Why oppose Brexit?

I was asked recently to come up with some points which might be helpful when campaigning against Brexit. I wrestle constantly with finding a compelling narrative which cuts through a mind set which seems to trap half the population. I hope nevertheless some of the following (probably familiar) wording why Brexit is bad for Britain may be of use:

To preserve and promote British prosperity: The pound’s 15% collapse since the referendum is forecast to result in 3-4% inflation next year affecting our living standards.

To preserve and promote British exports: Outside the EU, our access to our major export market will be impaired by tariff and non-tariff barriers. Foreign investment (and jobs) will gradually decline as profit margins are eroded. As part of the EU, we have the best trade deal. The Nissan ‘sweetheart deal’ must be extended to all firms. Alone the UK, now the world’s seventh largest economy with 2% of global GDP, will have less weight in international trade negotiations with our far larger partners.

To preserve and promote British values: the aftermath of the EU referendum has seen the largest increase in hate crime on record. Shared British values such as tolerance and fairness are under threat.

To promote British power and influence: Britain outside the EU will be a weaker and less credible military and diplomatic ally. The UK influences and agrees all EU legislation through the participation of our elected ministers in the EU Council and elected members in the European Parliament. If the UK is not at the table, we cannot influence EU decisions.

To preserve our peace and security: With NATO, the EU has underpinned peace in Europe for 57 years. Armed conflict between any EU state is now unthinkable. The EU without the UK and its Eastern neighbours could be more susceptible to destabilisation by a resurgent Russia. EU arrest warrants and cross border policing help combat international crime and terrorism, which the UK cannot tackle alone. Nor can we combat climate change alone.

To promote our welfare: EU regulation curbs banking excesses and customer rip offs (eg reduced mobile phone roaming charges and cheaper air travel). EU social legislation provides for more holidays, maternity rights, equal pay and a safer working environment. The Great Repeal Bill potentially does exactly that to these hard-earned rights.

To preserve our national unity: Scotland is exploring a second independence referendum and the Northern Ireland peace process could be undermined.

To preserve our parliamentary democracy: Democracy does not end after an election. We have checks and balances to executive power as the November judgement on Gina Miller’s case upheld. We elect MPs to represent us, otherwise what is the point of Parliament? Although all unelected, the judiciary, civil service and a responsible media act as necessarily checks on the executive.

One vote, especially an advisory one, does not necessarily represent the ‘settled will’ of the people. The Brexiteers did not give in 1975 and nor shall we. This Brexit government has no idea where Brexit is leading us. Brexiteers say they want their country back – Liberal Democrats want to take our country forward!

* Nick Hopkinson is chair of the Liberal Democrat European Group (LDEG) and former Director, Wilton Park, Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

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This entry was posted in Europe / International.


  • Shame we weren’t told before the referendum that in the event of a ‘Leave’ vote the result would be ignored.

  • Peter Martin 11th Nov '16 - 12:12pm

    What was the point of voting for the referendum to take place if we aren’t going to accept the result?

  • Peter Martin
    Some British citizens who live and work overseas didn’t get a vote.

  • #Peter Martin

    “What was the point of voting for the referendum to take place if we aren’t going to accept the result?”

    Spot on!

    Economy – if you feel this will be damaged outside the EU, why not simply campaign for
    membership of the single market outside the EU – or more realistically, as full access as possible?

    British Influence
    Outside EU we could have our own trade agreements and will still be a permanent member of the UN.

    We will still be a member of NATO. We can still co-operate with other countries in regards arrest warrants and the like

    A UK Parliament or devolved institutions can decide all this

    Parliament voted 5:1 for the Referendum. The People voted 52-48% for Brexit. That’s what I call democratic – not ignoring the results of the Referendum

  • John
    “Outside EU we could have our own trade agreements”
    Other than cake there are not many British products to offer east Asia.

  • The whole referendum was a complete Blue on Blue issue.
    David Cameron trying to unite his party and shut down the Eurosceptics. At the same time trying to stop UKIP snapping at his electorate.
    Leave campaign dominated by M Gove, B Johnson and I.D.S.
    Remain campaign dominated by D Cameron and G Osborne.
    Bit like Trump v Clinton, Which side do you hate most.
    I’d like to turn the argument around for once. What really is so bad about the EU.
    The only issues that partially stacked up were immigration, cost and EU law.
    If we ever get a chance to oppose Brexit again, it is these issues that need to be quantified and challenged.
    I believe this can be done successfully along with a commitment to reform the EU and get back to good government for all in the UK.

  • Why not save some time and change the name of the Lib Dems to the Anti Democracy party?

    Its by ignoring the fair and democratic choice of the public that dictatorships are made.

    Your next step could be to make it illegal to vote for any party except the Lib Dems? It worked for others – for a while..!

  • Richard Underhill 11th Nov '16 - 1:35pm

    On the doorstep: the price of chocolate is rising. We do not grow cocoa in this country. What is happening at Toblerone is in all the newspapers. This is happening now. Our currency is falling because of Brexit.

  • John Peters 11th Nov '16 - 1:36pm

    Do you never get a feeling of Déjà vu?

    We had the arguments, we rejected the arguments, we will exit the EU.

    Groundhog day was okay as a film, it’s not really a sensible way of living a life.

  • I am curious about the 30% of Liberal Democrats that voted to leave the EU.

    This site certainly does not contain any articles from any such people who supported and voted for leaving the EU, why is that? Could it be such individuals are to scared to write / voice there opinions publicly because of the level of hostility they will receive from those within there own party?
    It’s would be very concerning to think that 30% of a parties voters were hidden in the background and to scared to speak out publicly because of certain members and associates who are prepared to label them as bigots and prejudiced for having a different view from them on brexit

  • So the message is any referendum can be overturned if the elite in Westminster don’t agree with the result,shame nobody told us before 23 June that the entire vote was a sham.

  • I am curious about the 30% of Liberal Democrats that voted to leave the EU.

    LDV does not contain any articles from any such people who supported and voted for leaving the EU, why is that? Could it be such individuals are to afraid to write / voice their opinions publicly because of the level of reaction they will receive from those within their own party?
    It’s would be very concerning to think that 30% of a parties voters were hidden in the background and not able to speak out publicly because of certain members and associates who are prepared to label them as prejudiced for having a different view from them on brexit

  • Would everyone be relaxed if the referendum had been on PR which was approved by 52% of voters but then blocked and overturned by the 48% that voted against ?

  • matt – Most have left the party and this site only allows articles from people who are party members. a world away from Labour Uncut or Con Home.

  • James

    I think you are wrong. I stopped supporting the LibDems after the disgrace of tuition fees and LDV always let me express my opinion, no matter how much they disagree with me.


    The most recent poll I saw said that 42% of people who voted LibDem think the country is going in the right direction since the referendum. I think it’s just the LibDem activists who will not accept the result.

  • I was told categorically that LDV will only accept articles from party members

  • Jayne Mansfield 11th Nov '16 - 6:55pm

    @ James,
    I stopped voting for the Liberal Democrats at the last election. I now support the Labour party because I now realise that I am more of a social democrat than a liberal. I have been open about this, so you are wrong to say that this site only allows contributions from party members.

    Also, I use the nickname I was given as a teenager when I post on here because my husband was concerned about abuse if I started posting on social media, ( a groundless concern on here).

  • How can LibDems complain about referendums and keep a straight face? They are the reason we had the vote on AV.
    Now they are on the losing side of the EU vote they are throwing their toys out of the pram.
    If the leave vote is frustrated the electorate will show no mercy.

  • Peter Martin 11th Nov '16 - 7:40pm

    @Richard Underhill,

    “Our currency is falling because of Brexit.”

    That’s likely true. But is it a bad thing? Many countries do what they can to keep their currency cheap and so support their export industries. Germany used to sell its DM to anyone who wanted to buy them at a certain rate which was nearly always lower than what it would have been if left to the free market. It now uses the euro to keep itself competitive.

    On the other hand we’ve always seen that a high pound to be a good thing. It’s meant than we can holiday abroad cheaply! But, we’ve lost our industrial base as a consequence! If it’s been cheaper to make cars or steel in other countries we’ve just let them get on with it!

  • Matt (Bristol) 11th Nov '16 - 7:43pm

    In defence of James – he is talking about articles and others are talking about comments.

    I believe articles from non-Lib-Dem-members representing wider groups are permitted, but you’d have to speak to the editors/moderators about that as I think it’s on a case-by-case basis.

    They’ve been taking articles from me – as an unknown and frequently inactive member much of the time – from literally the moment I joined the party.

    I don’t think this policy has significantly changed over the years, so that shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone.

    There have been a few pro-Brexit or relatively neutral articles. But to be fair, it is collaborative and volunteer-led – I don’t know how many have been submitted and whether any have been rejected, but if any have been rejected I suspect it’s more likely to be on the grounds of length, coherence and offence (often to individuals) than not toeing the party line.

  • Peter Martin 11th Nov '16 - 7:53pm

    “This site certainly does not contain any articles from any such people who supported and voted for leaving the EU, why is that? Could it be such individuals are to scared to write / voice there opinions?”

    Well I don’t think so. The good thing about the Lib Dems is that they don’t scare people this way. I’m not actually a party member, although I have voted LibDem previously. I am , though, a big supporter of the Liberal Party’s best known economist – Keynes.

    It it was possible for Keynes to be a Liberal the I could too. But I Keynes wouldn’t see eye to eye with the prevailing neo-liberalism or otho-liberalism we see in operation in the EU. That’s why I voted Leave and why I’m not yet prepared to sign up to party membership.

  • jedibeeftrix 11th Nov '16 - 8:13pm

    @ Manfarang – “Other than cake there are not many British products to offer east Asia.”

    Unsurprisingly, for a services economy, no.

  • nvelope2003 11th Nov '16 - 8:58pm

    Jayne Mansfield: Is the Labour party still a social democrat party ?

    John: Who has overturned the result of the referendum ? Nobody is more elite than the Conservative Government and they say they are pushing ahead with the process of leaving but this cannot be done overnight as there are complex deals to be done.

    The Remainers have the right to state their opposition just as parties defeated in a general election are not expected to abandon their policies after election day.

    What will happen if it is found that the UK cannot strike any deals which are better than the present ones ? Is the Government supposed to press ahead with something which could seriously damage, if not destroy, the economy ? Surely there would at least have to be a General election if not another referendum but I suspect that fear of loss of face will leave the country adrift like the Titanic hitting the iceberg.

  • Jayne Mansfield 11th Nov '16 - 9:13pm

    It is a broad church, but whether it is predominantly social democratic or not depends on how many people who consider themselves Social Democrats join the party and argue for social democratic values and policies.

    I don’t go to meetings, but so many of my younger friends and acquaintances who have joined since the 2015 general election do, and they are very much social democrats.

    That does not stop them fuming when so called ‘moderates’ failed to turn up or vote for Emily Thornberry’s opposition day motion on Yemen. They have redefined their view of what is moderate.

  • People also need to remember that in the negotiations that Cameron got with the EU, they are now null and void as we voted to leave the EU and this was expressed most intently by Junker and the EU before the vote . So should this mythical opportunity arise where the people are given a 2nd chance Referendum on the basis of the outcome of the EU negotiations. The Choice will be accept the negotiated terms of Brexit
    Stay a member of the EU and carry on as we are, even without the reforms that Cameron had previously negotiated.
    I can’t see the public going for that one somehow.

    “I think you are wrong. I stopped supporting the LibDems after the disgrace of tuition fees and LDV always let me express my opinion, no matter how much they disagree with me.”
    I agree that LDV allows people to express an opinion, however, I was talking about the lack of articles supporting Brexit, after all 30% of Liberal Democrat Voters supported leaving the EU. Not only is there a complete lack of articles from anyone who supported brexit, but there is also a lack of comments from LD Voters who supported Brexit, I was just curious as to why that is and whether there was an explanation

  • Matt: Surely it would depend on whether the negotiated terms are better or worse than remaining in the EU which would determine how people voted – at least in theory, but of course this is an emotional issue about British sovereignty and many Liberals are not much bothered about that although many others are deeply attached to it just as many of those who support the SNP are deeply attached to the idea of an independent Scotland even if others consider it a bad idea.

  • Anyone is allowed to say what they like on LDV provided their post does not contain any original ideas and just consists of endlessly repeating the same arguments.

  • Jayne Mansfield: Why join a social democrat party when social democracy is in freefall in the major European countries – Germany, France, Spain although it is still struggling along in Sweden and Norway because the opposition parties are so divided.

  • There are a thousand reasons not to leave the EU.
    One point- who thinks that the old Colonies and all the other none EU countries won’t realise that after we have left the 440 million- reasonably well-off customers, we won’t be desperate for trade and will be forced to make bad deals.
    There was no need for all this. What would the government be doing now if common sense had prevailed?
    All the extra work involved in doing the many checks and controls that the EU do, will cost billions.
    We just had bad governments that did not prepare for more people. We sent people to negotiate that were incapable of compromise and just insulted others. Also, the two right-to-rule reds & blues should have agreed with the Lib/Dems and changed the voting system years ago to give people a sense of control. And,of course a childish Media.

  • Sue Sutherland 12th Nov '16 - 12:12pm

    With the election of Trump the whole world situation may have changed. America may abandon NATO and Putin is already licking his lips about what this means for the safety of Europe. So the UK may become more important to the EU for security reasons and this may influence the kind of deal we can get and also the way the invocation of Article 50 is interpreted.
    Tim was the only person I heard during the Referendum campaign who spoke about the EU with passion. I hope he will carry on doing this now because in an unsafe world a commitment to peace should be protected.

  • @Sue Sutherland

    That sounds remarkably like arguing for setting up an EU army.
    Something that remainers denied would happen and something that leave campaigners where accused of Scaremongering about.
    Remarkable now though that those fears expressed actually turned out to be true as Junker has recently said
    ‘The Americans, to whom we owe much … will not ensure the security of the Europeans in the long term. We have to do this ourselves. ‘That is why we need a new start in the field of European defence, up to the goal of setting up a European army.’ Federica Mogherini, the EU high representative who represents the bloc on the global stage – published extensive plans for an EU army in the summer, deliberately waiting until after Britain’s EU referendum.
    Yesterday she said the EU must strengthen militarily in response to Mr Trump’s election to the White House. ‘In a changing global landscape, Europe will be more and more an indispensable power,’

  • Sorry but it’s quite explicit that they will not accept articles from people who are NOT party members. As a Liberal Brexiteer I could not in all concious authentically belong to the Party thus it has disallowed me in writing articles. A Lib Dem Brexiteer article is sorely needed – unless the Party has becomea eurocentric echo-chamber of Stockholm Syndrome proportions.

  • Peter Morris 14th Nov '16 - 10:47pm

    What was missing here was that British Citizens might also loose their right to freedom of movement within the EU. This is a human right enjoyed by British people since 2004 and should be protected at all costs, otherwise other rights might be removed. Not only that but access to the European Court of Human Rights might also be removed

  • Nick, one could argue your points back and forth, and I’m sure people will.
    The one point that I really take issue with is ‘to preserve British values’, I find this quite ironic. Who has done more than Britain to uphold and fight for liberty,democracy, and tolerance in Europe? Germany? Italy? Greece? Spain? Portugal?
    Whatever the merits’ or otherwise of E.U.
    membership, it will be a very sad day indeed if Britain ever needs to be in the E.U. in order to ensure our values are upheld.

    Please have just a little more faith in the people of this country.

  • @ James
    “… this site only allows articles from people who are party members.”

    This does not seem to be the policy of the website. If you go to the “write for us” section it states, “We are also happy to publish articles by non-Lib Dem members (at the editor’s discretion), and will ensure this is flagged for readers to avoid confusion or misunderstanding.” (This is repeated again later.)

    Later it states, “We can’t give you a cast-iron promise that if you submit a piece it will be published, but if it can’t be published immediately we’ll usually advise you how you can improve the piece to get it published at a later date.” (Correct I had an article rejected and my last article was version 3 before it was published.)

    Who told you that LDV will only accept articles from party members?

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