Tag Archives: eu

Migration myths and unravelling of Brexit promises

The recent increase in hate crimes against Eastern Europeans in the UK has rightly been met with condemnation from across the political spectrum. Some dismiss this is a post-referendum spasm which will quickly ebb away. I fear that may not be the case and the Brexit decision may cause long-term damage to community cohesion and open a Pandora’s box of nasty populist politics. Let me explain why.

Brexiteer leaders – Farage, Fox, Johnson – made promises which are already unravelling. They told voters that leaving the EU would lead to better NHS services, improved job prospects and smaller class sizes. Those promises were largely based on migration myths which, unfortunately, many people believed.

Voters were promised that leaving the EU would lead to an improved NHS. Migrants were (wrongly) blamed as a drain on scarce NHS resources and that the UK cash contribution to the EU would be redirected to the NHS.

The reality is that the NHS is struggling because people are living longer, but often with multiple medical conditions and there has been a huge increase in conditions resulting from lifestyle choices. Neither of these is related to migration – these are home-grown problems – so leaving the EU will not resolve them and may make matters worse as it could discourage medical professionals from coming to work in the UK. 

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Introducing the new hate figure for the tabloid press…

The European Parliament has appointed its lead negotiator for the Brexit discussions. And it’s someone well known to Liberal Democrats. He announced it on his Twitter this afternoon:

The BBC has this to say about his appointment:

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LibLink: Tim Farron: The Lib Dems will fight Brexit. Labour is not doing its job

Tim Farron is popping up everywhere today. You’d think that this was co-ordinatd or something.

He’s written for us about his plan for Britain and Europe. He was on Good Morning Britain before dawn, Radio 5 Live, the Today programme.

He’s also gone and pitched a massive great marquee on Labour’s lawn in this article for the Guardian.

Labour, he says, are all over the place.

For Labour, it is still deciding whether it’s even a pro-European party. Owen Smith has made clear he wants it to be, but Jeremy Corbyn’s ambivalence was plain for all to see in the referendum campaign, and he has already made clear he wants to see the Brexit process get underway.

If they can’t or won’t hold the Government to account in the way that is required, the Liberal Democrats will. And if you think that’s unlikely, you might want to look back to the last session of the Scottish Parliament where it was the wee Lib Dem group that scored most forced changes in SNP government policy. Don’t ever underestimate us:

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Tim Farron MP writes…A Liberal Democrat plan for Britain in Europe

Today, I am announcing a plan to keep Britain at the heart of Europe. First and foremost, I believe the British people should be given the right to vote on the government’s negotiated Brexit deal.

Voting for a departure is not the same as voting for a destination. This is not an attempt to re-run the first referendum; we must respect the result. But the British people should be allowed to choose what comes next, to ensure it is right for them, their families, their jobs and our country. Our relationship with Europe affects our economy, our security, climate change, our influence in the world and so much more.

Until people get that choice, we will hold the Conservative Brexit Government to account and fight to make sure that Britain gets the best deal possible. So I am also setting out our approach on everything from the triggering of article 50 to the rights of EU citizens in the UK. While all the other parties are ducking these vital issues, we are tackling them head on. These questions are simply too important to ignore.

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Lib Dems gather for March for Europe

On a traffic island near Marble Arch, Lib Dems are gathering to take part in the March for Europe

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Vince Cable writes: What Brexit means

 

I appreciated the large response to my post-referendum blog on the 48 Movement.  The Bank Holiday Sunday press reminds us that this issue will very soon return with a vengeance as the politicians come back from their holidays.  The Brexit hardliners in the Tory party are already preparing their narrative of betrayal by Remainer ministers and sabotage by civil servants.

When I wrote my note there was agreement on many points, not least the negative impacts which still await us, but two things I said triggered a negative reaction.  One was my argument that the result was final and could not be wished away by legal subterfuge or attempts to reverse the vote.  I see that  Owen Smith in the Labour leadership contest is arguing for a re-run through a second referendum and that position appeals to many in our own party.  There will be debate on this issue at Conference. Since, unlike Labour, we have nothing to prove on the EU issue I hope we can be more realistic.  The most recent polls show that almost all Brexit voters and half of Remainers accept the result however much we deplore it.  Shock, anger and remorse are very understandable but not if these harden into the conviction that the majority of voters are gullible fools.

The second point of controversy was my view that the free movement of EU labour should not be regarded as an inviolable principle, but is now politically unsustainable and of questionable merit when at the expense of non-EU migration.  There are better ways of being liberal on immigration: opposing the self-harming stupidity of the current ‘crack-down’ on overseas, non-EU, students to help Theresa May meet her absurd target; defending the position of EU nationals who are already resident here; promoting a less pusillanimous approach to refugees, as Tim Farron has been doing.

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Liberal Democrats must enthusiastically occupy the clear pro EU space – nobody else will

The Liberal Democrats have historically been enthusiastically pro EU. The strength of that enthusiasm, it’s fair to say, has not always been uniform. While a small number of Liberal Democrats campaigned to leave the EU, the vast majority of us wanted to remain. That was very clear to the tens of thousands who have joined us in the aftermath of the vote to leave.

As a party during the referendum, we did more than any other to campaign for a Remain vote. That’s quite a staggering achievement given our size and resources compared to the Labour party.

However, there are signs now that the consensus is starting to develop some fault lines. Our position in the aftermath of the referendum has been very clear. We campaign to stay or go back in to the EU at the next election. We want the voters to have their say on the Brexit deal. It’s only polite, really, given that they weren’t given any indication about what it would look like before they voted.

I don’t want to over-egg this particular pudding, but it looks like our general unity as a party on this is now under threat. Many Liberal Democrats  have been very concerned to see that Norman Lamb and Nick Clegg have endorsed Open Britain, the organisation formerly known as Britain Stronger in Europe.  Open Britain accepts the referendum result as final even though they also accept that nobody knows what they actually voted for. They will not be calling for a second referendum which seems to be a bizarre and contradictory stance to me.

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An election or not?

Right now it feels a little like an electoral phoney war. Rumours of a possible snap general election prompted the party, rightly, to do urgent selections of prospective parliamentary candidates over the summer. Will the election happen? Could a possible false alarm be helpful?

One answer is to wait and see: a general election in October would point to a different strategy from one early in 2017, and we don’t have resources to invest a lot in an election that doesn’t happen.

But the appointment of a slate of Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) and putting things in place for an election campaign is an opportunity to put forward strong party values and to engage with people who have joined recently in shock at the referendum result. If we get it right, what we do now helps to shape the national debate and strengthens our hand for whatever elections are on the horizon. Internally, this is also a chance to run meetings where PPCs (and others) speak, helping draw people together in a way that is more positive than just lamenting the referendum result.

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Tom Brake calls for Turkey to be suspended from NATO

As the human rights situation in Turkey worsens, Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesperson Tom Brake has called for Turkey to be suspended from NATO and for the refugee deal between Turkey and the EU to be scrapped.

He said:

Erdogan’s ongoing purge of newspapers, academics, teachers and judges has nothing to do with Turkey’s security and everything to do with blocking any opposition to his increasingly authoritarian rule. Today’s news that dozens more media outlets have been shut should send shivers down the spine of any person who believes in a free and open society.

The preamble to NATO’s founding treaty refers to it being “founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law”, all of which are under threat in Turkey currently.

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LibLink: Tim Farron: What’s next?

Tim Farron has written a blog for the party website where he outlines 3 Liberal Democrat priorities. They are:

I’ve already announced that at the next General election, our party’s manifesto will contain a clear commitment to take us back into the European Union.

Our manifesto will contain a clear commitment to take us back into the European Union.

We have also launched a campaign to protect EU citizens right to stay in the United Kingdom. Thousands have already signed a petition backing the campaign online (you can add your name here) and this week, Tom Brake introduced a bill to the House of Commons, intended to do exactly that.

EU Citizens have built their lives here, they’re our friends, family, co-workers and neighbours and we must guarantee their future in this country.

EU citizens have built their lives here, we must guarantee their future

Our fight will not stop there – as Theresa May’s new government begins to negotiate Brexit, we must hold the Brextiers to account for the promises they have made.

They cannot be allowed to get away with the lies and half truths they told during the referendum and they cannot be allowed to escape responsibility for what they have done.

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It’s time to be positive about immigration

The only publicly acceptable approach to immigration seems to be, more or less, stating “immigration is a problem” and then making vague promises to control it in some way. This was particularly obnoxious in the run up to, and aftermath of, the referendum but it has been the case for some time. If we really want to stand out, and promote a truly liberal approach, we need to do the opposite. We need to stand up and say “immigration is a solution”. As liberals we understand the importance of everyone being able to pursue their own good in their own way. This entails a positive approach to immigration. Right now we should be pushing to make sure we retain free movement within the EEA. In the future we should be working to liberalise migration arrangements with the rest of the world as well.

This doesn’t mean that in practice we have to advocate for completely open borders, no matter how ideologically attractive such a system might be. There are genuine issues with rapid population growth, such as short term strain on public services and downward pressure on wages, and we should address these, but not by following the popular route of promoting the illiberal idea that immigration is a problem in itself. Instead we must emphasise the benefits of immigration, both in economic terms and in terms of individual freedom, and confront the myths that support the xenophobia behind a portion of the Brexit vote.

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An open letter to the leaders of the EU

I get it.  I really do.  We have been a difficult partner for the whole time we have been in the EU and its predecessors.  And after the Brexit referendum vote, you had to put up with Nigel Farage being his usual unpleasant self in the European Parliament.  You should know that many of us felt exactly the same as Mr Vytenis Andriukaitis whose facepalm went viral on social media (and we enjoyed his heartfelt blog as well).

So, I understand it when you demand that the UK get on and serve an Article 50 notice.  You want us to get on with it.  But I ask you to think again.

When I think of the Article 50 notice, I think of a scene in the Batman movie “The Dark Knight”. The Joker has rigged two ships full of explosives, one of hardened criminals and one of innocent civilians.  Each ship has a trigger to blow up the other one and save themselves.  The Tory leadership are like the boat of criminals – torn between a desire to trigger Article 50 to save their own skins and the consequences if they do.

One thing that I have heard a lot is that serving an Article 50 notice will reduce uncertainty.  That can’t be right.  If an Article 50 notice is served without a deal already being worked out in outline, uncertainty will massively increase because of the risk of a “Hard Brexit” in two years’ time.

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Lord Dick Taverne writes: A common cause to stop Brexit

There is a smell of defeatism in the air, a widespread view that the people have spoken and that we must respect them and accept their verdict. What nonsense! There is nothing sacred about a referendum vote, any more than the result of a General Election. We Lib Dems cannot accept Brexit because it would be a calamity that would undo everything we have always fought for. Furthermore reversing Brexit is not a hopeless cause.

When the time is right, there is every justification for a new referendum. A referendum must offer a clear choice, which the last did not. When Theresa May says Brexit means Brexit, what does Brexit mean? Some Leavers want no more free movement of labour, which means no access to the single market. Others want access, which means the free movement of labour must stay. Indeed with only a very tiny margin in favour of Leave, far more votes were cast for Remain than for each of these two incompatible objectives of the Leave Camps.

A re-run is especially justified if there is a dramatic change in circumstances, such as a massive shift in public opinion. This is very likely. Most economists and every independent expert organization, the IMF, the IFS and the Bank of England, predict a serious recession. Leavers promised a future in the sunny uplands, and lots of new money for the NHS, not more austerity and severe cuts in spending. Now they may be ringing their bells, but soon they will be wringing their hands.

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Tim Farron at #marchforEurope: We stand with EU citizens living here

Tim Farron led a noisy Liberal Democrat contingent at the March for Europe in London today. From Facebook:

Unfortunately the BBC couldn’t fit him on their list of speakers at the event, but speak he did.

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Pledge to rejoin EU needs to be matched by EU Impact Fund

Tim Farron has rightly pledged we should campaign to take Britain back into the EU in the next general election. Should the election take place earlier than expected, we may still be an EU member, and should propose to withdraw from the Article 50 process.

In either case, it would not be politically credible to advocate reinstating or maintaining EU membership without proposing major domestic initiatives on immigration. The overall Remain campaign failed to a considerable degree because it did not factor in concerns, whether real or imagined, about immigration. The voices of the, largely, English hinterland must be heeded. Any Lib Dem call to rejoin or remain in the EU should therefore be accompanied by proposals to alleviate the perceived and in many cases, real, impact of immigration.

Pressures on housing, education, health and other social services can only be attributed in part to immigration. Ageing, internal migration, austerity and underinvestment together are often the more salient causes. Free movement from the EU accounts for just under half of all net migration and is the price of access to the Single EU market. Ending free movement within the EU (including from Ireland and returning UK nationals) will therefore not substantially reduce immigration, a point of mine which Dan Hannan MEP agreed during a referendum debate. If the diagnosis of our problems is wrong, then the prescription of leaving the EU will not cure them. 

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Sir Graham Watson writes…Is there a way back from the Brexit decision?

What happens now?

Initial reactions in London and Brussels have been stark, along the lines of ‘Out means Out’. Will they change with more considered reflection? As the foreign ministers gather in Berlin today and the leaders of Germany, France and Italy meet on Monday to prepare Tuesday’s European Council (‘summit’) meeting, economic interests may have started to impinge on political considerations. It seems most likely, however, that when David Cameron arrives in Brussels on Tuesday he will find his 27 counterparts almost all singing from the same (German-language) hymn sheet.

In a statement Friday by the Presidents of the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission it is made clear that there can be no further renegotiation and that the concessions made to Cameron in February are now null and void. The summit can be expected to rubber-stamp this.

The most Cameron can hope for is a period of 12 weeks for the UK to sort out the shitstorm which will now be unleashed by the most calamitous case of self harm in Britain’s democratic history. The EU Treaties leave it up to the country which seeks to leave to decide when and if to invoke Article 50, to start the formal process of withdrawal. But the continental clamour for it will be deafening. Britain’s footdragging, wheel-spoking and taking home of wicket in recent years has drained any patience or sympathy our partners might once have felt.

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What being in the EU has meant for my family

What has Europe ever done for me? It’s a question that the impending referendum has caused me to ask myself. I had always been supportive, but throwing myself into the campaign to remain meant I needed to be clear in my mind why I was supportive and what the benefits were. And having helped so far at street stalls in Truro, Plymouth, Taunton, Yeovil, Bristol and Stroud, it has proved a useful exercise as voters have rightly demanded to know what good the EU has done.

And the way I thought about it was to think about the generations of my own family. How have their lives been different because the EU exists and because we’re in?

Take my father, for example. He was a Royal Marine in the Sixties and Seventies. My brother too served in the armed forces, in the Eighties and Nineties, and his daughter – my niece – too. And my brother-in-law is a serviceman today and has been so for about 20 years. All of them have seen active service, but none of them thankfully were thrown into a conflict on the European mainland. Indeed, in the case of my father and brother, they once stood ready to defend our country from communist dictatorships in eastern Europe that are today our democratic friends and allies.

It is true that Nato helped prevent war between the West and the East during the Cold War, and stands ready to defend us today should Putin get a bit too trigger-happy. But there is a difference between an absence of war and a culture of peace. And it has been the European Union that has made it the boring, day-to-day norm that European countries talk with each other and work with each other on the big issues facing our continent. And it was the pull of EU membership, not the defensive military alliance of Nato, that helped embed democratic government and civil liberties in those eastern Europe countries that joined the EU a decade or so ago.

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#Intogether’s National Day of Action to make positive case to remain in the EU

Black long with hashtag-2With the local elections behind us, the time has come to turn our full attention as a Party to the upcoming Europe Referendum which is just 6 weeks away. On 23rd June, Britain must decide what kind of country we want to be: inward-looking and cut off from the world or proudly leading from the front, at the heart of Europe.

Tonight, Tim Farron, speaking in London, will make the positive, progressive case for Britain remaining in Europe, recognising the future benefits of close relations with our neighbours and natural partners, and how investing in each other’s economies and sharing in prosperity can make Britain even greater than it is now.

This Saturday we are hosting our first National Day of Action of the #INtogether campaign and the response from local parties has been overwhelming! We have 199 street stalls planned across the country, with well over 150 local parties taking part.

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The liberal case for Leave

The party whose membership card I currently have sitting in my wallet, our party, is without a doubt a broad church, but I think it reasonable to presume that the vast majority of Liberal Democrats would profess to value liberty and democracy – at any rate, the two are described as ‘fundamental’ in the Preamble to the party’s Constitution. In the light of such principles, strong support of the European Union seems a little bizarre to me.

Movement towards centralisation and ‘ever closer union’ contradicts aspirations for increased dispersal of power and encouragement of diversity. I would expect us Liberal Democrats to aim for government to be as open, accessible and close to people as possible, but we seem willing to allow our lives to be brought under the purview of Brussels bureaucrats, with most UK citizens having little idea of how policy is made or who represents us. A brief study of the EU’s history reveals how many times constituent nations have tried and failed to reform it, and, worse, how many times those in charge have ignored referenda which have gone against their wishes. Rather than by the people, for the people, the EU is first and foremost government by elites for the furthering of an agenda most UK citizens do not support.

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Roaming charges reduced from tomorrow thanks to the EU

There is good news for smartphone users heading to the continent this bank holiday weekend. From tomorrow (April 30th), new EU rules will cap the cost of using your phone when abroad in Europe at 4p per minute, 2p per text and 4p per MB of data (excluding VAT), around four times cheaper than current limits.

Three UK’s rate is dropping from 16.6p per minute, 5.2p per text and 17.4p per MB to 4.3p per minute, 1.5p per text and 4.3p per MB. Tesco Mobile has announced it will drop roaming charges altogether in more than 30 European countries between May and September this year. From July 2016, all phone companies will be required to scrap roaming fees for phone users travelling within the EU.

That’s good news for my brother-in-law who is currently in Mallorca to compete in the marathon cycle ride, the Mallorca 312 tomorrow. That’s 312 km, a lot of it on the massive mountain ridge that covers the west of the island. I thought my leaflet delivery schedule for the next few days was punishing, but this is quite some feat of endurance, so  good luck, Jamie and team-mates.

This adds to a growing list of reasons to vote to remain in the EU. It maybe isn’t the biggest, but it does show that the EU is working to break down unnecessary barriers for the benefit of its half billion people.

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It must be possible to be 100% pro-EU, but still question how things are run

 

I’m half Danish and consider myself to be a European. I have never really felt particularly English or British at all and if Denmark is playing England at football it’s a tough call, even though I’ve lived in the UK almost all my life and spent a total of only two years in Denmark.

I have always been pro-EU. I believe in political co-operation and the European ideal – and have often considered other European countries to be more enlightened when it comes to matters such as social justice and environmental protection. Without the EU, I am sure we wouldn’t have had Blue Flag beaches or the equivalent, tighter car emission regulations (although they’ve been flouted badly in recent years) and proper food labelling. Whereas, in my experience, Danish Governments of whatever shade tend to want to ensure the quality of life and wellbeing of their populations, that enlightened approach sadly hasn’t been a particularly strong feature of British life – although it does appear to be something Scotland wants to follow (hence no tuition fees and prescription charges).

Whilst agreeing with the provisions of the Single Market in terms of the free movement of goods, service and people, this doesn’t stop me asking certain questions about the efficacy of the EU and what we might be able to do better. All institutions need to adapt and evolve to changing circumstances and the EU cannot be an exception to that.

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We need to challenge some of those Brexit statements

 

Well, the ‘official’ EU referendum campaign has finally begun. Funny, it appears to have been going on for months already.

I was interested to see the images of the two official campaigns juxtaposed the other day in the BBC report on my TV screen. The ‘Leave’ campaign was illustrated by old footage of Tories Grayling, Gove and Whittingdale etc. manning the phone lines, whereas the ‘In’ footage showed Tory, Labour and Lib Dem politicians, including the Prime Minister, doing the same thing. For an organisation that has tried so far to be unfailingly impartial in its reporting of the campaign in its ‘phoney war’ stage, I have a feeling that the BBC has possibly given the ‘In’ campaign a visual leg up, by showing its multi party nature. Now, whether we get politicians of different parties actually sharing a platform as we did in 1975 is a different matter.

So far, the arguments for and against have been pretty well rehearsed. We should park immigration for a moment, which could be the deciding factor, but which will still pose problems for us whether or not we stay in the EU. As an EU pragmatist, who thinks that, on balance, leaving the EU now would be a massive gamble, I do have to say that some of the arguments being put forward repeatedly by the Brexiters need challenging.

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Contrasts of Cologne and Kent

Tim Farron in CologneLast month I accompanied Tim Farron on a visit to a British Red Cross centre in Gravesend, Kent to learn about the projects they run for unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASCs). Home to the British end of the Channel Tunnel, Kent has always had a high proportion of UASCs, but 2015 brought an unprecedented number, with over 1000 new children entering into the care of the Local Authority. During our visit we met young people from Sudan and Eritrea who spoke about their experiences both in transit and since they’ve arrived in the UK.

In many ways it was similar to the visit I took with Tim and Catherine Bearder to Cologne in February, but there were also startling differences, and the starkest difference was in access to language courses and education.

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Tim Farron launches blueprint for UK to take 3000 unaccompanied refugee children

Tim Farron has this afternoon published his blueprint for how the UK could take 3000 unaccompanied refugee children.

Earlier he spoke to the Daily Politics about the plan and his visit to Northern Greece yesterday.

The plan has been drawn up in consultation with the charities and NGOs who attended his recent summit on the issue. The main recommendations are as follows:

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Tim Farron visits refugee camps in Greece – “Real people in desperate circumstances fleeing war”

The news is constantly full of big numbers, thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of people heading to Europe to escape war and destruction. Tim Farron is in Greece today, talking to some of them. What’s very clear is that behind those big numbers are individual people and families, just like ours, who had been living peaceable lives, getting on with their jobs, sending their children to school, just like the rest of us. They have been displaced by events beyond their control, war, violence, destruction and seek a place of safety where they can contribute to society and get on with their lives.

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What the UK can learn from the Dutch referendum

With just under three months to go the EU referendum, the low turnout and overwhelming majority against the Ukraine-EU Association Treaty in a Dutch referendum is not a good omen. It is a good moment to take stock. The campaign is about to start, with the official designation of the Remain and Leave campaigns due soon. What lessons can the UK learn from the Dutch referendum experience?

The good news first: the UK referendum really matters, whereas the Dutch one did not. The Ukraine-EU Association Treaty is important geopolitically but for the average Dutch voter, ratification will not change their daily lives. It allowed them a protest vote seemingly without consequence. Those that could bother to vote – less than a third of voters, with many supporters staying at home in the hope that the required 30% threshold would be missed – predictably took that opportunity with both hands.

Here, the EU referendum will have a very real impact on people’s daily lives. That should focus minds but there is a risk: a referendum is rarely about the subject on the ballot paper. Only when the question is crystal clear and on a topic of relevance to the voters will the campaign focus on that. The Scottish referendum campaign was a good example of where that worked well. Everybody could relate to the question at hand and because it was such a momentous decision, people were extremely engaged in the debate.

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Miriam Gonzalez Durantez has a right go at Brexiteers over terrorism claims

Earlier this week, Miriam Gonzalez Durantez took to the pages of the Telegraph to deliver a scathing riposte to those “Leave” campaigners who seek to scare us into believing that being in the EU increases terrorism.

She started with an insight at her feelings over the Coalition years:

Having felt for five full years the frustration of seeing my husband, Nick Clegg, regularly reversing ill-judged Conservative decisions with little public credit, it is tempting to remain silent on the Brexit referendum – yet another ill-judged Conservative government decision that puts at risk the future of all our children just to sort out internal difficulties in the Conservative Party.

She tackles the idea that the EU’s freedom of movement is behind a flood of foreign criminals ending up here. In fact, she places the blame closer to home:

These assertions are made despite the fact that the UK is not part of the Schengen area and that, even for those within Schengen, there are exclusions to the freedom of movement on public security grounds. So if the Home Office has allowed criminals and terrorists into this country, it is nothing to do with EU rules and everything to do with the Home Office itself.

Terrorism, she says, is always the fault of hate-filled individuals, but she cites 3 key foreign policy decisions on Iraq, Syria and Libya as enabling ISIL to expand. Surprisingly, she questions her own role:

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EU Referendum: Are you still undecided?

Those wishing to stay in the EU will point to the economic benefits of membership of what is still the world’s largest single market in an increasingly dangerous world and the unnecessary risks of our coming out, while those opposed to continued membership will cite the need to take back sovereignty ceded gradually to Brussels over the past forty years and to regain control of our borders. Their view is that then we could strike deals with the rest of the world and have a much more money to spend as we would not be paying into the EU coffers.

Neither side of the argument is in any way watertight. The ‘Common Market’ which some of us voted to remain in over forty years ago was very different from what we have created today. There are serious questions about the democratic deficit and whether it is still fit for purpose. Despite delivering prosperity and a certain degree of stability for over half a century there are some serious question marks over its its long term future. The Euro has hardly been a massive success and the EU GDP is currently shrinking. Probably the single biggest crisis for us all both in and out of the EU is how it will deal with migration from the Middle East and Africa, which currently shows no sign of abating.

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LibLink: Tim Farron: Cameron must veto this poisonous deal with Turkey before our response to the Refugee Crisis becomes immoral

Strong words from Tim Farron in today’s Independent about the proposed EU deal with Turkey which would see refugees returned from Greece to Turkey. Rather than create safe and legal routes for refugees, Tim argues that this deal would violate international conventions.

For instance, collective expulsions of people seeking international protection are condemned by the EU’s own Charter of Fundamental Rights. We know Turkey has failed to fully implement the Geneva Convention on refugees and has no functioning asylum policy. David Cameron would do well to re-read the international human rights agreements and principles Britain has committed to, before he signs on the dotted line in Brussels.

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Did Clegg and the Queen have a huge bust-up over the EU?

If you read tomorrow’s Sun, you might think they did:

The account of the bombshell lunch during the last government – which a handful of other government ministers also attended – has been relayed to The Sun by a highly reliable source.

The senior source said: “People who heard their conversation were left in no doubt at all about the Queen’s views on European integration.

“It was really something, and it went on for quite a while.

“The EU is clearly something Her Majesty feels passionately about.”

The monarch is also said to have revealed her Eurosceptic feelings during a separate conversation with MPs at a Buckingham Palace reception.

Nick is quoted as saying:

Former Lib Dem boss Mr Clegg told The Sun: “I have absolutely no recollection of it.

“I don’t have a photographic memory. But I think I would have remembered something as stark or significant as you have made it out to be.

“No doubt you’ll speak to someone else and they’ll say, ‘I was there I heard it’. Fine.

“But I really can’t remember it at all.

“Anyway, without sounding pompous, I find it rather distasteful to reveal conversations with the Queen.”

He backed that up on Twitter:

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  • User AvatarDavid Raw 16th Nov - 7:49pm
    Well I'm sorry, Joe, it wont wash. "Making work pay" is more than doubtful - and the impact of UC is punitive in method and...
  • User AvatarJoseph Bourke 16th Nov - 6:51pm
    Sorting out Universal Credit falls to Amber Rudd now. The new Work and Pensions Secretary said she had seen Universal Credit - "do some fantastic...
  • User Avatarpaul barker 16th Nov - 5:48pm
    A group of Academics at University College London have just published ther estimate of how long it would take to organise a Legal Referendum, they...