The EU referendum is stuck on repeat, it’s time to change track

Julie Smith LDCFSo far in the main referendum campaigns we have heard the same arguments on repeat from the same people. Economics has dominated discussions, trade is becoming the nation’s most used word and pound signs are flying all over billboards, news sites and buses.

Out on the campaign trail, voters seem to be getting increasingly confused, tired and frustrated with the campaigns. They’re after something different.

A couple of weeks ago, David Cameron tried bringing morality into the debate by describing a vote for Brexit as ‘immoral’. He was quickly shot down by his Eurosceptic colleagues, Iain Duncan Smith describing it as “not an honest assessment but a deeply biased view of the future”.

Have morals really got anything to do with it?

Through my work with the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum (LDCF), I’ve been talking to hundreds of Christians up and down the country about the referendum. I’ve noticed a yearning amongst the Christian community for a bigger picture debate about what this referendum will mean for the kind of world we want to live in and what impact the vote will have on others; a moral case for Brexit and remain.

The Lib Dem’s positive and hopeful message on remaining in the EU begins to satisfy this yearning. It takes voters beyond the question of ‘what is in it for me?’ to what the impact of the vote will be on future generations and others across the world. But questioning the morality of the vote takes us back to the question of whether the EU itself is a moral entity.

THEOS think tank have argued that the EU started off with a strong moral basis but has since become an economic union that needs taking back to its moral roots. Other Brexiters have argued that this stray towards an economic union was always the intention of the EU founders.

To delve deeper into this discussion, LDCF is hosting Dr Julie Smith (Baroness Smith of Newnham) in the 2016 LDCF Gladstone Lecture on Monday evening (13th June). She will be discussing The European Union: a question of faith, morality or pragmatism?

Julie Smith is by far one of the biggest EU experts in the Lib Dems and, in fact, the UK! She lectures on it at Cambridge University and worked on it at Chatham House. She also has an active Christian faith, regularly attending a Catholic Church. Julie has been a Liberal Democrat since she was 12. Her first campaigning experience was campaigning with Shirley Williams in Crosby and she’s been active ever since.

Her faith perspective combined with her expert knowledge will provide an interesting discussion to counter the self-interested economic arguments being batted left, right and centre.

If you’re after a more inspiring, alternative case for remaining (or if you know people who are!), you should come along. There might even be a drink for you when you get there.

Tickets available here:

Where: St Matthew’s Church, Westminster, SW1P 2BU
When: Monday 13th June, 6:30pm

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Peter Watson 11th Jun '16 - 9:02am

    “The Lib Dem’s positive and hopeful message on remaining in the EU begins to satisfy this yearning.”
    I can’t say that I’ve noticed the Lib Dem message on remaining in the EU being any less negative and fearful than the rest of the campaign that has pushed me from being an instinctive Remain voter to no longer knowing how or if I’ll vote.
    But a “a moral case for Brexit and remain” would make for an interesting discussion. I fear that, like the rest of the debate, it would descend into accusations of avarice, selfishness and racism. But if each side were only allowed to emphasise the good points of their own views, could either Brexit or Bremain claim some sort of moral high ground?

  • Nigel Jones 11th Jun '16 - 9:26am

    Will there be a video or transcript produced ?
    Evening meetings in London are extremely difficult to attend.

  • Talking with an ex Euro MP over a week ago and we both felt the result was going fast to Leave, that seems to have accelerated this week, it could end up a landslide as remaining Remainers will then ask is there any point in voting. As a convinced European all this is very sad to me but reality appears to say it is going to happen, the main catylyst were those net immigration figures and however many times you say “but its the economy stupid”, they just do not want to know. How the exit negotiations happen I do not know, how long I do not know, but it means the subject will run and run with the Exiteers able to blame Europe for every delay and minor issue. The Lib Dems may be squeezed yet again.

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