Tag Archives: The New European

LibLink: Catherine Bearder: Brexit threatens the very fabric of the Good Friday Agreement

The Good Friday agreement works to keep the peace in Ireland and Brexit threatens it, says Catherine Bearder in an article for the New European. She illustrates the difference it has made to one community:

In the early days of the Troubles, the British Army opened a barracks in Forkhill to accommodate around 600 soldiers right next to a housing estate. Helicopters regularly took off and landed over the roofs of these homes, some even damaging them. The army controlled the television signals as well as the street lighting. It was one of the most dangerous places for British soldiers.

No one wants a return to those days.

The residents of Forkhill had been looking towards the future, not the past. On the site of the old barracks they are building a community garden and a wider project called the Peace Forest Ireland Initiative which aims to plant 4,000 trees on both sides of the border in memory of those who died during the Troubles. This is an ex-military site being redeveloped as a clear signal that the local community is moving forward, putting the past behind it.

Brexit puts all that at risk, she argues, so those who have to live with the consequences should get the chance to say if they agree with the Brexit deal:

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LibLink: Vince Cable: Tories must ditch red lines for the Rock

In this week’s New European, Vince Cable says that the British citizens on Gibraltar must not be sacrificed in the Brexit negotiations.

Clause 24 of the EU 27’s joint negotiating position, published in April last year, included a Spanish veto over the application of any deal between the EU and UK over Gibraltar. Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, said it was “plainly obvious” that such a veto would be part of the EU’s negotiating guidelines. Gibraltar’s chief minister, Fabian Picardo, described clause 24 as “discriminatory and unfair”.

A footnote to the draft legal text of the Withdrawal Agreement published last month confirmed that this veto would also apply to the transitional period. The Gibraltarian government has rightly pointed out that “by its very definition, transition is a continuation of the existing European Union legal border” and therefore this veto cannot apply.

Spain’s claim to Gibraltar is fatally undermined by the statistic that 98% of Gibraltarians want to remain British and there is no sign of that view changing. The Conservatives’ first act in response to the publication of the joint negotiating position should have been to insist on the removal of clause 24 – instead they gave us a general election that further weakened the Prime Minister’s bargaining power in Europe, because she ended up losing her Parliamentary majority.

Fortunately, Spain’s hard-line stance has slightly softened. Foreign minister Alfonso Dastis has been clear that he doesn’t want a border closure, which last occurred under General Franco in 1969. Such a move would be mutually damaging: disastrous for the 13,000 people who live in Spain and work in Gibraltar and leave the Rock with a staff shortage.

But the veto remains and Gibraltar’s politicians have sounded out legal opinions that would see them take the European Commission to court over clause 24.

Moreover, Spain continues to demand joint control of the Rock’s airport, which is, after all, British infrastructure on British soil. This might seem a reasonable suggestion for a post-Brexit relationship, but this should be seen in the context of even the seemingly reasonable Dastis pointing out that “sovereignty is something we aspire to, that we are not renouncing”.

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LibLink: Dick Taverne: The MP who beat Eurosceptics to hang on to his seat

A passionately pro European MP faces deselection by an anti-European local party. What happens then?

You could imagine this scenario unfolding for a fair few MPs today, but one person actually had this happen to him  and he survived. In 1972, Dick Taverne’s local Labour Party in Lincoln deselected him or voting for us to join the then Common Market.

It wasn’t the end of the world for him. He resigned as an MP and fought the subsequent by-election as an Independent and won.

He writes about his experience in this week’s New European to give moral support to any MPs in a similar situation today.

What also swayed a lot of votes was my appeal that politicians should put country first, constituency second and party third.

Burke proved popular. Indeed Roy Jenkins, not a natural populist, temporarily became a popular hero and told me that taxi drivers would wind down their windows if they passed him and shout: “You stick to your guns, mate.”

Are circumstances less favourable for a deselected dissident today? They are probably more favourable. At that time, party loyalties were much stronger than now. When I announced I would stand as an independent, the general view in the media was that I had committed political suicide.

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LibLink: Layla Moran: There are no winners from Brexit’s nuclear option

Layla Moran has been writing for the New European on the problems that exiting Euratom, the organisation founded in 1957 to create a specialist market for nuclear power in Europe.

She said:

The government has said it wants a “close association” with the Euratom Research and Training Programme and will seek open trade arrangements for nuclear goods. Both laudable ambitions – but this could all be best resolved by remaining in Euratom instead of creating uncertainty and seeking to negotiate what will certainly be a second rate option. In the meantime, the brilliant nuclear scientists from the EU, working together with their UK colleagues at places like Culham in Oxfordshire, on vital nuclear fusion research, are left in limbo. Some of these people, taking their precious skills with them, have already begun to drift away from the UK.

Then there is the issue of medical radioisotopes. As Mike Galsworthy explained in theNew European last week, these nuclear materials are used in cancer treatments and have very short half-lives, so any delays at borders would diminish the number of doses available. Those in the medical industry are deeply concerned.

What could be more pressing than making sure cancer patients still get treated? Well, it seems that, once again, keeping the fractious Tory party together through insistence on delivering a hard Brexit trumps the national interest.

The Government is keen to play this down, and accuses those who raise it as scaremongers, but the industry needs more than just assurances from the Government that a ‘close relationship’ will be achievable. Industry experts suggest it could take up to seven years to negotiate a treaty as wide-ranging as Euratom so I fail to see how we are going to get this finished in time.

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Poll: Two thirds of Labour Remain supporters are voting Lib Dem this time

A poll in the New European has shown a massive swing from Labour to the Liberal Democrats of Remain supporters.

From the paper:

The poll, of more than 1,300 respondents, compares how people voted in the 2015 General Election with how they intend to vote next month. It suggests the Liberal Democrats will double their share of the vote in this significant section of the population, while Labour’s will halve.

Two thirds (66.6%) said they would be voting Lib Dem on June 8, with Labour on just 22.3%. This represents a huge swing since 2015, when 43.9% voted Labour, and 29.4% Lib Dem. Meanwhile, support for the Conservatives has almost evaporated, from 9.3% in 2015, to just 0.4% of readers saying they will vote Tory next month.

Readers were also asked whether they would vote for any party which promised another EU referendum, with 62.8% saying they would. The Liberal Democrats are currently the only major party to make such a pledge. However, it seems most people have conceded the chances of a second referendum are low. Just 9.3% think there will be another poll.

The paper’s editor Matt Kelly said:

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The New European provides an inspiring read



That front page persuaded me to buy a copy of The New European newspaper this week, for the first time. It’s almost Private Eye-like. Some of the small print at the bottom is hilarious. Godmother, the film, it states is:

  • Featuring “Nigel Farage as the horse’s arse”
  • Filmed on location in “La La Land”
  • Based on a half-baked idea by David Cameron
  • Directed by Unseen Forces
Posted in Selection news | Also tagged , , , and | 2 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarVenetia Caine 21st Oct - 4:56am
    Three of us from Somerset, LibDems all, travelled independently, and I know there were more with other groups. So many there, we couldn't get nearer...
  • User AvatarCaron Lindsay 21st Oct - 12:03am
    @Rhiannon - it was clear that you were born to lead chants, as well as organise Exit from Brexit campaigns:-).
  • User AvatarJames Marrs 20th Oct - 11:36pm
    Well im all for a peoples vote yet please dont forget the most effected like myself living in the EU many were DENIED a vote...
  • User AvatarJill Caudle 20th Oct - 11:31pm
    There were lots of Lib Dems elsewhere in the march too e.g. at least three members in our group from Salisbury for Europe (which covered...
  • User AvatarLiberal Neil 20th Oct - 11:21pm
    It was a great day and, as you say, lovely to keep bumping into Lib Dems from all across the country. Whether we win or...
  • User AvatarGlenn 20th Oct - 10:50pm
    Alex There is nothing technical about it. Whether or not other leaders would have done the same doesn't alter the reality that Mr Clegg was...