Patriotism, Brexit and the clamour for reform

It’s been over a year since the EU referendum and months since the snap General Election. The Remain/Leave debate trundles on and the constant repetition of key messages from each side of the debate now largely falls on deaf ears. On most topics each campaign and their primary spokespersons still maintain positions in absolute opposition with minimal evidence of concession. There is little to no debate, simply rhetoric. In my experience it’s often been an impersonal, fear based, economic argument for Remain or an emotional but limited argument for Leave. We deserve better from both. Why should we, as the British people, settle for absolutes on both sides that so greatly lack imagination? 

Our different forms of patriotism need to find common ground and I believe it’s possible to do so. Our Government and their opposition have both given up on their belief in the benefits of European Single Market membership so we need centrists to hold them to account. At the same time we must acknowledge that there are issues with accountability and sovereignty in the EU that need to be discussed and addressed in detail. Above all we should loudly refute the idea that there isn’t a common ground for most people across the Brexit debate.

It strikes me that we demand so little of our Government. Perhaps this is because of a lack of faith in politics. Given recent developments it feels that Brexit lacks any real ambition and has become a face-saving exercise for the Government. What’s worse is that Brexit has become a distraction from other important work the Government needs to focus on.  The general election highlighted the public’s desire for other substantive reforms – reforms to address the inequality in our nation and demands to ease austerity. Also, crucially, I think it helped highlight a lack of direction. We’re one of the financial centres of the globe, a trade, industrial, and tech giant – but what’s our goal? What are we driving towards? It is this lack of direction and purpose that I feel helped fuel the Leave campaign, opening the door for a damaging nationalist sentiment.

In Watford we have a motto, Be Bold. Let’s do that as a nation. I continue to believe our goal should be to take a leading role in EU reforms – If there is so much political clout going spare, why not use it to make the EU better for Britain? Let’s listen to the concerns of the vast majority of both the 52% and the 48% and tackle the bureaucratic behemoth of the EU. We should use the migration powers we already have access to keep our freedoms and our trade. We should commit to changes to accountability within the EU and steer our public services back on course with renewed investment. Above all we must again start using Government and politics for what it’s meant to be for – let’s start dreaming again. That’s far easier said than done but Britain can, and should, meet the challenge of leading reforms with a little of that historic stoicism.

Now more than ever let’s really have a conversation about what we want society to strive for. Through that conversation let’s heal divisions that seem to me to be based on arbitrary absolutes rather than reality. Let’s pick and tackle big projects – a Britain that’s reaching for the stars or solving the housing and energy/climate crises – that’s what the conversation should be about. Why? Because Britain can and we deserve better than arbitrary, damaging, Brexit.

* Ian Stotesbury was the Liberal Democrats candidate for Watford in 2017

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  • It would be hilarious if there was some strand of EU law that made it possible for individuals to sue the gov for taking away their right to being in the EU

  • David Evershed 17th Aug '17 - 12:05pm

    Even with the threat of the UK leaving, Cameron found that the EU was not prepared to reform.

    In the TV debates with Nigel Farage, Nick Clegg did not envisage the need for any EU reform in the next decade.

    So the EU does not want to turn back from ever closer union and leading remainers do not seek any reform of the EU.

  • Richard Underhill 17th Aug '17 - 12:11pm

    Several things have happened since the referendum vote in June 2016.
    1) The resignation of the Prime Minister and consequent bye-election. Those who considered him a posh boy and asked at PMQ whether he would resign were met with a flat NO. A terminological inexactitude perhaps under House of Commons rules? Or a simple change of mind in the light of changed circumstances? Some people must have voted against him principally for this reason, probably Labour voters, but I do not know how many, perhaps the Conservative Party does and has done some focus groups soon after the vote?
    2) The resignation of the Chancellor as an MP, who remains active in politics at a newspaper. The Leave campaigns dismissed his Treasury forecasts as ‘Project Fear’ comparing them to the Scottish referendum in 2014. Recent forecasts by independents show damage to the UK economy. The 20% fall in the pound sterling should affect national pride as well as increasing the price of chocolate and many other less obvious things. The current Chancellor will need to make detailed public forecasts soon to Parliament.
    3) Nobody voted with any knowledge of a huge ‘Divorce Bill’ and might have/ maybe will vote differently when they see it. The gap is only 4%. They should be entitled to change their minds as forecasts become facts.
    4) The statement by the DUP leader Arlene Foster that the DUP have been involved in the government’s thinking on the Northern Irish border with the Republic and the statement by the new Irish Prime MInister about a possibe vll Irish veto.

  • The idea that it you can reform the EU or that the EU sees the need to reform. especially when being pushed by a nation that just voted to leave it, is a bit fantastical. As for the divided nation stuff, not really anymore than it was before the referendum. According to recent polling a lot of remain voters have shifted towards so-called hard Brexit. The solid pro EU 28thstater support went down. Even Scottish independence now looks less rather than more likely. There was no solid 48%. The moment has gone.

  • “what is the common ground between ignorance and knowledge?”

    I think these are the words prove that our nation is split irrevocably and the wound can not be healed. In this sentence 17 million of our citizens are contemptuously dismissed as “ignorant”. They have even worse words for you Martin. This path of name calling can only end in a bad place

    Those who believe that for referendum 2 the old, stupid and racist will obediently change their minds may, IMHO, be wrong. I detect yet more hostile emotion in response to what appears to be ridicule, threats and demands for large sums of money emanating from the EU.

    I believe the “Project Fear” approach was the wrong pitch to the British people.
    The campaign should been entirely people based and showed case after case of how the new arrivals from Europe have so enriched us. And then more about how being free to move through Europe has also enriched us.

    But no lessons have been learned in basic psychology and all I read from the Remainers here is that Ref2 will be campaigned as “Project Dire Threats”. A certain failure. No progress will be made until the 17 million are no longer seen as ignorant but simply as having arrived at a different conclusion.

  • The referendum came at a time when many British people had been buffeted by a harsh rainstorm of economic recession, lower wages and a seeming influx of foreigners changing their communities.

    Against this it is not surprising that many bought what they thought was the better umbrella.

    Unfortunately it is turning out like those slightly dodgy brollies you buy outside a tube station that fall to bits before you get home.

    Our task is to show brexiteers that we are really the ones on their side and actually remaining will mean give better protection against the economic storms they face.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 17th Aug '17 - 1:59pm


    The combination of meanness and closedmindedness , in whatever stance found, is anathema to any Liberal approach.

    You express very well how the response to Brexit, is as of one with Brexit itself, extremely divisive.

    Liberals , Democrats, need to know that to react against something extreme , in an extreme way with another extreme view, is not Liberalism or Democracy.

    I get so irritated by the presumption and persuasion , the former or latter , in the view that we are not centrists, as though some great radicalism is to be had in automatically mouthing the reverse of something we do not like , as if it were the solution.

    No we are not centrists if centrism is to be adhered to as another ideology.

    But many and most of us herein are in the centre ground in all we do and seek and do so with radical ideas too.

    The true and real and thus radical idea is that in a world moving to the extremes in it’s bluster and emphasis, the radicalism that really impresses the most, is often that of promoting ,moderation.

  • Arnold Kiel 17th Aug '17 - 2:49pm

    Ian, I have to disagree with you on many fronts:

    The remain-arguments might have been too focussed on economics, but they were not fear-based. They simply and rightly stated that Britons will become poorer. Apparently, not enough feared that.

    I would not elevate the Brexit-debate to different forms of patriotism, anyhow rarely a useful sentiment. I am a foreigner but still a passionate remainer.

    Your Government and opposition have not given up on their belief in the benefits of the single market, they fail to grasp its fundamental role for the UK’s economic wellbeing while prioritizing meaningless “sovereignty”-illusions.

    Could you (or any other advocate of EU-reform) please specify what exactly you want to change in the Lisbon treaty that would result in you and 27 other countries happily signing up to this “reformed” EU? Can you specify the EU’s accountability- or sovereignty-deficits, or substantiate the claim that it is a bureaucratic behemoth?

    The UK government and households are continually amassing debt, and business underinvests. A structural dual deficit continues to reduce the UK’s autonomous strategic options. Brexit further undermines any leeway to “be bold”.

    Inequality and austerity are now and will remain the British way of life in the 21st century. Not for lack of faith in politics, but for lack of money.

    The only realistic Brexit-ambition is damage-limitation, but it will still absorb all the limited capacity of this Government.

  • The Link in the article asks “what can the polls and wider events of today really tell us about the parties’ electoral prospects” and notes four signals to pay particular attention to.

    The Tories seem to have thought that Brexit combined with Corbyn’s (at the time) catastrophic personal ratings gave them a holiday from political reality. It turns out there’s no such thing.
    … in 2015 voters were upbeat about the economy, this year’s survey showed they thought it was getting worse, not better, by 54-32%. More importantly, more voters said their own finances were getting worse (46%) than better (35%).

    Compare that to the 2015 election, when only 26% thought the economy was in decline and 60% that it was improving, while 39% felt their own finances were worsening and 44% improving.

    Second is the impact of the Brexit negotiations on the Conservatives. A surprising fact about the election, given the result, is that to some extent Theresa May got what she played for. Voters who rated Brexit and Britain’s relationship with the EU as one of the three most important factors in how they voted plumped for the Tories rather than Lab.

    The third sign to watch is public services. In our TUC poll, the one issue that more people said was critical to their vote than Brexit was the NHS. Labour’s pledge to give it £30bn extra funding over the course of the next parliament was by far its most important – even among its newer, younger supporters. Seven years of cuts have taken their toll on the Tory brand, and Labour’s decision to run an explicitly anti-austerity campaign was a good one.

    The fourth thing to watch out for is Corbyn’s performance. To get to its 41% vote share Labour relied heavily on bringing in new voters – nearly one in six Labour voters had not turned out at all in 2015. This group’s continued enthusiasm is by no means guaranteed. Labour’s new voters are strongly anti-establishment (and Pro-EU), so besides his enthusiasm and confidence as a campaigner, Corbyn’s other great asset was his clear outsider status.

  • Andrew McCaig 17th Aug '17 - 3:18pm

    I have seen no evidence whatsoever in polling that “alot of Remain voters are now in favour of hard Brexit” In fact the available evidence is that in another referendum the result would be even closer but less than 30% of ALL voters favour a “hard Brexit”

  • ‘This Huge New Study Reveals What The British Public Really Wants From Brexit’ [August 2017]:

    A groundbreaking project by the London School of Economics and Oxford University surveying more than 3,000 people – which BuzzFeed News has seen exclusively ahead of its official publication – reveals that when the British public are asked in detail what they want from the negotiations, there is more support for harder Brexit options because Leavers and a significant number of Remainers back them.

    Remainers are also more likely to concede that outcomes that they would prefer personally would mean that the referendum result was not being respected, the study found.

    The results imply relatively low levels of support for the policies that would amount to a “soft” Brexit – single market membership, ongoing EU payments, free movement, and the ECJ: 67% of respondents would prefer “no deal” to soft Brexit, while 68% would opt for hard over soft Brexit.

  • Here’s a poser for you: At the moment as members of the EU I know of a Spanish based company that is employing people both British and EU citizens on Zero Hours Contracts even if they’ve been there for over 12 months and are never laid off. They have never been given a contract. Yet the Lib Dems say absolutely NOTHING about this. Yet you assume the mantle of being for `the people` yet , and I suspect because it doesn’t excite you, have nothing to say about it. Yet you say that you are so interested in EU people. It seems that the Lib Dems are for those at the top.

    The Lib Dems are now part of the problem. Get off your high horses and deal with inequalities at the bottom however painful they are for you and you may get a hearing for anti-Brexit sentiment.

  • Richard Underhill 17th Aug '17 - 4:52pm

    james 17th Aug ’17 – 4:25pm: You might as well declare your interest/s.
    Brexit the Musical is on at the Edinburgh Festival (C. Venues) and is reviewed on page 21 of the Times on 17/8/2017.
    “Jeremy Corbyn , who always sits on the floor, is furious because the vote means he will miss Glasto …”
    “Boris and Gove are panicking because they can’t find The Plan for Brexit.
    Sounds fun, although I do not fancy the train fare, perhaps they will move to television, free-to-air of course.

  • Our current position in the EU was a comfortable one, what with all out opt outs. Those could be under risk even if we were to decide against leaving. We were doomed from the moment we voted to leave.

  • The problem Glen and a lot of other brave Brexiteers have is they are confusing peoples desire for Brexit to be over with an acceptance of hard Brexit. People understandably want it to stop, but it can’t, it will rumble on for years to come. In the past the brave Brexiteers had no responsibility and could heckle from the side lines but that has ended. All they can do when asked for solution other than muttering “it will be alright on the night” and “believe or faeries will die” is to blame the EU. You can see that on this thread, a constant whine of the EU needs to reform but no details of why or how. They can blame the EU to their hearts content but we face hard times ahead and that won’t keep the wolf from the door, in fact it’s more likely the EU nations will turn into the wolves the brave Brexiteers always feared.

    Remember my brave Brexiteers the EU owe us no favours and your self importance cuts no ice with them.

  • James,

    It isn’t a poser it is an employment issue. The UK government legislated on zero hours contracts (not the EU).

    As too the Lib Dems policy on zero hours contracts it is

    Lib Dems

    The Lib Dems told us, “We will stamp out abuse of zero-hours contracts. We will create a formal right to request a fixed contract, and consult on introducing a right to make regular patterns of work contractual after a period of time.”

    The sad thing is as a brave Brexiteer you have voted to remove yourself from the EU (who care more for workers rights) abd handed yourself over to the brave Brexiteers of the Tory party.

    Leading Tory Brexiteer Daniel Hannan has said all contracts between employer and employee should be “free contracts” with no statutory protection.

    Look up the “At-will employment”, you will really enjoy that when they bring it in.

  • Frankie.
    Workers rights were hard won within nation states, as were most social democratic institution like the NHS and Welfare . The EU can guarantee very little except that an EU citizen can claim the same rights within a country as a national citizen. It won’t guarantee a minimum wage, if a country doesn’t already have one and certainly not one that overrides the economic situation with a particular country. It will not pay welfare and actively discourages the notion of say collective bargaining. Plus it praises the likes of Macron as modernisers and realists. You can beat these arguments back and fourth all day. But to me it’s also very telling that the pro EU “centrist” (economic right) of the labour party did everything it could to weaken it’s links to trade unions and to organised labour. You can’t have it both way and say well, your rights have been eroded by your own government whilst being a member of the EU and then claim the those rights have been protected by the EU. It makes no logical sense. The EU’s main purpose is to make business dealings smoother and propagate more of the EU.

  • Daniel Walker 17th Aug '17 - 9:39pm

    Come now Glenn, there’s plenty of EU Labour Laws which are continent-wide, and collective bargaining and union membership are protected by the ECHR, so apply EU-wide too. It’s a “this is a minimum required level”-type arrangement, but it is there, and includes nondiscrimination, pensions, H&S, Working Time, etc. It is exactly those sorts of laws I would expect the currently-ascendant branch of the Tories to be keen on repealing.

  • Daniel,
    Would the be currently ascendant tory party that lost it’s majority?
    Minimum being the operative word and not actually very good at it either.

  • Glen,

    I suggest you read the new-statesman link then come back and tell me you want to put your faith in the Tory government. All it takes is a bung to the DUP and your rights are out of the window.

  • Daniel Walker 17th Aug '17 - 10:18pm


    I meant currently-ascendant within the Tory party, rather than “currently running the country”, although they are doing that too with assistance from the DUP.

  • Little Jackie Paper 17th Aug '17 - 10:40pm

    Daniel Walker – ‘there’s plenty of EU Labour Laws which are continent-wide, and collective bargaining and union membership are protected by the ECHR’

    After Viking/Laval/Ruffert/Luxembourg I would be very careful about seeing the EU as the champion for causes like that.

    It doesn’t help that the Posted Workers Directives really are probably the single worst piece of EU law. They were crazy in the 1990s.

  • Little Jackie Paper 17th Aug '17 - 10:45pm

    The article makes some good and interesting points. This bit about low expectations leading into lazy thinking is real food for thought for all of us. Interesting and, sadly, probably true.

    That said, the article seems to fall into its own trap.

    ‘I continue to believe our goal should be to take a leading role in EU reforms.’

    Come on! That’s been trotted out since the 1980s. There is no way on earth that we could lead EU reform from outside the EZ. There has been loads of reform – EFSF/ESM, Fiscal Compact, QE – all of it for the EZ. This was always one of the better argumets. That it is in everyone’s best interests to have a full-blown politically integrated EZ and an EEA-type arrangement for everyone else.

    Remain seems stuck on the arguments that blew up on Cameron – nothing’s changed since those arguments failed. Leave seems totally unable to think about big principle and we just get cant.

    I agree completely with the point you make about better thinking. It’s just with the greatest of respect I don’t think that this article gives me that thinking.

  • Little Jackie Paper 17th Aug '17 - 10:53pm

    Joe Bourke – ‘Labour’s new voters are strongly anti-establishment (and Pro-EU), so besides his enthusiasm and confidence as a campaigner, Corbyn’s other great asset was his clear outsider status.’

    I’m not sure that’s quite true. Firstly I don’t see how anyone can seriously tell me that the EU is not the establishment. Anyone who doesn’t see the EU as the establishment needs to have a little think and to take a step back.

    But equally Corbyn’s been an MP for 30+ years – people might use the term ‘outsider’ but I don’t think it’s really what they mean. To my mind the referendum and the sentiment around it was a vote against ‘the system’ that has dominated for the best part of 4 decades. That includes, but is not limited to, the EU. It was a vote against ‘More of the Same.’ Corbyn probably was not seen as ‘More of the Same.’ Now clearly some people feel that the more of the same party is what they want – fair enough. I make no value judgment here.

    What many people want is ‘change.’ That might be glib to the extent that there is no real consensus on what that change should be. But what I think people balked at in the referendum was Cameron’s More of the Same message. I’m not sure that some across the political spectrum have quite grasped why that blew up on Cameron.

  • Little Jackie Paper 17th Aug '17 - 11:09pm

    frankie – On contracts etc – The Posted Workers Directives are a big problem though.

    See here, p27 and p36-40 in particular

    If some people think that the EU is doing them no favours then it’s not hard to see why. But as the article so rightly states the real question is really what to do about all this. Juncker’s talk of a social pillar seems to me to be at best fanciful.

  • Dr Carol Weaver 18th Aug '17 - 3:01am

    Jackie Paper
    “There has been loads of reform – EFSF/ESM, Fiscal Compact, QE – all of it for the EZ. This was always one of the better argumets. That it is in everyone’s best interests to have a full-blown politically integrated EZ and an EEA-type arrangement for everyone else.”
    The EU is always in a state of reform with big changes needing new treaties. We also already have a non-formalised two-tier or multi-layered Europe and there needs to be a way forward for deepening the union between those members within the EZ, whilst allowing less closeness for other member states including the UK. However, the EEA (Norway model) is not enough. ‘Associate membership’ with access to institutions and agencies is required, similar to our current position with some modifications. The EU member states have been thinking about these issues for some time but of course, as it stands, those members not in the EZ are committed to joining it apart from the UK with its opt-out.
    So for the moment we need to stay in the EU as full members in order to have influence over future developments. Negotiations are better from within. Also any EU changes happen slowly.

    Other comments (1)

    I know a lot of people who know a lot about the EU but I have never met anyone who knows everything. (The opposite is true.) Therefore it is always a case of degree of ignorance rather than total knowledge versus total ignorance. Also many people’s ‘knowledge’ is based on incorrect ‘facts’. Given that there is very little education on politics, especially EU politics, in schools and people often rely on right wing anti-EU media to learn it is not surprising if they are ignorant.

    Other comments (2)
    Being ‘centrist’ does not mean always sitting on the fence or being like Donald Trump saying the left are as bad as Nazis – both sides equally to blame. Being a member of the EU is still the status quo so hardly an extreme position.

  • Bill Fowler 18th Aug '17 - 8:31am

    The EU sort of works at the moment, it does try to balance out individual rights against these mega corporations and are more effective than national governments at that (or at least large companies don’t want EU bureaucrats looking into their affairs) but I think Brexit will end up meaning companies will carry on as before whilst individuals will have less protection from them.

  • On zero hour contracts full fact at says:

    “Not all have an explicit ban, but it’s correct that most EU countries outlaw these contracts, heavily restrict them, or don’t see them widely used. The UK is one of around half a dozen European countries where zero hours contracts are both legal and fairly common.”

    Not a problem related to our membership of the EU it would seem.

  • I agree, Ian. The situation we find ourselves in should be viewed as an opportunity. There is plenty wrong with both the EU and the UK. We need some visionary input that paints a picture of both a decade from now. Let’s see what’s possible. We could start afresh with a new idea of what we want the UK to look like. An emphasis on infrastructure, training and the environment would not go amiss.

  • “At the same time we must acknowledge that there are issues with accountability and sovereignty in the EU that need to be discussed and addressed in detail.”

    We’ve tried all of that. Why can’t you see that the EU is simply not reform-able in its present structure? Cameron’s depressing outcome from ‘discussions’ with the EU proved that very point.
    The EU’s incremental stealth towards a USE is fooling no-one. It is an out of control, relentless ‘Juggernaut’ which doesn’t care what its European citizens think. Worse than that, its cynical voting structure was purposely designed to eliminate any possibility of European citizens using voter dissent to stop their madness.

    “I continue to believe our goal should be to take a leading role in EU reforms “

    Why? We are leaving the EU, so by 2020 or thereabouts, it will be none of our business how the EU operates. Our decision to leave automatically indicates that we don’t need or want a leading role in the EU anymore.
    As painful as it might be for some to grasp, I’m afraid grasp it they must, because we are leaving the EU and we’re not going back to an EU dictatorship.

    If this liberal party is not to wither on the vine of history, it needs to forget its EU obsession and start work on developing UK policy for independent UK citizens, and have those policies printed-up and manifesto ready by 2020.

  • David Evershed 18th Aug '17 - 12:33pm

    The article points to the need for reforms to deal with issues opf EU accountability and country sovereignty. The proposed solution is reform.

    However, the reforms that the core countries of Germany, France, Netherlands and Begium seek are for increased political union. Whereas there would be a majority of Uk citizens for less political union and a continuation of a single market.

    So whilst the article identifies the problem btween the UK and the core EU countries, the proposed “reform” solution takes the UK in the opposite direction to the way most want to travel.

  • frankie: `It isn’t a poser it is an employment issue. The UK government legislated on zero hours contracts (not the EU).

    As too the Lib Dems policy on zero hours contracts it is

    Lib Dems

    The Lib Dems told us, “We will stamp out abuse of zero-hours contracts. We will create a formal right to request a fixed contract, and consult on introducing a right to make regular patterns of work contractual after a period of time.”`

    The problem is not that the Lib Dems have certain policies it’s that they have policies that sound good without the heart to campaign on them. They now lack imagination to campaign effectively in a way that puts pressure on vested interests and other political parties because all they can think about is Brexit. Norman Lamb is the only one that seems to understand that this is politically an untenable and fruitless strategy.

    I could think of one slant on ZHCs that could prove very difficult for the Labour Party but I don’t tell the Lib Dems as I know what the answer would be: `but what about Brexit` and the fact is that the Lib Dems are simply not energised by issues that affect aspiring workers at the bottom of the heap and are no longer psychologically geared up to undermine the Labour Party.

  • Little Jackie Paper 18th Aug '17 - 9:14pm

    Michael – My understanding is that whilst most other countries do restrict what we in the UK would call a ZHC most other countries do have some variation. The (in)famous German one euro jobs being an example. The main difference is that in the UK this has a real media profile, and I would suggest that’s no bad thing.

    However I think ZHC per se is a red herring here. For as long as the Posted Workers Directives are in force the risk of social dumping is far from theoretical. Social dumping, not ZHC is the core of the problem.

    It is worth adding here that the UK is far from alone in having this problem. France in particular has been very angry about the PWD for years now and even Mr Europe Macron is plainly not going to let it drop –

  • Little Jackie Paper 18th Aug '17 - 9:24pm

    Dr Carol Weaver – ‘people often rely on right wing anti-EU media to learn it is not surprising if they are ignorant.’ Why not just come out with it and say anyone dubious about the EU is thick?

    ‘However, the EEA (Norway model) is not enough. ‘Associate membership’ with access to institutions and agencies is required’

    Norway does access institutions and agencies. It is an excellent model.

    ‘So for the moment we need to stay in the EU as full members in order to have influence over future developments.’

    Sorry but I just don’t buy this. Right now EMU looks like the revenge of neofunctionalism. It’s spillover on a grand scale. We start off at Maastricht and end up talking single finance minister, single fiscal policy, massive transfers and maybe an EZ Parliament. How is anyone going to influence that in any meaningful way outside of the EZ?

    It is also worth noting that I’m far from convinced that others will join euro. Some certainly will. I know Romania has now dropped its 2019 target for joining (though I doubt anyone took that seriously). Sweden said no in a referendum and Bulgaria has given mixed messages. Certainly there is unease about the political ask

    I suspect that in the long term an EZ and an EEA may well be best all round.

  • Dr Carol Weaver 18th Aug '17 - 9:45pm

    Little Jackie Paper
    Thanks for the response.
    1. I do not agree that being uneducated is the same as being ‘thick’. Many of us who are involved in European Studies have been calling for better education on the subject for a long time if only by the BBC who would hardly even mention the EU until recently.
    2. Perhaps ‘access’ is the wrong word. Norway does not have commissioners or MEPs or indeed much influence.
    3. I was not talking about influence over the Eurozone but over any future structural changes such as two tier membership of the Union.
    Our difference of opinion is basically that I want the UK to remain in the EU whilst you seem to want a ‘soft Brexit’.
    Forgive me if I do not respond further.

  • Little Jackie Paper 18th Aug '17 - 10:17pm

    Dr Carol Weaver –

    1 – When I did my politics degree in the 1990s I did school outreach work. All I can say is that to my mind you are hugely oversimplifying this. Even if you don’t mean it you are calling people thick and if you can’t see it then take a step back.

    2 – ‘Norway does not have commissioners or MEPs or indeed much influence.’ Yes, precisely, It’s a much less political exercise. That’s the point!

    3 – ‘I was not talking about influence over the Eurozone but over any future structural changes such as two tier membership of the Union.’ Agreed. And the way to do that is, to my mind, from the EEA. To be clear, I do not want a ‘soft Brexit.’ I want (for now at least) EEA IN EU OUT. Not the same thing.

  • Surely it is time to stop harking on about the EU,which will soon be history as far as Britain is concerned,and to start thinking about the future?

  • William Ross 19th Aug '17 - 7:16am


    What a brilliant idea. I wish my party would do the same.

    Sometimes Frankie just cracks me up! The “EU owes us no favours and your self importance cuts no ice with them” Well, we are, with the despised USA, the ones who have defended them since 1945. We are also the second biggest net contributor to EU budgets and we have a huge trade deficit with them.

    When I read the words “self importance” I just think of Jean Claude Juncker! What a laugh!

  • Antony Watts 19th Aug '17 - 10:40am

    We need to stop discussing this from points of view like Europe, Nation, Government, institutions, Businesses, Community and bring it down to People.

    What we need to make clear and shout about is the value of the EU to people. Issues like Freedom, Democracy, and the Rule of Law. Human dignity, equality and respect for human rights…

    Ultimately these are the drivers of the thrust to remain a member of the Union.

  • John Littler 20th Aug '17 - 3:08pm

    Ledsome claimed that coming out of the Single Market would free business of burdensome regulation.

    Instead, WTO terms would require an estimated 5 times as many customs staff to carry out the checks on standards and apply duties.

    There is not enough space available for building around ports and airports to accomodate the extra warehouses and facilities, such as Lorry Parks, which will line up and clog up the motorways. Houses and businesses would need to be compulsory purchased and bulldozed.

    30,000 extra Whitehall civil servants will be needed for the legislative slash and burn that is brexit, but with 4.5% unemployment and low wages, they cannot be recruited.

    Hundreds of government employed lawyers will be needed for a decade on £3k a day each, as well as Trade consultants on similar money and there are not enough of those available.

    The CBI identified 36 additional Industry bodies that would need to be set up to replace functions currently carried out by the EU, duplicating what is already done, with large set up costs and training that will take far longer than the time available.

    More staff will be needed for Immigration and for security at greatly expanded border facilities.

    Outside of the Single Market, finance firms would be outside of the Passporting system and could no longer front Euro transactions for EU bodies, worth hundreds of millions.

    Outside of the Customs Union, manufacturers could not longer run JIT Just In Time manufacturing methods across borders, making UK manufacturers no longer viable and that is even before 10% duty on vehicles would be greater than their profit margins.

    The Treasury estimates losses to the UK economy after brexit of £59 bn p.a.

  • Neil Sandison 23rd Aug '17 - 9:45am

    Europe needs GB more than ever at this point in time with the refugee crisis from the countries we and our American allies did much to distablise .This provides a window of oppertunity to encourage treaty change in Europe .The Brexiteers are later day Chamberlains waving their “peace in our time deals” whilst the continent of Europe faces many challenges and with the aggressive Russian bear trying to reclaim parts of the old soviet union Europe needs collective unity of purpose but transatlantic conservatives who have never had much time for Europe pin their hopes on some massive trade deal with a president edging day by day closer to impeachment and never mind the enormous trade loss to the UK economy .

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