The case for a softer Brexit

After the UK voted to leave the EU, by only a slim majority, May’s Conservatives (and to a certain extent Corbyn’s Labour) failed to understand that a compromise needed to be made between Leave voters and Remain voters. As I write this, I feel as though I will probably be branded as a ‘remoaner’, as ‘anti-democratic’ or as ‘against the will of the people’. The truth is that I am none of those.

Even many Leave supporting politicians in the lead up to the referendum, last year, supported the prospect of a Britain outside the EU, but inside the single market.

Nobody is talking about threatening our place in the single market.
– Daniel Hannan, Conservative MEP

Only a madman would actually leave the market.
– Owen Paterson, Conservative MP

Increasingly the Norway option looks the best for the UK.
– Arron Banks, Leave.EU founder

Clearly many people voted Leave on the assumption that the UK would stay in the single market, making May’s vision for a UK, isolated from the rest of Europe, twisted and unfair. A poll, published by NatCen Social Research, found that 90% of leave voters were in favour of the UK being inside the common market and around two thirds of all voters wanted British businesses to comply with EU design and safety regulations, as well as fisheries policies.

With the Conservatives now being forced to form a minority Government (even though UKIP stood down in many seats to help them – such as North Norfolk which Lib Dem Norman Lamb won), it is surely in part testament to a rejection of the hard, extreme Brexit that they put on the table? This seems to be backed up by many Leave campaigning Conservative MPs losing their jobs in the election – James Wharton, Charlotte Leslie, Julian Brazier, Andrew Bingham, James Davies, Stewart Jackson and David Nuttall, all being examples. Add to this the fact that Ruth Davidson and the other Scottish Conservatives, the only Conservatives that had proper success at the election, seem to support membership of the single market and a softer Brexit, May’s chances of pushing through a hard Brexit agenda seem increasingly unlikely.

Is a cross party negotiating team the answer? Probably. Compromise in politics is no bad thing. It produces consensus which works for more people and would mean that everyone is taken into account when it comes to the terms of the settlement, not just the 42% of the population that voted for the Conservatives. If not that, then the people need to be given the final say on the deal, so that the politicians negotiating with the EU are held accountable to the wishes and desires of the population.

* Louis Mian is a member and supporter of the Liberal Democrats and also blogs at .

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Mick Taylor 19th Jun '17 - 4:20pm

    No. No. No. We know Brexit is bad for the UK. We know the referendum was flawed and the government just lost seats on a Brexit platform. We must oppose this madness down to the wire. No Brexit is better than Brexit.

  • Louis, I agree with you that a cross party approach might well arrive at a more sensible solution, and it would have been far more sensible for the Conservatives to have started with a collaborative approach after the referendum a year ago. Over the past year we have seen an arrogant and high handed approach from the Tories, not willing to allow anyone to test or challenge the way they wanted to deliver (hard) Brexit. Having been completely mauled in an unnecessary election, we now see some Conservatives reach out with a view of getting broader support for the way forward. This has challenges now. Firstly there is internal conflict in the Tory party between the hard and soft Brexiteers. Secondly, I am not sure the Labour Party is interested to collaborate with the stories for their own party political purposes, and, anyway, they do not completely share the same aims as the Conservatives in any negotiation. Thirdly, adopting a more collaborative approach to the negotiations now, would let the Tories say that it was not their fault when the negotiations break down or do not come to a satisfactory conclusion – it will be the saboteurs (our) fault So, my sense is that we should beware of getting too involved at this point. The Conservatives need to come up with plausible negotiation objectives and these should be challenged and agreed in the Houses of Parliament. Subsequently, we should be scrutinizing the agreements reached on the various elements of the negotiation, and finally the people need to sign off the concluded agreement in a referendum. Latest poll shows that this is clearly what people want. They do not trust the politicians to negotiate a good deal.

  • Thomas Shakespeare 19th Jun '17 - 4:50pm

    At the end of the day if May wants a deal in two years her only two options are single market membership or crashing out. We should be campaigning for full single market membership – the best option we have realistically after the election result. In the long term we should push to change public opinion and rejoin.

  • Christopher Lyddon 19th Jun '17 - 4:51pm

    The only sensible approach to Brexit is to stop it.

  • Glenn Andrews 19th Jun '17 - 4:55pm

    Is a cross party negotiating team the answer? If it is, then on the dawn of a possible Tory and Labour Brexit-shambles; the last thing we should be doing is being one of those parties.

  • Malcolm Todd 19th Jun '17 - 5:08pm

    I sort of agree with Glenn Andrews. I think a cross-party team overseeing negotiations would be a much better idea and give us some chance of reaching a settlement that can be accepted and as such cease to be a matter of contention in future elections. But there’s absolutely no point including in that team a party with the clear (if not quite avowed) aim of preventing any settlement that enables the UK to leave the EU from being implemented.

  • Do any of these polls mean anything. Your average man in the street doesn’t know the difference between the single market, customs union, EEA, or Efta in terms of freedom of movement etc. The only question as yet unanswered is ‘is article 50 revocable?’ Otherwise I fear we are out of all the above and the politicians will just say ‘you voted for it’.

  • Joseph Bourke 19th Jun '17 - 5:37pm


    you end your article commenting “Compromise in politics is no bad thing. It produces consensus which works for more people and would mean that everyone is taken into account when it comes to the terms of the settlement, not just the 42% of the population that voted for the Conservatives.”

    This goes to the heart of the issue. When a member of Parliament is elected it should go without saying that the MP is there to represent all constituents not just those who voted for him/her. As a representative, MPs will use their own best judgement based on the values espoused by their party affiliation and more often than not this will require an element of compromise by all parties at Parliamentary level (within and without parties) if good legislation is to be achieved.

    For the Libdems, as a party committed to a proportional representation voting system there is an in-built recognition that cross-party negotiation and compromise leads to better governance. The coalition government of 2010-15 is recognised by much of the voting public as an example of this better governance.

    This presents a dilemma for many Libdem members that see the coalition with Cameron’s government as a mistake. In the present hung parliament, Libdems would have been the natural choice of coalition partner in preference to the DUP, and may well have been able to secure a referendum on the deal negotiated with EU as a condition of entering into a supply and confidence agreement with the May government, until such time as the Brexit deal was concluded.

    Securing a referendum on the deal would almost certainly necessitate a palatable offering to the entire electorate – acceptable to the 27 EU members, leave voters and remain voters alike.

    This is what Compromise in politics means. All parties putting national interest ahead of party interest and being willing to listed to dissenting views and opinions. Easier said than done but necessary when we are faced with big long term decisions nonetheless.

  • Riding to the aid of the Tory party under the pretext of helping the people will not end well. Avoid the calls to do the “decent thing” and let them boil in their own juices. As to the people of the UK they need a dose of reality and the sooner they have it the better.

  • Jenny Barnes 19th Jun '17 - 6:02pm

    A coalition deal with the Tories which included Proportional representation within 3 months and an EU deal which included continued membership of the single market – even that would probably be rejected by the membership. And after the experience of the last coalition I believe rightly so. 50+ seats down to 12. After another coalition, what ? 2? None? Even with PR, someone has to vote for you.

  • paul barker 19th Jun '17 - 6:30pm

    If Labour & Tories both see the advantage of working together on Brexit then we should let them get on with it, they dont need us & we would be mad to work with them. We did our stint of “Working together in the common interest” & we are still recovering from The Nations gratitude.
    There are plenty of advocates for a “Soft Brexit” in other Parties. Democracy requires that there be at least one Party saying clearly that Brexit is a mad idea & should be dropped. We are that Party & we need to sharpen our Opposition to all brands of Nationalism, not soften it.

  • Joseph Bourke 19th Jun '17 - 6:40pm


    I think we need to be cognisant of how the membership has changed over the past two years. The party had circa 40,000 members in 2015. The first big increase came immediately after the 2015 election – many of these new members considering the coalition government to have been quite effective and dismayed at the loss of electoral support for Liberalism in that election. The second big surge came in the wake of the referendum with many of these new members supportive of the Libdem position of the EU. Today, more than 60% of the membership has joined in the last two years.

    PR systems are used in the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the London Assembly. This is the additional member system that drafts in extra members to make the results proportional. PR does not translate into automatic influence for Libdems in any of these bodies, it just gives you a voice.

    This Saturday, Unlock Democracy and Make Votes Matter are co-hosting an event to call for Proportional Representation, taking place at Old Palace Yard outside Parliament at 2:30pm.

  • David Allen 19th Jun '17 - 7:59pm

    Everybody is talking about a “good” Brexit, in which we have our cake and eat it, and get the best of all possible worlds. If May does anything cross-party – or even pretends to work cross-party – then we shall all soon drown in semantics over what exactly is this soft Brexit which we “all” want to see. Expect to see May’s Brexiteers swearing blind that they seek to maximise trade access, that they have made huge compromises to achieve that, and that it is only the intransigent M. Barnier who is at fault for not accepting their perfectly reasonable proposals.

    Meanwhile, the EU is like the golf club which wants to charge £1000 for annual membership, or else £200 per visit for “guest” non-members. Along comes the UK, and says we want a perfectly reasonable special deal – We’ll offer to pay a fiver every time we want to play a round of golf, and what’s more, in lieu of the membership fee we’ll also buy the Chairman a bottle of Scotch at Christmas! The EU “club treasurer”, of course, tells his Chairman that he would be a mug to accept the UK’s offer, and a mug to waste his time bargaining over the terms, too. He will just re-state what the club’s standard terms of business are, and invite UK to take it or leave it. So will M. Barnier, and that is why Tusk told us our options were hard Brexit or no Brexit.

    All that said – There will undoubtedly be many people expressing optimism over a soft Brexit. We must not sound churlish in response to people like Ruth Davidson and Keir Starmer, when they appear to be talking a language of moderation and common sense. What we should say is “Are you actually there yet? Can we agree access that matches Norway’s, and if we can’t, haven’t we still got a hard Brexit, and a trade disaster, on our hands? And as for all these promises that there will not be a hard Irish border – There is absolutely no way we can keep those promises, is there?”

    We don’t have to rule out soft Brexit, and we don’t have to slag off those who are seeking one. But we should say that we fear the search will be futile, and that the best way to escape a Brexit disaster will be to escape a Brexit.

  • Little Jackie Paper 19th Jun '17 - 10:54pm

    In many ways I really don’t know what to say in reply to the article. The EU is an unlovely set of institutions and the stark reality is that if you are looking for a reason not to like it then you don’t have to look very hard. An awful lot of people on both sides of the referendum probably voted as they did with gritted teeth. Me for one.

    Is a Norway style option really so bad? For me I’d be quite happy with a combination of Norway plus a more robust system to manage the (very real) problems created by the bloated free movement rules, an issue ducked by too many. Starting with a meaningful registration scheme like most other EU countries.

    The Norway approach isn’t even all that radical. It puts real distance between the EEA and the EU political construct. That ultimately is probably where a lot of people are on the issue. Yes – it won’t keep the hard leave or the hard remain factions happy. Frankly that’s a part of the appeal. Norway is the right approach for now and the arguments against are mostly pretty weak. Indeed in the best case it may even be a good model for a future where the Eurozone will almost certainly need way more political integration to work.

    The question then is how to make the Norway approach work best for the UK.

    Norway should be pursued because it makes very good sense – not for any other ulterior reason on the part of any (stress, ANY) party.

  • Little Jackie Paper 19th Jun '17 - 11:24pm

    David Allen – But in your example the Golf Club has long had different types of terms and conditions and de facto different types of membership. Just they’ve been covert rather than overt. Those terms and conditions do, of course, envisage states leaving and having a ‘framework’ into the future.

    Europe is at a crossroads. The Eurozone can work but it will need far more political integration than we have now. I don’t think that’s even a controversial statement. Emanuel Macron has some interesting ideas, but my guess is they’d all need exposure to referendums. At that point there will need to be something much more overt about what happens to those not in the ‘core EZ.’

    Europe is, in its current form neither an optimal currency area nor an optimum political area. To that extent what is happening with the UK is symptom, not cause. The cause is that more political integration is needed, along with a real idea for what to do with states which are not keen.

  • I think David Allen has called this right when he says “We don’t have to rule out soft Brexit, and we don’t have to slag off those who are seeking one. But we should say that we fear the search will be futile, and that the best way to escape a Brexit disaster will be to escape a Brexit”

    I would however go further and offer a supply and confidence agreement to the May government to expire on 29 March 2019 on the single condition that a referendum with an option for Breversal is held on the deal before that date.

    It is a significant political risk for the party, but if we are right and the public mood turns towards a Norway type deal or remaining within an EU committed to reform, over the next two years it will pay off.

    That is the politics of conviction as opposed to tactical self-interest. Perhaps we should try it. We might find it goes down much better with voters than jostling for position.

  • “Clearly many people voted Leave on the assumption that the UK would stay in the single market”
    No, they didn’t! As a Leave campaigner, who went ’round door to door, I can tell you that people just wanted out. NO ONE said to me that they wanted to stay in the single market! Where do people like Louis get this crass nonsense from? Wishful thinking.

    Even though it was 52% (it would have been higher if it weren’t for the fear factor) that is the democratic wish of the people – that’s how ‘democracy’ works. ‘Liberal Democrat’ is obviously an oxymoron. It should have been delivered by now, and it pains me that this will drag on for another two years. Let’s pay whatever is our legal and moral responsibility to pay and get out as soon as we can, before the EU implodes (just a matter of time). There is no soft or hard Brexit. The people want out, so out we should go, and all that that means. It really is as simple as that.

    I’m truly astounded by people like Mick Taylor, above:
    “No. No. No. We know Brexit is bad for the UK. We know the referendum was flawed and the government just lost seats on a Brexit platform. We must oppose this madness down to the wire. No Brexit is better than Brexit.”
    A few things right there:
    We DON’T know Brexit is bad for the UK
    The referendum was flawed, on both sides
    The Government didn’t lose seats on a Brexit platform (in fact, the election was quite clearly a rejection of staying in the EU – that’s why arch-remainer, Nick Clegg thankfully lost his seat!)
    No Brexit would be a rejection of democracy

    I really don’t know how Mick Taylor can come up with a whole set of untruths and misconceptions so easily.

  • Seems David Davies caved at the first meeting, a sight I expect we will continue to see. Must be hard for the brave Brexiteers to find their hero is a paper tiger. Still reality gets us all eventually. Welcome to the school to experience it’s only going to get harder no matter how much you try to spin it.

  • frankie: I really wouldn’t be brave enough to make comments like that at this early stage. It wouldn’t come across too well if Mr Davis had gone in all guns blazing. You evidently aren’t too ‘up’ on negotiating. It’s a tactic to give way on something rather trivial from the beginning (agreeing to sort out the divorce payment) when your principle aim is something larger. Pity you didn’t see that. Spin doesn’t matter – all that matters is the actuality.

  • Barry,

    I expect them to get a deal a bad deal. They will then try to spin it as a win. As to not being up on negotiation it wasn’t me who said “row of the summer” in regard to the time table. Care to make a guess who did and made himself and us look like fools.

  • Funnily enough, I only read that “row of the summer” this morning. Like I said, Davis knows what’s he’s doing. Again, it’s part of the work you do before you negotiate. You look tough, and make statements, but then you give, because you have a bigger picture on your mind. I trust Davis. Barnier will be tough to negotiate with, but he will come across as intransigent, mark my words. They won’t get a “bad deal” as they can always simply pull out. That isn’t bad! Reverting to WTO trading would be ok for us. But it doesn’t matter anyway. All that matters is getting out – even if we get (in your eyes, and others) a “bad deal”. As long as we’re out before it collapses in on itself – which it will. I just hope it doesn’t start to crumble until after 2019. And believe it or not, even though I’m a “brave Brexiteer” I’d rather not see it crumble at all. I just don’t want us to be any part of it – for free movement reasons above everything else.

  • Barry,

    You will be waiting for the EU to collapse long after the case for Brexit has. Who is your next best hope, Alternative für Deutschland unseating Merkel, after being let down by Wilders and Le Pen. Collapse of the EU is just around the corner for a brave Brexiteer, trouble is the corner never comes. Reverting to WTO is the worst deal Barry and i hope you never find out how bad it will be.

  • Louis:
    Priceless! You think calling the Lib Dems undemocratic is unfair, despite comments like this, above from a Liberal Democrat “The only sensible approach to Brexit is to stop it.” With all due respect to you, are you not reading the comments on this posting, and others. Many Lib Dems are showing themselves, at every opportunity, to show that they aren’t democratic at all. They didn’t like the result, the wishes of the majority who voted, so they want to “stop it” or “bury it”! It shows that there are many who don’t like democracy.

    In your piece, you say: “it is surely in part testament to a rejection of the hard, extreme Brexit that they put on the table.” No, it isn’t! If anything, this election showed that people reject staying in the EU more than they did on June 23rd! May lost her majority on a number of factors: an awful campaign, taking the election for granted, a lack of memory for Labour supporters, and even fox hunting (that cost her more votes than the Tories even realise). On page 28 of the Labour manifesto, Labour made it clear that they too were heading for hard Brexit. Their wording was: “a strong emphasis on retaining the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union”. You’ll note that isn’t the same as actually keeping the Single Market. Also, right at the top, under Immigration: “Freedom of movement will end when we leave the European Union”. So, what is it, Louis, something like 84% of those who voted in the election were voting for hard Brexit?

    I want to treat you with respect, but I’m finding it hard, when you say things like, “I think you’ll find I already provided examples of politicians arguing that a vote to leave would mean that we would stay in the single market”! You know full well that there were countless interviews on TV before June 23rd where it was made quite plain by Cameron, and many others that voting to leave meant out of the single market. Cameron mentioned it 28 times in one Sky interview ( And you have the temerity to state that it wasn’t known! With all due respect, are you for real?

    NO ONE WAS UNDER ANY ILLUSIONS that we would not be leaving the single market!

  • frankie:
    Time will tell if I am right, or wrong. I predict the Czech Republic first – in 2-3 years (yes, that soon). Then I predict France, then Sweden. But before then, watch the Italian economy go into tailspin. Watch the reaction from Hungary, Poland and Austria being told to accept immigration quotas. Unemployment at 44% among Greece’s young. With respect, it appears you aren’t aware of just what is going on. When Greece is expelled, their default will strongly affect Germany, but massively affect the EU. The EU bailouts are dependent on the IMF. And the US part of the IMF answer to Trump. And Trump sees the EU as a economic rival (of course) and a bit of a pain, recently. EU collapse is inevitable. The economic need for its existence has been taken over by left-wing politics…and that always fails. It’s all about spending other peoples’ money, you see. Germany has taken it on the chin because it suits their politics and their economy. However, when Germany shows signs of economic trouble – and yes, those signs are right there, now – then even German people will say enough is enough.

    The “case” for Brexit is democracy, frankie. Something you may not like, when it doesn’t go your way, evidently. But democracy is the best system of state governing that the world has, for all its faults.

  • Malcolm Todd 20th Jun '17 - 1:21pm

    You can’t draw from the fact that Remain campaigners insisted that leaving the EU meant leaving the single market the inference that “No one was under any illusions” about this, given the many Leave campaigners who, as Louis has illustrated above (and you have said nothing to refute this), claimed the opposite: that leaving the EU did not mean leaving the single market.
    In fact the evidence is quite consistent with the possibility that almost everybody who took part in the referendum wanted to stay in the single market: those who believed that leaving the EU meant leaving the SM (as claimed by Remainers) voted “Remain”, those who believed that we could stay in the SM but leave the EU (as claimed by many Leavers) voted “Leave”.
    This idea that everyone knew this is what leaving the EU meant is at best silly and at worst downright dishonest.

  • @Barry
    ‘On page 28 of the Labour manifesto, Labour made it clear that they too were heading for hard Brexit. Their wording was: “a strong emphasis on retaining the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union”. ‘
    Sufficiently vague semantics to drive a bus through as Sir Keir Starmer did on Newsnight, last night. I hope you will not be too disappointed.
    p.s. I admire your integrity of argument on this, even though I profoundly disagree with your views and prognosis.

  • A soft Brexit, which from an economic perspective is way much better than a hard Brexit … but is so bad that it makes no sense (we continue paying in significant amounts of money, adhering to all EU rules, fall under the the ECJ – but have ZERO influence on the decisions made. The only logical case is to work to reverse Brexit!

  • Malcolm:
    Can you point me to a YouTube video of any interview, with any politician, on the Leave or Remain side who, prior to the referendum, stated that we could stay in the single market if we voted to leave the EU? By that, I don’t mean Louis’ spurious and disingenuous quotes (full transcript of Owen Paterson’s comment here, where he clearly says “market” meaning trading in and with the EU, and NOT the ‘single’ market of the EU -,-former-environment-secretary,-111015). I can’t speak for Daniel Hannan, and I cannot locate the transcript. But I do say this to you:
    DID YOU WATCH THE VIDEO that I posted the link to, above? I watched the interview that night, and I went out the next morning delivering Leave leaflets and talking on doorsteps. Never, not once, did anyone have any beliefs that leaving the EU meant we could stay in the single market. Everyone I spoke to, whether In or Out knew what leaving the EU meant. It is absurd folly to suggest otherwise, but worse, the dishonesty in stating it is known. It’s merely a ruse to suggest that the people didn’t know what they were voting for. I’m going to suggest that you didn’t go door-to-door speaking to people – I did. The people who were going to vote to stay in, wanted us in the EU – simple. The largest reception I had from them was one of economic fear. The people who wanted out, wanted OUT of the EU, and all that that means. In fact, I had many people who were going to vote Leave who wanted NOTHING to do with the EU afterward – nothing! That would be to our own detriment, but such was the anti-EU feeling.

  • John Innes:
    What are you saying, do you want a second referendum? Please explain what you mean by “reverse Brexit”. I would like an explanation, if only because Louis doesn’t believe Liberal Democrats are undemocratic. Thank you.

  • Barry,

    I predict i n two years time you will still be predicting the EU will implode in two or three years. Bit like the man proclaiming the end of the world is neigh, one day he will be right but he’s very unlikely to be around to see it.

  • Malcolm Todd 20th Jun '17 - 5:06pm

    I don’t know why YouTube is your gold standard, but here is a handy compilation from Open Britain. It includes slightly longer versions of the quotes in Louis’s article as well as some others, and the context is quite clear enough.

    I’ve no need to watch a video of Cameron saying it would mean leaving the single market because I haven’t disputed at all that he said that.

  • Malcolm:
    I’ve watched that video before – there isn’t ANYONE in that video saying that we’d leave the single market apart from Daniel Hannan!!! And as I said, I have yet to read the transcript of the full interview – because, as I said, things get taken out of context and actually lied about, as I pointed out above. So I’m afraid you failed to provide ANY evidence of what you’re saying.
    PS. I only chose YouTube because it often provides people actually stating something themselves. We have seen this time and again with things Katie Hopkins is ‘supposed’ to have said – only when you go to YouTube you find it, it wasn’t said in the context that the Mirror or Guardian suggest.

    My point about David Cameron’s video (which you say you’ve no need to watch – yes, says it all!) is that it was a major TV interview with the PM himself…and he says 28 TIMES that we will leave the single market if we leave the EU. But of course, you don’t want to watch that, do you?

  • Louis:
    Right back at yer! You don’t know either! Though I wasn’t the one who posted a web article on it, though!

  • I never claimed to know, just that many did vote leave and also wanted to stay in the single market. You still haven’t replied to why, therefore, the people shouldn’t have the final say on the deal. “You don’t know either”, implies that you’re admitting you don’t know – hence, would it not be fairer to give the people the say?

  • frankie:
    Try and get right the things I actually said – and not just make things up! I said the Czech Republic will vote out in 2-3 years. There will be a domino effect that (as I say elsewhere here on the libdemvoice) will take 10 years. Within those 10 years, sit back and watch as all the other things I said, happen. 50% of Greek households rely on their pensions to pay their bills (as they are retired, obviously, so not providing taxes for the state). These benefits have been cut by 40%. Where do you think the money is going to come from to prop up Greece? The IMF? Greece can’t afford to service its debt or pay it off. Public and private debt now exceeds $560 billion. You may want to read that again. Greek banks have LOST $4 billion in deposits in the past six months. What do you think will happen to the EU when Greece finally does go pop? Then there’s Italy. EU rules have already been bent to furnish an emergency bailout. Watch that unfold in the next few weeks as two Italian banks have been told there is no more money.

    I don’t need to tell you that the EU will implode. To anyone with any intelligence, it is obvious. But if you want denial, then go ahead – it’s still a free-thought country. No one is forcing you to give it any thought.

  • Jason Matthews 20th Jun '17 - 6:08pm

    There should be a new referendum to choose from.


  • Malcolm Todd 20th Jun '17 - 6:23pm

    The reason I don’t want to watch the David Cameron interview is because it isn’t germane. The question of whether Remain campaigners said we’d have to leave the single market isn’t in dispute. Why do you keep banging on about an interview which proves nothing about the point we’re disputing? I begin to suspect this is pure distraction on your part. Which “says it all”, if we’re going to descend to nudge-wink argument.

    As to the video I linked to: I presume you meant to say that “there isn’t ANYONE in that video saying that we’d stay in the single market apart from Daniel Hannan” – well, saying “apart from Daniel Hannan” rather holes your argument in the first place, since he was indeed a leave campaigner saying that. And the others, with their repeated references to the desirable situation of Norway, which is indeed a member of the single market, were clearly implying that this was a possible outcome of leaving the EU. To deny that is pure sophistry.

  • David Allen 20th Jun '17 - 7:18pm


    Saying that black is white over and over again does not make black turn white.

  • Perhaps there was a lack of clarity in whether people wanted Brexit and what that really meant. The general election was called to get a mandate for “Hard Brexit” and that was given with a stonking majority for the Tories+Labour.

    The time has come to accept the referendum and election result should be implemented. People who think the UK should be in the EU should focus their efforts on campaigning for a referendum on rejoining the EU – to be held, perhaps in 2030 after we have been out for 11 years. That would be the fair, democratic and respectful way to proceed.

  • Louis:
    Yes, you did claim to know!
    “Clearly many people voted Leave on the assumption that the UK would stay in the single market”
    Would you like to retract?

  • Malcolm:
    It is pertinent, you’re just failing to understand it, that’s why I have to keep banging on. Try to understand it this time! The subject of the article is that people voted, not knowing that we’d leave the single market. My point I that they DID know – which is why I pushed you and others to the David Cameron video, where he states 28 times that we’d be leaving the single market. Your attempt at obfuscation won’t, therefore, work. You’re making out that I am trying to distract, when you are, or you clearly don’t understand the point of the article.

    You are also getting confused on the video for which you provided the link. As I have been at pains to point out, I haven’t seen the transcript of what Hannan said. And I strongly suspect you haven’t either. I have already pointed out Louis’ disingenuous reporting of Owen Paterson, so it’s essential to know exactly what he said. The rest of the video has persons like Mr Farage commenting on Norway and Switzerland as doing ok while not being members of the EU. Again, these comments were taken out of context for the purpose of the video. It’s clear why they disabled comments!
    I say again:
    Can you point me to a YouTube video of any interview, with any politician, on the Leave or Remain side who, prior to the referendum, stated that we could stay in the single market if we voted to leave the EU?
    This post by Louis suggests that there is a case for a ‘softer’ Brexit because (Louis says) people didn’t know they were voting for coming out of the single market. I’m saying that they did know, because it was mentioned countless times, even by arch-remainer, Nick Clegg. Louis is also incorrect in stating that the failure by the Tories was “testament to a rejection of the hard, extreme Brexit”. It was quite the opposite. Something like 84% of the voters voted (by choosing Conservative or Labour) for hard Brexit.

  • Barry,
    No. I know that many people who voted leave wanted to remain in the single market. I also know that some who voted leave wanted to go onto WTO rules. I don’t know how many and the individual preferences of every voter – as you apparently do. I return to my original question; considering that nobody (yes myself included) knows how every single person voted, don’t we need a referendum on the final deal to make sure that everyone wants it?

  • Louis.
    NO, we don’t “need a referendum on the final deal”! It wasn’t in the Bill that went through Parliament which gave legal right to the referendum. Why were you not asking for it, then? How many referendums would you like, Louis, until we get the one that you accept? The original Bill was for a single referendum on staying in, or leaving, the EU. A legal challenge then meant that it had to go through Parliament for MPs to ratify.
    So that’s the people AND Parliament. The democratic view is that we leave – with ALL that that means. It was known that leaving meant leaving the single market – because Cameron told us all so many times, as did Osbourne, as did Clegg. Being in the single market means accepting freedom of movement – as the EU have pointed out… “Leaders made it crystal clear that access to the single market requires acceptance of all four freedoms – including freedom of movement,” said Mr Tusk. Leaving the EU means being out of the single market – it couldn’t be any clearer. We don’t need a second referendum, or a third, or a fourth.

    I say again: You said “Clearly many people voted Leave on the assumption that the UK would stay in the single market” You don’t know that at all. Some of us went out and knocked on doors, spoke to people. Try it, it’s great – though you can end up in hour-long discussions. It’s why I know that fox hunting cost the Tories many votes more than they realise.

    Your party is about to become even more of an irrelevance if it votes Cable as leader! But just imagine, for one minute (please) the damage you and others like you will do to politics in this country if anything other than ‘hard’ Brexit doesn’t happen. Aren’t ordinary voters disenfranchised enough with politics? For once in my adult life I was asked to vote in a referendum – like many others, probably the only time in their life. It happened and we had a result, a pretty clear one, despite all the fear and lies. Imagine the damage done if the will of the people is ignored.

  • Malcolm Todd 20th Jun '17 - 11:22pm


    You keep “explaining” away. Never mind that you’re repeating yourself rather than actually responding to what I say. I’m not going to play the same game.

  • The referendum was called (by Remainers) to try to get a mandate for being in the EU. The fact that “Leave” had been poorly defined by the remain-supporting government was brought up during the referendum as reason to vote “Remain”, but people decided either type of Brexit would be preferable to staying in the EU anyway. None of that adds up to a missing mandate for being in the EU.

    Accept this result ought to be implemented, accept the confirmation of the type of Brexit in the election, and start making an honest campaign for a new referendum in 2030 when people have had a chance to see the effects.

  • Martin:
    Thanks for your thought-provoking and insightful comment. As I have pointed out elsewhere on this forum, it doesn’t matter if we do indeed have a lower standard of living as a result. What is most important is that we will have control of our borders in the coming decades. You are about to see how important that will be. As for the Czech Republic, let’s wait and see if I’m right. But to you and Mark, I would ask you to look in on what’s being said in the Czech Republic at this current time. You can read Czech newspapers in English on the net. It might indeed take more than 2-3 years, but the EU penalty fines for not taking in immigrants (you do know about that, right, Martin?) will really have kicked in by 2019, so let’s see the Czech’s response. We might even see Norway end it’s trading agreement with the EU – as the EU is trying to take Norwegian oil fields in the Arctic. ALL these things will come to a head at the same time (2019): Brexit, Czechxit, Greece, Norway, Italy… And the crumble will begin. It will be bad for Britain, but at least we’ll have control of our own borders – and that’s ALL that counts.

    PS. I can’t respond to some people’s comments as (weirdly!) this WordPress system is banning me for hours at a time. I may not even be able to get back in to reply to any. Sorry, but blame the owners of the site for using WordPress!

  • Malcolm:
    The subject of the article is that people voted, not knowing that we’d leave the single market. My point all along has been that they DID know. You failed to understand that (evidently) and I can’t help you anymore.

    You said:
    “In fact the evidence is quite consistent with the possibility that almost everybody who took part in the referendum wanted to stay in the single market”
    That’s at best silly and, at worst, downright dishonest.

  • @Barry – “What is most important is that we will have control of our borders in the coming decades.”

    In case you missed it, we aren’t going have control of our borders since our Brexit government’s position is that we will maintain a completely open border with Ireland thus largely negating the point of our border controls with the rest of the EU (as they can be easily by-passed via Ireland).

    Likewise our Brexit government has done absolutely zilch to control or reduce the (almost) 200,000 non-EU immigrants that have arrived here since the referendum – so much for them being “concerned” about immigration as they claimed during the referendum; actions speak louder than words as the saying goes.

  • @Barry
    I appreciate you sticking with this thread and I am genuinely interested in the view from the other side. I would have thought that voters in the referendum could probably be broken down into ‘hard remain’, ‘hard leave’ and people in the middle who just went on a leaning to one side or the other with no firm conviction either way. On the basis of a 52/48 split what is said/implied to those in the middle ground becomes quite important. Believe me when I say that I can and do respect democracy based on full and honest disclosure, otherwise I reserve the right to disrespect that vote. Now, you say that you don’t mind if leaving the EU will make us poorer. Do you feel that the Leave side made this point to the electorate prior to the vote? Furthermore do you feel that the referendum was conducted on the basis of full and honest disclosure or is it just that the end justifies the means. You have intensely examined the honesty of other commentators in the this thread. Are you prepared to examine your own honesty.

  • Hello PJ:
    No, I don’t feel that the Leave side made the point that we ‘may’ be poorer – just as the Remain side told half-truths about what would happen (and some downright lies). The truth is that we won’t know for some time. However, as I stated, all of that doesn’t matter (sounds odd, doesn’t it?)
    No, the referendum wasn’t conducted on the basis of full and honest disclosure. This is politics, this is what happens. This is why politicians never tell the truth. They can’t, because they’d never get elected if they did. There are one or two honest politicians who tend to say stuff because they can’t be hurt. Love him or hate him, Nigel Farage is one such person. Sometimes (like on Bulgarian numbers) he will exaggerate, but I love his straight-talking honesty. Of course, he can do this because he’ll never get elected!

    For me, this is all about border control – due to our population. We are struggling to cope with a population of almost 70 million. If we had stayed in the EU, our population would be 80 million in less than 16 years – 16 years! We don’t have the resources and the infrastructure to cope with 80 million people. I have predicted a few things in my life. Some have come true, others I have got wrong. For some years now, I have been trying to get people to grasp that we are heading for disaster if we stayed in the EU due to free movement – and immigration from the rest of the world. Pretty soon, you’ll see a government wake up to what’s going on. It’s fine picking the people we need from immigration, but an open border was/is madness. But it’s not just from the EU. We should be closing our borders today! The immigrants that we are allowing in tend to have more children, and we have an aging population who will live longer.

    We now have a chance to control our borders. I hope that in the coming years, our government will do just that. Remember, we could be the richest country in the world, but what’s the point if you can’t get a GP’s appointment for a month, or the wait in A&E is all day, or the only school you can get your child into is five miles away?

  • Yeovil Yokel 21st Jun '17 - 10:00pm

    Barry [from your initial post, 20th June 08:47]: “As a Leave campaigner, who went ’round door to door, I can tell you that people just wanted out. NO ONE said to me that they wanted to stay in the single market!” Was this before or after you asked them if they understood the workings of the SM, and explained to them its pro’s & con’s and the implications for the UK’s economy and society of leaving it?

    “Remember, we could be the richest country in the world…” That would have been an accurate assessment – from the Napoleonic era.

    “….you can’t get a GP’s appointment for a month, or the wait in A & E is all day…” My sister is a doctor and I can assure you this has little or nothing to do with immigration.
    Furthermore, my wife is an immigrant from Asia and my neighbour is an NHS nurse trainee from Poland and they both pay UK taxes and contribute hugely to British society, so your remarks are insulting to both of them.

  • Yeovil:
    No, my remarks aren’t insulting, you’re just waiting to be offended. This may come from your general attitude, or a complete lack of understanding in what I’m saying. As I don’t know you, I don’t know which it is. Let me try and explain.
    The world is said to face a population crisis. Although that’s partly true, the fact is that there are still huge amounts of uninhabited space – vast tracts of land in Canada, for example. The world population of 7 billion can easily double. HOWEVER, Britain is a small island, some 80,000 square miles. We are (obviously) restricted by our coastline. Now, the following is important…
    We are (now) more densely populated than Pakistan and China…that’s NOW. We are struggling to cope with our population of almost 70 million people. If the population rises to 80 million, then we are going to be in serious trouble. We haven’t the resources and the infrastructure to cope. Our electricity grid, our national gas pipelines, and our water supplies are at peak. We have farmland that (in an international emergency) could actually feed our population. But we won’t have enough if the population goes up to 80 million. So try to understand – I’m not saying that immigrants don’t pay taxes (for crying out loud!) I’m talking about population growth due to an aging population and immigration. We cannot start killing people off, so the only way to try and control our population is through halting immigration – totally. This can only come about after we have had a major re-think on how we go about incentivising our young. By the way, unskilled immigrants costs us £6.6 billion a year (according to economists). You may not like that, but it is so. But my argument is all about population control, not money.

    As for the single market: no, it’s not my job to educate people on politics and the economy. As I have been at pains to point out, my argument is about our population. It matters not one jot whether Brexit delivers us financial pain or a boom. This is where many people like yourself are missing the bigger picture. Try and understand, this is why I said “we could be the richest country in the world”. What I’m saying is that that doesn’t matter!

  • @Barry
    So really it’s population control and it’s impact that is really driving your Leave disposition. So, if we could have immigration control whilst being in the EU would that swing your decision?
    You see, I can understand your argument in this respect. But the reasons it did not result in a Leave decision in my mind was that the issue was soiled by related factors. Firstly over half of our immigration came form outside the EU. Secondly we could have done more within EU law to halt immigration. Why hadn’t we? Because immigration was being used to plaster over the cracks created by mismanagement of our economy by successive governments and with the right policies immigration could have been stabilised. I therefore came to the conclusion that this issue was a red herring. Not that it was not a valid concern but more that the EU was not the culprit. We are therefor throwing the baby out with the bathwater in leaving the EU. It’s a pity that debates of this kind could not have been explored in more detail prior to the vote such that they could inform the decision and the subsequent resultant action. We will have to pull together at some point and understanding is a going to be a prerequisite.

  • Hello PJ:
    Yes, I blame all governments. By the way, I didn’t vote in the general election, for the first time in my life – I couldn’t bring myself to vote for any incompetents. I said, earlier, that one day a British government is going to wake up to what the big problem really is. Radical Islamism isn’t it; climate change isn’t it; the tax& wage control isn’t it. It is population growth (not worldwide, but here). As I said, we need a re-think on our young. The poorly educated won’t go and pick celery in Norfolk, so we have to import unskilled labour from the Baltic states. Insane. Our young girls won’t be nurses, so we have to import them from the Phillipines (a huge NHS programme is currently underway). Part of that problem is that nurses have to have a degree, but there is also relatively low pay levels. On that note, I would make the minimum wage £10/hr for everyone. Our young are fleeced! It would make my restaurant bill higher, but so what, I can pay it!

    When our government wakes up to the growing problem, they will have the tools to be able to tackle it. They will have the legal capability to close our borders. If we had stayed in the EU, that wouldn’t have been possible. Watch immigration levels soar in France and Germany in the coming years – from inside the EU.

    “If we could have immigration control whilst being in the EU would that swing your decision?” Possibly, but there would have to be massive reform of the EU (expenditure), and that isn’t going to happen any day soon. A $6 billion increase has just been approved – thanks to the UK agreement! Without huge reform, I couldn’t support staying in the EU, and without huge reform, it will crumble.

  • Nonconformistradical 22nd Jun '17 - 10:35am


    “I said, earlier, that one day a British government is going to wake up to what the big problem really is. Radical Islamism isn’t it; climate change isn’t it; the tax & wage control isn’t it. It is population growth (not worldwide, but here).”

    If you think we in Britain can isolate ourselves from population growth elsewhere on the planet I feel you are very much mistaken.

    People have always been migrating from areas where they couldn’t make a living to other areas. where they see possibilities for doing so. What has changed in modern times is the ease with which such people can see opportunities elsewhere.

    Climate change is likely to enhance this migration tendency – e.g. – if it isn’t doing so already.

    If people – especially the young – feel themselves unable to make a decent living in their homeland – conceivably some might be attracted to radical ideas (devil makes work for idle hands).

    All these problems – population growth, climate change, radical Islam etc. – might be interacting – towards a perfect storm….

  • @Barry
    “Our young girls won’t be nurses, so we have to import them from the Philippines”

    Careful now, some of the best nurses I’ve met have been male :-), but I take your point.
    There was a good debate a few months ago re nursing degree’s.
    The question, are we attracting young people with the right attitudes and skills into nursing by going down the degree route is a very interesting one. I would argue very strongly that we are not.

    I also think the points you make re population growth/demographics in Britain is an interesting one which raises some serious questions.
    For example, as you rightly say, France and Germany are facing real issues around ‘free movement of people’ which over the next few years, their own electorates may become more robust at expressing their views on.

    A interesting question of course is around free movement of labour (as opposed to free movement of people) as maybe part of a solution?

  • Nonconformistradical:
    Population growth, worldwide, isn’t a actually a problem. As I said, it’s a partial crisis. By that I mean that we have to do something about density, but we can easily accommodate double world population…and will have to. So I’m not bothered about WORLD population, I bothered about Britain’s population. People want to come here, not because they are crowded out of their country, it’s because it’s great here! There’s lots of work. But we don’t have the infrastructure to deal with an extra 10 million people.

    We actually need a coalition government (because no Party would be brave enough) to have a radical re-think on what we’re doing. We can’t go on like this. Our young can get a job, but it’s not paid enough for them to buy a home. We have so many problems, but they’re all fixable. No one political Party is going to do any of them. As for France and Germany, it’s amazing to watch them drift, blissfully unaware, into future chaos. Britain’s population growth is really scary, but no one is talking about apart from me! People I talk to aren’t even aware that illegal immigration is running at 150,000 a year. And that’s according to the Home Office, so it makes one wonder what the real figure is! But again, did you see the BBC, or the Guardian, or the Independent make a big noise about this? No, me neither.

  • “Population growth sharpest in 70 years after ‘record’ migration levels”
    Read this news out today, and you might get an angle on what I’m stating. This has got to stop. I don’t care what Party you support, what your leanings are, how accommodating you want to be to immigrants – this has got to stop. I urge you all to contact your MP and ask them what he/she intends to do about it. To June 2016, the population increased by 538,000 plus the 150,000 that the Home Office stated as illegals. If you add on the ones the Home Office have missed, that’s an increase of over 700,000 a year. In just 10 years, that’s an extra seven million people. I’m telling you people, this is not going to end well.

  • Arnold Kiel 23rd Jun '17 - 9:28am


    even if your Malthusian nonsense had any merit, 75% of the arrivals of the last 10 years were non-EU. Consequently, all Brexit will do is create a legal situation in which a Government can try to manage EU-immigration as “effectively” as non-EU immigration. Meaning: nothing will happen, but the price of losing single market membership still would have to be paid. Population growth will continue to be the UK’s only growth-driver, and no Government will survive without it.

    Besides, EU-low-skill migration feeds itself from a limited and shrinking pool of a few 10s of million people, most of which are open to returning if circumstances change. Non-EU migration is fed by a growing pool of 5000 million people with no prospects of ever returning home.

  • John Littler 24th Jun '17 - 12:51pm

    With unemployment under 5% and many of those being between jobs or unemployable, then we need more staff in hospitals, farms, care services, trades, engineering and hospitalities etc. Just John Radcliffe alone is short of 700 staff it cannot find and there has already been a 96% reduction in nurse job applications from the Eu.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 21st Feb - 9:01pm
    I’m not really bothered if the Independent Group (TIG?) succeeds or not, nor am I bothered about whether or not they have a political programme....
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 21st Feb - 9:00pm
    @ Ian Hurdley, Well, if the UK is out then you can start planning to get us back in I suppose! Good luck with that!...
  • User AvatarJoseph Bourke 21st Feb - 8:42pm
    Peter, January is always a surplus month with self-assessment tax payments coming in for the2017-18 tax year. High employment figures and corporate profits generate higher...
  • User AvatarEd Shepherd 21st Feb - 8:36pm
    A lot of commentators on politics are overestimating the appeal of individual MPs and underestimating the staying power of long established political parties. These defecting...
  • User AvatarTony Greaves 21st Feb - 8:26pm
    A group of LD peers had a meeting last summer with top Honda management at UK/EU level, as part of the discreet lobbying of politicians...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 21st Feb - 8:26pm
    This is NOT good news! If the Govt is taking money out of the economy at the same time that money is leaving the...