EU Referendum: What do we do now?

I can’t be the only person who is asking that question and I see that Alisdair Calder McGregor was posing it yesterday.

However, a lot of the responses seem to miss the point. We have not left the EU.  What a small majority of the country has voted for is for us to withdraw. That can only be done by triggering Article 50 and beginning discussions on the terms of exit (as even Leave recognises).

Only one country has ever left the EU – Greenland. Their Article 50 negotiations took 3 years and they only really had to discuss fish. Nobody seriously expects we can do it in less time than them and most experts think it could take 4 or 5 years. Even if Gove et al continue to ignore experts, they will need to come back to the Houses of Parliament with their deal and get it passed.

And what will that deal look like? It is hard to see how they could ever come back with a deal which allows EU citizens free movement. It is equally hard to see that the EU would ever allow access to the single market without such free movement. So, the deal presented would likely be a full exit which they would have to get through a parliament where the overwhelming majority of parliamentarians voted for Remain. 

In mv view, Parliament would be completely entitled to reject such a deal since there was never any clarity on what Leave looked like. The actual deal negotiated could then be put to the people either in another referendum or in a general election.

That is the only way to ensure that there is genuinely a stable majority for exit and that the vote is on a real alternative rather than a fantasy island. I hope the Liberal Democrats will led that fightback and represent the 48% who are our natural voters.

* Mark Goodrich is a former vice-chair of Richmond & Twickenham Liberal Democrats, a former expat who saw Brexit unfold from the other side of the world and now lives in Sevenoaks, Kent

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63 Comments

  • I know this feels like being an incredibly bad loser, but I’m one of the 1.8 million people who have signed the petition calling for a second EU referendum :-

    https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/131215

    I’ve convinced myself that this is a plausible proposal for the reasons you have put forward here: that the negotiations will take years, public opinion may have changed by then, and the terms offered may be unacceptable to some of those who voted Leave, so a second referendum seems like a democratically reasonable suggestion, especially as once we are out it would be very, very difficult to ever get back in.

  • Bill le Breton 25th Jun '16 - 5:08pm

    We have not missed the point – it is a democratic decision. To change that would completely destroy our party. You are either a democrat or you are someone who believes in government by an elite.

    You must go with the decision. The decision is to leave the EU. It is however not a decision necessarily to leave the single market or forsake the four freedoms of that market.

    At present be have 8% support in the polls and of that 8%, 30% were for leaving.

  • paul barker 25th Jun '16 - 5:10pm

    We are now into what was traditionally The “Silly Season” when Serious Politics takes a holiday but this is more like a Surrealist Season. I feel as though I have wandered into a Psycadelic Film from the 1960s or one of those East European childrens serials from the 1970s.
    The Prime Minister has given us a Resignation, postdated till October. Is that even Legal ? Like Schroedingers Cat Camerons Prime Ministership is both Dead & Alive. Important officials Resign but they cant be replaced because thats “For the Next PM”. The People (some of them) have voted to Leave The EU but the process cant start till The Next PM is in place, October again.
    If the PM cant actually take any actual decisions because, like, ” hes not really there” then do we have a Government at all ?
    WTF is going on ?

  • Regardless of what ‘experts,’ think, the language of Article 50 is plain: there are precisely two years, not four or five, in which to conclude an agreement on severing the institutions of the UK and the EU. The clock has already started ticking. If the government dither or drag their feet, they may end up on 23 June 2018 with nothing, completely locked out of all EU institutions and the European market, with disastrous results to the economy. The failure of Cameron and Osborne to have a negotiation team already in place and concrete proposals as to the arrangements they would like represents an astonishing piece of short-sightedness. Presumably that is one reason why Cameron is resigning: to place the entire pear-shaped mess on the plate of his successor and let him or her take the blame when the negotiations fail to achieve an even minimally acceptable result.

  • Whatever we do next cannot just ignore the result of the referendum. We are the Liberal Democrats, not the Liberal fingers in my ears la la la I can’t hear you Party.

    Paul – you say ‘The People (some of them) have voted to leave’, what everyone else would say is ‘The People (the largest number of them) have voted to leave’.

    ‘Getting real’ has to precede ‘getting somewhere’.

  • Eddie Sammon 25th Jun '16 - 5:48pm

    Changed my mind. I know back parliament blocking brexit. Project fear has become project fact and we shouldn’t trash our economy, security and the existence of the UK based on a referendum full of lies and when 16-18 year olds and many long-term EU migrants didn’t get a vote.

    Sorry for my initial comments on not accepting the result.

    We can use the EU presidency to drive reform on free movement, which now Lib Dems must back.

  • Eddie – it should not be stopped. The result is the will of the British public. Liberals believe in the freedom of the individual and in democracy. This type of approach is that of a political class that believes ‘we know best’ and that the public are fools. I am saddened by the result too, but this approach is not in the least bit Liberal.

  • Tsar Nicholas 25th Jun '16 - 5:59pm

    @David 1

    The two year timetable begins when the notice required under artilce 50 is delivered to the relevant EU institution.

  • lloyd harris 25th Jun '16 - 6:08pm

    The decision is the decision no matter how much we dislike it, we now need to move into the new Brexit world.
    Article 50 triggers the divorce and that divorce has to complete in two years. As the EU and UK are deeply woven together the unpicking of that isn’t going to be easy.
    Things like trade deals will need to be discussed in parallel or after the divorce and would take even longer. But it is the divorce settlement, legal stuff and money that will need to happen first.

  • Phil Beesley 25th Jun '16 - 6:12pm

    What do we do now? Nowt, nothing, zero activity — because there is no project plan for the future.

    How would you act in more normal circumstances? Like project planning? Firstly, you determine what you want even if it is unlikely to be achieved. Then you create a realistic outline plan, with contingency measures, ifs and buts. Thirdly, but not finally, you try to implement the plan.

    If you favoured In or Out, the same rules apply: you can’t make plans until a new Conservative Party leader tells you what it is all about. What is Out about?

    In the meantime, there’s a lot of scope for debate on how a more liberal England and UK might act outside the EU.

  • As I understand it Article 50 only comes into force when the UK government formally tells the EU it wants to leave, not last Thursday, that process my not start for up to a year.

    I was asked to sign the petition for another referendum. I would not so do. I fundamentally dis-agree with the decision, but I defend the right of the people to decide. Our party does include Democrat in its name.

  • I voted leave because I had been assured that M15 would rub out my cross and replace it with one for remain. Yes the people have voted, they are allowed to change their minds, just as many changed their minds shortly after thinking the Munich agreement was wonderful.

    I’m already sic to death of people who campaigned on ‘take back control’ telling me my MP can’t vote for this that or the other because it inconvenient for vote leave.

  • @ Bill le Breton – yes we are at 8% in the polls, and 1/4 of them don’t even share one of the oldest and most consistent policies of the party (and predecessor). So what we ought to do is actually promote some Liberal values and Liberal policies that address people concerns about jobs, incomes, inequality, housing, quality of life. For years the party has failed to talk about the EU in European elections, bar the last set where the talk was vacuous. The party blocked a referendum for years when it could have been won and actually benefited the Lib Dems. Now we had had what became party policy at one stage, an in out referendum.

  • I voted Remain and am very disappointed with the result, but the country doesn’t have to do want I – or LDV posters – want. In most parts of England they are dancing in the streets, they don’t regret voting leave and are delighted with the outcome. If parliament ignores the will of the people it may cause bigger problems than leaving the EU will cause.

  • Rightsaidfredfan 25th Jun '16 - 7:05pm

    What the people voted for is to leave the EU. The negotiations could easily produce access to the single market and the free movement of people. Parliament could pass that. Immigration might have been a key part of the leave campaigns message but it wasn’t what people voted for. They voted to leave the EU, the UK must now leave the EU. That’s it.

    What I don’t understand is why the lib dems blocked this referendum 5 years ago when they could have won it by allowing 16 and 17 year olds and foreigners living here to vote.

  • Christopher Haigh 25th Jun '16 - 7:16pm

    MP’s have to do what they think is right. The referendum was a conservative political tactic to gain election and they in effect co-ordinated both sides of the rant. Why should parliamentary opposition parties just have to accept their result without a debate and vote ? Supporters of opposition parties need to make a challenge before we ‘move on’ should this be unsuccessful.

  • Matt (Bristol) 25th Jun '16 - 7:24pm

    Accept the result or lose 50-60% of the country as potential voters.

  • The Liberal Democrats are struggling to stay above 8% in the polls. The potential for growth in the party hardly lies with the people who think now, or who will think in the future, that leaving the EU was a good idea. On the other hand, there is a 48% of the public (or more, counting the Bregretfuls) who are very angry with the result and looking for someone to represent that anger. For the Liberal Democrats to “accept” (i.e., approve of) the result after having so strongly opposed it will make the party look cheap and unprincipled. Far better to stick to an affirmation of our principles while adapting our tactics to the post-Brexit world.

  • paul barker 25th Jun '16 - 7:41pm

    As a a practical first step, why dont we call for the present Administration to be replaced by a Government of National Unity, representing all the Parties & all four Nations. Such a Government could then try to Negotiate on a basis of Consensus.
    As things stand, no decisions are to be taken for Four Months at least & then only on The Basis of a purely Tory interpretation of what the 52% have said. I find that Unacceptable.

  • Bill this is one of those very few occasions that i think your wrong. A majority of the country has not voted to leave all this referendum showed us is that we are all. Osteoporosis equally devided that is no basis for accepting a floored process and design. The one thing that must not be done is to conceded defeat and accept this. There is common cause to make with other parties if necessary with winding up the failed LD and Labour brands for a common cause.

  • For some strange reason David-1 believes that :
    “The clock [Article 50], has already started ticking.”
    No it hasn’t started ticking.
    The EU Commission have been in the bullying industry for some three decades,.. but fortunately, their bullying, is now, well and truly over. This Article 50 process begins only when the British government decides to invoke it. Moreover, it is clearly in the British governments interest to wait, whilst they put a comprehensive negotiating team together with a clear brief of what is best for the UK. If that Brexit team building process, takes until early 2017, then so be it. We’ve waited three decades for freedom from this EU mess,.. so a three to four year process will be well worth the wait for full regain of UK sovereignty.
    Let those EU bullies wait until we are ready,… Britain is legally and comfortably in the driving seat, and Article 50 begins only when we are ‘negotiation ready’, and say it begins.

  • Mick Taylor 25th Jun '16 - 8:33pm

    If the petition for a second referendum continues to gather signatures at the current pace it will have over 17 million signatures in two weeks.
    https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/131215circulating
    I urge everyone to support it. However, a second referendum will be just as bad as this one if the electoral commission is not given the power to stop circulation of official literature which contains proven lies.
    There should be an independent panel that decides which claims are true or false and their research should be widely available.
    Newspapers and campaign groups who tell proven lies should face massive fines.
    If the lies are not stopped, then a second referendum will be a complete waste of time.

  • It’s a plebiscite. The people have spoken and the result must stand or there is a risk is greater unrest.
    David Cameron, IMO stupidly, set it up as a straight 50% + 1 vote. It could have gone down to the whim of a single voter just as it could have done in the Scottish referendum. As it is Leave won by over a million votes. You might think the decision is unfair or flawed or upsetting, but the result is still the result and the votes of people you disagree with are worth exactly the same as your own.

  • Of course we have to accept the result – please do not dwell on this. Looking to the future….
    No more wasted time and money coming fourth or fifth in European elections.
    What future UKIP? What is the point of them now? lots of protest votes to go for – we might even start to do well in Parliamentary by-elections – and of course we have a Tory civil war to enjoy and profit from – just wait until those Brexit Tories have to put in another £350 million weekevery into the NHS – errr and don’t do it – we have to be there to exploit it
    So please don’t waste time thinking we can go against the wishes of the people – they have chosen to leave ……the bastards

  • Bill Le Breton wrote:

    “it is a democratic decision.”

    I disagree. The 4% majority for Leave was the result of lying politicians and lying newspapers manipulating the gullible. I regard that as an abuse of democracy. Do I respect it? No. I disrespect it.

    “You are either a democrat or you are someone who believes in government by an elite.”

    Are you saying that Johnson and Gove, and Murdoch and Rothermere, are not part of an elite?

    “It is however not a decision necessarily to leave the single market or forsake the four freedoms of that market.”

    In this statement you undermine your previous claim that the outcome of the referendum was democratic. You are conceding that people did not know what Leave actually is.

    David Lammy is absolutely right. It is Parliament, not the referendum, that is sovereign, and Parliament should not vote for something which it knows would be deeply harmful to the people of Britain and the rest of Europe.

    Bill, tell me this. If a referendum produced a majority in favour of the restoration of the death penalty, would you be arguing that Parliament is bound to sanction judicial murder? My point is not merely hypothetical. Thatcher called for a referendum on that very topic.

    In my student days (a long, long time ago) I proposed a resolution mandating members of the student union executive to jump off the top of the Crystal Palace Transmitter. The motion was passed, but none of them did as members instructed, despite their ideological commitment to democratic centralism.

  • So what happens if a year into this process the small majority for leave has evaporated? And let’s face it that is almost certainly what is going to happen as the consequences of leaving become clear. Are we really going to Brexit even if there are majorities for Remain in parliament and in the electorate?

  • @Christopher Haigh
    “The referendum was a conservative political tactic to gain election and they in effect co-ordinated both sides of the rant. Why should parliamentary opposition parties just have to accept their result without a debate and vote ?”

    They have to accept because
    (i) The Conservative party had a mandate from the electorate to hold the referendum
    and more importantly
    (ii) The majority of the electorate with over a million more votes, voted to leave.
    It’s called democracy and all Parties / MP’s have to respect the will of the people. After all they are elected to represent the people.

    The people have spoken.

  • It’s not democracy it was the whim of a Tory PM who thought it would appease his party members. In any case, two of the four home nations have not voted to leave and should not be dragged out by the rest. The problem is for Parliament to resolve.

  • @AndrewR – interesting question.

    As I read Art 50* once notification has been given then the treaties cease to apply on two years from that date. There doesn’t seem to be any option for withdrawing an Art 50 notification. It can be extended by unanimous agreement of all member states – but that would be a really impractical way of proceeding in the long term (as UK membership could be terminated by any other member state)

    A nation can apply for readmission – though AIUI that would require the UK signing up to Schengen and the Euro.

    If I’m right then the making of the Art 50 notice is the point of irevocability.

    *I suspect people cleverer and on a much higher hourly rate will consider this point in coming months!

  • @ Simon Shaw
    Sorry you spoilt your paper and the opportunity to choose.
    Why did you not accept the ‘legitimacy of the referendum’?

    I voted remain, I was not angry but disappointed, but it is time to move on. Let us now have a vision for our party, inspire our next generation and honour the democratic vote. Without vision the people perish.

    These are exciting and challenging times and conversing with the Green/Labour parties about the way forward in unity for the next couple of years, may not be a bad thing.
    UKIP have done what they set out to do and may now be irrelevant.

  • Christopher Haigh 25th Jun '16 - 10:08pm

    @Matt, I think it was David Cameron who said he would honour the result of his referendum.

  • Dr David Hill 25th Jun '16 - 10:13pm

    Build our independent economy on hi-tech industries as over 40 of the world’s most eminent applied scientists, including 8-Nobel Laureates told the Blair government during 1997 and 1998.

    For the United Kingdom has nothing in the long-term to fear from Brexit. For according to extensive global research by Japan (MITI) in the 1980s and Germany in the 1990s concerning the basic seeds of economic dynamism and whose thinking at the fundamental level has created the modern world, Britain leads the world by a mile. Indeed according to the Japanese and Germans, 53% and 54% respectfully.

    Therefore the UK has only to release this currently untapped gold-mine of creativity, and where we will lead the world in 20-years time. I just hope that the new independent government listens this time unlike the Blair government. For they have to listen to the people this time and invest in them, as the British people hold the secret and not just the scientists.

    ‘Why the ‘Innovation Chain’ is so Important for the Future World and Why things have to Change for Humanity’- http://worldinnovationfoundation.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/why-innovation-chain-is-so-important.html

  • The legislation setting up this referendum was as badly drafted a piece of legislation as one could imagine. It provided for no threshold in terms of turnout or in terms of level of support – I think I am right in saying that the level of support secured by Leave would not have been sufficient to authorise strike action by a trade union.
    It also failed to provide for what was to happen if (as has of course occurred) one or more of the constituent nations of the UK voted in favour of Remain. Does this vote justify or indeed authorise the UK Government giving notice under Article 50 on behalf of Scotland and NI? remember that Article 50(1) says that a Member State may give notice “in accordance with its own constitutional arrangements”. What does the famous “unwritten constitution” of the UK require? Perhaps someone should bring a test case before the UK Supreme Court.
    Two comments on here seem to be clearly wrong. David-1 cannot be correct in saying that the clock has started ticking; this is an advisory referendum and the “clock” can only be started by the Member State itself giving formal notice to the Council. And Mark is not correct in suggesting that the proposed deal could itself be put to a second referendum. Once notice is given under Article 50, there is no option to reject the terms on offer; at the end of two years membership just ends under Article 50(3).

  • I cannot believe that some members of our party, with Democrat in its name, seriously think that a democratic decision supported by 17,000,000 people should not be enacted.

  • Alan jelfs

    Because people were voting on a £350 million pound lie. Because people were voting on an immigration lie.

  • ppb.
    The Conservative party made an electoral pledge to hold a referendum on membership of the EU. They won the general election. They kept their pledge. More people voted Leave than Remain.
    I have some sympathy Simon Shaw’s argument, I’m also not keen on referendums. But, It was held and the result is the result.

  • I’m liking your thinking Mark. I cannot believe a vote to leave is a simple as that I.e we leave. I am sure there will be lots of twists and turns as we fight for the best interests of the UK people in EU. We must not shut the door and cut ourselves off but find a way to keep our liberal, broad minded approach to life rise above the insular nationalistic opinions of a minority, most of which haven’t got a clue what a leave vote could lead to.

  • “I hope the Liberal Democrats will led that fightback and represent the 48% who are our natural voters.”

    I’d have thought so too, but a majority voted Leave in a significant number of current/former English Lib Dem heartlands – Cornwall, Sheffield, LB Sutton, Watford……….

  • I’m sorry to see both Remain and Leave people joining to perpetuate the notion that either a “do over” is possible or that there can be some kind of soft exit. Both of those notions are delusive and seem calculated merely to divert attention from the true horror of what the vote has accomplished. The referendum was never regarded as merely “advisory”; it constitutes a directive to the government which it is bound to obey. Official notification is a formality and can be expected in days, probably Tuesday. In any case, quite contrary to the apparent beliefs of the Leave party, the timing is no longer in the UK’s hands. This is an internal EU process — and the UK has just removed itself from EU deliberations. Lord Hill has already resigned from the European Commission. Should the government fail to transmit a notice to the EU, it is quite capable of taking the obvious facts on the ground as a notification in and of itself. The clock has started ticking, and there is no realistic way to turn it back or even slow it down.

  • @David-1
    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/25/article-50-brexit-debate-britain-eu

    “Kenneth Armstrong, professor of European Law at Cambridge University said: “There is no mechanism to compel a state to withdraw from the European Union. Article 50 is there to allow withdrawal, but no other party has the right to invoke article 50, no other state or institution. While delay is highly undesirable politically, legally there is nothing that can compel a state to withdraw.””

  • This argument that the democratic will of the people cannot be challenged is nonsense. A couple of weeks before 23rd June or a couple of weeks later and the result could have been different. Do you imagine Farage and co would have disbanded UKIP and their beliefs has they lost by a narrow margin? Did the SNP give up when they lost the Independence vote? Very few MPs and councillors are elected on their first attempt. Do they give up and never try again? No, no, and no. We must stand up for what we believe in, to be a full member of the EU. The entire point of democratic politics is to persuade people to change their minds on a regular basis.

  • David-1,

    You seem to know with some certainty what constitutes a “notification” within the meaning of Article 50, which is surprising, given that Article 50 is silent on the matter, and the ECJ has never ruled on it, as far as I am aware.

    Then there is the small matter of Parliament. I would very much doubt that even Johnson and Gove would attempt to pull the United Kingdom out of an international treaty without the permission of Parliament.

    Taking an action that would irrevocably lead this country down a spiral to oblivion would be madness. Cameron has said he won’t do it, and Johnson and Gove say they are in no hurry to do it. It is doubtful that Parliament would allow it, as we are hearing from David Lammy today. Johnson did say in an unguarded moment that a Leave vote would not necessarily mean that Britain leaves the EU. Does that not suggest that the real game plan is something other than what it appears to be?

  • Andrew McCaig 26th Jun '16 - 12:38am

    A majority of those who voted have voted to leave the EU. However they have NOT all voted to end freedom of movement. I have met quite a few people who voted to “wipe the smile of Cameron’s face”. And others who voted Leave to “save the NHS” or to end the CAP/CFP.

    In my opinion Boris will decide to take us into the EEA. Free trade and freedom of movement but no CAP or CFP. Remember that most Tory party donors in large businesses want BOTH free trade and freedom of movement. It will give the easiest break and negotiation. Less democratic control (well, according to Brexiteers there was absolutely none anyway, so perhaps I should say the same amount at least!) but a smaller contribution and only some of the regulations

    The other half of the Boris calculation would be that this will be very good for UKIP support – but it seems pretty clear that will hurt Labour more than the Tories.

    Others on here have advanced the EEA option before the vote and I think the Party should say that while we will seek a mandate to return to full membership, the EEA option is the best available in current circumstances

  • Andrew McCaig 26th Jun '16 - 12:39am

    I am not in favour of another referendum, but in the spirit of the times I have signed the petition to “wipe the smile off Nigel’s face” or something like that…

  • “I cannot believe that some members of our party, with Democrat in its name, seriously think that a democratic decision supported by 17,000,000 people should not be enacted.”

    Absolutely right, in the here and now. We cannot play ducks and drakes. We must take Brexit forward. But we should not rush.

    A week is a long time in politics. Much can change.

    We cannot countermand the referendum result – but the British people can.

    Let’s find ways, slowly slowly, to give them that chance, when they have had time to think anew.

  • Stevan Rose,
    no one is saying that you have to give up.
    The point about the SNP is they accepted the result of the referendum and are opting to continue their fight for independence. They did not claim the result was null and void because they didn’t win.

    What a lot of Remain people are doing is exactly the opposite. They don’t like the way it went so are trying to find ways of ignoring it by pretending the the results were regional (the regions were only a tool for counting individual votes) or that people didn’t understand it (leave/remain is about a simple as anything gets) or that this or that demographic should be taken into account (this was a simple one person one vote referendum., not a census or survey). No one is saying that once Britain has left the EU you can’t campaign to re-join. But the point is that the will of the people was to leave and so leave we must.

  • I’m not quite sure why freedom of movement is regarded as so vitally important to the EU. Freedom of well-educated professionals, tradesmen or entrepreneurs who are not likely to be a drain on society I understand. What the public want though is an end to indiscriminate immigration from Europe’s (and now the ROW) unskilled losers – attracted here by our overly-generous welfare state that is open to everyone and our overly lax attitude towards illegal immigrants – as the Mayor of Calais keeps reminding us. Imagine you have been on a council house waiting list for 30 years and Poles or Romanians keep jumping in front of you and you might imagine what folk think at ground level rather than just pretending they are bigots.

    The point is that without this dogmatic clinging to the Freedom of Movement rules then there would have been no trouble. Surely somebody in the EU must have suspected that the increase to 27 countries would pose a migration crisis because it was exceedingly obvious to everyone else.

  • chris_sh: That is a complete strawman. No one is talking about compelling the UK to leave the EU; we are talking about the EU recognizing that the UK has made the choice to leave the EU, which it has in fact done. It’s about reality, not ceremony.

  • @David-1
    I’m sorry, but your words were:
    “Should the government fail to transmit a notice to the EU, it is quite capable of taking the obvious facts on the ground as a notification in and of itself.”
    If the gov does not transmit a notice, no notice is given. They are the only ones who can do it.

  • Mark Goodrich 26th Jun '16 - 2:58am

    Thanks for all the comments. I will respond when I get to a computer.

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th Jun '16 - 7:54am

    Andrew McCaig

    Remember that most Tory party donors in large businesses want BOTH free trade and freedom of movement. It will give the easiest break and negotiation.

    Indeed, but how is this going to help all those (I think the vast majority of Leave voters) whose line was (as one put it) “If you are rich you vote Remain, if you are poor you vote Leave”?

    The pro-Leave press has come out with ridiculously exaggerated lines that we have somehow thrown off chains, that we can now do something hugely different. Those who voted Leave will now be expecting that, expecting their miserable lives to be very much improved.

    What we have is a promise that Thatcherite economics would make us all happier. And when that didn’t happen, the extreme end of those in favour of that tried to distract attention by putting the blame on the EU, suggesting leaving the EU and having even more extreme Thatcherite policies will solve the problem.

    I don’t think the problem with this country that led so many people to vote Leave is that we haven’t had extreme enough Thatcherite economics in place. Do you?

  • Kevin colwill 26th Jun '16 - 10:43am

    What amazes me is no political party had any plan for life after a leave vote. Not even pro-leave Tories!
    Was there really no little group of policy geeks sorting through the EFTAs and the EEAs, the Norwegian, the Swiss and the Albanian models?

  • Mathew
    I understand what you are saying and agree with some of it. However. I would suggest that the deeper the pull of the EU the further “left” politics has drifted to the right. The point being it is itself socially liberal but economically of the right. David Cameron, Tony Blair, Nick Clegg. David Laws are representative of the goals of the EU rather than anomalies. All laudably liberal on things like identity politics, all advocates of small state economics, increased privatisation etc. Margret Thatcher, although she vacillated, was in favour of the Maastricht Treaty that created the EU and John Major signed it. It was never a bulwark against anything except maybe against criticism of domestic politics. The arguments within the Conservative party are not really about the economic policies of the EU so much as they are about sovereignty and social conservatives v social liberals.

  • Mark Goodrich 26th Jun '16 - 1:43pm

    Thanks for all the comments. I will try to respond to as many as possible (although I do also have some work to do!). The first response is a general response to those who think I was just calling for a second referendum (as per the petition that 3 million people think they are signing, even if they are not).

    I’m not.

    I agree with everyone who says that would be undemocratic. Whilst it is increasingly obvious that the Leave campaign was a tissue of lies, that is not sufficient to ignore a democratic result. If it was, General Elections would have to be re-run all the time.

    However, what is different between this and a General Election is that there are manifestos in a General Election. You choose between two equally defined visions for the country. In this case, we were asked to choose between the status quo and a whole variety of alternatives which were mutually incompatible. What I am asking is that when the Leavers have finally negotiated something with the EU, we get to vote on that as an alternative to the status quo. To my mind, that is entirely democratic and, in fact, failing to do so would be undemocratic. If we lose again, fair enough.

  • Mark Goodrich 26th Jun '16 - 1:51pm

    Now a couple of corrections:

    1. Greenland, of course, exited the EU before Article 50 existed so the reference to their Article 50 negotiations is wrong. It should have read “their negotiations to exit the EU”. I can only blame a bit of emotion when writing this blog for getting that wrong. Bit disappointed that nobody picked me up on that….(unless I missed it).

    2. To those confused by my mini-bio, Lib Dem Voice seem to have reprinted one of a few years ago. It should have read:

    “Mark is a former vice-chair of the Richmond and Twickenham Liberal Democrats and now lives in Seoul. He tweets (not usually about politics) at @markygoodrich.”

    Having said that, there have been rather a lot of political tweets recently….

  • Mark Goodrich 26th Jun '16 - 2:08pm

    Right – last one for this evening (Seoul time).

    David-1 – You are wrong to suggest that anyone but the UK can trigger Article 50. If you are willing to take the view of “experts” (I hope we may all do so in the future), here is Prof Mark Elliott on the topic.

    https://publiclawforeveryone.com/2016/06/26/brexit-can-the-eu-force-the-uk-to-trigger-the-two-year-brexit-process/

    I think this is why Boris is keen not to trigger it. You lose control of the timetable once you do. Also, you lose all remaining influence in the EU.

    I also disagree with your vehement opposition to the suggestion that we can either have a second referendum or a soft exit. In fact, I would go so far as to say that one or other of those is the overwhelmingly likely outcome.

    The Leavers have to come back with a deal. There are really two broad alternatives.

    One is “EU-lite” – some kind of EEA / associate membership / call it what you will solution. Would get through the House of Commons and could be regarded as a “soft exit”. Small problem that it would involve accepting free movement of people and EU legislation as price for obtaining the deal. (Most leave supporters would feel like they had been sold down the river and so this might also get put to a second referendum).

    Alternative 2 – fully out. No special deals or, at best, like Canada. This most economically damaging variant of Brexit would not get through the House of Commons and would therefore need a second referendum.

    It’s a mess but let’s not assume that we are out before we actually are out.

  • Adrian Collett 26th Jun '16 - 4:05pm

    In a first past the post election 51.9% wins absolutely and the 48.1% lose completely. We’re used to that and support electoral reform as a better and more democratic way of representing people’s views.

    But this was an advisory referendum, not an election, and the result is a country split down the middle. Neither side won the hearts and minds of the people and many voters were left crying out for “facts” and believing that both sides were just telling them lies and point scoring. The mandate has not been won for such precipitous change that could break up the UK, leave us with a badly damaged economy and having to obey many EU rules with no say over them.

    The only way to sort this out is, I’m afraid, a period of careful reflection and examination of the issues before disastrous consequences are inflicted on the country. Maybe several years of discussion over the terms of exit and what it means is the way to do this and, possibly, a second referendum to confirm that what has been negotiated is acceptable.

    Maybe in a second referendum we will be able to make the wider reasons for EU membership heard – helping dictatorships become democracies, for example. It was so depressing throughout the campaign to only ever hear Cameron put the Remain case and only talk about the economy and immigration.

    I have signed the national petition, because I believe that 51.9% is not enough of a mandate.

  • The notion that postponing an Article 50 notification (which would basically mean Cameron refusing to directly answer the question ‘do you intend to leave the EU?’) in any way improves the UK’s bargaining position is risible. It’s a confession of the despicable weakness of the UK in this situation that fantasies like this are being bruited about at all. Pushing off the inevitable to next week, next month, next year, gains us nothing and creates nothing but uncertainty, instability, and fear, and plays directly into the hands of the extremists. The referendum was a directive from the people — an ignorant, catastrophic, fatally flawed directive — but one which can be ignored only at the cost of either unity or democracy. Furthermore, the EU have had enough and are not going to put up with dithering. The UK has already lost all of its influence on the EU simply from the understanding that it’s on the way out; no formal notification is required for that!

  • Adrian
    This was a simple winner takes all vote. Cameron set no upper or lower margin. With this kind of vote it could go down to a single vote and still count. More people voted Leave than Remain, therefore Leave wins.
    Really the only way round this is to put a vote of no confidence in the Government forward then face voters in an election with an offer to remain in an EU now insistent on a single currency and full participation, both of which would still damage the economy anyway The old agreement is done. The EU is just waiting for us to enact article 50. Much better to learn to play hardball because the EU is trying to stem exit contagion not keep Britain in the fold. It’s over.

  • Bill le Breton 26th Jun '16 - 5:30pm

    It is worth reading Andrew McCraig – 12.38 am.

    There are in effect a group of people: remainers and Liberal Leavers who have a majority in the House of Commons and a majority in the country. Here is where they don’t over lap: on membership of the EU. Here is where they do overlap: the single market with its four freedoms of movement. Where they align in views is exactly where membership of the EEA takes them.

    Sesenco: read the wording on the ballot paper. The majority voted to leave the EU. A wise choice given a) the determination of the present leaders of the EU members states and the Commission not to reform, and b) given the likelihood that in the near future the countries which they lead will, one by one, elect Far Right governments UNLESS there is reform.

    It will not be easy to go down the EEA route. On one hand, we seem to need’permission’ from the EU (a QMV I think) to go this way. On the other, we shall be fighting Farage and UKIP night and day over this. It will require courage, determination and skill to carry more and more of the UK public with us.

    But the alternative – to totally reject the vote – carries far more dangers, short medium and long term. Those willing to risk rejection of the result and/or forcing a second referendum are playing with fire.

    Once the UK joins Norway in the EEA it becomes the 5th largest trading block in the world. Others will join. Over time it will be the viable route for those European countries for whom the Euro and exchange parity with German leads only to deflation and internal wage cuts.

    The safe route from here for those countries and for the UK is EEA. Let’s get organised and get together. If we don;t, we’ll get left behind again, as an irrelevance.

  • Christopher Haigh 27th Jun '16 - 8:13am

    Bill, in total agreement with you.Our lead ership needs to get in discussion with the sensible Tories to agree this policy some of whom have emerged with great credit and freeze UKIP out from now on. Tim needs to get in discussion with people like Francis Maude about Liberal Democrat policy in the new situation.

  • @J Dunn – Re: (25th Jun ’16 – 8:20pm)

    Whilst I think we have been on different sides of this debate, I totally agree with you; there is no rush to invoke Article 50 and it would seem that George Osborne thinks likewise. It is in the interests of both Leave and Remain supporters for the country to use time wisely in getting things in order. However, we do need to be careful as some industries such as the largely London-based financial services , may decide to act sooner rather than later and relocate operations to other EU countries.

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