Tim Farron: Theresa May is putting views of hardline Brexiteers first

Commenting on Theresa May’s first European Council summit, where her short statement on Brexit was reportedly met with silence from other EU leaders, Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron said:

Given the haphazard way May is dealing with Brexit in her own cabinet, it’s not surprising she is struggling to convince other European leaders that this will be anything like the ‘smooth withdrawal’ her office is briefing.

Instead of putting the views minority of hardline Tory Brexiteers first, our Prime Minister should be doing what’s right for the British people.

This means remaining in the Single Market, maintaining cross-border security and ensuring that Brexit leaves nobody worse off.

The Liberal Democrats are fighting to keep Britain open, tolerant and united.

We are the real opposition to the Tory Brexit government.

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33 Comments

  • Eddie Sammon 21st Oct '16 - 4:11pm

    It’s time for a brexit plan from the Lib Dems! Besides staying in. It’s not politically feasible to do nothing on free movement so that should be ruled out, considering the Lib Dems are a mainstream party.

    Possibilities: aim for EU wide-reform instead? Offer higher EU budget contributions? Accept some restrictions on free trade? I’m not even sure if the latter is possible, but these are options.

  • Why “not politically feasible”? Brits benefit every day of every year from free movement of people, both into and out of Britain. Surely it’s a matter of making the case properly. For too long, Britons have got used to having everything and conceding nothing to others. I am afraid we have to get used to it now. As explained very clearly at last night’s EU Council dinner, I gather, there is absolutely no better deal available to the UK than it is currently getting. Anything else requires sacrifice. The key question is, how long do the British people need to absorb and react sensibly to that point?

  • Unfortunately it’s too late. The thinking should have been done years ago as free movement of Labour is untenable for a progressive party.

    My advice is to get together with Verhofstad etc and hammer out a deal about sectoral limitations and entry level limitations on free movement with a visa system. It seems the Lib Dems have their heads in the clouds and don’t know what it’s like applying for jobs anymore.

    The aim should be a tight labour market at the bottom end to mop up every single person seeking work – THEN opening it out to others through a lifting of free movement. It’s called progressive win-win politics.

  • John Peters 21st Oct '16 - 4:24pm

    The rump EU will not negotiate in good faith. That will be pretty clear to Mrs May by now. It’s not worth time or trouble to talk about the Single Market.

  • “This means remaining in the Single Market”

    May wants free trade with the EU. She says so almost every day.

    All the signs are that the EU will not give us free trade. Not because such a deal would not be mutually beneficial – it would – but because they want to give a demonstration to other potential exiters of what might happen to them.

    If Farron seriously wants the best trading deal for the UK, he needs to start aiming these barbs at the EU rather than Theresa May. The UK has virtually no power whatsoever over what kind of Brexit we get. This will be determined by the EU.

  • David Pearce 21st Oct '16 - 5:35pm

    People voted in the referendum precisely on the lines of whether they believed in or out was in their or the nations economic interest. There are breakdown polling statistics to show this. What people will think about Brexit over the next two years will depend on the reality of the economic consequences of the vote. If they are bad, then people will change their mind so that by the leave date there may well be a majority to remain. Whatever position libs take they must be able to take advantage of this if it happens. The conservatives are massively committed to Brexit, though they must have plans how to wriggle out of it if support drains away.

    The current propaganda campaign arguing there has been a final decision is simply propaganda. But partly it aims to shield the conservatives by getting other parties involved in deciding Brexit. The libs must maintain distance so they can attack the conservatives for a foolish course of action if the chance arises.

    It is naive to think that the conservatives are going to pay too much attention to the lib MPs whatever they suggest, except to use them once again as a smokescreen if it all goes wrong. “see- the libs supported Brexit too”

  • Laurence Cox 21st Oct '16 - 5:43pm

    @John Peters
    It doesn’t matter how the EU negotiates; the end result has to be agreed by all member states, so anyone can veto it. Look at how Wallonia is blocking the CETA trade deal with Canada. While I campaigned for Remain, I recognise how dysfunctional and how desperately in need of reform the EU is.

  • The population of Scotland has been roughly static over the last century since 1921. In fact, the population of Scotland is projected to be decreasing by almost 8,000 people per year by 2039 before migration is taken into account. International migration was estimated before Brexit to make up the shortfall and provide some modest level of growth. Without EU migration, our young men and women would have to go like rabbits just to stabilise the population level and they don’t all like changing nappies.

    EU migrants make a net contribution of almost £4.8m per day to the UK public purse. There are currently 171,000 living in Scotland. At UK level, EU migration is an illusory problem. The UK government couldn’t find any evidence of migration putting any pressure on services, even when they enlisted Migration Watch to try and find some…
    https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/home-affairs/immigration/news/80066/government-had-no-hard-evidence-migration-pressure

    It’s not just access to the single market that is in Scotland’s interests. Free movement is as well. If England want’s to pursue a different policy line that is one thing, but Scotland should not be dragged into an isolationist position that is clearly against our interests in so many ways. There is no mandate to take Scotland out of the EU. If England goes for full English Brexit, Scotland needs a separate deal that maintains and protects our access to the four EU freedoms.

  • John Peters 21st Oct '16 - 5:59pm

    @Al

    If that’s what the Scottish residents believe then they need to vote for Independence and apply to join the EU.

  • I was initially in favour of staying in the EU but the campaign persuaded me to vote leave. I was also disgusted with Cameron’s government for using publicly funded websites like the HMRC one to advise people to vote remain. People complained about vote leave’s misleading campaign but using public money on the campaign was down right cheating.

    Anyway when we voted leave I initially wanted a soft EEA type deal but I now believe a hard Brexit is going to be inevitable. I read today that the EU have asked for the exit negotiations to be conducted in French, and that Canada have left without a trade deal in disgust.

    Teresa May isn’t going to get anywhere. The EU want to make it as problematic as possible.

    Well if that’s the way they want it let’s just get a hard Brexit over and done with as quickly as possible. And if any country won’t give our citizens the right to live there we should deport all of their citizens too. It’s now clear that we will have to play hard and fast with them and that leaving was indeed the right thing to do.

    The EU works great for the well off. Protectionism instead of market competition for farmers, exchange schemes for students, easy holiday homes in the sun for rich pensioners. But it has been terrible for the less well off. It should therefore not be surprising that most MPs are in favour of it but most people are not.

  • Eddie Sammon 21st Oct '16 - 8:07pm

    El Sid, even if they deported all our citizens, we shouldn’t deport theirs. Why take it out on the innocent? It will force some people to choose between their family on the continent and their family in Britain. It’s horribly divisive and people who came here legally shouldn’t have to put up with it.

    If, for whatever reason, the EU starts deporting our citizens we need to stand up against it too. Not blame the brexiters which nearly everything seems to be getting blamed on recently.

  • @Laurence Cox 21st Oct ’16 – 5:43pm

    “It doesn’t matter how the EU negotiates; the end result has to be agreed by all member states, so anyone can veto it. Look at how Wallonia is blocking the CETA trade deal with Canada. While I campaigned for Remain, I recognise how dysfunctional and how desperately in need of reform the EU is.”

    Desperately in need of reform eh? Yes but what sort of reform is that? In this case the only reform that would get this trade deal done would have been concentrating more power at the top of the EU so Belgium couldn’t veto the trade deal with Canada and France couldn’t veto the trade deal with the United States.

    The problem with that is that this is exactly the sort of reform that democrats don’t want. If fact, I believe Nick Clegg and the liberal democrat manifesto said that we would need an in/out referendum if we ever got offered that sort of reform? Serious question for all party members to ask themselves there…

  • Al
    The population of Scotland is about 5 million. The population of England is about 53 million. The thing is people don’t want to emigrate to Scotland in large numbers. They want to go to the English Midlands and the South East where it has to be said great chunks of the local population are fed up with it. The big myth is that it was areas of low immigration that voted leave. Actually it was suburban areas where people moved out to partly because of high levels of immigration that voted leave. Places like Basildon, the suburbs in the East Midlands and around Birmingham etc.

  • paul holmes 21st Oct '16 - 8:24pm

    @john peters. “The rump EU……..”.

    So the UK leaves and the remaining 27 out of 28 Members are the rump? Such a perspective explains something of the views of many Leave voters. Back to the world of that famous early twentieth century Times newspaper headline, ‘Fog in the Channel, Europe isolated’.

    That is not quite how the 27 nations of the EU with their much larger populations and much larger collective economy see things.

  • Cliff Wilkes 21st Oct '16 - 8:24pm

    “For too long, Britons have got used to having everything and conceding nothing to others. I am afraid we have to get used to it now.”
    Get real Mr Fallon – Brits are sick of making concessions – isn’t that what has brought Brexit about?

  • John Peters 21st Oct '16 - 8:52pm

    @paul holmes

    I believe rump X or rX to be in fairly common usage. The UK is referred to as rump UK or rUK when Scotland become independent. Similarly rump EU or rEU.

  • It is a standard management approach when things go wrong to parrot “we are where we are, no point in working out how we got here, just get on with it”. This seems to be the battle cry of the brexiters, sorry we are where we are because of you and as it goes Pete Tong, don’t expect those of us that saw the error of your ways not to point it out to you, there are no free passes for you and nor should there be.

  • @paul homes “That is not quite how the 27 nations of the EU with their much larger populations and much larger collective economy see things.”

    Those economies are heading down the drain. They can’t even do a trade deal with Canada, nevermind with the USA. They’ll end up with zero growth, massive unemployment and a failed currency. It’s good we are leaving that club now.

  • @Eddie Sammon 21st Oct ’16 – 8:07pm
    “El Sid, even if they deported all our citizens, we shouldn’t deport theirs. Why take it out on the innocent? It will force some people to choose between their family on the continent and their family in Britain. It’s horribly divisive and people who came here legally shouldn’t have to put up with it.”

    You seem to be saying that two wrongs don’t make a right. Very noble and probably morally correct. But not how the politics seems to work. Outside of Europe itself I don’t think you could find a more pro EU country than Canada, but they were incapable of doing a mere trade deal with them, they don’t even seem to have the will to sort things out with us never mind the ability to actually do it.

    Teresa May will get no where with that lot. Eastern Europe have promised to block any deal if they don’t get free movement, if I were her and they did that to the UK I’d give them half a million of their now jobless citizens back in return and let them cope with that. Let them provide the homes and jobs if they they want to shut us out their markets.

    In the long run the UK will be fine, the EU have massive unemployment, a failing currency and are incapable of doing trade deals, they are screwed.

  • El Sid “I was initially in favour of staying in the EU but the campaign persuaded me to vote leave.” I rather doubt that given everything else you parrot is right out of the brexit hard-liners play-book.

  • During the referendum campaign most – if not all – of the leading “brexiteers” said that anyone already in the UK should be allowed to stay. That’s what was on peoples minds when they voted and regardless of what the EU decides we should stick to that. Also, Cameron, Osborne, Johnson, Gove etc all made it clear that a leave vote would mean leaving the single market. Hopefully Mrs May will be able to negotiate a deal so we can stay in, but that’s down to the EU. If Tim Farron can get Britain a deal where we leave the EU, control immigration and are still part of the single market I’m sure Mrs May will give him a job as a negotiator. However, I’ve still not heard Tim say how he would do that.

  • @ James
    “free movement of Labour is untenable for a progressive party” (sic).

    It is a great shame we can’t consider if free movement of people is a benefit or a disadvantage to the poorest in society. I think we can all agree that it is very beneficial to employers.

    We now accept that the increase in our population caused by EU free movement of people has increased pressure on housing, schools and the NHS, but when in government we failed to provide the resources to not only remove these extra pressures but reduce them. We need to have policies to provide resources so that the pressure on these items are reduced every year. Plus we need to be able to counter the argument that we can’t afford to provide the money to do these things. Again while in government we failed by accepting the neo-liberal idea that deficits are bad and can’t be financed by monetary means.

    However we need to consider what our aims are for the labour market. I think we want everyone to be better off next year and so we must have policies to ensure this happens. I think we want everyone who wants to work to have a job and so we need policies to ensure this happens.

    Therefore if we had policies to ensure everyone is better off next year and everyone who wanted to work is employed and that there are no pressures on school places and the NHS and that house prices and rents were going down not up, we should be able to make the free movement of EU people into the UK acceptable, but I don’t hear us talking about these types of policies.

  • Richard Easter 22nd Oct '16 - 8:17am

    It’s a great thing that CETA is being blocked. ISDS or any version of it is fundamentally treason. We have perfectly good courts that aren’t run by corporates.

  • @”frankie 21st Oct ’16 – 10:37pm
    El Sid “I was initially in favour of staying in the EU but the campaign persuaded me to vote leave.” I rather doubt that given everything else you parrot is right out of the brexit hard-liners play-book.”

    Well I can’t make you believe me when I claim that after listening to the debate I came to the conclusion that leave had the strongest case, but if you’re going to accuse me of merely parroting out of a play book you should at least tell me which of my points you disagree with and why. Otherwise that’s just throwing insults about.

    My points are:

    1. The EU’s economy is in a pretty poor state, it has actively failed some of its own member states giving them youth unemployment levels that are so appalling that they should be unthinkable.

    2. The EU is so bureaucratic that it is actually incapable of implementing the sort of reforms that would be required in order to get it out of this mess, the trade deal with Canada is a perfect example.

    3. The reforms needed to get stuff done would require member states to surrender more sovereignty to the EU, this is exactly the sort of reform that people don’t want and exactly the sort of reform that Nick Clegg and the lib dem manifesto said should require a referendum. This is my main point and it has not been answered by anyone.

    4. The EU have made it clear that they’re not going to sit down and hammer out a deal that benefits both the UK and the rest of the EU, they are going to ensure it is a deadlocked bureaucratic nightmare, partly because that is what they are like and partly to punish us. This makes hard Brexit likely.

  • Tim seems unable to see why Wallonia, is a master-class, in proving exactly why the Leavers have been shown to be correct, as far as the UK / EU sovereignty issue is concerned.

    The people at the top of the EU think [wrongly], that they are running a fully fledged country. But people within the 27 European countries, variously,.. believe that they still have full sovereignty,.. or maybe some believe that they are ‘pooling sovereignty’, for the greater good of the political union.
    But you simply cannot, pool sovereignty. The illusion of pooled sovereignty occurs in the mind of our ‘governors’ because the 27 cats happily give away the ‘soft’ decision making quite willingly to the big cat in the middle. The problem truly arises, when the big cat in the middle starts to ‘assume’, that the 27 cats are ‘supine’ in their attitude towards giving up *all* the rights of decision making over ‘the governed’ [27 nations].
    Some [easily given up], decisions are ‘soft’, because they are so harmless that it causes no consternation on the part of the 27 cats. Does anyone really care if the EU flag waves over Brussels,… whether the background colour is blue or some other,… or if it has 10 stars in a circle, or 100.?

    It’s the *big stuff*, in decision making terms, that shows up the true illusion of pooled sovereignty.?

    Using the USA as an example,.. several States have their own laws with regard to the carrying of guns,.. but the idea of Washington overriding the 2nd Amendment, by banning the citizen from ownership of guns would cause instant civil war in America.
    When the big cat begins to assume too much sovereignty, of a level that was not given, or,… inferred to have been given, the 27 individual cats will naturally begin to scrutinise the trustworthiness of the big cat, and begin to make a re-assessment of [each], their own red lines on sovereignty and decision making.

    Sovereignty is consensual,.. and on the 23rd June 2016, the EU lost the consent of the British people. No ifs no buts,…this UK cat,… is Leaving,.. in order to begin making its own decisions again. On the way to our freedom, there will be numerous mistakes along the way,.. but they’ll be our mistakes.

  • @ J Dunn
    Your comparison of the EU with the USA was faulty.

    In 1860 southern Democrats thought that the USA was a union of states, where each state had the right to leave the union and so 11 “seceded” to discover that Republicans thought the union was permanent and went to war to force the 11 to remain in the union. In 1865 they should have repealed the 2nd Amendment because the victors had proved that the people no longer had the right to rebel against the government, which is why the 2nd amendment was passed in the first place. The constitution of the USA sets out s clear procedure for the passing of amendments – a two-thirds majority in both the Senate and House of Representatives and ratification by three-fourths of the states. If such an amendment was passed then there might be problems with enforcement, but with a strong political will as in 1861 it could be enforced.

    The EU is a union of states where each state does indeed retain the right the leave. It is not governed as one country and its citizens do not regard it as one country. A clear example are the German people who accepted the economic cost of unification with East Germany, but will not accept the economic cost of providing the same support to southern Europe. The Euro is a failed idea, because of German economic policies and the failure to make full employment and the reduction of economic inequalities across the whole of the EU the major economic goals of the EU and all member countries. Therefore it would be possible to govern the EU as if it was one country if all the citizens of the EU accepted this idea and the costs associated with it, but while it might have been possible to get that assent before 1981, once Greece joined I think this became more unlikely.

    Pooling of sovereignty is possible if all countries retain their veto, but as the USA discovered between 1781 and 1787 this means that central government functions are weak. I think that the Wallonia rejection of the trade deal with Canada proves the Leavers wrong, that nation states and even regions in the EU have retained their sovereignty.

  • John Peters 22nd Oct '16 - 5:21pm

    @Michael BG: “I think that the Wallonia rejection of the trade deal with Canada proves the Leavers wrong, that nation states and even regions in the EU have retained their sovereignty.”

    There is more to sovereignty than the ability to register displeasure at a treaty negotiated in secret without your involvement.

    If the EU simply ignores Wallonia and brings in CETA via a back door does Wallonia still retain any useful sovereignty?

  • I think that the Wallonia rejection of the trade deal with Canada proves the Leavers wrong, that nation states and even regions in the EU have retained their sovereignty.

    In what reasonable sense is the UK still sovereign if we can be prevented form signig a trade deal by a bunch of Belgians?

    We should declare that the day after the UK leaves the EU we will be signing this deal with Canada exactly as it is, and immediately invite the USA to begin preparatory talks for a deal along similar lines.

    Then the UK will have free-flowing trade deals with Canada and the US while the EU is still trying to avoid recession.

  • Michael BG suggests :
    “The EU is a union of states where each state does indeed retain the right the leave. It is not governed as one country and its citizens do not regard it as one country.”

    ~ If the EU officialdom, doesn’t see itself as a country, then why does this ‘non-country’ want [or need], to create an EU army.?

    ~ If the EU is not governed as one country, why did Merkel think it was o.k. to invite millions of migrant refugees into [not just Germany] but effectively, the whole Schengen Zone,.. without first asking each of the Schengen participants, if they were o.k. with her making that open border invitation.?

    Methinks you need to take the blinkers off, and take a 360 degree view of what is really going on within the EU.?

  • @ EL Sid
    The EU has a tiny bureaucracy, but decision making is slow and difficult because of the need to try to bring every nation along. It is not the dictatorship of the majority and its concern with minority interests could be seen as making it more democratic in the older meaning and not the new meaning of the dictatorship of the majority. (James Madison recognised the need to safeguard against the “tyranny of the majority”.)

    @ John Peters
    “There is more to sovereignty than the ability to register displeasure”

    Sovereignty is a difficult concept. Once there were monarchs who had sovereignty, but it was rarely absolute, it was normally pooled or shared in some way. Edward the Confessor and Harold were elected as Anglo-Saxon kings; Odo, Robert I and Rudolph were elected kings of “France”; and German kings were normally elected. There was often a right to depose and in the UK the right to elect monarchs sometimes rested with Parliament.

    Some say that sovereignty is held by the people, but what they mean is the voting majority. If sovereignty can be seen as resting collectively with the electorate, by majority voting, it is possible for it to rest in a majority within another institution such as the council of Europe. It seems that sovereignty rests where the constitution states it rests or where custom has it resting.

    @ J Dunn
    Your Merkel example demonstrates that the EU is not governed as one country, because the refugees do not have the right to travel to every country in the EU. The refugees in Greece or Calais do not have the right to travel to every EU country. I agree that the Schengen zone agreement is flawed and there should have been a collective mechanisms to deciding who can enter the area, rather than each sovereign national government making their own individual decisions.

  • El Sid

    Your point

    4. The EU have made it clear that they’re not going to sit down and hammer out a deal that benefits both the UK and the rest of the EU, they are going to ensure it is a deadlocked bureaucratic nightmare, partly because that is what they are like and partly to punish us. This makes hard Brexit likely.

    Yes Sid and they said that would happen before the vote. They will make it very painful for me and thee and there is nothing you can do about it. Politics is a hard game Sid and you are about to find out how hard it is. Did you think by voting for divorce our partners would let us keep the house and car; we will be lucky to get a few old shirts

    Pour encourager les autres

    and encourage you will be.

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