Keeping the flame alive

It was over two years ago that I wrote in these pages about the virtues of patience, if we desire to re-enter the EU. Roger Liddle, the Labour peer and former adviser to Tony Blair, had predicted the conservatives would inevitably triumph and our best bet would be to re-apply under article 49, once the fuss had died down and the country had woken up to reality.

He was, unfortunately, right, but as for rejoining the EU in the foreseeable future the prospects look very limited. The idea that Britons will suddenly wake up and come to their senses is mistaken; experience has shown that if the going gets rough, Leavers harden their resolve. Furthermore, an attempt to negotiate inferior membership terms from a weakened position is not likely to go down well with either the public or the media.

My guess is that many of us will knuckle under and accept we have to make the best of it. The battle was brutal and, as at Agincourt, over six centuries ago, chivalry and codes of honour proved no match for dishonesty and lack of principle. Nevertheless the victory, as at Agincourt, was decisive. The Brexiteers are the new army of occupation and collaboration will be the order of the day, in the short term at least.

But though this battle is lost, the war can still be won. Despite the best efforts of the Eurosceptic propaganda machine, the pro-European movement has grown considerably over the past three years. Though it may be reeling from the blow before Christmas, it may emerge even stronger from being able to, as the French say, “reculer pour mieux sauter” (Editor: ‘to draw back in order to make a better jump’ or ‘make a strategic withdrawal’ – Mirriam Webster Dictionary).

In practical terms, what can we do now? Well, it could be that the French may have the answer: chivalry. Codes of honour, altruistic ideals. My personal thoughts are that if I were trapped on board a sinking ship, I might not be able to do much about my own position, nor overpower the crazed captain, but I can still help the children to get into the lifeboats.

Join the European Movement and become an advocate for the EU – they are keen to expand their membership further. Or take a look at Grassroots for Europe, who are planning a conference shortly. Above all, keep the flame alive for the next generation. Encourage any youngster who you care about to explore the possibility of careers on the continent – they have 27 countries to choose from – with a view to securing dual citizenship. Help them get back their human rights and privileges that will be stripped away all too soon.

Young people are the future, and they already know their future is in the EU, that powerful symbol of civilisation and culture that Britain helped to build. They are likely to be the most open minded and receptive to whatever help you can give, and the EU, if it is wise, will reciprocate by establishing schemes for helping the brightest and best to develop their careers. In this way Brexit can be mitigated, in preparation for eventually reversing it.

Of course their elders and betters will hunker down in their island fortress with Union Jacks draped over their front doors, and good luck to them, they can enjoy their chlorinated chicken in peace. Just let our youngsters go, and maybe they can light the way for the rest of us.

* John King is a retired doctor and Remain campaigner.

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41 Comments

  • Old Caledonian 6th Jan '20 - 12:06pm

    European Movement. If in Scotland join here: https://www.euromovescotland.org.uk/join-us/

  • Geoffrey Dron 6th Jan '20 - 2:30pm

    By the time the issue of rejoining comes up, if it does, the EU will be a lot further down the path towards a federal union. LibDems miust be honest about saying whether they want the UK to be part of that grand projet. I voted LD in the GE (and remain in the referendum), but would reject this. I found the spectacle of LD members cheering on Guy Verhofstadt’s praise of a European empire rather nauseating.

  • I think people will be much more interested in where we end up regards to visas and residence in places like Spain. The Conservatives are moving to block access to welfare unless resident for a minimum of five years, something that would make freedom of movement much more palatable to the populace, with a few added twists such as 10-11 years to get a British passport , no ability to bring in extended families until that passport is gained., etc would all together make for a reasonable position for the LibDems to take to salvage something from their failed election drive. This might even appeal to Conservative MP’s who are more likely to have retirement villas in the EU than most… a disgraceful idea according to LibDem ideals but better than nothing.

  • Peter Martin 6th Jan '20 - 5:09pm

    ” The Brexiteers are the new army of occupation and collaboration will be the order of the day….”

    What nonsense! Remainers complained loudly and often about using WW2 parallels. I have to admit they had a point. I didn’t like that myself. But here you are being just as bad!

    If there is any parallel to WW2, it is that the struggle, at least from a western perspective was one for the restoration of democracy in Europe. Democracy inevitably means that sometimes/oftentimes things don’t your way. Everyone has their say and a decision is made. Get used to it.

    I well remember being told, in 1975, that if the UK’s membership of the then EEC didn’t work out we could reverse the decision later and leave. It took 41 years to do that. So no-one can say we didn’t give it a good go. If the EEC had stayed more or less as it was then then I’m sure we’d have stayed with the EEC. It was “Europe” which left us, at least as much as we left “Europe”.

  • No Peter you fell for the fantasy of Lexit and got a hard Right Brexit. Bless your mistake but one you will have to justify. Who was to know Lexit was just a myth, well not you.

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th Jan '20 - 7:03pm

    frankie

    No Peter you fell for the fantasy of Lexit and got a hard Right Brexit.

    Indeed.

    Jeremy Corbyn was a supporter of Brexit, and back in the 1980s, the main supporters of Leave were people like him who felt membership of the EU was stopping the development of a more socialist nation.

    Our country has changed so much since then that just leaving the EU is not going to push us back to making that easily possible. Still, if that’s what people want they should have made it clear.

    I.e. they should have voted Labour and sung the praise of Jeremy Corbyn for being its leader, and said they wanted him as Prime Minister with the second referendum he promised, so Leave could be confirmed and he could organise it in that left-wing way.

    Er, did that happen?

  • Peter Martin 6th Jan '20 - 8:47pm

    @ Matthew,

    Not sure what happened there. I wrote out a new comment but a repeat of an old one came up instead and I’ve lost it 🙁 .

    I was going to type it all out again but if you are going to quote frankie I don’t think I’ll bother! 🙂

  • Personally I’m of the view that the best approach on Brexit now is to give Leavers a chance to prove leaving the EU delivers for Britain. If however the country rips into a recession and the country blames Brexit would the Lib Dem’s then back the leave vision or tear it to shreds?

    Personally I’d favour a wait and see policy but make it clear we are giving leave a chance to deliver on their promises. If they fail we should be clear we will go for the jugular

  • Leaving the EU is neither Left or Right Wing. Saying we’ve got a Hard Right Brexit is like saying we’ve had a Hard Right remain. Remainers want to have it both ways. If we have Right wing economic governments whilst in the EU it’s proof that the EU is not imposing anything on Britain because we’ve got the government we elected. But if we Leave with a right wing Conservative government it’s proof that the EU was protecting us from right wing Conservatives governments even though we had them anyway or something or other , that involves endless logical contortions!

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th Jan '20 - 11:43pm

    Peter Martin

    I well remember being told, in 1975, that if the UK’s membership of the then EEC didn’t work out we could reverse the decision later and leave. It took 41 years to do that.

    Ok, so are you saying that the main problem that has caused our country to become one many are unhappy with is membership of the EU? You seem to be, and in that way you are giving support to the Conservatives.

    The issue I’ve been trying to put across is the way the Conservatives have tricked people into supporting them by letting them think the main problem making our country more unequal and stressful is membership of the EU. So, by switching to supporting Leave, the Conservatives have managed to get votes from people who are voting Conservative in order to oppose what the Conservatives stand for.

    And you, Peter, by replying to me as if I am a fanatical EU supporter rather than primarily an opponent of the right-wing economic policy of the Conservatives, are helping give support to the Conservatives.

    As has the leadership of the Liberal Democrats, in their case by showing no sympathy and understanding for those who voted Leave, and putting no effort into properly explaining to them how the EU works, instead wanting support just from people who from the start were keen supporters of Remain.

  • Matthew Huntbach 7th Jan '20 - 9:50am

    Glenn

    Leaving the EU is neither Left or Right Wing. Saying we’ve got a Hard Right Brexit is like saying we’ve had a Hard Right remain.

    What turned me from someone who wasn’t too bothered about whether we were in the EU or not, to a strong supporter of Remain was reading discussion from right-wing Conservatives about what they planned to do with Leave. I was particularly concerned that it was the exact opposite to the reason poor working-class people said they were voting Leave for.

    I felt there needed to be a proper explanation to all people about how the EU works and models of how the UK would work if it left the EU. There wasn’t. It was all very vague. That continued in the years after the referendum, with right-wing Conservatives pushing the line “people voted Leave, so we must have it” and Liberal Democrat leadership supporting them by doing nothing to explain to those who voted Leave the sort of concern I have. And thus on 12 December 2019 large numbers of people voted Conservative in order to show their opposition to what the Conservatives stand for i.e. extreme right economics.

    Due to having a predominantly Conservative government since 1979, the Labour government 1997-2010 being mainly supportive of what the Conservatives had done, we have moved from one of the most equal countries in Europe to one of the most unequal.

    That is what back in the early 1980s, there was a much stronger left-wing argument for Leave than there is now.

    I feel our country has changed so much that there is no longer a viable left Brexit that could easily be achieved. And given that complete control of our country has been handed to right-wing Conservatives to do it, then, yes, Brexit will most likely be Hard Right.

  • John Marriott 7th Jan '20 - 9:50am

    I tend to agree with the approach taken by ‘Christian’. This particular die has been well and truly cast. It’s time for a little quiet reflection. Let’s just wait and see. As our soon to be ex partners, the Germans, say; “Abwarten und Tee trinken” (no need for a translation, I think). One thing is certain, however. There’s going to be a whole load more borrowing whatever happens. The Germans have a phrase for that too: “Die Briten leben auf Pump” (trans. “the Brits live on tick”). As ‘frankie’ might say; “Go back to your constituencies and prepare for Armageddon”. Bless.

  • Peter Martin 7th Jan '20 - 10:26am

    @ Matthew,

    “…… showing no sympathy and understanding for those who voted Leave, and putting no effort into properly explaining to them how the EU works….”

    You might have done better if you’d thought about it in terms of “making the case” rather than “properly explaining to them”. See the difference? One is treating voters as equals to be respected. The other is treating them as semi-delinquents who need to be packed off to a re-education camp.

    The question of EU membership is one of those binary issues which can’t really be fudged. The Labour Party tried it and it didn’t do them much good in the end. So, even though I’m on the opposing side, I can appreciate why the Lib Dem leadership took the line they did. There simply isn’t a cost free course of action. You can’t be all things to all voters.

    It’s all a bit late now anyway, but the smart thing for both the Labour Party and LibDems to have done was go through the motions of opposing Mrs May’s bills but abstain in sufficient numbers to allow them to pass. Then you’d sit back and watch the Tories tear themselves apart and be ready to reap the benefits at the next election. But in trying to win a complete victory both parties ended up with a much worse defeat than they would have had if they’d made a tactical retreat this time last year. Its even possible that there would have been an election at about the same time which the Tories would have lost badly and split themselves in half in the process.

  • Matthew Huntbach
    The basic problem is the way people vote in national elections and the distorting effects of FPTP. My contention is that being in or out of the EU makes little difference. A lot of my fellow Leave voters think the EU is oppressive, but I just think it’s pointless and based on a sort of romantic belief in shared European Culture that I don’t subscribe to. I firmly maintain that people on both sides of the EU divide will be disappointed the little material difference it makes. The main point I’d make is that successive UK Governments liked to hide behind international commitments as a way of saying “it wuz them what done it, we’re powerless” and so on. Institutions like the EU tend to be about cooperation between the political classes at the expense of the influence of the electorate. Breaking the link makes domestic voters more important because it’s harder to retreat behind those technocratic tendencies. My other belief is that you have to get the balance of policies right and that people are Left on some issue, Right on others, Liberal on others and that the idea that a particular vision of the world is “the future” is wide of the mark because it’s driven by ideological orthodoxy rather than awkward lumpy human reality.

  • Peter Martin 7th Jan '20 - 10:52am

    @ John Marriott,

    ‘The Germans have a phrase for that too: “Die Briten leben auf Pump” (trans. “the Brits live on tick”) ‘

    You’re just confirming what is already known. The Germans produce good engineers but poor economists. Especially poor macro-economists. They imposed a set of rules on the euro using countries which simply do not work.

    They simply don’t want to accept that modern fiat currencies, including the euro, are simply instruments of state debt.

    The euro has only lasted as long as it has because Mario Draghi as head of the European Central Bank was prepared to “do whatever it takes” to keep it alive. He put it on ‘life support’ essentially. Much to the anger of the German Conservatives, that has meant the E.C.B. simply ignoring whatever rules got in the way.

    https://www.ft.com/content/e257ed96-6b2c-11e4-be68-00144feabdc0

  • Peter Hirst 7th Jan '20 - 1:54pm

    Our best bet might be to aim for a close relationship without rejoining so we are in as far as practical and there is little to be gained from rejoining.

  • Matthew Huntbach 7th Jan '20 - 3:28pm

    Peter Martin

    The question of EU membership is one of those binary issues which can’t really be fudged.

    No, that’s not the case at all.

    If it was, then Theresa May’s proposals to do what is required for Brexit to work would have gone ahead and Brexit would have happened. However, it didn’t go ahead because some people who said they supported Brexit said that wasn’t really Brexit as it still involved having agreements with the EU that in effect gave the EU control over us. But actually it was already taken us further away from the sort of being out of the EU form that Switzerland and Norway have. So those two countries were noted in the referendum as an example of what Brexit means, and afterwards the contradictory claim was made that they weren’t real Brexit.

    So we had the issue that whatever form Brexit took, there were some who would say they’d rather stay in the EU than have that form. I.e. no form that actually had majority support, since some who accepted soft Brexit opposed a harder form, and some who wanted a harder form said a soft Brexit agreement was worse than staying in the EU.

    However, instead of this being acknowledges as the reason Brexit had not taken place, the extremists who had opposed the form that was agreed by the government told the lie that it was stopped just by opponents of Brexit.

    We needed to make this clear from the start – a second referendum was needed because there were so many different forms Brexit could take, so we needed agreement from the people over what actual form it should take. That’s like many jobs professionals do for people, if what they have asked for takes many different form, that work in different ways, the correct thing to do is to work them all out and then go back for confirmation as to what form they want. Just doing whatever form YOU want, and defending yourself by saying “It’s what they asked for” is what tricksters do.

    Instead of getting this point across, by just dismissing those who voted Leave instead of explaining this issue, we allowed the tricksters to get away with it.

  • Barry Lofty 7th Jan '20 - 4:12pm

    Sadly many people I know just said ” I am fed up with Brexit, let’s get on with our !Ives it will work out ok in the end”, which in some respects is true but I find it extremely depressing that the biggest decision to be made in this country for generations could be dismissed so lightly. My wish, now that we are leaving, is that common sense prevails and we find a way to continue working and living with our European neighbours in a sensible arrangement. You can live in hope??

  • Matthew Huntbach 7th Jan '20 - 4:44pm

    Glenn

    I just think it’s pointless and based on a sort of romantic belief in shared European Culture that I don’t subscribe to

    In what sense is the EU forcing some sort of shared culture on us which we disagree with?

    This has been the issue – people have been encouraged to believe that the EU has “control” over us, meaning it rather than the governments we have had have been responsible for how our country has developed. That’s what led to what actually happened in the last general election – people voting Conservative to oppose what the Conservatives stand for.

    In reality it seems to me that international co-operation is needed to stop big international companies working by playing one country off against another, and its is also needed for co-operation on environmental issues. So that’s the sort of thing I see the EU as for.

    If someone had been able to give me a clear example of what the EU is forcing on us that most of us don’t want, I’d be more sympathetic to Leave. I repeatedly asked Brexit Party campaigners in the general election (there were a lot active where I live, as it’s a Labour held seat that was once Conservative and the majority is low) to explain exactly to me what the “control” the EU has over us is, and they couldn’t give me a satisfactory answer.

    However, I do also blame the Liberal Democrat leadership for suggesting that all we want is votes from people who have always been firm supporters of the EU, and doing nothing to spread out more information in what the EU actually dies and how it is organised to do it. That was, in effect supporting Leave, by letting the Leave extremists get away with the way they were tricking people into supporting them.

  • Barry Lofty 7th Jan '20 - 5:37pm

    I agree with the above, I continually asked the question, were we so badly off and our lives so diminished that all the bad feeling and disruption that Brexit has caused can really be worth it on so many levels?

  • Matthew Huntbach
    Where did I say anything about force or control? Read what I wrote and tell me where I said any such thing. Put it in quotation marks! As it stands I can’t give answers about the veracity of an argument I’m not making to someone who is twisting what I did say.

  • Mark Seaman 7th Jan '20 - 8:18pm

    Oh good grief, it’s another nonsense (aka written by John King) article. I thought that his previous accusations against Leavers, implying various mental ailments, were sailing very close to the wind, but now planet Earth has been left well behind with this latest effort. Agincourt & sinking ships? (And is he seriously suggesting that the Battle of Agincourt was a victory of dishonesty over chivalry ??! Tell that to the mercenary crossbowmen who the French pushed forward before they were ready and then ran them down because they were in the way).

  • Thanks for your comments. Speaking to people about these issues, I have found many endorsing the views of Christian and John Marriott above, that we should be open-minded enough to “wait and see”, and “give Bois a chance” , or as Barry Lofty expresses it, “it will all work out in the end.” This essentially comforting stance does of course imply that some of the expert predictions before the referendum of severe economic and political damage may have been exaggerated or part of ‘project fear’. This doubting of the doomsayers may however be a retrospective distortion designed to make us feel better– i.e. had we remained in the EU, we would have thanked our good fortune that we listened to the experts. I imagine that many passengers on the Titanic may well have consoled themselves “let’s just sit tight and see what happens”. But bearing in mind the risks of being holed below the water line, I still feel my advice to help youngsters to the lifeboats is prudent.

  • Peter Martin 8th Jan '20 - 9:16am

    @ Matthew,

    Your first 3 paragraphs of your (7th Jan ’20 – 3:28pm) comment is a good argument for not having a referendum in the first place. Or possibly having one with multiple choices. It’s a bit late now you should have made it at the time when you had the chance. I would agree that a referendum needn’t be a binary choice but that was was we had. It was agreed to by Parliament.

    “We needed to make this clear from the start – a second referendum was needed because there were so many different forms Brexit could take…”

    OK, once again, the so why didn’t you say

  • Peter Martin 8th Jan '20 - 9:33am

    @ Matthew,

    Sorry that last comment shot off somehow before I had finished!

    OK, once again, the so why didn’t you say that when you had the chance? To answer my own question: I would suggest that you wouldn’t want to say, right “from the start”, that
    there would have to be second referendum because that would have encouraged voters to think that they could vote to leave in the first one but then change their minds and vote to stay in a second one if it all looked to be too hard.

    So remainers wanted a binary choice as much as anyone – providing that choice went their way.

    “…..by just dismissing those who voted Leave instead of explaining this issue…..”

    Remainers did a combination of both. But it sort of came out as “why don’t you thick racist *$?(!$ not understand how wonderful the EU is? At the moment we can just put our two Golden retrievers in the Range Rover and we’ll all arrive at our Brittany cottage with the minimum of customs checks.”

    A different approach was needed 🙂

    But, again, its too late now.

  • Peter Watson 8th Jan '20 - 9:58am

    @Peter Martin “possibly having one with multiple choices”
    Lib Dem policy always appeared to be about a referendum “on the big question: In or Out”. Even if a referendum were triggered by the Coalition’s EU Act before more powers were passed to the EU the provision was for an In/Out referendum rather than one with the status quo as an option.
    Notions about multiple choices and/or a second referendum to clarify “Out” only seemed to appear after losing the referendum “on the big question”. That’s not to say they’re wrong; it’s just an example of how hopeless the Lib Dems were (are?) on what became such a defining issue for them.
    Ultimately I think the Remain campaign in general and Lib Dems in particular were horribly out of touch with the public mood and just assumed any Referendum would inevitably decide “In”. The 2016 result came as a shock to them and was followed by 3 years of scrabbling around for a response. An approach before and after the Referendum like that described by Matthew Huntbach here and elsewhere might have been so much better (and certainly not worse!).

  • Sopwith Morley 8th Jan '20 - 11:10am

    “If someone had been able to give me a clear example of what the EU is forcing on us that most of us don’t want, I’d be more sympathetic to Leave.”

    There are numerous examples if you bother to look, seek and you will find.

    The EU forced the trade agreement on us with Turkey, which allows tariff free access to Turkish goods. Within weeks Ford using our money, supplied as a grant from the EU decided to close the Ford Transit plant in Southampton and shift it , lock stock and barrel to a cheaper Ford manufacturing plant in Turkey, now they can import Transits into the EU tariff free.

    Go and have a chat with the ex Ford workers in Southampton if you need some convincing of why Ford just the latest of our vehicle manufacturers to up sticks and move to Eastern Europe for cheaper manufacturing, and this policy is impacting on all vehicle manufacturers across the western EU. Do you realy think the car workers across the EU think this is for their benefit.

    What about the latest trade deal with Japan, this gives Japanese vehicles made in Japan for example, tariff free access to the EU. You don’t need more than two brain cells to work out that Japanese manufacturers over the coming years will close all their car plants across the EU, and return manufacturing to single site production in Japan, good for both political and economic reasons, or at least good for Japan. The irony is that as we will no longer be a member of the EU, we will not have to impose such an appallingly stupid trade deal, therefore if we chose, we can still impose tariffs on Japanese vehicles, encouraging them to continue to build in Europe, but not the EU

    I am sure that your argument will be that we are part of the EU, so we are part of the negotiations, so we agreed to the trade deals, and that is why your type of argument falls apart. What our governments have done over 40 years with regard to the EEC/EU has not been with our agreement, and to those who voted to Leave all these issues which have directly affected real peoples jobs were imposed on them.

  • To Mark Seaman,
    Glad you are still reading my nonsense, Mark. I stand by my depiction of Agincourt as chivalry versus lack of principle. I refer you to the excellent documentary by Timeline on youtube. The English executed French prisoners of war in a ruthless and cowardly manner against all rules of warfare of the time. Another factor was the confused strategy of the French knights despite their chivalry. Obviously one should be careful not to stretch these analogies too far but Remainers could learn a few lessons from Agincourt.

  • Peter Martin 8th Jan '20 - 1:35pm

    @ John King,

    I wish you’d leave medieval history to the medieval historians. Or, at least keep it out of contemporary politics. There’s been many atrocities ordered by many leaders in different countries. I’m sure that we’re all really sorry that Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake! It probably wouldn’t happen now!

    But as we weren’t around at the time we can’t be held responsible. Richard I, who was probably more French than English – apparently he only spoke French and Latin – was guilty of war crimes in Ayyadieh in Palestine too. He ordered the killing of civilians. Maybe some of Layla Moran’s ancestors were included? Can’t we just let it go?

    Regardless of whether we continue to be a part of the political and economic entity known as the European Union we’ll always have a relationship with France. Just as we always have. We don’t have to be a part of an emerging Pan European superstate to stop us killing each other.

  • Matthew Huntbach 8th Jan '20 - 3:58pm

    Peter Martin

    OK, once again, the so why didn’t you say that when you had the chance?

    What do you mean by “you” here? Matthew Huntbach? I most certainly would have said what you mean by “that” here if I had had a chance, and actually I did as far as I could. But I assume you mean the Liberal Democrat leadership.

    Look, this is the big problem, that’s made it impossible for us to have a serious discussion about all these issues. You keep responding to me as if I am a firm and unthinking supporter of everything today’s Liberal Democrat party does.

    But I’m not. I dropped out of activity supporting the party back in 2012 as I was so unhappy with what Nick Clegg was doing with it. It was before then that I was very active in the party, having first joined the Liberal Party back in 1978. Most people now don’t seem to know that when the Liberal Party merged with the SDP, it was the Liberal Party that was to the left of the SDP economically, not vice versa. So I did join the merged party, but I voted against merger because of the way the leaders of the SDP were too keen supporters of free market economics. I’ve remained a member of the party since 2012, but not been involved with it much apart from paying a membership fee.

    The whole reason I’ve been involved in writing in Liberal Democrat Voice recently is to point out how everything I have said that has been critical of what the Liberal Democrat leadership has done has turned out to be true. I did this quite a lot in the weeks before the December general election, because I could see that the Liberal Democrat leadership was behaving in a disastrous way that would lose us a lot of our long-term support, seeming to be interested only in gaining support from elite middle class people.

    I wanted to make clear what I thought the Liberal Democrat leadership should be saying on order to win more votes, and yes, one of those was to say that a second referendum was needed because there were so many different forms Brexit could take, rather than to let us be attacked for wanting it just to reverse what the first referendum supported.

  • Peter Martin 8th Jan '20 - 4:15pm

    @ Matthew,

    ‘What do you mean by “you” here?’

    How about you (singular)? Can you remember saying that we would probably need to have a second referendum before the result of the first one was known? It should still be in the LibDem archives if you posted on this site.

    If you did say that then you have remarkable powers of foresight and might be the only one! As Peter Watson has said:

    “{The LibDems }just assumed any Referendum would inevitably decide “In”. The 2016 result came as a shock to them and was followed by 3 years of scrabbling around for a response.”

    That “scrabbling around” included calls for a second referendum.

  • Matthew Huntbach 8th Jan '20 - 4:20pm

    Glenn

    Matthew Huntbach
    Where did I say anything about force or control? Read what I wrote and tell me where I said any such thing.

    Well, if you don’t believe the EU has any force or control over us, why do you oppose membership of it?

    The right-wing leaders who pushed Brexit pushed the line that leaving the EU would “return control to us”. Many people who voted Leave said that’s why they voted Leave, that they were unhappy with the EU having control of our country and wanted control returned to the UK.

    This is the main thing that appalled me about the referendum. The right-wing Conservatives supporting Brexit managed to put out the impression that the changes to our country since 1979 that have made so many people unhappy were all due to membership of the EU. Since that time, the rich have got richer, the poor have got poorer, control of much of what happens in our country has shifted from local and national government to private billionaires, and real freedom for many has decreased due to enslavement by poverty. So if that was all due to being in the EU, and leaving the EU would reverse it by returning control to us, well, wow, let’s vote Leave.

    But it wasn’t due to membership of the EU, it was due to the Conservative governments we have had. I was appalled that the Conservatives managed to get support by letting people think it was the EU that had caused these problems, and even more appalled that right-wing Conservatives had clear plans to push things even further their way, a country run by and for shady billionaires, by leaving the EU.

    That’s why I shifted from someone who wasn’t too bothered about whether we were in or out of the EU to a strong supporter of Remain. It’s what I kept saying our party needed to do to win more support – explain how poor people had been tricked to vote Conservative in order to oppose what the Conservatives stand for. Show sympathy and understanding for those Leave voters, don’t do what the leadership actually do, dismiss them and so encourage them to become stronger supporters of Leave and voters of Conservative.

    Of course, they did the exact opposite. So, is there anyone prepared to stand as the new Leader of the Liberal Democrats who will accept what I have said, do something about it, and in that way rescue the party?

  • Matthew Huntbach 8th Jan '20 - 4:31pm

    Peter Martin

    How about you (singular)? Can you remember saying that we would probably need to have a second referendum before the result of the first one was known?

    Well, the need for a second referendum because there are so many forms Leave can take is something I’ve said loudly and clearly again and again and again and again ever since the first referendum. I sent letters to the Guardian newspaper as well saying things like that, not that they published any of them.

    I know I got active again in Liberal Democrat Voice in the weeks before the general election, sending lots of messages critical of what the Liberal Democrat leadership was doing and saying, and suggesting what they should do instead. Saying what was the proper need for the second referendum was just one of the points I made.

    If you did say that then you have remarkable powers of foresight and might be the only one!

    Thanks. If you look at what I have written in the past, you will see there are MANY other issues where I have said what the party should do, its leadership has done the opposite, and I have been proved correct by what happened later.

  • Mathew Huntbach
    Because I don’t believe in the concept of pan European political integration. I don’t see what purpose it serves. I don’t feel European, I have little affinity with the idea of “Europe” and I have no plans to live anywhere in Europe. I think the EU is a pointless organisation based on the myth of shared culture. I don’t aspire to being a European citizen. Like the majority of the population, I don’t vote in European elections. Why on earth would I vote to remain in an organisation I don’t believe or participate in.

  • nvelope2003 8th Jan '20 - 8:41pm

    Of course there is a shared European culture. Only people who have never been anywhere else could fail to see it. You do not have to approve of something or like it to know it is there. Some elements have spread outside Europe, even into Asia but you can recognise it as soon as you experience it. I guess some people like to show they are different.

  • Nvelope2003
    I subscribe to the view that pop culture is the dominant culture and it barely crosses borders. The stuff that is shared is mostly American. I don’t watch French TV or follow the Italian news. I could not name a German quiz show or TV celebrity or tell you what the biggest film in Belgium was. I don’t think I’m alone in this or even in a minority of awkward people just wanting to be different. The languages are different, the cultures are different, the political systems are different, the economies are different and so on. So to me it depends what you mean by shared culture and none of it is unique to or only shared by Europeans.

  • Peter Martin 9th Jan '20 - 9:23am

    @Matthew,

    something I’ve said loudly and clearly again and again and again and again ever since the first referendum.

    That’s not quite what I asked you. Did you say the same thing “loudly and clearly again and again and again and again” and “right from the start”? ie before the result of the first referendum was known.

  • Peter Martin 9th Jan '20 - 9:47am

    Glenn,

    You’re overlooking Inspector Rex! Or Kommissar Rex 😉 And the Eurovision song contest!

    There’s also the European Champions League. Nothing to do with the EU of course, but I have had a couple of conversations with football supporters who are concerned that leaving the EU might reduce the English FAs allocation of 4 places!

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