

    What they will not be able to do after Brexit, i.e those who are settled in spain, retain freedom of movement and decide to go live in say Germany.

    There is no need for scare stories about Brit’s already living on the continent, the only way it will become a problem, is if the EU makes it a problem, by their ridiculous demands about retaining freedom of movement

  • Nonconformistradical 26th Feb '18 - 5:32pm

    “And of course they all work harder, and do the jobs that Britons won’t do!”

    And could some of them possibly doing jobs better than some Britons…?

  • Arnold Kiel 26th Feb '18 - 5:32pm

    matt,

    your Government is currently tearing up the preliminary agreement reached last year. The UK wants a transition, and the EU concurs. Your Government has neither the resolve nor the capacity to specify its wishes, and is certainly unable to formulate, negotiate, agree and implement an immigration-modification in time for transition to have any value. A transition-agreement reached in February 2019 is worthless because business will activate its cliff-edge contingency measures now.

    Retaining freedom of movement is not ridiculous but the inevitable consequence of your Government squandering 20 months without any practicable thought on anything.

  • @matt
    I think what is more worrying for Brits abroad is the loss of value of Sterling v Euro. I wouldn’t bet against a devaluation of a further 25% over the nest 5 years leaving many Brits struggling to afford the cost of living and having to sell in an oversupplied property market. Well they can always come back and claim social security.

  • @Arnold Kiel

    I don’t know who you are trying to convince with your arguments, yourself or others.

    I would say the UK knows EXACTLY what it want’s from these negotiations, they are not going to set out their position publicly now, because that would be a nonsense negotiating strategy,
    It likes playing a game of hide and seek and telling people where you are going to hide.

    It is the EU that sets the timetable for each stage of negotiation, not the UK.

    I think you will find it is the incompetent EU that is dragging this out.

    At the end of the day, none of this facade matters, things have gone beyond the point of no return and this will end up before the ECJ.
    Even if there is agreement to stop Brexit, The EU will seek punitive measures on the UK for triggering article 50. They have to in order to deter other countries from doing the same at a later date.

    That will be unanimously rejected by the UK and we will leave

  • John Roffey 26th Feb '18 - 6:33pm

    @ David Raw – “the third largest party in the House of Commons is the SNP with 35 seats”

    David – thanks for reminding me of the oddities that devolution has created – how the SNP has attained 35 MPs with 0.978 million votes [3%] whilst the L/Ds only managed 12 MPs with 2.372 million votes [7.4%].

    It is little wonder that the Party had pressed for a different voting system whenever they have held the balance of power in the past. I presume that this is wanted even more since devolution.

  • Katharine Pindar 26th Feb '18 - 6:58pm

    It is indeed a sad thing, John Roffey, that under the present voting system the SNP has the right to be heard before us. Sure enough, scouring the TV channels at lunch-time for a comment from us on the Corbyn speech, I heard only comments from members of the three larger parties on the BBC, though caught a short interview on Sky with Vince, which was as good as it was welcome. Still, the SNP are also pro-Remain and should join the voting in Parliament which will now ensure there will not be a hard Brexit, since Mr Corbyn has at last been persuaded to agree that Britain should stay in ‘a ‘ customs union, which perhaps the EU negotiators will insist must be ‘the’ customs union. Things are progressing. And of course it is always a slight consolation in considering the unfairness of FPTP that at least the country wasn’t landed with UKIP MPs.

  • @ John Roffey Given the SNP only stood in Scotland (they got 36.9% to get 35 seats – as against the Liberal Democrats who got 6.8% for 4 seats) it wasn’t that distorted was it.

    Any fair minded person (which Liberal Democrats claim to be !!!) would have to admit if they watch BBC Parliament Channel that the SNP make quite a good contribution at Questions and in debate.

    The trouble is, some folk in the south of England can’t see much further than Potters Bar and think Northampton is in the far north.

  • John Roffey 26th Feb '18 - 7:20pm

    @Lorenzo Cherin: Why back here and why not Labour, keen to know, as an ex Labour member Liberal Democrat a decade and a bit more.

    I hadn’t been a supporter of Labour since Harold Wilson was leader – however, I was a keen supporter of the SDP, but was unhappy with the way the merger was handled. More recently I did join the Greens after I left the L/Ds because of the austerity measures, but I did not stay long. My greatest concern is climate change – but the Greens barely focussed on this issue – mostly concentrating on social issues instead.

    I wanted to give a donation to Labour before the last election to help them fight the Tories, however, when I realised that my donation was more than a years membership – I decided to join instead. The Party was as I feared – extremely top down.

    I rejoined the Lib/Dems because I have great respect for Vince Cable – I was aware that I did not support many of the Party’s policies – but I wish it well and know that, even so, I can rely on interesting debates here on LDV.

  • John Roffey 26th Feb '18 - 7:26pm

    @ Katharine Pindar – ‘…scouring the TV channels at lunch-time for a comment from us on the Corbyn speech, I heard only comments from members of the three larger parties on the BBC”.

    The BBC News Channel did have an interview with VC at around 2.15 Katharine – he was given a fair opportunity to express his views.

  • David Evans 26th Feb '18 - 7:26pm

    Yes John, you are absolutely correct (with David Raw’s caveat that the SNP have more MPs while we have more votes). It is saddening that so many here comfort themselves with coming up with ideas that are ‘right’ and seem to believe it is an adequate substitute for being successful.

    Being ‘right’ is easy, you consider everything from a pure liberal viewpoint and come to a conclusion. You don’t particularly need to deliver leaflets, get out and talk to people or ask them what they want. However, as we all know, to the vast majority of the British people have a much wider set of interests than just liberty, constitutional reform, gender issues and the EU. These coalesce around wages, the cost of living, education, the NHS, Travel costs and congestion, the economy, collecting the bins and 101 other real world matters where there is little in the way of ideology to guide us. It comes down to whether voters trust you to do a good job.

    Over decades we persuaded increasing numbers of voters to trust us by talking to them about these matters, fixing their problems and making a difference to their lives. Having won power based on providing people with the 90% of non-ideological stuff they wanted, we then get the chance to do the 10% Liberal stuff.

    At the moment we have the right ideas on so many matters, but everything shows people are not considering us. We know we need to stay in Europe, but all Jeremy has to do is promise a fudge on the single market and he is lauded as the saviour of mankind. We need the courage to ask ourselves why we don’t get this reaction and the honesty to admit (to us and to the electorate) it was the mess we made of coalition.

    We have to address this before anything can be progressed. Then the voters might just start to listen to us before it really is too late.

  • David Raw,

    “some folk in the south of England can’t see much further than Potters Bar and think Northampton is in the far north.”

    I have been guilty of getting Northampton and Northumberland mixed up in my youger days, but my geography has got a bit better now.

  • Following the Labour apparent shift what is there for us, our task has been made 10 times more difficult, the national perception will be to associate Labour as the party able to do something about it. We are already below the saving deposit line in 350 constituences, costing us £180,000 if lost deposits.
    I ask the question which some in Lib Dem Voice do not want to be put. What purpose are we serving in those seats? I live in one such seat, a crucial Con/Labour marginal, if you are against Brexit then surely it is common sense to the typical elector to expect that Labour will squeeze what miniscule vote we have, even further.

  • Hi @matt I have good news for you, countries in the EU are free to define their own rules around entitlement to benefits. It’s best not to believe what UK tabloids say on this topic.

  • @ppb

    Are you trying to suggest that the UK Government is free to apply the same rules to (EU migrants) as they are to people (outside of the EU) who come here to work on a visa or sponsorship and as a condition have no entitlement to public funds.

    If that is your thinking, then maybe you need to read up on the rules

  • Arnold Kiel 26th Feb '18 - 9:40pm

    matt,

    I am trying to convince anybody open to logic.

    The 2-year timeframe is contractually, the sequencing of the phases was bilaterally agreed. It would seem normal that the party that wishes to end a contract to enter into a new one makes proposals. How should the other party, that had preferred the old contract to remain in place, know what the dissenter wants? Which, in your view lacking, competency would put the EU in a position to solve this miracle? As the end-date (exclusively determined by the actions of the leaving party) is known, the triggering party should watch the time available in determining the moment of its expressing itself. You are very much alone in believing it’s still too early for that.

    I appreciate your thinking progress in contemplating the possibility of an agreement to stop Brexit; but why should such a request by a UK Government result in the EU to take “punitive measures”? I would think that this ultimate self-inflicted humiliation is anything but a tempting example needing any more deterrence. It would result in an immediate cease-fire. Don’t overlook that this would happen under a new Labour/LibDem/SNP-Government the EU would bend over backwards to win over as old and new friends. Your suggestion that anybody would allow this situation to be decided in a courtroom demonstrates again your lack of basic understanding for the EU’s inner workings, and its spirit.

  • @Arnold Kiel

    We have had this argument before, you were wrong last time and you are wrong now.

    The ECJ will now be obliged to test the treaty of article 50 beings the precedence has now been set.
    I suggest you go back, read article 50, read it again, and again for good measure.
    look at what the European Parliaments own paper that it commissioned says on Brexit, whether article 50 can be revoked unilaterally or bilaterally and what it says about the ECJ.

    The EU will demand some kind of price for the UK withdrawing from Brexit, maybe giving it up it’s rebate amongst other things.
    The EU needs their to be a punitive consequence or triggering article 50 and then revoking it. Otherwise, it could be used by other member states as a “ransom” at any time of their choosing, whenever they find themselves in disagreement with the EU.
    That puts far to much power in the hand of the member state and the EU does not like that.
    You try to insinuate that the “humiliation” is punitive enough, I hardly think Poland, Hungry or Bulgaria are bothered about such things if they chose to use article 50 as a tool to get what they want.

    “Your suggestion that anybody would allow this situation to be decided in a courtroom demonstrates again your lack of basic understanding for the EU’”
    Do you really think the Tory Brexit MP’s and the leave groups will not bring a case to the ECJ if the government tried to revoke article 50?
    Of course they will and the ECJ will have no choice but to test the treaty.
    Do you think the only side that can bring legal challenges are those that are against Brexit?

    ” your lack of basic understanding for the EU’s inner workings, and its spirit.”
    I do think that is a bit of a rich statement coming from you, I am sure many will recall your dismissive comments towards Bulgaria and Hungry as being insignificant in previous comments in other threads.
    Not much EU spirit in those comments, was there???

  • Peter Martin 26th Feb '18 - 10:45pm

    @ Arnold Kiel,

    You’re very likely right on the subject of immigration. I don’t believe it would be so much of a problem if we hadn’t had those years of austerity. But when we have high levels of immigration at the same time as wages and living standards are being squeezed, it is inevitable that there will be some social disquiet. It is inevitable that the far right will take their opportunity to blame immigrants. It has all been so predictable.

    The austerity has been brought about because of the high government deficits that were run in the years after the GFC and before the EU referendum. I would argue that those deficits, although high, weren’t excessive and didn’t need to be reduced. However, that’s not the way most people viewed them.

    But why did we have high deficits? The EU bears a substantial part of the blame. EU economies have either been in severe recession due to imposed EU austerity, or are highly mercantilistic. The EU has not been a good market for UK exports.

    Whereas our trade with the ROW has been very close to balanced, it has been highly in deficit with the EU. This deficit causes a loss of ££ from the economy which have to be replenished by Govt deficit spending. Attempts by Govt to reduce this were only partially successful. The main effect was to push the UK economy into recession too.

    In other words, the problems of the EZ have affected the UK, even though we don’t use the euro, and have led to the vote for Brexit. I don’t believe we would have had the vote to Leave if the EU had been in better economic state.

  • matt,

    the ECJ could be needed in case of conflict. But there will be no conflict. The UK withdraws, and the EU accepts. The UK will have gotten nothing out of the Article 50 exercise, and neither will any other country in the future. Leavers calling on the ECJ to challenge an accepted decision of the sovereign British Government? Very funny; Farage couldn’t make this up.

    Bulgaria is currently holding the EU council-presidency and seems cognizant of its temporarily elevated state. The Hungarian Government needs some lessons in EU-spirit; currently, only its financial receipts are significant, an insustainable imbalance.

  • @Arnold Kiel

    Arnold, lets break this argument down into simple terms.

    You are basing your opinion on nothing other than your on desires, on how you hope it to be. You rely on what is not said in the article 50 Legislation and try to pry meaning from that, rather than what IS actually written.
    I prefer to come to conclusions by evidence that is presented to me, rather than coming to a wishy washy opinion based on hope and desire with nothing to back them up.
    You conveniently ignore, papers that have been commissioned by the Euro Parliament on how they will deal with Brexit and the role of the ECJ in this. You Ignore the comments of EU Negotiators who have said there will be a price for accepting the UK back from Brexit

    Leavers calling on the ECJ to challenge an accepted decision of the sovereign British Government? Very funny;
    Whats funny about that, we are just as entitled to take out case to the supreme court and have it refereed on to the ECJ, just as any other group or organisation does, the law does not only represent one side here in a democracy.

    And I say it again, if you really do not think the ECJ is going to insist on testing this treaties ,as would be there right anyway as the precedence has now been set in triggering article 50 and they have a duty to test the legislation, then I don’t think you have much understanding in the ECJ and how it works.
    It is the CJEU The Court of Justice of the European Union, the chief judicial authority of the European Union who oversees the uniform application and interpretation of European Union law. They will test this treaty.

  • Peter
    I’m not sure Arnold is right re-austerity. Attitudes to mass immigration have barely changed in decades. It’s never been popular with the electorate and that includes over half of the remain vote. The idea that there has been some sort post-austerity shift is a bit of a myth. All that really happened is that during the Blair years there was a kind of change in the narrative and emphasis in the political language. Having said that, immigration levels have never really been the deciding factor in general elections hence New Labour kept winning despite widely being seen as lax on the issue. The Iraq war was not popular either and they survived that as well.

  • A Social Liberal 27th Feb '18 - 6:20am

    I find it constantly amazing how some people on here welcome immigration – so long as it is the right kind of immigration. So, the UK welcomes bankers from Canada, the US and South Africa when we could easily fill those positions internally and yet our old people are not given the care they need and deserve because those ‘unskilled’ positions remain unfilled, the wonderful people who would have taken up that care having been scared off by immigration policy to come. In just the same way the UK scours the world for our industry leaders and yet soft fruit, root vegetables and other crops rot in the fields because no pickers are better than foreign pickers.

  • John Roffey 27th Feb '18 - 7:56am

    @Peter Hirst: “We must also, John show ourselves to be a principled Party and when appropriate act accordingly. These are delicate balancing acts and I am sure our elected representatives have the wisdom to keep upright. It takes more than sound policies to attract voters.”

    Yes it is a difficult balancing act Peter – but it seems that the desire to stay in the EU is usually qualified with ‘which needs reforming’ [no easy task]. Certainly it is important to be a principled party at a time when such an approach appears to be increasingly less common and is likely to attract voters. However, when the desired outcome is looking ever more less likely and the Party’s resources are sparse – perhaps it is time to reconsider how these are used.

  • John Roffey 27th Feb '18 - 8:22am

    David Raw – Given the SNP only stood in Scotland (they got 36.9% to get 35 seats – as against the Liberal Democrats who got 6.8% for 4 seats) it wasn’t that distorted was it.

    Not in the case of Scotland David – but the share nationally does call into question the fairness of Blair’s ‘Scottish Raj’ when deciding how devolution was to be implemented. Having started along these lines – why not a Yorkshire and Humber parliament along with the parliaments for the remaining regions? And why has Scotland a parliament while Wales and NI have assembles?

    Surely these arrangements are distorted and implemented by a government with the expressed intention of making them so.

  • John Roffey 27th Feb '18 - 8:57am

    @David Evans: “We need the courage to ask ourselves why we don’t get this reaction and the honesty to admit (to us and to the electorate) it was the mess we made of coalition.

    We have to address this before anything can be progressed. Then the voters might just start to listen to us before it really is too late.”

    I think you are right David – as someone who has been an observer from outside of the Party for more than 5 years – it seems certain that something fundamental is required. This view is reinforced by the fact that for most of that time the Party’s share of the vote is no better and often worse than the Liberal Party held prior to the merger.

    Although political party’s fortunes tend to be either on the rise or falling – the Party has defied this general law for some time. However, if its activities do not start to relate more closely to the voters concerns – there must be a real danger that this support will fall below the point where it can function as a national party at the next GE – as is now the case for the Greens and UKIP.

  • @ John Roffey “Surely these arrangements are distorted and implemented by a government with the expressed intention of making them so”.

    I’m not sure which party you were in at the time, John, but the Liberal Democrats under Paddy Ashdown supported the implementation of these arrangements with great enthusiasm – indeed in the case of Scotland they formed a Coalition government.

    As a resident of Scotland I can tell you that in general all Scottish Governments have performed much better than the Westminster equivalent.

  • John Marriott 27th Feb '18 - 10:02am

    The really sad thing is that despite the preceding (largely) wise words and sincerely held opinions, your average Joe citizen couldn’t appear to care a monkey’s. The most commonly heard box pop would appear to be “just get on with it!”

  • @Andy Daer
    I based my opinions on evidence, rather than desires.
    I based it upon what is written in article 50, rather than making assumptions about what isn’t contained it
    I based it upon the paper commissioned by the European Parliament and the legal advice given to them within.
    I based it upon by what the leaders of the EU have said, that there will be a price to pay for triggering article 50 and withdrawing.
    That is coming to an informed decision rather than making lazy arguments based on desire

  • @ David Raw – “I’m not sure which party you were in at the time, John, but the Liberal Democrats under Paddy Ashdown supported the implementation of these arrangements with great enthusiasm – indeed in the case of Scotland they formed a Coalition government.”

    I was not a member of any party at the time David – but I do recall disliking the arrangements because they appeared to overly favour Scotland – which I viewed as being due to the ‘Scottish Raj’. I was not adverse to devolution – but considered that, if it was to be undertaken, it should also include the English Regions.

    If the Party can be credited with any success of the Scottish Parliament through Paddy Ashdown’s enthusiasm for the project – perhaps a policy of extending the process to provide parliaments for these regions along with Wales and NI [with identical arrangements to Scotland] might prove advantageous.

    Such a policy would certainly bring a real focus on the Party and would seem a good replacement for ‘staying in the EU’ – which is now extremely unlikely – and challenge the concept of a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ – which seems to be floundering.

    I am inclined to believe this would be a popular development [except perhaps in Scotland!] – this could of course first be tested through opinion polls.

  • Why should it be unpopular in Scotland ?

  • Peter Martin 27th Feb '18 - 12:31pm

    It’s getting complicated isn’t it? Probably the referendum should have been something along the lines of

    Number the following in order of preference:

    1) Leave the EU completely. Leave Single Market. Leave Customs Union.
    2) Leave the EU. Stay in Single Market. Leave Customs Union.
    3) Leave the EU. Leave Single Market. Stay in Customs Union.
    4) Remain in the EU. Stay out of Eurozone. Stay out Of Schengen
    5) Remain in the EU. Join Eurozone. Stay out Of Schengen
    6) Remain in the EU. Stay Out of Eurozone. Join Schengen
    7) Remain in the EU. Join Eurozone. Join Schengen

    3) Would perhaps be my first choice. Continued membership of the Customs Union could go most of the way towards answering the NI border question.

    For anyone fully supporting the EU, 7) should certainly be their choice. If we are going to be an EU member we should be a part of it to the same extent as France, Germany and Italy to have any meaningful influence.

  • Sorry David – it was just an attempt at a little humour. I was referring to the fact that the Scots would feel less ‘special’ if all parts of Britain had their own parliament.

    If this concept was thought worth exploring – one way would be for the Party to enquire -through its members discussing the issue with constituents – what name would be most popular for these regions.

    Points on the compass are unlikely to evoke much enthusiasm – but the old Anglo-Saxon kingdoms might – Wessex, Mercia and Anglia are fairly obvious – but the others might prove more taxing.

  • @Peter Martin @Martin

    A reminder that to claim benefits here you have to be “habitually resident” here. So people can move here for reasons other than work from the EU but they need to have means to support themselves if they don’t have a job.

  • Peter Martin 27th Feb '18 - 2:08pm

    @ Michael1

    I wouldn’t disagree. I don’t believe anyone comes to the UK looking to survive just on welfare benefits.They’d probably be better going to Germany or some of the Nordic countries if that was their motivation.

    I would argue that after Breixt we shouldn’t quibble too much about what “habitually resident” might mean. Either we allow people in or we don’t. But once they are here and looking for work we treat everyone in an equal way. We don’t want the situation of young people coming in to the country, looking for a job but then ending up homeless and living on the streets if they cannot find one.

  • Sorry @Peter Martin – it was @John Marriott who said “Why can’t we have free movement of Labour rather than People”

    I was just pointing out that that is essentially what we have – in that you can move if you have a job – but if you don’t then you need to be able to support yourself without recourse to benefits.

    The “habitual residence” test applies to everyone – EU or non-EU and indeed British citizens – although it is likely that most British citizens would pass it – but not necessarily if they have been away for a long time – certainly not initially.

    I say bring back the kingdom of Wessex – we don’t want these Anglians here! I am starting my Wessexit campaign today :)! We can have a nice border – air pollution doesn’t of course travel, think of all those customs jobs and I am sure trade will boom when we sign the agreement I am negotiating with China and America – “let them eat cholorinated chicken” – who needs a British single market! I think we MIGHT stay in A customs union with rUK.

  • Peter Martin 27th Feb '18 - 6:18pm

    @ Michael1,

    OK, but Wessex and Anglia do, unlike in the EU, have the same Government, the same currency and the same public spending and taxation system! No-one knows, or even cares, if Wessex and Anglia are a net contributors or net recipients! Apart from yourself maybe?

  • OK, but Wessex and Anglia do, unlike in the EU, have the same Government, the same currency and the same public spending and taxation system!
    Only since circa 927AD 🙂

  • I believe the Marquess of Bath stood as a Wessex Regionalist candidate in February 1974 at Westbury. He achieved 0.8% of the vote – an achievement similar to the 0.8% received by a Lib Dem in a very recent Council by-election in, I believe, Staffordshire.

    The noble Marquess later took the Liberal Whip in the House of Lords only to be thwarted by those pesky red socialists under the bed when the herediteries were somewhat defenestrated. He is evidently 369th on the Sunday Times rich list, so could we send Sir Cleggy to offer him a Life title in return for a generous donation ?

  • Katharine Pindar 28th Feb '18 - 9:14pm

    Regiophilia seems to be the latest humorous idea, and why not? But personally I want Britain (even including those Scots!) to stay in the EU, and I think things are looking up, as the Labour Party creeps towards agreeing with us. It’s pleasing the number of voices that are being raised in support of the need to stay in the customs union AND the internal market, that are telling the absurd Dr Fox that he’s looking for a fairy godmother, and that are saying Parliament must stop hard Brexit or ask the people to do it through another referendum (bravo, John Major!). We are still the only national party with a steadfast view, that yes we must stay in the CU and the IM, that the only way to do that is to stay in the EU, and that the voters should be given the chance to settle it. When a lot of that happens we will be shown to have been highly relevant all along.

    But meantime we will continue to show the country how valuable we are, by our local community and local government work, and by continuing to press our good policies on social welfare and social justice. I want us now to be firmer on policies like directing public investment to the poorer regions, taxing wealth, fairer council taxes, land value taxation, commitment to full employment, promoting social housing development by councils, inhibiting property ownership as investment only, and so on – firming up on so many excellent ideas to show our radically different and attractive policy programme.

  • @ Katharine ” (even including those Scots)” – It’s not the Scots that are the problem, Katharine.

    BBC News 24 June, 2016. “!Scotland has voted in favour of the UK staying in the EU by 62% to 38% – with all 32 council areas backing Remain. But the UK as a whole has voted to Leave – raising the prospect of Scotland being taken out of the EU against its will. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland had delivered a “strong, unequivocal vote” to remain in the EU.”

  • Katharine Pindar 1st Mar '18 - 1:22am

    Absolutely, David! Happy to agree. That was just a joke, arising from the memory of my childhood in north Cumbria where I sensed a certain mild but quite affectionate irritation with the prevalence of the Scots in Carlisle. Not PC of course, and not shared by me except for dislike of bagpipes and boredom with Scottish football! Oh, and naturally I’d like more of them to vote LD rather than SNP so we might get some more superb Scots LD MPs.

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