Vince: Lib Dems demand an exit from Brexit referendum

Here’s Vince addressing the considerable crowds at the #stopBrexitManchester march. This is what he had to say.

We are in Manchester because the Conservative Party are here and we want them to hear our voices – to tell Theresa May and Boris Johnson that we are not ‘citizens of nowhere’, but people who are proud to be British, and proud to be European.

We must tell the government what is at stake here.

Take the great research institutions in Manchester, such as the National Graphene Institute developing a new wonder material. Or the Human Brain Project. Or Cancer Research – each have received €1bn in EU funding, the largest research commitments the EU has ever made: what is their future?

We must tell Theresa May to stop treating EU citizens like hostages in the negotiations. There are 130,000 EU citizens in Greater Manchester alone. The same goes for British citizens elsewhere in the EU.  The right to remain, and the protection of UK and European law, must be guaranteed. And not in 2019, or 2021, or never, but now.

Insecurity is driving away valuable, and valued, EU workers.

If the government is unable to deliver the deal the Brexiteers promised, the people are entitled to a vote on it – including the option of an exit from Brexit. That is why, as Liberal Democrats, we demand a vote on the final deal, and will work with decent minded people of all parties to delver it.

We really don’t need Baldrick. Vince has got this.

Manchester truly went blue and yellow today:

There was even a Rick roll:

I normally can’t stand flag-waving, whether it is the Union Jack or the saltire. This is usually because the people doing the waving have a narrow, nationalist agenda that is more about putting up barriers between people than anything else. When I see the EU flag, it fills me with pride. It is a symbol of democracy, human rights and internationalism. It’s all about working together to create a more peaceful, prosperous, free world and so is something very close to my heart.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • I can understand why my Party are so low in the opinion polls with stunts like this.

  • @Libdemer – Yep, they’re doubling down on the single-issue campaigning and they’ve picked the least popular single issue to do it on.

    Also the idea that “Leave wasn’t defined” is laughable compared how loosely “Remain” is defined over the next view years. Rather than Nick Clegg’s EU vision of “pretty much the same”, since the referendum we’ve already seen plans wheeled out by Juncker for compulsory euro membership and a single EU finance minister. That’s just in one year, on previous form it could have been 40 years before another EU referendum if we’d remained.

    The idea that the EU promotes democracy in its members is also in tatters when we look at the silence from EU functionaries while Spanish police throw Catalan women trying to vote down flights of stairs.

  • Nom de Plume 1st Oct '17 - 5:26pm

    They have decided to take a side on a wedge issue. I support the position. It is also consistent.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 1st Oct '17 - 5:40pm

    Caron, alas comments such as yours on the flag flags up why we as a party are seen as , on such things , out of touch. You express it well but your empathy with those who love the UK , but do not see the EU thus, but as an organisation not a nation or a land shared at all, might be more forthcoming.

    Perhaps if you understood those of us happy to wave the Union Jack on Last night of the proms, who like classical music, those who do so at sport events who enjoy that , are not the rabid nationalists you think, but love this country, its peoples its traditions its possibilities as well as its achievements, perhaps then some who are Liberal and patriotic, like me , and Tim our previous leader , might get further with our letting people know how we feel, not rejected as Europhiles .

  • Brexiteers ask for people to stop talking about Brexit. Sad thing is even if we did it wouldn’t get better, we would still be heading for the cliff. We are in a mess and I can understand why the people who got us into it don’t want too talk about it, but that doesn’t get us out of it. We can pretend everything is going well and we need to spend our time supporting faries, unicorns and building Empire II but that is just distraction and fails to face the reality.

  • Nom de Plume 1st Oct '17 - 5:50pm

    @ Lorenzo Cherin & Caron

    Wave both flags. To not do so is to give fuel to the nationalists’ fears. There is no contradiction in being an internationalist and a patriot.

  • paul barker 1st Oct '17 - 5:51pm

    The point about Brexit is that its a “Gateway” Issue, Remainers & Leavers have very different attitudes on a whole range of other things with no obvious connection like, for example whether Gay Sex is “Natural”. Essentially its a split between Open & Closed.
    Its also the most important thing effecting The Economy in the next few Years.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 1st Oct '17 - 7:02pm


    Well said , let,s encourage this , maybe get Caron onboard HMS Patriotic Liberals!

  • Andrew McCaig 1st Oct '17 - 7:04pm

    Well, I would just point out that our poll rating plunged to 8% when we were going on about everything BUT Brexit.

    And I challenge people here to think of a policy other than Brexit where we could realistically adopt a policy more popular than one or other of the other two parties which is of interest to a significant number of voters. Being seen to have consistently been the anti-Brexit party does at least offer the chance of being proved right as disaster unfolds..

  • @ Lorenzo Would you please be a bit more specific and explain what you mean by patriotism ?

    Does it mean unquestioning support for whatever the rulers of this country decide to do ? If not what are your limits when you get beyond the flag wagging bit ? And could you tell us what you make of Dr Johnson’s comment that ‘patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel’ ?

  • Lorenzo Cherin 1st Oct '17 - 10:55pm


    I do not really believe patriotism has anything to do with specific rulers of any country.It is a feeling for the country itself, its land, its people , its traditions its culture.

    Governments change , some we like some we do not.

    A country exists and thrives and remains and survives regardless.

    When , however a country has over many years, decades, in different eras , shown itself to be courageous, resourceful, innovative and original, it leads to love for it.

    The love for it is like that for a person, but it is for the country of many people , it is for the very people of that country .

    It is added to and enriched by an age old appreciation for the real talent in many fields and inspiration it leads one to draw from.

    It is the awareness that, more important than a faith in it regardless,akin to an unconditional love , is that one can honestly and often say , I like my country.I like what it is and often what it does.

    Many things can make me disappointed in it, but not dislike it, but rather, want to make it better, because of how one feels.

    As for patriots being a refuge for scoundrels, no.

    This country in a capitalist era of industrial revolution, was a refuge for a man who sheltered here, many years , who sought to instigate revolution, he planned or advocated and wrote about in the British Museum Library, free of charge.

    Karl Marx , and his treatment here , by the tolerance of this country , leads me to be the reverse of a Marxist, and the opposite of Samuel Johnson in his quote.

    Patriotism, when a liberal patriotism, is the feeling inspired by knowing a land is a refuge of those fleeing tyranny, from countries not worth being patriotic over, in favour of a country where it is worth developing a patriotism.

    It is why American immigrants are so patriotic, as are there childrens , and why some of us are , similarly here.

  • Caron, From your introduction it seems that we are against ‘flag waving’ ( except when we support it) and we are all for abiding by democratic decisions (except when we aren’t)

    Sadly, with all the problems that are facing our country (housing/homelessness, food banks, Universal Credit rollout, etc.) we again ‘demonstrate’ that we are basically a one issue party…..

  • I did not go on this march to make the party more popular; I went to do my little bit to try to save the UK from jumping off the cliff. It was an all-party affair, with even some Tories involved, not a Lib Dem stunt although the Lib Dems were very much in evidence among the thousands there. This is the biggest issue facing the country at the moment.

  • Graham Martin-Royle 2nd Oct '17 - 10:09am

    And once again, according to the Brexit Broadcasting Corporation, this march never happened.

  • Denis Loretto 2nd Oct '17 - 10:23am

    @Richard S – up there about 12 posts back.

    Juncker does not speak for the whole of the EU. The desire for something like a United States of Europe has always been around but would be resisted much more widely than in the UK if attempted. One of the great contributions the UK has made to Europe is our powerful influence towards a pragmatic approach which releases the immense power of close co-operation on trade and many other areas of activity while retaining the individual ethos, culture and position on the broad left/right spectrum decided upon and valued by each nation. It is the impending loss of this contribution which emboldens the Junckers of this world. If (and we all know how big an “if” that is) the UK were to reconsider the brexit decision prior to actual exit I have no doubt that the UK –
    would be permitted to retain much if not all of the privileges we have enjoyed – opt outs on euro and Schengen etc. We are not as important as we think we are but we are still very important to Europe as a whole and my sense is that the 27 would still on balance want us in.

  • And could you tell us what you make of Dr Johnson’s comment that ‘patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel’ ?

    I think he was talking about the snake oil sales men such as Farage, BoJo etc. who resort to the invocation of patriotism, playing on peoples emotions and sense of identity to persuade them to support their cause.

  • nigel hunter 2nd Oct '17 - 10:26am

    Yes, the BBC gave it scant coverage (only read and seen a small article on the BBC red button news article).To me it looks like the BBC has been taken over by the Conservatives and Brexiteer’s to enhance their propaganda.

  • Peter Watson 2nd Oct '17 - 10:34am

    @Andrew McCaig “our poll rating plunged to 8% when we were going on about everything BUT Brexit.”
    And it dropped nearer to 7% when the party was going on about nothing BUT Brexit.
    Lib Dems want to stop Brexit (well sort of: the official position appears to be another referendum, which dilutes the message and weakens criticisms of the 2016 referendum). Voters understand that. But the party also needs to set out its vision of a Lib Dem society whether inside or outside the EU. And if the party gets that second referendum, it needs to have a message which addresses the concerns of those who voted for Brexit in the first place.
    Even if Brexit goes belly-up and is successfully reversed, it is likely to have little to do with Lib Dem whinges, and in much the same way that some Lib Dems are still waiting for plaudits for their performance in Coalition, the party may receive little or no credit (perversely, it may even be blamed). Wings of the Labour and Conservative parties will be well-positioned to displace scapegoats in their own parties and continue with business as usual.
    As Einstein might have said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. It does not mean reversing opposition to Brexit, but Lib Dems need to do something different.

  • @ nigel hunter “To me it looks like the BBC has been taken over by the Conservatives and Brexiteer’s to enhance their propaganda.”

    Absolute Rollox. A visit to Spec Savers might be timely.

  • Denis Loretto 2nd Oct '17 - 1:54pm

    Peter Watson makes a lot of sensible points here. However as to what might happen if and when brexit were to be stopped, much though I would want to see the Lib Dems receiving the plaudits of a grateful populace, I would be much more inclined to breathe a hearty sigh of relief and work to help the UK to make the very best of being in our natural European home and improving it in any way we can.

  • Mick Taylor 2nd Oct '17 - 4:49pm

    Peter Watson ought perhaps to consider what happened at the Lib Dem conference, where we debated a whole raft of policies as well as Brexit. For example we now have an excellent policy calling for the roll out of Universal Credit to be delayed until its problems are sorted out. He ought also to listen to Vince’s speech where he covered a whole range of important policies as well as Brexit.
    Just because the press don’t report it doesn’t mean we are not saying it and campaigning on it.
    All those who complain that we’re banging on about Brexit should perhaps pause to consider that many of the public services we are also campaigning on, NHS, housing supply, welfare, etc are all going to be devastated if Brexit goes ahead, because we won’t be able to afford them.
    We need to #ExitfromBrexit in order to start to deliver on any other plans.
    And to David Raw how do you explain that an event in Manchester attend by up to 50,000 people to stop Brexit is barely worth a mention on the BBC? Someone in the BBC certainly has an agenda!

  • @ Mick Taylor “And to David Raw how do you explain that an event in Manchester attend by up to 50,000 people to stop Brexit is barely worth a mention on the BBC? Someone in the BBC certainly has an agenda!”

    I don’t need to Dr Taylor mostly because I don’t believe in conspiracy theories. ….. especially when Boris Johnson and George Osborne have attacked liberal left wing bias in the BBC in the last twelve months and we’ve witnessed the Tories undermining the BBC with death by a thousand cuts. If you want to join in that game I’m disappointed.

    As to 50,000, Chief Superintendent John O’Hare, who is leading the Tory conference policing operation, said: “Up to 30,000 people came in to Manchester city centre today (Sunday 1 October 2017) to take part in various protests.”

    Meanwhile I suggest you look at the BBC News website : “Tories greeted by large protests in Manchester : 1 October 2017 From the section UK Politics. BBC NEWS.

  • Peter Watson 2nd Oct '17 - 5:55pm

    @Mick Taylor “consider what happened at the Lib Dem conference, where we debated a whole raft of policies as well as Brexit”
    If I were to follow conference motions I would conclude that Lib Dems want to “abandon the selection by ability and social separation of young people, into different schools” and “ensure that selection in admissions on the basis of religion or belief to state-funded schools is phased out”. If I were to look at the manifesto I would conclude that Lib Dems are not all that bothered by faith schools and existing grammar schools. (Lions led by sheep, perhaps?)
    The electorate should not have to wade through conference votes to get a sense of what Lib Dems stand for and what are the party’s priorities. And this is not helped when those conference votes are subsequently ignored in party election literature.

    The general election provided an opportunity for increased publicity. But what was the key message of the 2017 manifesto? Behind the air-time dominated by a second referendum on Brexit (a more muddled message than outright opposition), cannabis, and Tim Farron’s faith, what were the important themes being promoted by the party? Tim Farron’s introduction to the manifesto spent plenty of time predicting a Tory landslide in the face of weak Labour opposition, but gave little reason to vote Lib Dem (hint: if you want to present the party as a strong opposition to the Tories then demonstrate it by spending more time strongly opposing the Tories and less time carping about Labour’s poor efforts!).

    Labour and the Conservatives can get away with saying “if you’re broadly to the left or broadly to the right then vote for us”. UKIP, SNP, PC and Greens all have (relatively) well-understood niche positions. But Lib Dems need to formulate a more clearly defined proposition for voters than they have done in recent years.

  • Peter Watson 2nd Oct '17 - 6:04pm

    @Mick Taylor “pause to consider that many of the public services we are also campaigning on, NHS, housing supply, welfare, etc”
    The problem is that we do not see that campaigning. Even as a regular visitor to this site I don’t see much of it. But the link to Brexit could be an opportunity to raise the profile of Lib Dem policies in those areas: explain what the Lib Dem vision would mean if we remain in the EU and how it can minimise the harm if we do not. Simply stating “Brexit will break everything” does not give me a reason to vote for the Lib Dems when there are more than 12 MPs in each of the Tory and Labour parties (and the SNP) saying the same.

  • Mick Taylor 2nd Oct '17 - 6:23pm

    David Raw.
    I do not believe in conspiracy theories either. What I see (very sadly) is the once proudly independent BBC giving excessive coverage to Farage and very little to the growing opposition to Brexit. I see a BBC that publishes stuff it knows to be false with no criticism whatsoever.
    I also see a mysogynist BBC that pays its female presenters significantly less than its male presenters and which defends paying (male) presenters telephone number salaries when once those same presenters would have been proud to work for the BBC for a lesser salary.
    There was once a BBC that cut the crap and said it like it is, not what the government wants and refused to be cowed by intemperate politicians attacking it for bias.
    That’s the BBC I want, not the one we’ve got.
    It’s a pity you are not prepared to demand the same

  • Mick Taylor 2nd Oct '17 - 6:31pm

    Peter Watson. Maybe you don’t see the campaigning but I know that local campaigners for the party are pushing a whole range of polices apart from Brexit and that our various ‘leading lights’ make speeches about a whole range of issues.
    You seem to believe that the little that is reported in the (largely) Tory press is the sum total of our campaigning and what we are saying. Well it’s not.
    As a party we are faced with a hostile media environment, which Vince is doing quite well at being heard in. The questions he is being asked are mainly about Brexit and he’s answering them well. When he gets the chance he talks about a whole range of other policies as well. So do we all.
    I repeat, the seminal question right now is Brexit. Being bored by it is no excuse for not addressing it. If Brexit happens, it won’t matter a toss about anything else, because the money we need for other public sector interventions simply won’t be available as the pound declines further and trade will disappear down Liam Fox’s fundament.

  • @ Mick Taylor Predictably and may I say very adroitly you’ve shifted the argument, Mick, and I must admit to agreeing with much of what you say. Having said that, baby out of bath water I will not chuck. I see Murdoch et al as even more sinister.

  • paul barker 2nd Oct '17 - 7:52pm

    There have been 7 comments in a row from 2 people, each replying to the other. I declare this thread closed for a Private Function.

  • John Littler 4th Oct '17 - 9:46am

    Published in “The Japan News”, this was the best article I have read on the travesty of Brexit:

    Yomiuri Shimbun interviewed Nick Clegg, former British deputy prime minister, on Sept. 12 in London. Clegg, an influential figure with the British public, explained his thoughts on current British political issues, such as Brexit prospects and relations with the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump:

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