Reintroducing Liberal Leave

 

Liberal Leave was formed as a part of Vote Leave during the EU referendum. It had the slogan “Liberal. Democratic. Internationalist.” and it mainly operated through social media. The most high-profile figure in the Group was an ex-MP called Paul Keetch who wrote an article in the Independent called “Think that if you are liberal you should vote to stay in the EU? Think again”. I was part of that group during the EU referendum and I now chair it.

I have tried to change the group so it is about a compromise between Remain and Leave, one that can be found in the ‘Icelandic option’ which differs from the ‘Norway option’ due to its use of safeguard measures. Compromise is what I feel Brexit should now be about, because otherwise hard-line groups on either side will shape it for us in the years to come.

We are against a second referendum. The argument used by Tim Farron during the recent election campaign was that we didn’t vote for a destination, just to leave the EU and that’s right. Therefore, we should have a referendum on just that, the destination. Do we want to remain members of the single market and do we want to remain members of the customs union? We should ask that rather than replaying the EU referendum.

During the referendum, the European Free Trade Association + European Economic Area (EFTA+EEA) model was the object of attacks from both Remain and Leave supporters. I often heard people say things like “They accept all EU laws” when they only accept laws related to the single market. “Pay, no say” was another popular one and it brings up two important areas. They do have a say just in global bodies where they always have their own seat and their own voice rather than a say in the EU. The pay part is better than it sounds with the EFTA+EEA countries paying for EU programs like Erasmus+ which we would probably take part in anyway, EEA grants which go towards poorer EU countries and payment for EFTA membership. Most importantly EFTA+EEA countries don’t contribute towards the EU’s central budget. They are also under the EFTA court, not the ECJ as many expect. Finally, “They have to accept the four freedoms”. Liechtenstein doesn’t and the rest have safeguard measures that can be triggered solely by them, when they want and for however long they want.  More on Free Movement controls can be found here.

Brexit is not going to be a single event and even if during the two-year negotiations we completely drop out of the single market we should aim for the Norway model. Why? Because it offers fairness, stability and security.

* Torrin Wilkins is Chair of Liberal Leave and a Liberal Democrat member.

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171 Comments

  • but, even the Norway model makes us less competitive than any member state when selling to or buying from the EU. I and many other businesses will still leave under such compromises.

  • A Nonny Mouse 24th Jul '17 - 11:58am

    I am concerned about this group’s stance on another referendum.
    Having a deal-shaping referendum on single market or customs union membership is logical and plausible, but your statements here misrepresent party policy.

    Party policy is not for a second referendum a.s.a.p. no ifs no buts, but for a post-deal referendum, based on the deal’s terms, when they are known.

    Argue against party policy if you must, but do not spread inaccuracies about it.

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 12:07pm

    Andrew Hickey: “There are no “hard-line groups” on the Remain side. We just want to remain in the EU”. Thats the part I find interesting, wanting to leave the EU at all costs is seen as hard-line but remaining at all costs isn’t. The definition for hardline is “an uncompromising adherence to a firm policy” so by saying “There is, and can be, no compromise” you just proved my point. There are, like in every debate, people on my side of the argument that you wish didn’t hold the views they do. On the subjects of immigration and the welfare state in particular. Sadly that is the nature of politics, we are not going to agree on everything.

  • The problem with this group and the Lib Dems as a whole is that they have no understanding or interest in people outside the `liberal bubble`. They have no knowledge of what it’s like to work at the sharp end or semi-sharp end of the labour market or how the JSA system works and how it needs to be reformed.

    They just see `a brexit that works for business` as the status quo situation as if British or rather European international business is entirely benign and progressive. They fail to understand (because they have no direct experience of it) that we need a root and branch reform of working conditions for those at the bottom as a firewall against extremism. In short `what does it mean to be a British citizen/worker/student that is over and above being a non-British one`.

    The perception is that the Lib Dems don’t believe there should be any ie that the sweat and toil that got us into being a top ten global economy counts for nothing adn that borders don’t really matter and thus they have a wholly conservative, unimaginative approach to liberalism and policymaking.

    As such I don’t believe the LIberal Democrats are serving Liberal interests or values.

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 12:14pm

    A Nonny Mouse: The bit about the second referendum was more an into to the paragraph stating the Liberal Leave position that we oppose any form of second referendum. The Lib Dem bit is that we agree with Tim on the fact we voted to leave but not where we would end up.

  • The point which is missed by Leavers currently, is that as facts emerge the leave at all costs is a noose tightening around the necks of the British workers. Of course, the EU needs reform all large organisations do. This is a time where we should be in and lending support to those who are keen to reform The effect of leaving will be to do damage to that already disadvantged group”the low paid” For there sake lets be determined in our opposition to Brexit and set out conditions under which we could stay

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 12:31pm

    Andrew Hickey: Even if you think there are no costs to remaining and no benefits to leaving your comment: “There is, and can be, no compromise” still matched quite well with: “an uncompromising adherence to a firm policy”.

  • There are no costs to remaining in the EU if your whole existence is predicated on being in the EU. If you are a worker at the bottom end of the market, or a non-exporting SME or someone who is an aspirational jobseeker then there is every reason to resent the EU.

    If you want to remain in the EU then tell us the downsides – EU Army (how much will the EU rely on UK resources?), what happens to conscription policies. EU precepts (rather like the precepts for the Police) how are you going to sell that? Free movement of Labour – who benefits and who doesn’t?

    If you want full free movement then the balance has to be a very interventionist state that flexes every sinew to get people back to work – any aspirational worker that isn’t helped is one too many if that’s the system you are promoting. So where are the policies to reform the Job Centres and the system? The LIb Dems are so psychologically and ideologically joined at the hip to the EU or bust mindset they are thoroughly de-energized from tackling vested interests at the bottom end.

  • Laurence Cox 24th Jul '17 - 12:34pm

    I am at a loss to understand why Torrin Wilkins has remained a member of the Liberal Democrats, if he thinks that accepting Brexit is the most important policy issue, which presumably he does as Chair of “Liberal Leave”. Why does he not leave the Lib Dems and join the Liberal Party? The first key pledge in their manifesto for 2017 is:

    “Respect the EU Referendum result and work towards making ‘Brexit’ a success.”

    http://www.liberal.org.uk/archive/The%20Liberal%20Party%20Manifesto%202017.pdf

    Most of their other manifesto policies are not far different from Lib Dem policies, so I am sure that he will feel comfortable there.

  • Liberal Leave : Not sure whether it’s a bit like a naughty six year old saying a swear word they don’t understand to get attention, or the beginnings of an arthritic hip..

    Frankly, could do without either.

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 12:41pm

    I feel from that you have no clue who I am and your just making assumptions. The situation before the referendum was a form of EU membership but your right we did get some opt-outs. It wasn’t really the middle position though, EU=a little political+lots of economic cooperation, EFTA+EEA=most of the economic cooperation, WTO beyond=little economic cooperation. Out of the options we are presented with EFTA+EEA is the compromise.

  • Stephen Kelly 24th Jul '17 - 12:45pm

    The main reason I joined the Lib Dems was to oppose brexit. Like many of the people who joined after brexit, I am pro-European first and liberal second. If we drop our opposition to brexit, I (and I assume many others) will leave the party.

  • All Academic anyway? Even Government ministers are now drawing the process out till 1922. It make look well on the surface but underneath appears as if they are just slowly preparing us for the great moment of truth, when we are told that it would best if we stayed as we are, give or take one or two tinkering on the edges, a bit of immigration control maybe.Then we can all get back to Sensiblity instead of Pride and Prejudice!

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 12:56pm

    Laurence Cox: I will start by saying that I don’t think of the EU as my most important policy issue, that probably goes to education. I chair Liberal Leave because I feel that the pro-EFTA+EEA Lib Dem voices aren’t heard enough and that if you join as a leaver like myself people want you to join another party for whatever reason. I would firstly leave it up to that individual to decide as I have had lots of Lib Dem member point me towards the exit despite that fact I am perfectly happy where I am. Secondly we are not going to win if we start asking leave voting members to join other party’s, the way we win is to be a broad church of remain and leave voters.

  • Connor Docwra 24th Jul '17 - 1:00pm

    The absolute narrow mindedness of many of the commenters here is astounding. I campaigned for remain before and after the referendum and I in no way regret that decision but it has become blatantly clear to me that with over 80% of the electorate supporting hard brexit parties brexit is going to happen. In light of this fact it seems only logical to me that I should do whatever I could to try and sway the course of brexit towards a softer brexit that keeps us in the Single Market as an absolute necessity. I understand why the Liberal Democrats, however, still support remain as it is what they believe, it is likely to deliver votes, and I plan to stick to the party line when representing it on the doorstep. What the party should not do however, as many are doing here is attacking over liberally minded people like Torrin Wilkins (who is a good friend of mine) who instead of cheering in the wake of their brexit victory instead are doing whatever they can to take this country off the disastrous brexit road that it is now on; which is a result of hard brexit more than brexit itself.

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 1:08pm

    Martin: On Schengen EFTA+EEA members have joined by choice, I highly doubt the UK would decide to join. “Where is EFTA’s place in the international organisations” they have their own independent seats rather than being a bloc, in bodies like the WTO they normally have a veto so people have to take notice of them. On the EFTA court the reason why it was not a long explanation was that the CJEU the the EFTA court are almost the same yes, there are only really some minor differences.

  • Good luck Torrin. Dissenting views from the “EU is perfect” theocracy holding sway in the Lib Dems is very welcome in other parties, particularly the one currently (just about) in power!

  • Torrin, just thought I would send you a message of support for your efforts. I have challenged you on the odd occasion over Twitter regarding the EEA option, as there are so many anomalies with it, and ultimately I feel it’s unsuitable for the UK. But I’m open-minded, open to persuasion, and you do make some good points. I was also in the same place as you a year ago – making the pitch for EEA as a potential compromise option, until I eventually concluded that something more bespoke is what we need.

    I also tried reaching out to various Remainer groups on social media, but came up against the same obtuse response you’re now facing. The only Remain supporters who bother to engage on Facebook/Twitter are the small hard-core and hard-line campaigners who are so consumed by vitriol and bigotry that they refuse to discuss, and resort to abuse. My advice is simply to ignore them, there really is no value in persisting with them.

    Best of Luck with LiberalLeave.

  • David Allen 24th Jul '17 - 1:30pm

    You can’t call yourself “Liberal Leave” and then say you are “about a compromise between Remain and Leave”!

  • A compromise would be where we stayed in the EU but attempted to address the issues that most concerned leave voters. Leaving the EU is no compromise.

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 1:32pm

    David Allen: We want to leave but just a soft version of leaving, the Iceland model. It is still leaving though, the UK would cease to be a member of the EU.

  • In the EU referendum the official Vote Leave campaign used the strap line: “Take Back Control”. They frequently unpacked this as “take back control of our borders, our laws, and our money”. The EU Commission consistently stated that none of those three can be achieved whilst a member of the EU Internal Market (the ’Single Market’). Both the UK government and Britain Stronger In concurred, making the claimed disadvantages of leaving the Single Market the central plank of their campaign…

    ‘Brexit vote was about single market, says Cameron adviser’ [November 2016]:
    http://www.politico.eu/article/brexit-vote-was-about-single-market-says-cameron-adviser/

    “Leaving the European single market was “the instruction from the referendum,” according to one of David Cameron’s closest advisers.

    Ameet Gill, who served as the former prime minister’s director of strategy until earlier this year and campaigned for a Remain vote, said the Brexiteers’ commitment to leaving the free-trade bloc was the key issue of the campaign and Downing Street spent “months trying to hang that round Leave’s neck.”

    He said it was “a bit weird” for Labour and the Liberal Democrats to now claim that Prime Minister Theresa May doesn’t have a mandate for a “hard” Brexit outside the single market.

    Gill is particularly damning about the attempt to rewrite the history of the campaign by those who, like him, supported a vote to Remain.”

  • Richard Easter 24th Jul '17 - 1:50pm

    So by that logic anyone against privatisation of the NHS, or supports renationalisation of the railways is a far right neo nazi, because the BNP and National Front happen to back those positions, and thus they are on the same side as the BNP and National Front?

    52% of the public voted for Brexit. Even 30% of Liberal Democrat voters voted Leave. Insulting over half of voters by calling them extremists is a surefire way to condemn the party to oblivion.

  • “Do you understand that yet? Do you understand what the word “compromise” actually means?”

    Do you understand what “losing a referendum” means?

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 1:55pm

    Andrew Hickey: It is a compromise about the type of brexit because it retains the single market side of the EU while leaving the rest. It is a compromise position because it is not hard Brexit but it isn’t remain, it is in the middle of the two.

    Here is the definition for compromise: “an agreement or settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions”. Liberal leavers who voted remain conceded EU membership for the middle position, Liberal leavers who voted leave conceded a hard Brexit. Therefore I not only know what the word compromise is but have just demonstrated how this is a compromise.

  • Richard Underhill 24th Jul '17 - 1:55pm

    Commissioner Lord Cockfield said to me that we should not base arguments on Luxembourg, anomalies had been allowed because of its small size. Liechtenstein is smaller and not very democratic. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liechtenstein
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Cockfield,_Baron_Cockfield
    In a democracy the rights of minorities should be protected. Leave if you want to, but do not take us with you.
    The EU has just done a trade deal with Japan. If the UK leaves the EU we would be outside that. Japan is one of the biggest economies in the world, with a population more than double the UK and a high GDP per head.

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 1:58pm

    Richard Easter:
    “So by that logic anyone against privatisation of the NHS, or supports renationalisation of the railways is a far right neo nazi, because the BNP and National Front happen to back those positions, and thus they are on the same side as the BNP and National Front?

    52% of the public voted for Brexit. Even 30% of Liberal Democrat voters voted Leave. Insulting over half of voters by calling them extremists is a surefire way to condemn the party to oblivion”.

    Exactly!

  • I have removed an offensive comment posted early in this thread, plus ones that referred to it. It slipped through the moderation process because the term was deliberately mis-spelled.

    If you spot such comments again please email [email protected].

  • Daniel Henry 24th Jul '17 - 2:07pm

    EEA with Single Market and Customs Union is perhaps the softest brexit we can hope for, and I’ll sigh with relief if we get an EEA deal rather than the hard brexit that the Government is current meandering into.

    That said, the political domain needs a party that will continue to champion full EU membership and I still think we should continue to be that party. Democracy means that the Government follows on from the vote last year, but it also means that the people have the opportunity to change their mind in a future vote.

    We need to ensure they continue to have that opportunity.

    Nitpicking note: In your first paragraph you say you prefer the Icelandic model to Norway, but in the last you say we should go for the Norway model. Typo?

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 2:08pm

    “The EU has just done a trade deal with Japan”. Not quite: “The negotiations between EU and Japan on Economic Partnership Agreement are not concluded yet, therefore the published texts should be considered provisional and not final”. They have not actually reached an agreement yet. An interesting blog post on it here actually: http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=86534

  • Supporting Brexit *is* a nationalist position.

    Clearly, yes, but it’s not an extreme nationalist position unless you’re saying that all nationalism (basically, by position which sees value in nation-states, and doesn’t hold that the only desirable end goal is a world entirely without them) is by definition extreme.

    Which is a bit like a hardline communist claiming that the Liberal Democrats are ‘capitalist extremists’ because they don’t think that all private property should be abolished.

    On a continuum where zero is ‘totally internationalist, no-borders, world government’ and 100 is extreme nationalism, leaving the EU is maybe… 75? 80? Definitely nationalist, but not the most extreme nationalist position possible.

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 2:17pm

    Andrew Hickey: Not just a compromise between Liberal Leavers but between people who voted remain and leave. “You are offering no concession” we are, we are offering a softer Brexit. “You are still talking about leaving the EU” well yes because thats what we voted to do. The main thing is that looks at all leave options as the same simply because they aren’t inside the EU. That is not the case, EFTA+EEA membership is very different from a no deal Brexit.

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 2:21pm

    “Supporting Brexit *is* a nationalist position”. “Clearly, yes…” I wouldn’t agree that it is always nationalist though. It will help the UK to have a more global voice in global bodies which I see as internationalist. I am in-favour of more cooperation between countries through bodies like the WTO, UNECE, CODEX etc.

  • Quick point, you don’t get to choose the version of Brexit you get, to imply you do is nieve in the extreme. You will get Brexit as given, you are unlikely to like it.

  • Richard Easter 24th Jul '17 - 2:25pm

    Andrew Hickey

    “So by that logic anyone against privatisation of the NHS, or supports renationalisation of the railways is a far right neo nazi, because the BNP and National Front happen to back those positions, and thus they are on the same side as the BNP and National Front?”
    No, because those positions are not, in themselves, Nazi positions. Supporting Brexit *is* a nationalist position.

    That depends on how you define nationalism surely? There are Brexiteers who wish to join NAFTA instead, or have multinational corporations have greater say in the running of the country. They cannot in any way be described as nationalists. Corporatists or Atlanticists maybe, but not nationalists, as they believe in giving up sovereignty to ISDS tribunals or whatnot.

    Equally the SNP, Sinn Fein and Plaid would describe themselves as a nationalist parties despite being pro EU. Are they nationalists? The French would consider themselves fairly nationalist, but are in the EU.

    Equally countries like Canada are not in the EU and not particularly nationalist in the way say the French are, and in fact have had a multiculturalism policy for years.

    Nationalism is a wide ranging concept, and doesn’t simply mean outside of the EU.

    “52% of the public voted for Brexit.”
    No they didn’t. 26.8% of the public voted for Brexit. 28.6% were not allowed to vote because they were young or immigrants (in other words, those members of the public who are most affected by the result). 19.8% chose not to vote (which we can take as a “don’t know” or “don’t care”). And 24.8% voted against.

    Don’t know / don’t care have never counted in any election or referendum. Immigrants and those under 18 can’t vote in General Elections either – and they are most affected by decisions made by elected governments, so no difference there.

    Ultimately 52% of people who are allowed and chose to vote, voted out, regardless of being pedantic about it. In the same way the Tories got 43% at the last General Election, regardless of the fact I despise the Tories.

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 2:25pm

    Daniel Henry: “In your first paragraph you say you prefer the Icelandic model to Norway, but in the last you say we should go for the Norway model. Typo”? In essence they are the same thing, the Norway model is just the most commonly used example so I used it so people knew what I was taking about, the ‘Iceland model’ is rarely mentioned. Iceland is only really different in that it has used safeguard measures but they are both EFTA+EEA members so essentially the same thing.

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 2:29pm

    frankie: “Quick point, you don’t get to choose the version of Brexit you get, to imply you do is nieve in the extreme. You will get Brexit as given, you are unlikely to like it”. Parliament can decide that it wants to pursue soft Brexit so not really. I voted for leave knowing hard Brexit would be an option and I chose leave over remain. Now I am campaigning for what I see as the consensus Brexit and for the me the best option.

  • “not the most extreme nationalist position possible” and “not extreme nationalism” are two very different things.

    True. However, assuming that there are some non-extreme nationalist positions (that is, you don’t think that any nationalism is by definition an extreme position), it’s debatable whether just the idea of leaving the EU is extreme or not.

    If we take the 0-to-100 scale of nationalism, perhaps the ‘extremes’ are below 15 (‘international extremists’ who want a world totally without borders, see a ‘world government’ as desirable, etc) and above 85, meaning that Brexit, on about 75-80, is quite nationalist but not extreme nationalist?

  • Iceland is only really different in that it has used safeguard measures but they are both EFTA+EEA members so essentially the same thing.

    What about Switzerland? It’s in the EFTA too.

    As all three have different, bespoke deals with the EU, perhaps we could go for a bespoke deal too, in the EFTA with the best aspects of the Swiss, Icelandic and Norwegian deals, but not identical to any of them?

  • John Chandler 24th Jul '17 - 2:36pm

    I agree that EEA/EFTA is very different from a hard Brexit, but it’s very much an inferior alternative to remaining in the EU. To me, it’s an absolute last resort if the Red-Blue coalition are determined to pull us out of the EU, but it’s not the option I would want and not the reason I joined the Lib Dems. I’d rather EFTA than no deal, but ironically we really would be losing control.

    Interestingly, many Leavers I know voted Leave on the understanding we would be staying in the EEA somehow. Some of those are now the most vocal and hardcore anti-Brexit campaigners I’ve met, because they insist it is not what they believed they were voting for and they now want it stopped.

    Oh, and please can we quit saying 80+% voted for hard Brexit in the last election? They did nothing of the sort: Brexit wasn’t high on most people’s agenda, thinking it’s a “done deal”, and most people voted Red or Blue purely to stop Blue or Red. Indeed, there are a lot of (especially younger) Labour voters who were convinced Labour was opposed to Brexit, when the reverse is very much the case. They’re not happy, and we need to convince them to ditch Labour and work with us instead.

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 2:48pm

    John Chandler: “…but ironically we really would be losing control” not really more the place we make the decisions changes from the EU to global bodies. On the topic of “80+%” of voters backing hard Brexit party’s it’s more to do with the fact people are being given little choice but to back that message. After the last election I seen no prospect of Corbyn being kicked out and I also don’t see any prospect of a Tory remain supporter taking over. Thus the UK is heading for the exit door because apart from the Lib Dems there isn’t much of an alternative. Thus the need for a soft Brexit if there is going to be a Brexit is Connor’s point.

  • Connor Docwra 24th Jul '17 - 2:52pm

    I’ve got to thank commentators here because after hours upon hours of debating with Torrin Wilkins I thought that he supported leave because the EU is a fundamentally flawed institution whose ability to reform is dubious at best but apparently its because hes an extreme nationalist, can’t imagine how well you must know him if I after all my hours talking to him couldn’t figure this out.

  • Joseph Bourke 24th Jul '17 - 2:53pm

    I think Torrin’s conclusion is broadly right “Brexit is not going to be a single event and even if during the two-year negotiations we completely drop out of the single market we should aim for the Norway model.”

    The UK has had the benefit of being able to remain a full member of the EU while being able to retain its own currency and opt out of the Schengen agreement. This special treatment is likely to become an impediment to the kind of reform and political integration the EU needs. It has been clear for some time that there needs to be a two tier structure that recognises the core EU is comprised of the Eurozone counties and those on a path to membership of the Euro. Our place as a non-euro member in a two-tier EU is probably best formalised via the Norway option.

    James makes a valid point when he says “we need a root and branch reform of working conditions for those at the bottom as a firewall against extremism. In short `what does it mean to be a British citizen/worker/student that is over and above being a non-British one`. Although, I would argue that this is a failure to deal with the consequences of globalisation on those at the lower end of the labour market, it remains the case that the argument/perception has not been effectively refuted that freedom of movement jeopardises jobs and/or lowers pay.

    Connor Docwra makes a sensible argument “..(we) should do whatever (we can) to try and sway the course of brexit towards a softer brexit that keeps us in the Single Market as an absolute necessity “This is in keeping with the thinking on much of the business community (as expressed by the CBI).

    Vince Cable has recently expressed the view that Brexit may never happen. There will almost certainly be an extended transition period through to the next scheduled election in 2022. Whether Brexit happens or not, the EU is on a path to reform that will coalesce around meeting the common needs of the Eurozone countries. We will need to be prepared to deal wit this reality.

  • I think many of the comments here are well over the top in their criticisms of the author. Telling him to leave the party is wholly illiberal. I am against nuclear weapons and think our policy on trident is terrible but it does not follow I should be asked to leave. What remained can’t get their heads round is that in a form of democracy ie direct democracy a majority voted to leave. Yes I think they were wrong to vote that way. Yes I think – but do not know for certain – that there will be big problems BUT they still voted for it in a democratic election.

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 3:03pm

    Connor Docwra: “can’t imagine how well you must know him if I after all my hours talking to him couldn’t figure this out”. I hide it well ;). In all seriousness though it is really not helping when people try to generalise about leave voters and call them nationalist and then try to have a debate about whether I am an extremist, normal or non-extreme nationalist. I am none of the above.

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 3:08pm

    david: Completely agree no one is going to agree with party policy 100% and there is no point in leaving due to just one disagreement.

  • William Ross 24th Jul '17 - 3:16pm

    Torrin

    You are a very brave man and as a fellow Brexiteer I would like to encourage you. However, you are wrong to believe that various Brexits are available. Brexit means leaving the EU Treaties, including the Single Market and the Customs Union. Breakfast may come in many forms, but Brexit comes in only one.

    Keep up the good work!

    William

  • Brexit means leaving the EU Treaties,

    Yes…

    including the Single Market and the Customs Union

    … but no. It’s clearly possible to be in the single market, or the customs union, given there are already countries in both of those situations (the EFTA states, and Turkey, respectively).

    Whether it’s desirable or not is another matter (I’d say it’s desirable to by in the single market, undesirable to be in the customs union, so we should be aiming for ETFA membership) but it’s clearly possible.

  • Sorry, insert ‘without being signed up to the EU treaties’ between ‘It’s clearly possible to be in the single market, or the customs union’ and ‘, given there are already countries in both of those situations’.

  • paul barker 24th Jul '17 - 3:30pm

    Why ? Britain already has a bunch of Pro-Brexit Parties, we are the only real alternative. I just dont see the point of this & if you are claiming to be anything more than an isolated fringe in The Party then I strongly object.

  • Malcolm Todd 24th Jul '17 - 3:33pm

    Wow. And Caron said it might be a bit quiet while she was away…

  • William Ross 24th Jul '17 - 3:34pm

    Dav

    Its clearly possible ( and not desirable) to be in the Single Market ( not so sure about Customs Union — Turkey is not really a member) but that’s not what we voted on. We voted to leave the EU in its entirety and the debate centred around “taking back control” of our law, judicial system, and borders. None of that is possible in the Single Market.

    Perhaps you were in a different referendum from me Dav.

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 3:36pm

    paul barker: I would personally expand on “Pro-Brexit Parties” and say pro had Brexit parties. The question is what alternative do we offer, for me I prefer soft Brexit. As Richard Easter pointed out “Even 30% of Liberal Democrat voters voted Leave”. We are a minority but still a significant share of Lib Dem voters.

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 3:40pm

    William Ross: We voted to leave the EU and now it is about what relationship we have with the EU. EFTA+EEA is an option as non-EU Norway has clearly shown. The debate itself was just on the question of leaving the EU, we knew they couldn’t promise any specific kind of Brexit becuase we didn’t know who would be in government after the UK voted to leave. On the subject of ““taking back control” of our…borders” the link in the article shows how we can do just that inside the single market.

  • We voted to leave the EU in its entirety and the debate centred around “taking back control” of our law, judicial system, and borders. None of that is possible in the Single Market.

    Are you sure? Does Switzerland not have control of its law, judicial system and borders?

    For instance, unless I misunderstand, being in the ETFA would allow us to selectively apply EU regulations on products which were to be exported, while setting our own standards for domestic products, which is precisely what the Leave vote was about, wasn’t it?

  • William Ross 24th Jul '17 - 3:52pm

    Torrin

    The article which you attach is interesting and I will need more time to digest it. As other correspondents suggest I think that a rule fashioned for tiny Liechtenstein is unlikely to apply to the massive UK. Might not France be next? The concept of the EU as a single political entity requires free movement. Why did the EU concede nothing to Cameron on free movement? I do not think this works but it is interesting.

    Even if you could cure free movement I would still be for exiting the Single Market.

    Thanks

    William

  • Lorenzo Cherin 24th Jul '17 - 4:10pm

    Torrin, I voted remain, would do again, but think the EU deeply flawed and dislike the party’s one size fits all attitude, and welcome your efforts , and second , Conor above in criticising those herein who are patronising !

  • I too agree that it is fine for Liberal Democrats to make the case for leaving the EU.

    The problem is this article hasn’t made it. There is little argument that leaving the EU is better than staying, rather there is the claim that this way of leaving is not so bad as that way of leaving. Why is leaving a good idea?

    About all that you have as a positive “advantage” is immigration.

    Now, if the only advantage of your proposal is that it keeps foreigners out then you need to take a long hard look at your proposal.

    Not that your proposal actually does much to keep out foreigners. The Liechtenstein “immigration” exception is an exception in exceptional circumstances: a tiny country with a tiny population that is too small to allow substantial immigration and small enough for the exception not to undermine the four freedoms as a whole. Neither is the case with the UK. The statement that countries can trigger safeguarding measures “when they want and for however long they want” is misleading. That “serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties” are not defined does not mean they are whatever a country wants and “restricted with regard to their scope and duration to what is strictly necessary in order to remedy the situation” does not equal “however long they want”

    The way of leaving put forward also leaves a lot to be desired. Accepting laws relating to the single market is no small thing. It isn’t just the labelling of bananas: the working time directive is implemented in Norway. If we have a “Norway option” we will be subject to laws, in areas as important as workers’ rights, that we do not make.
    Norway also finds itself needing to co-operate with the EU on border management, policing, security and so on. In these areas, again, in needs to do what has been decided by others.

    The people of the United Kingdom make the laws that are followed in the United Kingdom via the government’s representation in the European Council, it’s appointees in the Commission and by the directly elected European Parliament. Your proposal looks to sacrifice that, risking calamity if the process is hijacked by the ideologues of left and right (i.e. those actually implementing it), for what is little more than a purely formal claim of “Brexit”.

    Better to drop the whole thing and exit from Brexit.

  • William Ross 24th Jul '17 - 4:34pm

    Dav

    Switzerland is not in the Single Market ( but is in EFTA) and has a complex sui generis relationship with the EU. It has to accept free movement and ( I believe) significant EU law plus a major role for the ECJ. Switzerland is not a desirable Brexit model. If we were in the Single Market we would have to apply EU commercial and industrial law to our whole economy even though the EU trade represents only about 10% of our GDP.

  • I can tolerate people who think there is a better way of implementing internationalism than being members of the EU, but please don’t claim it is a compromise between remain and leave.

    If you want the kind of brexit talked about here, then you really need to be talking to Conservatives who are the most likely to side with you and also that is the party with the most control over the brexit process.

    If you care about the Liberal Democrats more than you care about Leave then you ought to recognise your position is damaging to the party.

  • William Ross 24th Jul '17 - 4:37pm

    I just see Tony Lloyd`s intervention and I fully adopt his arguments.

  • I cannot believe that even the head of Liberal Leave supports the myth that is ‘soft Brexit’. We were all told by the remain campaign that a vote to leave meant leaving the single market, and if the EU could be reformed then Cameron would have been offered decent reforms before the referendum.

  • Joseph Bourke 24th Jul '17 - 5:10pm

    Liberal Democrat policy is set out in the motion adopted at conference in 2016 https://www.libdems.org.uk/conference-autumn-16-f27-europe

    That policy sets out the following priorities for the negotiations
    a. Protection of acquired rights, including the right to remain, of citizens of other EU member states residing in the UK, and of UK citizens residing elsewhere in the EU.
    b. Membership of the Single Market, with its ‘four freedoms’ of freedom of movement for workers, free movement of goods, free movement of capital and freedom to provide services..
    c. Protecting freedom of movement, so that British citizens retain the right to live and work throughout the EU.
    d. Maintaining environmental protection.
    e. Keeping the high level of health, safety, consumer protection, employment and equalities standards.
    f. Ensuring effective law enforcement and judicial co-operation.
    g. Protecting British business and jobs.
    h. Promoting scientific cooperation and funding for research.
    i. Encouraging travel and tourism.

    The policy commits to giving the British people the final say through a referendum on whether the terms of the deal agreed for the withdrawal of Britain from the EU should be accepted, while committing the Liberal Democrats to continue to campaign for the UK to remain a member of the EU.

    Article 50 has been triggered and consequently Libdem parliamentarians have to focus on securing the priorities (as above) in the brexit negotiations.

    While the party continues to argue that any deal will not be as beneficial as continued EU membership, the policy explicitly leaves this determination to the general public in a referendum. Consequently, the pre-referendum arguments being rerun here are over. Libdem policy is to put to the public a choice between continued EU membership and a new deal. If the new arrangements can substantively meet the priorities detailed here that is a perfectly valid position for any Libdem member to campaign for. The referendum is a choice between remaining as a member of the EU (perhaps under slightly altered terms) or accepting the terms of any deal offered by the EU for a relationship as a non-EU member.

  • David Evershed 24th Jul '17 - 5:15pm

    A foundation of being Liberal is that free trade is the way to prosperity for all in the long term.

    The means to achieving free trade may be within the EU or outside the EU. Whilst the EU has free trade in goods (if not services) it is also very protectionist against non -EU countries eg the Common Agricultural Policy.

    So it is perfectly valid for a free trade Liberal Democrat to believe that Brexit is the way to achieve free trade as the EU is holding us back from free trade agreements with 85% of the World outside the EU.

    Brexit supporters have just as valid a place in the Lib Dems as Remain supporters.

  • michael dowling 24th Jul '17 - 5:24pm

    It would appear as though Torrin Wilkins has confused Liberal Democrat with Libertarian. There are only two kinds of Brexit, stupid right wing version and stupid left wing version neither of which will work. Staying in the EU and building on the UK’s potential influence is the rational choice. It is a pity that in the past (and present), UK governments have spent more time blaming the EU for everything ratheer than properly engaging with the other 27 nations and building a consensus of understanding back home in the UK.

  • William Ross 24th Jul '17 - 5:26pm

    Sarah Noble is kind of Remainer who fascinates me. She talks of rights being taken away. I found myself an EU citizen without even being consulted! Elites in Westminster just decided they were doing it. They might as well have made me a North American citizen! Democracy? Constitution? Sarah` s rights after Brexit will be decided by a properly elected UK government not Brussels oligarchs. We will then be an independent sovereign country and can vote for rights as we wish.

  • @ Torrin Wilkins

    (I have not come across your unusual name before – “little hills” Do you speak Gaelic?)

    @ Andrew Hickey

    I am disappointed by your tone, by all means argue that Brexit will be bad for the UK and the best thing for us is to stay in the EU, but you have is a hard-line position because you will accept no compromise. There are compromises that the EU could make to assist us in persuading the British people that they will be better off in the EU than out, but I think you reject them. There are costs to staying in the EU to say otherwise is just silly. Being in the EU didn’t feel like a compromise to those who felt it worked against them.

    @ James

    Some members of the Liberal Democrats do have knowledge and experience of what it is like to live “at the sharp end” and the JSA and ESA systems. And some do wish to reform the JSA and ESA system more radically than our policy.

    You are correct that within a free movement of people area there needs to be more invention to obtain economic equality across the area, or you end up with an area such as London and the south-east of England pulling people in from the other areas, or in the EU the population problems of Lithuania.

    @ Bob Sayer

    Of course the EU needs reforming but the only reform I could see in our 2014 policy was to end the Parliament meeting in two places. None of us are going to forget Nick Clegg saying that the EU will continue much as it is into the future during his debates with Nigel Farage.

    @ Laurence Cox

    We do not only have one policy. It is correct and proper for any member to stay within the party and argue for it to change its policy where they feel it is wrong. In the general election we obtained 13% of the 48% Remain vote and 7% of the 52% Leave vote as well as 4% of the Didn’t vote vote. That means we received 6.24% of the 48% and 3.64% of the 52%. Therefore about a third of our voters voted Leave and I expect still support Leave.

    @ Stephen Kelly

    It you are not a liberal or social democrat and the only issue you are really interested in is remaining in the EU I am not sure you should be a member of the party. I refer you to the following Articles:
    “3.1 Membership of the Party is open to all persons who agree with its fundamental values and objectives …”
    “1.2 The objectives of the Party shall be:
    (a) …
    (b) to seek to achieve the objects set forth in the Preamble to this Constitution;
    (c) ….”

  • I found myself an EU citizen without even being consulted

    There really should have been a referendum on the Maastricht treaty, which introduced the concept of ‘EU citizenship’ (which is a really weird idea when you think about it: how can you be a citizen of something that isn’t a country?).

  • Michael,
    I really don’t think you should ask people to leave the party. I agree not at all with Torrin or William but it’s not up to me to ask them to leave, nor to judge if they are Liberals. I can judge if they are wrong and on Brexit I believe they are.
    It is self evident that while Brexiteers believe leaving the EU is a good thing, they all seem to differ on why this is the case or what destination we should be travelling too. A recipe for disaster what ever way you look at it.

  • @ Sarah Noble

    “Jobs-first” Brexit

    or

    Safety-first car crash
    Environment-first pollution
    Sobriety-first binge-drinking

  • Andrew McCaig 24th Jul '17 - 6:58pm

    Dav,
    I have just read plenty about citizenship on good old Wikipedia.. Opinions differ widely, but given that the EU has a governmental system, a Parliament, and a set of rights that apply to people who are part of the EU that do not apply to people who are not, I see nothing strange or contradictory about EU citizenship. Indeed I am proud to have dual citizenship, of the EU and of Britain, I like the EU passport, and I very much appreciate the rights I have at the moment through the EU.

    One of the most upsetting things about Brexit is when German friends tell me they no longer feel welcome in this country because people have rejected common citizenship with them. I think that EU citizenship has helped heal the wounds and guilts of WW2 for many many people. Do not underestimate the appeal of EU citizenship!

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 7:05pm

    Michael BG: I sadly don’t speak Gaelic 🙁 but maybe one day I will learn it.

  • David Allen 24th Jul '17 - 7:21pm

    On this question of compromise, there are two different situations to be considered:

    Scenario A: Your enemies have caught you. They have two buckets ready and they want to throw one of them over you. One bucket contains cold water, the other contains urine. You ask them to compromise and choose the water.

    Scenario B: You are with friends. There are two buckets lying around, one containing water, the other containing urine. You all agree that it would be best to leave the buckets alone, but somebody makes the rather silly suggestion that to pour the water over yourself might be called a “compromise” option.

    Our problem, I suggest, is that we do not really know whether we are in Scenario A or Scenario B when it comes to Brexit. In scenario A, it makes a lot of sense to talk up the water option, and to argue that it feels marvellous to be dripping with cold water. In scenario B, it makes no sense at all.

    Many posters on this thread – Daniel Henry, John Chandler for example – are clearly describing how they would tackle Scenario A. I think their approach makes sense and aligns well with party policy. Even Connor Docwra’s first post takes a similar line. However Torrin Wilkins is clearly describing Scenario B. His promotion of the Norway option is made with the aim of encouraging us to accept Brexit.

    As others have said, he is entitled to take that view, but he should recognise that he is working to undermine party policy, he is opposing liberal internationalism, and he is not seeking any real compromise!

  • Stephen Kelly 24th Jul '17 - 7:21pm

    @Michael BG

    I said I was pro-European first and a liberal second – not that I wasn’t a liberal.

    I want a fair society that helps everyone prosper. I believe that an internationalist outlook is the best way to achieve that, and I believe that Lib Dem values – including remaining in the EU – are the best way to achieve that.

    To quote from the preamble to the Lib Dem constitution: ‘Within the European Community we affirm the values of federalism and integration and work for unity based on these principles.’

  • David Allen 24th Jul '17 - 7:22pm

    Tony Lloyd

    And America-first Donald Trump?

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 7:33pm

    William Ross: “I think that a rule fashioned for tiny Liechtenstein is unlikely to apply to the massive UK” that is why the safeguard measures as they are not specific to tiny Liechtenstein but open to all EFTA+EEA members.

    Tony Lloyd: “Not that your proposal actually does much to keep out foreigners”. Thats more a guess about what I may think than what I actually think. Connor Docwra summed up my argument well: “Torrin Wilkins has been a member of the Liberal Democrats far longer than I have through far tougher times than myself yet because of our belief in different issues he is continuously derided for not being a liberal. Torrin’s lack of support for freedom of movement is the same as the reason for his lack of support of the EU because while the ideals of federalisation and free movement are both liberal as we have agreed, both institutions are not in their current form liberal (even I someone who vehemently supports both can see this). Torrin has the audacity to believe that a European, an Asian, a south American and an Australasian are of the exact same worth and to some in the party because this runs up against freedom of movement it makes Torrin less of a liberal instead of more. So if they are of equal worth Torrin has come to the logical conclusion that freedom of movement must either extend to all of them or none of them otherwise certain people have different rights, a fundamentally illiberal concept, and in a display of rational utilitarianism again at home to liberalism he has decided it should extend to none of them…”. Will deal with safeguard measures next.

  • Andrew Tampion 24th Jul '17 - 7:34pm

    Sarah Noble. I think that you are mistaken in asserting that imposing or if you prefer granting citizenship without consent is fundamentally different from removing it. This is because citizenship implies obligations as well as rights. In some countries voting is compulsory, in others military service is compulsory. In either case imposing citizenship without consent criminalises those who do not wish to vote or to serve. Admittedly neither UK nor EU citizenship those types of obligations at the moment although the UK has used conscription in the past.
    In any case perhaps you should ask a Scottish Nationalist or Sinn Fein member how they feel about UK citizenship being imposed on them by birth?

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 7:39pm

    William Ross: On immigration control inside the single market Liechtenstein is a tiny exception yes but that is more used in the article as precedent than anything else.

    On Safeguard measures the link attached gives quite a few of the answers. “The statement that countries can trigger safeguarding measures “when they want and for however long they want” is misleading”. Therefore I first refer you to the bit that says: ” there is no specific time limitation. This contrasts with the only safeguard measures written into Chapter 4 of the Treaty of the European Union (Article 66, TEU) on Capital and payments…”. They are triggered unilaterally by an EFTA+EEA member and they can do this when they want to as: “The rules for its use, set out in Article 113, state that it cannot normally be used without first giving at least one month’s notice. Only in “exceptional circumstances” can immediate action be taken…”. Logically, any provision which has within it an “emergency clause”, for use only in exceptional circumstances, cannot in itself be an emergency measure”. This both shows it isn’t just for emergency’s etc. as it has the clause to be used in an emergency separately but that they can trigger it when they want as it is up to the country when the trigger it as it is they who do it not the EU.

    “That “serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties” are not defined does not mean they are whatever a country wants” but it is up to them to decide if they have met the criteria as they are the ones who trigger it.

    Hope that has answered the question but if there is anything I have not explained or haven’t mentioned would be happy to answer any questions.

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 7:49pm

    Lorenzo Cherin: Thank-you for that, I also disagree with the one size fits all idea, we will always have areas, big or small, that we disagree on.

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 8:05pm

    George Kendall: “As a hard Brexit is, in effect, supported by the leaderships of both Labour and the Tories, those who support something like the Norway option are temporary allies”. My thoughts exactly, I now work with people who are remain supporters becuse we have ended up with a common goal which it the ‘Norway option’. I do however disagree that we can predict what would have happened if we had the Norway option against remain. The leave campaign abandon the idea and never really fought for it because of the usual thing about free movement, I also feel more MP’s would have backed leave as remain MP’s would know that was the direction the UK would head in and leave MP’s would see it as the best of the two options. But hey thats just speculation.

  • Yeovil Yokel 24th Jul '17 - 8:33pm

    George Kendall – “…..but I also value the tradition in this party of welcoming people who disagree with the party line.” It’s a pretty fundamental disagreement though, isn’t it? The Lib Dems have always, at least as far back as I can recall, been in favour of EU membership, and Vince Cable has recently made it crystal clear that the Party’s policy going forward is to oppose Brexit. That surely leaves Torrin in a bit of a pickle.

    For instance, Torrin, at the next General Election will you be campaigning for the Lib Dems AND in favour of some compromise form of Brexit? Like others have said I have no wish to see you leave the Party, but I cannot see how your views are compatible with continued membership: perhaps Labour have a position closer to your own than the Lib Dems?

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 8:35pm

    michael dowling: “It would appear as though Torrin Wilkins has confused Liberal Democrat with Libertarian”. There are many types of libertarian and I am not any of them. The face is you are trying to guess my ideology by using one of my views.

    Frankie: ”they all seem to differ on why this is the case or what destination we should be travelling too”. I always ask do you want the EU to remain the same, integrate into a single country or less integration. Leave or remain someone is always going to be unhappy with what happens next.

  • So are my views compatible with continued membership? I want to give up nuclear weapons and spend trident money on other things. The party has never agreed. I will continue to try and get the party to change. Should I join the greens? No . I am a liberal. I could make a very liberal argument for leaving Europe based on decentralisation, accountability and democracy but I won’t go there. There is certainly room in this party for the likes of Torrin

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 8:45pm

    Yeovil Yokel: Believe me having been a member of the party since 2013 I have had plenty of time to think about this. It is fundamental due to our current situation yes but I don’t feel this will always be the case. The main issue is that I see no other home for myself. I see myself fitting in with neither Labour or the Torys, not even on Brexit where I would still disagree with both of their 2017 manifestos, both of which peruse a hard Brexit.

  • Hard Brexit = Leave EU

    Soft Brexit = Stay in the single market, continue to pay money to Brussels, accept EHJ jurisdiction along with uncontrolled immigration = Staying in the EU with a differn’t name.

  • Yeovil Yokel 24th Jul '17 - 9:37pm

    david – On the one hand I agree with you about nuclear weapons, but I have reconciled myself to the fact that it’s an issue that the Party is going to vacillate over for the foreseeable future and I do not regard it as a deal-breaker. If I voted Green the UK would still be no nearer to cancelling Trident’s replacement. On the other hand there is no such ambiguity over the Party’s position on Brexit and it’s one that I agree with.

    Thank you for your response, Torrin, although I’m still not clear what stance you will take when campaigning at the next General Election, and most people on the doorstep want quick clear answers on issues like Brexit. In a way I admire you for sticking doggedly to your guns, old son, but it also seems to me that you’re in a difficult place. You have four options as I see it: (1) stay with the Party and fight your corner at complete variance with Party policy (which won’t change for the foreseeable future); (2) join another party; (3) form your own party, and (4) change your mind on Brexit.

    I don’t envy you trying to choose.

  • I don’t see how your position is actually a compromise.

    You seem to advocate for a so-called ‘Soft’ Brexit, and disagree with those who want a ‘Hard’ one. Presumably the ‘Soft’ version is also what you wanted during the referendum campaign itself?

    Presuming this, in what way have you compromised? You voted in the belief that you could obtain a ‘Soft’ Brexit and are now advocating for a.. ‘Soft’ Brexit.. whilst encouraging Remainers to ‘compromise’ by shifting from opposing Brexit to supporting (some form of) Brexit.

    In my opinion, a ‘compromise’ would be remaining but utilising the tools which the EU already allows (and most countries already use) to, and I cringe when I say it, “manage migration”. A hardline Remain stance would be full integration. Neither that, nor a ‘Hard’ Brexit were on the ballot paper.

    Indeed, the choice on the ballot paper was Remain vs. a fantasy, cake-and-eat-it Brexit in which the NHS gets an additional £350m a week, etc. etc. which people were promised Leaving would mean. The fantasy Brexit won, but in the absence of it being possible, that mandate does not pass to any other form of Brexit, be it ‘Soft’, ‘Hard’, ‘Red, white and blue’, or any other.

    It is oft said by Leavers that remaining in the EU would be a betrayal of voters. The real betrayal occurred when voters were sold a pup, and it would be a second betrayal to interpret a vote for that pup as being a vote for something which they were not told they would end up with.

    You also didn’t answer Yeovil Yokel’s question of how you will reconcile your views and the position of the party at the next GE (and other elections in the meantime) in which opposition to Brexit is likely to be a major plank of LD policy.

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 9:56pm

    Yeovil Yokel: On the doorstep I will tell people about party policy. I am not giving them a reason to vote for me but for the Lib Dems unless I was standing of-course. I can see the remain point of view to the extent that I can argue it just like with most things. I chose option one (kind of sounds like I am choosing between the blue pill and the red pill). I will not only fight my corner like I did at Lib Dem conference but represent those Liberal Democrats who don’t want to speak out against the party line. I sadly know a few people who have left because they were always told it was damaging the party or they were bombarded with comments when ever they brought it up.

  • Torrin,

    I like gradualism. countries change, the world changes but I’d rather it changed gradually than by major upheavals. The problem with dramatic change like Brexit is people suffer. Now you may say they are happy to, for the greater good and all that, I think you will find they don’t and won’t thank you for it.

    I see no point in dictating to my descendants how the world should be, they won’t thank me for it or appreciate me for doing it; which is what many of the brave Brexiteers are trying to do to theirs and wonder at the dislike they have provoked.

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 10:27pm

    Cia: I supported EFTA+EEA as a short term transition deal during the referendum to sort out a separate deal. I think it was a mix of a close result that meant we needed to compromise and convincing arguments about the EFTA+EEA model which pushed me towards the ‘Norway model’. Do I think it would have happened without the close result, I really don’t know the answer to that one. As for it being a compromise deal hard line remain would be full EU membership hard line leave would be having nothing to do with the EU. The middle ground is some involvement with the EU (single market) but without the political side as the ‘Norway option’ offers.

    It’s interesting how you mention the “£350m a week” slogan because remain said a lot about the ‘Norway model’ which wasn’t really true, the “no say” one that has been repeated so many times is one of them which forgets their independent voice at global bodies where most Single market law actually originates.

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 11:01pm

    frankie: “I see no point in dictating to my descendants how the world should be…”. We will end up either dictating that the UK is a member of the EU or is not a member. On gradualism globalisation is probably going to take over most of the EU’s regulatory roles so I feel we are going to face a future outside the EU, we should just have an independent voice to shape that globalisation. I was reading an article earlier and will try to find a link to it but one of the good points it made was that the EU restricts the UK’s right to propose regulation in international bodies (would guess it was to do with the EU’s common position). Will try to find it if I can.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 24th Jul '17 - 11:06pm

    It is very good , that , as a minority view in our party , that a Brexiter has shown the most engagement and best manners of any writer of articles new to this site !

    Torrin , well done that man !

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 11:10pm

    Lorenzo Cherin: Thank-you! 🙂

  • Eddie Sammon 24th Jul '17 - 11:12pm

    Brexiters should still be welcome in the Lib Dems, as long as they have broadly liberals principles. It’s nearly always bad to say one policy belief means you shouldn’t be a Lib Dem.

  • Torrin Wilkins 24th Jul '17 - 11:31pm

    Eddie Sammon: Thank-you, I feel that sadly a lot of people have tried to guess what ideology I belong to just through my anti-EU stance. I am most probably a modern Liberal in truth.

  • I agree that the minority of Lib Dems who support Brexit should stay in the party and fight their corner. I just wish the same courtesy had been extended in 2010-2015 to those who opposed the Conservative coalition – which after all, unlike the Remain platform, flew in the face of all our professed principles.

  • Torrin – do you condemn Paul Keetch for sharing racist -themed campaign graphics during the referendum? If not then please move on as you would have no place in the Liberal Democrats (and nor should he have after that).

  • @ Martin

    The Greeks I expect do not feel that the EU respects democracy and dealt with them as equals. You need to remember that the Euro is run for the benefit of Germany and not the whole Euro area.

    @ John Chandler

    “I agree that EEA/EFTA is very different from a hard Brexit, but it’s very much an inferior alternative to remaining in the EU. To me, it’s an absolute last resort … I’d rather EFTA than no deal, but ironically we really would be losing control.”

    I agree.

    @ Mosley

    Perhaps the EU didn’t reform because Cameron told them he would win the referendum!

    @ Joseph Bourke

    I think any Liberal Democrat can campaign on a personal level for acceptance of any deal even if it doesn’t met all the things you listed (a-i).

    @ Frankie
    “I really don’t think you should ask people to leave the party.”

    I agree, which is why I didn’t ask Stephen Kelly to leave, I asked him to consider if he accepted the conditions of membership as he had given the impression that he didn’t.

    @ Stephen Kelly
    “I said I was pro-European first and a liberal second – not that I wasn’t a liberal”

    You wrote, “If we drop our opposition to brexit, I … will leave the party”, which is why I assumed you didn’t agree with our values and objectives.

    You wrote, “To quote from the preamble to the Lib Dem constitution: ‘Within the European Community we affirm the values of federalism and integration and work for unity based on these principles’”. This does not mean that membership of either the EU or European Community is a fundamental value or one of our objectives. It just states what membership would mean if we were a member and what we would work for if a member.

    @ Yeaovil Yokel

    It was the Liberal Assembly held in Eastbourne in 1960 that changed the Liberal Party policy to be in favour of membership of the EEC. In the 1964 general election there were still some Liberal candidates who distanced themselves from the official position (see Ray Douglas “The Liberal Predicament 1945-64” in Journal of Liberal History issue 50 Spring 2006).

  • Torrin Wilkins 25th Jul '17 - 12:09am

    Hywel: I have no idea if he ever shared racist themed things. Paul died shortly after the referendum but from when I did meet him I would doubt he would do that. I will say though that he was not a well man from what I heard and saw so I don’t know what affect that had on him towards the end of the campaign.

  • Torrin Wilkins 25th Jul '17 - 12:27am

    Cllr Mark Wright: I agree that reform was badly needed but Cameron’s renegotiation didn’t help the argument really. I think leave supporters were given the argument that ‘one of the largest EU economy’s threatens to leave and the EU gives us nothing’. The part about calling people all sorts of names is also sadly true in my experience, it was also odd because many of the people who tried to convince me having a referendum was a bad idea as it would cause division were the same people who did exactly that, try to cause division by generalising leave voters as this or that.

  • Torrin, hardline Remain would be, as you say, full EU membership, but also taking part in the rest of the EU project (Schengen, Euro etc.); that is not the same as we have now, and it is not the Remain position being advocated. So, we are stuck with the two potential ‘compromise’, or middle-ground, positions being either, as you advocate, ‘Soft’ Brexit, or Remaining on current terms whilst implementing the tools we so far have not.

    I think it would be wrong to campaign for what is the inferior of those two (and I suspect you agree, though we’ll disagree about which one is which).

    Whilst you are technically right that Norway has ‘a voice’, in that it can act as a pressure group, it does not get a vote on the Single Market policies it needs to implement, either at the level of the Council of the EU, or through elected representatives in the European Parliament. That, to me, is not having a say.

    The Norway model is much better than a ‘Hard’ Brexit, in that it avoids much of the damage, but it is still inferior to Remain. As one Leaver friend said to me: “there’s no point in a ‘Soft’ Brexit”. On that one statement, we agreed, if not for the same reasons.

  • Torrin Wilkins 25th Jul '17 - 12:39am

    Cia: “it does not get a vote on the Single Market policies it needs to implement” I would firstly disagree with that because even if their only say was through EU discussions it would still be a say but it’s not just that. Most single market regulation actually originates in global bodies like the WTO where in most cases countries like Norway have a veto and always have an independent seat. The EU then has to adopt those regulations (due to the TBT agreement). This means in a way Norway has a full say over more regulation than the UK does as an EU member without an independent seat at these bodies.

  • Torrin Wilkins 25th Jul '17 - 12:50am

    Cia: “So, we are stuck with the two potential ‘compromise’, or middle-ground, positions being either, as you advocate, ‘Soft’ Brexit, or Remaining on current terms whilst implementing the tools we so far have not”. I feel that as we have voted to leave the EU it should therefore be the non-EU option. There are huge differences from EU membership and the ‘Norway option’. Essentially it is just the single market with lots of large opt-outs: http://www.efta.int/eea/eea-agreement

  • Torrin, if I were to offer you ‘a say’, but not ‘a vote’ at an election, you surely wouldn’t accept the former as being equivalent?

    I would argue that the regulations developed and adopted by the EU as part of the Single Market go far further than those stemming from the WTO, though, which is itself hampered by the fact that often little agreement can be reached anyway. I would also point out that we do get a vote on WTO matters through our representatives in the Council of the EU and European Parliament, both of which are responsible for agreeing on the EU’s voting position on such matters. We pool our strength with other countries, and we have tended to do very well at getting our own way when it comes to EU strategy.

  • Torrin, of course you think it should be the non-EU option; you voted for it! 😉

    I don’t see what benefits there are to the Norway model over Remain, though. As far as I can see, there are only disadvantages, through a lack of a vote on Single Market policies, being outside the Customs Union (therefore creating the need for a hard border with ROI, customs checks at ports etc., the need to renegotiate trade deals with upwards of 60 other countries from scratch and from a weaker negotiating position), etc..

    As I said earlier, “I think it would be wrong to campaign for what is the inferior of those two”. Whilst a Norway model Brexit would avoid much of the damage of a harder Brexit, it does not avoid all of the damage.

    Why, other than “Leave won”, should it be advocated over Remain?

  • Stephen Kelly 25th Jul '17 - 2:23am

    @Michael BG

    I don’t see how you can twist that into anything other than a clear commitment to being at the heart of Europe, with a long term goal of federalisation.

    I am both pro-European and liberal. I am a Lib Dem because the Lib Dems are both pro-European and liberal. The pro-European bit is my priority, and having that as my priority is not in any way a contradiction of having liberal values (or anything else in the Lib Dem constitution for that matter.)

  • William Ross 25th Jul '17 - 5:47am

    Torrin

    Up early in the morning ( 5.30 am) II find that your article has triggered a deluge of comment! Your position is clearly well thought out and you hold your own in argument. I hold to my own view that “Brexit means Brexit” but I will go over your points.

    At least the LibDems are open enough to host an argument like this on a quasi-official website. I am an SNP supporter based in the North East of Scotland ( Leave 45%) with SNP supporters most likely to vote Leave ( 40% across Scotland). A Leave argument like this would never appear in an SNP website.

    Well done

  • “Thats more a guess about what I may think”

    I’m not responding to guesses as to your thought process, but what you wrote. What you wrote gave little positive case for leaving the EU other than immigration. If you wish to withdraw this as an advantage then your article has no substantive argument for withdrawal: a massive upheaval in exchange for avoiding the central budget (but not the rest) and swapping the EU court for the EFTA court.

    Of course there are pressures of space involved in trying to keep an article sort of around 500 words. What about a follow up not concentrating on how it’s not “so bad” and letting us know what is good about withdrawing from the EU?

    On the safeguard measures, no doubt a clever lawyer might put forward your argument. She may even succeed in persuading a court. The situation, though, is not what people understand by “when they want and for however long they want” and the statement will mislead people (it would have mislead me had I not been sceptical enough to check with the paper you linked to).

  • Opinions differ widely, but given that the EU has a governmental system, a Parliament, and a set of rights that apply to people who are part of the EU that do not apply to people who are not, I see nothing strange or contradictory about EU citizenship.

    Well, I don’t think it’s any secret that what those behind the EU intended, and what those in charge of it now are still dedicated to, is making the EU into a single country — a United States of Europe — with a common currency, a common citizenship, a common army, etc etc.

    Which is why we voted to leave: the UK has never been on board with the idea of becoming merely a territory of a EU super-state, like California to Brussels’s Washington, D.C..

    One of the most upsetting things about Brexit is when German friends tell me they no longer feel welcome in this country because people have rejected common citizenship with them.

    But why? Why do you need common citizenship to feel welcome? That’s like me complaining I don’t feel comfortable as a guest in someone’s home, because I am not a member of their family. The Germans (and other nationalities) are our guests and should feel welcome.

    And if they do wish to become members of the family, they can always become UK citizens and then we will share a common citizenship.

    I think that EU citizenship has helped heal the wounds and guilts of WW2 for many many people.

    This is very much the rub: Britain doesn’t have ‘wounds and guilts of WW2’ in the same way, or to anything like the same degree, as Germany or those countries which were conquered by and collaborated with her during the second World War, and therefore we don’t feel anything like the same emotional connection to the European Project.

    Our relationship to the EU has always only ever been transactional: it’s a club we joined because we thought the benefits would outweigh the costs. For other countries, it was a commitment to an ideal, but for us it was never that.

    This is why I get annoyed when the process is characterised as a ‘divorce’, or the phrase the ‘divorce bill’ is used, etc. It’s not a divorce because we were never married to the EU. It was only ever a provisional business arrangement; a complex one, to be sure, and now it is proving complicated to untangle. But untangle it we will because we (or at least, according to polls, 85% of us) do not feel at all European and have no emotional commitment to the European Union.

  • Well, I don’t think it’s any secret that what those behind the EU intended, and what those in charge of it now are still dedicated to, is making the EU into a single country — a United States of Europe — with a common currency, a common citizenship, a common army, etc etc.

    Essentially a Yugoslavia on steroids.

  • Richard Underhill 24th Jul ’17 – 1:55pm: The EU has just done a trade deal with Japan. If the UK leaves the EU we would be outside that.

    Why? If it’s ratified as another ‘mixed agreement’, like CETA, then it will continue to apply…

    ‘Sign CETA as a “mixed” agreement, urges European Commission’:
    http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=457973a2-4b63-4e71-8e5f-26731e00f2e3

    Speaking today, Linklaters’ global co-head of international arbitration Matthew Weiniger QC agreed with this view. “If it is a ‘mixed agreement’ then the member states individually as well as the EU need to sign it. If the UK signs it before Brexit, then the UK will remain a party even after it leaves the EU,” he said.

    In any event, if both countries are in agreement, it can simply be resigned and re-registered with the WTO. It’s likely that these EU trade deals will be used as the basis for deeper and more comprehensive bilateral FTAs tailored to our mutual trading opportunities…

    ‘Canada Seeks to Avoid Brexit Cliff-Edge With Trade Talks’ [March 2017]:
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-22/canada-seeks-to-avoid-brexit-cliff-edge-with-trade-deal-talks

    The government is pushing for its trade deal with Europe to be ratified by Britain before it leaves the European Union to secure the crucial agreement. It also has its eye on deeper relations with the U.K. once Brexit is complete.

  • Martin 24th Jul ’17 – 12:54pm: Like it or not the financial services sector which is a major part of the UK’s economy, is already contracting…

    Where? It seems that the streets of London are still paved with gold…

    ‘Confidence in the City is high as job volumes rise by nearly a fifth after June’s General Election’ [July 2017]:
    http://www.cityam.com/268762/confidence-city-high-job-volumes-rise-nearly-fifth-after

    Confidence in the City has bounced back after the snap General Election, with the number of jobs rising 17 per cent in June compared to the same time last year, according to the new Robert Walters City Job Index.

    The figures out today found that there were more roles available in the City than this time last year.

  • Martin 24th Jul ’17 – 12:54pm: Like it or not the financial services sector which is a major part of the UK’s economy, is already contracting…

    Where? It seems that the streets of London are still paved with gold…

    ‘Confidence in the City is high as job volumes rise by nearly a fifth after June’s General Election’ [July 2017]:
    http://www.cityam.com/268762/confidence-city-high-job-volumes-rise-nearly-fifth-after

    Confidence in the City has bounced back after the snap General Election, with the number of jobs rising 17 per cent in June compared to the same time last year, according to the new Robert Walters City Job Index.

    The figures out today found that there were more roles available in the City than this time last year.

  • @ Stephen Kelly

    It is good to know you have liberal values and that the only reason you are a member is NOT just because we have a policy of Remaining in the EU. My priority is spreading freedom to everyone in the UK especially by taking them out of poverty, ensuring everyone who wants a job has one and everyone who wants a home of their own has one and that no one worries about how to pay their bills or pay to get to work or to the shops. On balance I think EU membership will assist in this, but it could do a lot more to assist.

  • Nothing wrong with being pro-EU first and liberal second.

    “Our responsibility for justice and liberty cannot be confined by national boundaries; we are committed to fight poverty, oppression, hunger, ignorance, disease and aggression wherever they occur and to promote the free movement of ideas, people, goods and services. Setting aside national sovereignty when necessary, we will work with other countries towards an equitable and peaceful international order and a durable system of common security. Within the European Community we affirm the values of federalism and integration and work for unity based on these principles.”

  • Yeovil Yokel 25th Jul '17 - 1:14pm

    Michael BG (25 July 12:04) – thanks for that interesting snippet of Liberal history, it seems that the Party’s pro-EEC/EU policy has had exactly the same lifespan as me.

    David Bingham – solid post.

  • Dav:

    “(T)he UK has never been on board with the idea of becoming merely a territory of a EU super-state, like California to Brussels’s Washington, D.C..”

    “Our relationship to the EU has always only ever been transactional: it’s a club we joined because we thought the benefits would outweigh the costs. For other countries, it was a commitment to an ideal, but for us it was never that.”

    And from another thread:

    “it is unacceptable for the UK to ever become part of such a thing (though we would have been happy to be part of an economically beneficial association of nations)”

    Do me a favour and speak for yourself.

    You shouldn’t take a 52:48 vote where the 52 voted “leave” for a whole variety of reasons and concoct from that a homogeneous country that has one unified opinion speaking with one voice that you then co-opt to your own opinion.

  • Torrin Wilkins 25th Jul '17 - 1:40pm

    Cia:

    Just to start off I apologise if I can’t answer every question but I must have answered at least 40 or so since this came out.

    “Torrin, if I were to offer you ‘a say’, but not ‘a vote’ at an election, you surely wouldn’t accept the former as being equivalent”? They have a say (in the EU) and a vote (in global bodies). So if you offered me both a say and a vote I would take it.

    “I would argue that the regulations developed and adopted by the EU as part of the Single Market go far further than those stemming from the WTO” “These regulations are then passed down, with the odd gold-plating, by the EU”. Dr Richard North said that EFTA+EEA countries only have to accept the basic global standards no the gold plated versions. So those laws that originate in global bodies would be just that, the law that originated there.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/05/25/brexit-will-make-us-richer-thats-why-leave-could-still-win/

  • Torrin Wilkins 25th Jul '17 - 1:41pm

    Cia:
    “I would also point out that we do get a vote on WTO matters through our representatives in the Council of the EU and European Parliament”. An interesting point made in the article attached below makes an interesting point about proposing regulation at global bodies: “Moreover, as EU members we have no right of proposal when it comes to new regulation which means if the UK is ever at the forefront of an innovation, before it can propose regulation in order to lead the field it must submit to the EU and wait for a common EU position. Very often this is subject to the protectionist whims of other members who may wish to stifle any new innovations that threaten their established industries”. Also it points out the reason for having a veto: “What matters is that we have that right to choose our alliances and that we can ultimately veto any proposals that put us at a commercial or democratic disadvantage”. The reason all countries who are member of these bodies have them is to make sure countries either accept the change for the good of everyone or reject it and necessary safeguards are imposed.
    http://peterjnorth.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/brexit-shortening-chain-of.html

  • Torrin Wilkins 25th Jul '17 - 1:41pm

    Cia: “being outside the Customs Union (therefore creating the need for a hard border with ROI, customs checks at ports etc”. Thankfully I looked into this the other day when coming against the same kind of statement. “There are no advantages in the UK remaining in the customs union. In or out, the UK would be free to make its own trade deals (assuming it has withdrawn from the common commercial policy) and membership would have no impact on the free movement of goods. To ensure the continued abolition of border checks, the UK will have to negotiate a separate deal. This would be much facilitated by maintaining its membership of the EEA”.
    More here: http://www.eureferendum.com/documents/BrexitMonograph016.pdf

    Will cover Free Trade Deals in a paragraph going through advantages of EFTA+EEA compared to EU membership.

  • Torrin Wilkins 25th Jul '17 - 1:52pm

    William Ross: “At least the LibDems are open enough to host an argument like this on a quasi-official website”. I really have to thank them for putting this up on the site. I am very happy it has promoted so much discussion and even if I don’t convince anyone of my arguments it is good they know what they are.

  • Torrin Wilkins 25th Jul '17 - 1:59pm

    Tony Lloyd: Safeguard measures. “no doubt a clever lawyer might put forward your argument” Where then are the holes in the argument? I can’t answer the query if you tell me what specific part of “when they want and for however long they want” is in doubt. when=unilateral

  • Torrin Wilkins 25th Jul '17 - 2:00pm

    Tony Lloyd: sorry sent that by accident. and it has no time limit so as there isn’t a limit it can be used indefinitely.

  • Torrin Wilkins 25th Jul '17 - 2:06pm

    Tony Lloyd: I don’t see how you can use my argument about immigration to show that I want to “…keep out foreigners”. I will again repeat the argument Connor made: “Torrin Wilkins has been a member of the Liberal Democrats far longer than I have through far tougher times than myself yet because of our belief in different issues he is continuously derided for not being a liberal. Torrin’s lack of support for freedom of movement is the same as the reason for his lack of support of the EU because while the ideals of federalisation and free movement are both liberal as we have agreed, both institutions are not in their current form liberal (even I someone who vehemently supports both can see this). Torrin has the audacity to believe that a European, an Asian, a south American and an Australasian are of the exact same worth and to some in the party because this runs up against freedom of movement it makes Torrin less of a liberal instead of more. So if they are of equal worth Torrin has come to the logical conclusion that freedom of movement must either extend to all of them or none of them otherwise certain people have different rights, a fundamentally illiberal concept, and in a display of rational utilitarianism again at home to liberalism he has decided it should extend to none of them…”.

  • Torrin Wilkins 25th Jul '17 - 2:13pm

    David Bingham: “Personally I believe that the more we push the HoC and therefore the Govt to seek a deal that keeps us in the EEA via EFTA, the better it will be for our aim of stopping Brexit altogether”. I think that if the arguments, which I am about to make in one of the next posts, are put forward for membership of EFTA and the EEA then we won’t rejoin the EU. I also feel that a referendum on the destination will be better than one on the deal (which would be a second referendum on membership of the EU) as we have already chosen to leave.

  • William Ross 25th Jul '17 - 2:18pm

    Torrin

    I note with utter dismay that a subsequent article on this site has compared Leavers to Lysenko and the Moonies. That article was actually more intemperate than anything I have seen on SNP websites.

    William

  • Torrin Wilkins 25th Jul '17 - 2:37pm

    Cia/Tony Lloyd: Both of you have asked what is essentially the same question about the advantages that had over remaining an EU member.

    EFTA court: ECJ=political court so not very independent → “Efta court, a non-binding court” so we are further away. http://peterjnorth.blogspot.co.uk/

    Free Trade Deals: Resumption of continuity means we can keep most of the ones In place, we can also move faster with other nations like Australia and New Zealand who want a free trade deal with us but due to EU membership we couldn’t do one.

    As Geoffrey Payne said on the Eurozone crisis we could even see a situation where the EU disintegrates. A slow process of leaving the EU would be better than a quick ejection if this ever happened.

    The EU is probably going to become either irrelevant or much less important as global bodies expand. As I have explained above we need our own voice to propose regulation at this level and exercise our own veto when needed. It is also the way we get a say in single market regulation, more of which originate in global bodies than from the EU itself.

    I dislike the EU’s immigration policy giving EU citizens an easier way to come to the UK than non-EU citizens. It would give the UK the opportunity to have a fairer immigration system. Yes the Torys are unlikely to do this but future governments will actually be able to.

  • Riccardo Sallustio 25th Jul '17 - 5:36pm

    I welcome this debate and despise those who argue that Torrin should leave the party. Equally, I was critical of Norman Lamb’s potential candidacy as party’s leader due to his stance on Brexit and my wish is that the party doesn’t settle for anything less than “Remain in the EU”.
    Vince, Jo and Tom have been very clear about “exit from Brexit” and I hope that this is formally reflected in party’s policy at the next Conference. In this respect, I hope that members sign up to the following petition:
    https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScs0R5MVlJBoPcicbj-VqDxgPbjQLGTKSTg9FbX2CvzyFmnaw/viewform

    Going for EFTA+EEA reflects an approach which fails to acknowledge the development of European integration and the interaction between European law and regulations, on one side, and international trade/globalisation, on the other. Leaving the EU for the EFTA+EEA model won’t bring actual benefits in terms of contributions given the rebates the UK currently enjoys (and the UK will have to pay a divorce bill in any event), level of loans/investments by EIB and EIF and EU funding at various level plus need to replace funding for fisheries and agricultural policy and above all will mean that the country will surely give away sovereignty as rules will be enacted by EU institutions with no involvement or say from the UK. In addition, any exit from the EU will undermine UK’s international role. The adoption of EFTA+EEA is simply a prologue to full Brexit and it should be avoided. Surely, I am not blind and realpolitik may prevail. In that case, the party should not satisfy itself with an EFTA+EEA model and fight for re-joining the EU with all necessary consequences (Euro + no rebates) with the party having a fronting role in contributing to change EU institutions for the better. Europe is a dream and I am not forcing anybody to share my dream but let me assure you that it is the dream of the large majority of newbies.

  • Remaining in the EU will inevitably lead to more integration and more loss of sovereignty and probably pressure to join the Eurozone at some stage. There is no such thing as the status quo. Remaining means that you accept the future direction within the EU.

    I do not, which is partly why I wish to leave. The other reason is to return sovereignty, which to me means making our own laws, controlling our borders and making trade deals with other countries. Such abilities are the norm anywhere in the world, except inside the EU.

    Leaving the EU means leaving the single market, since otherwise we would not gain control of our borders and leaving the customs union otherwise we would not be able to make our own trade deals with the rest of the world.

    The problem is that our politicians allowed EU integration to construct a complex web of laws and regulation binding trade and most aspects of life through the instrument of competences. It is a massive job to untangle the current arrangements.

    I still wish to leave the EU and all that it entails, but to avoid the cliff edge problem we should be part of the EEA for a transition period while new arrangements are put in place. That is the closest to a seamless and painless departure.

    I reject the current Lib Dem policy for two reasons. Its purpose is to reject the democratic decision already made no matter how much you try to dress that up. The second reason is that in true EU style, you never mention the future integration plans of the EU when you promote remaining. Edward Heath all over again.

  • Riccardo Sallustio 25th Jul '17 - 7:06pm

    Peter, the current and any future Lib Dem policy is not to reject but rather to uphold democracy. Equally the referendum was advisory (the Supreme Court and the Hansard said that) which means that it was neither a decision nor a binding one. So everybody should seriously respect that an opinion was expressed in line with the laws of this country. It would be a breach of democracy to treat something advisory as binding.

  • With respect, that sounds like more dressing up. I believe you, but my view is not important. All those who voted to leave the EU must have an opinion about the LD policy. I doubt if it takes into account your caveat. I bet most LD supporters don’t know about your caveat either, or those who first created the policy.

  • Sorry, I initially mis-read your comment. Yes, referenda are advisory but all democrats agreed that the will of the people must be implemented. Perhaps the party should change its name.

  • Riccardo Sallustio 25th Jul '17 - 8:08pm

    Nobody has the right to change a Supreme Court decision. What it was advisory it is still advisory and changing the nature of the referendum post-facto would be a breach of constitutional principles and of the rules of a democracy. Everybody should accept that this is still a constitutional parliamentary democracy which demands Parliament to evaluate a case for exit from the EU and if so to decide accordingly. Democracy requires respect for any decision the Parliament will eventually take. No decision yet has been taken. Fact is that the HoC commission on Brexit has not been functioning since April due to GE2017 and has been unable to oversee the work of the Government on Brexit. The few position papers issued by the Government have not been shared in advance with Parliament. All democrats should hope that Parliament be put in the condition to evaluate the merits and decide in the interest of the country.

  • Riccardo, you can quote the Supreme Court as much as you like but the main parties and majority of the people regard the democratic result as the will of the people and agree that it should be respected. Whether or not the Supreme Court thinks it is advisory matters not a jot.

    The Lib Dems are still guilty of ignoring the will of the people. Worse, in fact, declaring that they did not know what they were voting for, etc and basically treating the electorate with contempt.

    That has been the general view for many months and the Supreme Court is not going to change that.

  • Torrin Wilkins 25th Jul '17 - 10:33pm

    Riccardo Sallustio: Brexit “won’t bring actual benefits in terms of contributions given the rebates the UK currently enjoys”. This is one of the reasons that it is a compromise position as it is more about where the money goes than the amount. The money that goes towards poorer EU countries does not go to the EU though so isn’t a payment.

    There is also the “need to replace funding for fisheries and agricultural policy”. I agree these subsidies need to continue and on top of that is the ‘Brexit bill’ which is just prior commitments. It really depends what we do, I would have to look into it more but one suggestion was that the money given to poorer EU countries would be counted as part of the aid budget (something itself that should be expanded). That would leave money to go towards EU subsidies. On the Brexit bill it sounds far sounds fair, we pay for commitments we made to the EU, I really don’t see anything outrageous about that. I just feel that EFTA+EEA membership if better than EU membership as I have explained above.

    “the country will surely give away sovereignty as rules will be enacted by EU institutions with no involvement or say from the UK”. That requires analysis of where most EU laws actually originate. They mostly come from global bodies and although are gold plated by the EU we would only have to accept the original global standard.

    This means no veto to stop damaging or bad legislation which we would have on most global bodies, “Moreover, as EU members we have no right of proposal when it comes to new regulation which means if the UK is ever at the forefront of an innovation, before it can propose regulation in order to lead the field it must submit to the EU and wait for a common EU position. Very often this is subject to the protectionist whims of other members who may wish to stifle any new innovations that threaten their established industries”. Finally, in the EU the UK would also have a say but not a vote.
    “In addition, any exit from the EU will undermine UK’s international role”. The truth is it will allow the UK to increase its international voice rather than EU level one.

    “fight for re-joining the EU” The party through the referendum on the deal, which in itself is another referendum on EU membership, is doing just that. I pointed out in a prior comment I will follow the party line on the doorstep as I am representing the party but I will go no further than that.

  • Torrin Wilkins 25th Jul '17 - 10:54pm

    Peter: “Leaving the EU means leaving the single market, since otherwise we would not gain control of our borders”. Please see the attached link in the article on the immigration issue. Norway though shows it is perfectly possible to be an non-EU member inside the single market.

  • Is it a record ? Has the Guinness Book been contacted ?

    Our good friend TorrinWilkins has been allowed to make 45 responses in just over 24 hours (what happened to the time-bar dear Editor of the Day ?) Us lesser mortals seem to get three goes every several hours.

    Does the dear man not sleep or eat or bathe or cut his toe nails ? Doesn’t he have a dog to walk, a cat to put out or grass to cut ? Was it a poor night on telly ?

    I admire your enthusiasm, Torrin, but I think we can well and truly say that we get the message. You want to leave the EU.

  • Torrin – Paul posted them on his Facebook page in the referendum. It seems hard to believe you didn’t have him as a Facebook friend so forgive me if I think your assertions you were unaware what he was posting lack a bit of credibility. But here you go: http://imgur.com/a/c70RT.

    Are those messages Liberal Leave did or do endorse. If not why was the then chairman posting them?

  • Torrin Wilkins 26th Jul '17 - 12:55am

    Hywel: I think its jumping to conclusions that because I had him as a friend on Facebook I also looked at all of his posts. I did not. What you have shown me in the link is not proof he posted them, just some vote leave images. It is certainly not the position of Liberal Leave now and I would very highly doubt then.

    “Are those messages Liberal Leave did or do endorse. If not why was the then chairman posting them”?
    In general just because the chair of a group posts something doesn’t mean it’s the view of the group, that is if he did post them.

  • Riccardo Sallustio 26th Jul '17 - 10:13am

    Peter, this country is based on the rule of law as applied by courts. There has been no act of parliament changing this principle so I suggest that we all get real. While there is respect for the result this does not amount to a decision and there is no “will of the people” mantra. On top of that, the PM put this mantra at the core of her General Election campaign and lost. The reality is that the country is unprepared for any sort of Brexit and the politicians in two major parties are just reckless and incompetent and if they are hiding behind this mantra, it is only because they cannot face the consequences of the Brexit disaster. So rather than asking Lib Dem MPs to ignore the rule of law, you better ask the others to do what they are paid for, which is to exercise their judgment based on the evaluation of merits of any proposal.

    Torrin, I do not know where you are getting the idea that there is some global standard legislation which is gold plated by the EU and this how EU legislation works. The Commission proposes legislation based on consultation papers which you, any association or corporation and any Government in the EU can comment on. The Commission is accountable and the UK has historically played an important role in influencing EU legislation thanks to a very active DTI, PRA and FCA. The financial regulations in the EU have been shaped thanks to the key role of British institutions and MEPs (first of all our Sharon Bowles). For example, now the British regulators are heavily involved in shaping European legislation on FinTech, in which the UK excels at. In addition, the EU Parliament can ask the Commission to present legislative proposals for laws to the Council. It does currently play a genuine role in creating new laws since it examines the Commission’s annual programme of work and says which laws it would like to see introduced. As to your solutions about fisheries and agriculture policy, it is interesting but you better ensure that it is put in place by March 2019 to avoid British fishermen and farmers going bankrupt after Brexit.

  • Nobody has the right to change a Supreme Court decision

    Except currently the ECJ?

  • Sarah Noble

    “Northern Irish people were granted a right to Irish citizenship through the Good Friday Agreement”

    The right of those born in Norther Ireland to Irish citizenship predartes the good Friday agreement for example in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Acts 1956. I believe it actually goes all the way back to the founding of the Irish state but I can’t be bothered to look that up.

    The Good Friday Agreement had a number of changes that required to be made. The Good Friday agreement may have guaranteed the right to citizenship but that was simply ensuring the continuity of rights that already existed. In the same way if the Government get their way in a Hard Brexit and choose to keep certain consumer protection rights by transposing them in to UK Law they won’t have granted us new right they will simply have removed a few less than they could have.

  • Dav

    “Nobody has the right to change a Supreme Court decision
    Except currently the ECJ?”

    and the Supreme Court itself, it is able to change its mind if someone were to bering back a case on a legitimate basis.

  • Torrin Wilkins

    I think you are wrong on your preference for leaving the EU but I am impressed at your resilience to the excessive unpleasantness of some on here.

    I’d echo those who have said that people should not be hounded out of the party for not supporting EU membership. Unlike others I support the EU as I see it as the best (if imperfect) way of achieving liberal values, but I recognize other LibDems make a different judgment call.

    Those who assume the worse of their opponents should realize their judgment does not actually say very much about their opponents.

  • Daniel Walker 26th Jul '17 - 11:06am

    @Dav, @Psi: In fact individuals cannot appeal to the Court of Justice of the European Union. The UKSC can request a ruling from the CJEU in areas of its competence (e.g. Treaty interpretation) see: https://www.supremecourt.uk/about/the-supreme-court-and-europe.html

    The European Court of Human Rights, on the other hand, can be appealed to if the appellant thinks the UKSC has not respected their rights, but only after exhausting domestic appeals. (ibid.) But of course, the ECHR is a) not part of the EU, and Brexit won’t change our membership of it; b) can only issue declarations of incompatibility in any case.

  • Psi – the wording of article 2 of the Irish constitution was changed (following a referendum) after the Good Friday agreement and it is presumably this that Sarah Noble is referring to.

    The original wording was “The national territory consists of the whole island of Ireland, its islands and the territorial seas”. After the Good Friday agreement this was softened to “It is the entitlement and birthright of every person born in the island of Ireland, which includes its islands and seas, to be part of the Irish Nation”. This wording appears in the current Irish passport.

    But you are correct to point out that people born in Northern Ireland (including me) have always had the right to Irish citizenship and this was not affected by The Good Friday agreement.

  • The idea that no government can do anythign which ‘strips’ its citizens of rights is clearly wrong.

    Consider the following situation:

    Country X unilaterally passes a law which grants British Citizens the right to live and work there. This clearly grants rights to British Citizens, right?

    Country X then declares that if the UK government imposes sanctions on Country X, it will rescind those rights.

    By the logic that the UK government may never do anything which strips away any rights of British Citizens, the UK government may now not impose sanctions on Country X.

    This can’t be right, can it? A foreign country cannot dictate the actions of the UK government like this. And yet that is the logical conclusion of the idea that the UK may not do anything which would cause British Citizens to lose any rights.

    In reality, of course, it is even simpler to prove that the idea is wrong by pointing out that every time Parliament passes a law it strips some rights form British Citizens as it makes some activity that they previously had a right to do, illegal. The Road Traffic Act 1934 stripped the rights of British citizens to drive at more than 30mph in built-up areas, for example, but nobody complains about that.

  • Torrin Wilkins 26th Jul '17 - 3:16pm

    Riccardo Sallustio: So I feel I really only have one thing to clear up here and that is how the EU makes all of it’s laws. Your right to go through how EU originated laws are created but that isn’t the full story. The first thing to explain is that most EU single market laws actually originate in global bodies. “However a crucial point that is not widely advertised is that most of these Single Market rules are not made in the EU…”. “In fact, an increasing number of EU regulations are made at the global level and not by the EU bureaucracy, which mainly performs a ‘wholesaler’ role, enforcing rules without creating them anew”. “A recent EFTA report shows that more than 90 percent of the laws of the single market include policy areas covered by UN or other global bodies”.
    https://www.adamsmith.org/stuck-in-the-middle-with-eu/
    http://euquestion.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/cameron-watch-norway-has-no-say-over.html

    “These regulations are then passed down, with the odd gold-plating, by the EU”. Dr Richard North said that EFTA+EEA countries only have to accept the basic global standards not the gold plating itself. So those laws that originate in global bodies would be just that, the law that originated there. The UK would have a veto in most bodies to stop damaging or bad legislation and the UK would have the right to propose regulations which in the EU can be stopped by more protectionist countries.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/05/25/brexit-will-make-us-richer-thats-why-leave-could-still-win/

  • Paul Murray

    I was aware of the amendments to the Irish constitution from the GFA and the amendment is not offering anything that didn’t exist before. When the constitution claimed the whole island as then the right to citizenship would extend to those born on what the constitution considered Ireland. I didn’t want to get in to details as though I know the basics, I’m no expert in Irish constitutional law and I’m aware there are anomalies in the past which I don’t have any knowledge of.

    My point wasn’t to get at Sarah Noble, just I have noticed an increasing tendency for inaccurate information to go unchallenged on LDV, which I tend to try and correct as it is worth having the accurate facts and data even if interpretations will differ. Hence why I left the matter at the citizenship matter at the existence of the right rather then setting out my understanding as I am aware that I do have some holes which could just confuse matters.

  • Torrin Wilkins 26th Jul '17 - 5:10pm

    Hywel: I do condemn Paul Keetch for having shared that during the referendum.

  • Interesting article,
    But the main problem is that a lot of remain rhetoric removes any scope for compromise. A lot of them believe in deepest forms of further political integration. would happily join the single currency to stay in the EU and basically insist that the British negotiating position should to adopt the Wayne’s world “we are not worthy” stance. To be fair. pointing out that the leave win was not by a large enough margin to ignore Remains’ concerns has some merit. However, the argument made by a lot of high profile supporters of the EU that they should generously listen to the concerns of leave voters before attempting to stay in the EU is bizarre as they did in fact loose the vote. Also, how do you compromise with people who call you moonies or worse, claim you do not know what you voted for or were really voting about something other than membership of the EU in an referendum that was only about membership of the EU?

  • Torrin Wilkins 28th Jul '17 - 12:18am

    Glenn: There is a small group who want full EU integration but in my experience it is just that, a small group. I am willing to work with people from across the political spectrum to get an Icelandic style Brexit.

    “…the argument made by a lot of high profile supporters of the EU that they should generously listen to the concerns of leave voters before attempting to stay in the EU…”

    I feel that for remain supporters they have two choices. If they push for remain then I doubt they will succeed in keeping the UK inside the EU but if they join force with people who support a “soft Brexit” then I think we can win. Of-course some of them are going to call me things but I have found most remain and leave voters perfectly nice. As always though there are extremes on either side.

  • Torrin Wilkins 26th Jul ’17 – 3:16pm: The first thing to explain is that most EU single market laws actually originate in global bodies.

    Whose ‘laws’ are being broken in this sample of EFTA Surveillance Authority cases?…

    ‘Internal Market: Maritime Safety: Norway to be brought to Court for failure to incorporate regulations’ [February 2011]:
    http://www.eftasurv.int/press–publications/press-releases/internal-market/nr/1370

    ‘Internal Market: Stock exchange ownership: Norway to be brought to court for breach of EEA law’ [May 2011]:
    http://www.eftasurv.int/press–publications/press-releases/internal-market/nr/1454

    ‘Internal market: Social Security: Unlawful restrictions on unemployment benefits for migrant workers in Iceland and Norway’ [June 2011]:
    http://www.eftasurv.int/press–publications/press-releases/internal-market/nr/1476

    Internal Market: Energy: Norway in breach of the Directive on the energy performance of buildings’ [July 2011]:
    http://www.eftasurv.int/press–publications/press-releases/internal-market/nr/1501

    ‘Internal Market: Late implementation: Final warnings given to Norway and Iceland’ [February 2012]:
    http://www.eftasurv.int/press–publications/press-releases/internal-market/nr/1583

    ‘Internal Market: Norwegian building authorisation requirement in breach of EEA rules’ [May 2012]:
    http://www.eftasurv.int/press–publications/press-releases/internal-market/nr/1665

    ‘Internal Market: Norwegian rules on VAT representatives in breach of the EEA agreement’ [September 2012]:
    http://www.eftasurv.int/press–publications/press-releases/internal-market/nr/1756

    Internal Market: Norway must change tax rules concerning EEA-registered cars’ [November 2012]:
    http://www.eftasurv.int/press–publications/press-releases/internal-market/nr/1783

    ‘Internal Market: Norway to be brought to court over tax on leased cars’ [December 2013]:
    http://www.eftasurv.int/press–publications/press-releases/internal-market/nr/2137

    ‘Internal Market: Norway must change discriminatory rules on financial assistance to studies’ [July 2014]:
    http://www.eftasurv.int/press–publications/press-releases/internal-market/nr/2285

    ‘State aid: Investigation of IT services provided through Norwegian online travel guide’ [July 2014]:
    http://www.eftasurv.int/press–publications/press-releases/state-aid/nr/2307

  • Torrin Wilkins 28th Jul '17 - 9:12pm

    Jeff: I haven’t got time to go though all of the cases you have outlined above but there are a few points I need to make. The first is that they are most likely to be EU originated laws as Norway and the other EFTA+EEA countries have a veto at global bodies. The second point is that my original statement is still true.

  • Chris Davies 30th Jul '17 - 9:13pm

    NORWEGIAN PRIME MINISTER TELLS UK “DON’T DO IT”

    If Norway is such a role model for ‘Liberal Leave’ should it not be noted that the Prime Minister of Norway thinks it’s a rotten option for the UK?

    Quoted in POLITICO before the referendum last year, Erna Solberg said:

    “They won’t like it,” Erna Solberg told POLITICO.

    Norway receives access to most of the bloc’s internal market through membership of the European Economic Area. That means goods, services and labor flow freely between Norway and the EU. In return, however, Norway has to adopt a large number of EU laws without having a formal say in how they are shaped. Norway also has to pay about the same amount of money into the EU budget on a per capita basis as the U.K., according to OpenEurope,
    “That type of connection is going to be difficult for Britain, because then Brussels will decide without the Brits being able to participate in the decision-making,” said Solberg.
    Norwegian officials often attend expert-level group meetings where European Commission proposals are fleshed out, and its ministers are invited to some EU gatherings when it is relevant for both sides, on energy for instance. But they have no vote.
    Solberg, who is 55 and has been prime minister since 2013, said this arrangement forces Norway to act like “a lobby organization” in Brussels.
    “Sometimes we are good at it, sometimes we are not,” she said.
    Norway’s membership in the European Economic Area does not cover agriculture, fishing, trade, customs, justice and home affairs, but it is part of Europe’s Schengen passport-free travel zone. Its participation in the single market means Norway implements about three-quarters of all EU laws.
    The Norwegian parliament adopts five EU laws for every day it is in session, without having much say in how those laws are formed.
    The country of 5.2 million people has found it even trickier since the European Parliament gained more powers in 2009.
    “We used to talk to the Commission and we could call up the countries,” said Solberg. “It’s much more difficult to get the European Parliament to understand that Norway, which has decided not to become a member, should have special favors.”

  • Torrin Wilkins 30th Jul '17 - 10:58pm

    Chris Davies: The Norwegian Prime Minister wants Norway to join the EU so of course any other option that allows Norway to remain outside the EU while being a member of the single market but outside the Common Agricultural/fisheries policy. On decision taking they do have an independent vote in global bodies, something EU members don’t have. On the pay part they don’t contribute to the EU’s central budget and the only money that actually goes to the EU is from EU programs which we would probably take part in anyway. On Schengen they chose to join, it isn’t part of the EEA agreement. It is no where near “three-quarters” the real percentage is about 8% of EU originated laws. it does have a say in how the laws are formed in global bodies where it has the power to propose and veto most legislation, where most EU laws actually come from.

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