From Catherine Bearder MEP, Leader of the Lib Dem Group at the European Parliament

Wow! What a few days it has been. I wanted to write you a little message from Brussels about the incredible European election last Thursday and how we can build on from our stellar result.

First of all can I just say a huge, huge thank you to all of you. In just three weeks, our activists put in a marathon effort to deliver millions of leaflets, bang in ‘Stop Brexit’ and ‘Bollocks to Brexit’ stakeboards and knock on thousands of doors (and this was on the back of an enormous effort to get all those wonderful councillors elected!).

Now we are sixteen MEPs and I finally have some colleagues with me to fly the Lib Dem flag in Brussels and Strasbourg! There are some past MEPs coming back into our midst like Chris Davies, Phil Bennion and Bill Newton-Dunn, but there also some rising stars in the party like Irina Von Wiese, Antony Hook and Caroline Voaden and so many others who come with a whole range of skills and life experiences. It is truly a great and diverse team – over 50% are women and two MEPs are BAME.

Yesterday we met in London and the MEPs voted for me to lead our Lib Dem delegation in the European Parliament. I believe that my knowledge of how the EU works combined with the connections I have made over here in the last five years will ensure that our stop Brexit message is heard loud and clear by the EU negotiators.

Now we will begin setting up our offices for the frantic months ahead and make sure we hit the ground running when the new European Parliament term begins on July 2nd. Each one of us will be regularly coming back to our constituencies, hosting meetings in town halls, speaking to businesses and community groups, campaigning with Lib Dem activists and reaching out to other remain groups. We have to use this summer to build momentum for a potential General Election in the autumn.

So finally, my message to you all is this: hold your head up high and be proud of what you have achieved in this month of May (where we also saw the end of Prime Minister May). Keep having the conversations with the undecided and call out the Brexiters who believe democracy ended on June 23rd 2016. Liberal Democrats are more important than ever to the future peace and prosperity of this country and we must take on this responsibility with passion and commitment.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!


* Catherine Bearder is a Liberal Democrat MEP for the South East and Leader of the European Parliament Liberal Democrat Group.

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This entry was posted in Europe / International and Op-eds.


  • Chris Bertram 29th May '19 - 2:02pm

    Will you be inviting Naomi Long to join the team as well?

  • The fact remains that despite the party pitching themselves as the “Stop Brexit” party and campaigning almost solely on a second referendum for the past two years, they still lost in every single electoral region bar London to a eurosceptic party set up just a month before the election and entirely lacking the activist network of an established party. This is despite a lower turnout in heavy leave areas and the likely increased voter enthusiasm of those against Brexit to go out and vote.

    Such a result is an embarassing failure no matter what the spin doctors may say. The party needs to move on from the EUphilia obsession and start focusing on policy areas that might broaden its electoral appeal away from the the 5-10% of the electorate who are obsessive remainers. Housing, crime, education reform, health, wages, tax reforms – all things the party has lost all interest in as part of the EUphilia project.

  • Ruth Bright 29th May '19 - 2:35pm

    Catherine, for some time now you have had a role in the European Parliament regarding
    the protection of (largely female) whistleblowers. As the Lib Dems’ most senior international politician how well do you think you have performed this role both within and beyond the Lib Dems?

  • “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”

    Seriously, Catherine, don’t mention it. It’s been a genuine pleasure.

  • Jonathan Linin 29th May '19 - 2:50pm

    Michael, here we go again. Plucky little new boys Brexit party !, apart from it being just UKIP reborn, led by the most over-puffed politician in the country (an almost permanent fixture on Question Time), with the support of much of the tabloid press. Against the giants of the Lib Dems, a party all but written off until this year, derided (ridiculed) by most of the press.
    Oh, and it will be interesting to look at the funding of the campaigns, who funded the Brexit party and by how much.
    No problem with looking at other policies but Brexit is the biggest single issue in my lifetime I think it is probably ok for some lesser issues to take a back seat, sure let’s think about all those important issues but only when we have ensured a level of continued prosperity by stopping Brexit. And finally if only 5-10% of the country are obsessive remainers how come the remain parties got more votes than the leave parties. And, worth repeating but the combined Tory/UKIP/Brexit vote was down from 51% in 2014 to 44% this time.
    I’m sure it is fun trying to deliberately annoy, but you need to bring some facts to the table.

  • The success of the Lib Dems in these and the local elections was great, mainly thanks for hard work over a sustained period as well as having a policy that resonated with so many. Just a small point, the number of women and BAME MEPs is mentioned here, and has been on other occasions. No problem with highlighting them, and indeed people from the LGBT+ community if they wish to so identify but there is never (rarely) any mention of candidates (successful or otherwise) who have a disability. Is this because there aren’t any, or none identified, or this “label” is not deemed important? Indeed considering the % of people with special needs/disabilities in the population, their needs (e.g. double the rate of unemployment) are never (rarely) mentioned at all on this site. Why is that? If they are and I’ve missed it, happy to be corrected

  • @Jonathan Linin

    You may snear, but the excuses you rattle out for losing to a new party are weak and hint at being slightly out of touch with the wider country. You state that “Brexit is the biggest single issue in my lifetime” – for the majority of, I dare say less privileged, people they have more fundamental issues to worry about like their unstable housing situation or how inflation eats into their already stressed pay packet each month. The electorate is not simply well off middle class white people and you would do well to remember that.

    Only a small minority of the population ever watch Question Time – why people seem so obsessed with it as a barometer is beyond me. UKIP is politically -at least so far- far more right wing than the Brexit party and has in any event radically diverged from what it was in 2015. It is a lazy excuse for failure to just try to hide behind the fallacy that it’s just exactly the same party copy and pasted. As for media, I note that the Brexit party received fewer endorsements than the Lib Dems and if Farage is doing a better job of garnering column inches perhaps that is because the Lib Dems are doing a very poor job of managing its media operation. Certainly the Brexit Party’s social media operation absolutely trounced that of the other parties during the election.

    You speak of “bring[ing] some facts to the table” yet ignore the points I made regarding turnout and voter motivations, instead prefering palpably false interpretations of voting figures. To entirely exclude the Labour vote from the leave figures is manifestly false. It is perfectly arguable that the Labour position is to carry out Brexit and that it is therefore a Brexit party. Regardless, a substantial minority of its voter base are leave voters. So some of that vote must be considered leave.

    The John Curtice view of the vote being roughly 50/50 strikes me as most reasonable. This is actually actually an extremely poor result for those arguing that popular opinion has shifted (it hasn’t) given: the lower turnout in leave areas, the fact the potential electorate has millions of (overwhelmingly remain supporting) European nationals who would not be eligible to vote in a referendum, increased voter motivation for hard remainers and the fact that middle class voters (more likely to be remain) are more likely to vote in European elections.

    Put your head in the sand if you wish, but there has been no sea change here.

  • chris moore 29th May '19 - 4:04pm

    @Michael “You state that “Brexit is the biggest single issue in my lifetime” – for the majority of, I dare say less privileged, people they have more fundamental issues to worry about like their unstable housing situation or how inflation eats into their already stressed pay packet each month. The electorate is not simply well off middle class white people and you would do well to remember that.”

    Come on, Michael, lighten up a bit. These were Euro elections where attiutdes to Brexit were a very important factor in deciding who voted for whom.

    Perhaps, you didn’t notice that the Brexit Party was a one issue party. Now you do, doubtless you will visit Brexit party websites to give them a good talking to about that. Middle class nonsense focusing on Brexit.

    In the local elections, the Lib Dems were much more focused on other issues, of course. And did reasonably well.

    Yes, Brexit Party had an excellent result in the Euros. But the Lib Dems also had an excellent result – did you not notice that they beat both Tories and Labour? A first for the party. Credit where credit is due!

  • Yeovil Yokel 29th May '19 - 10:15pm

    Very well done, Catherine.
    Just a small complaint about the photograph – it seems to have been posed amateurishly &/or in a hurry, with Vince standing at the front blocking our view of a female MEP behind. I’m certain this was the fault of the photographer, not Vince who is normally such a gentleman. Perhaps I’m nitpicking, but this seems like poor PR.

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