Willie Rennie to hold talks with SNP over support for Brexit deal referendum

The quest to build a case for an “exit from Brexit” referendum continues. In his speech to the Bournemouth Conference, Willie Rennie said he would be trying to work with the SNP to build support for the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ campaign for an “exit from Brexit” referendum.

He wrote to the First Minister and she has agreed that this merits discussion.

Willie will now meet the Scottish Government Minister Mike Russell for talks on this issue. He welcomed this invitation:

This is a welcome step forward from the Scottish Government and shows that there is support from across the political spectrum for a clear approach to Brexit that gives the British people a final say.

Both Nicola Sturgeon and Mike Russell have shown support for our campaign to give the public the final say but this can only be achieved if parties are willing to work together to protect the UK’s relationship with the EU. I know that there are colleagues across all UK parties who support this position and I urge them to join this movement and build the momentum further.

The infighting and incompetence of the Conservatives is pushing the United Kingdom towards a disastrous Brexit that will damage our country’s future.

To protect Britain’s prosperous future, Scottish Liberal Democrats believe that the final decision on Theresa May’s Brexit deal should be in the hands of the British public.

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  • Good luck to him with that. IMO, the SNP were very half-hearted in the campaigning for the UK to stay in the EU, knowing that a good chunk of their voters, and nationalists in general, were equally dismissive of EU interference as they were with it from Westminster. That said, I do think the SNP genuinely wanted the UK to stay in the EU and a bit like David Cameron, they just assumed it would happen.

    A bit like the Tories, the SNP have to juggle a number of factions, which includes some who always wanted out of the EU, those who want Scottish independence ASAP (and leaving the EU is the convenient excuse for the latest campaign), and those who would rather focus on governing in a way that will help their re-election chances come 2021. Polling currently suggests they’d lose a decent number of MSPs, which adds a time-pressure to decision-making.

    I think a lot of SNP members/voters would be happy with a referendum on the EU deal, but from a tactical point of view, this could mean that should Scotland ever vote for independence, then there could be another one two years later once the details are known. Would they risk that? The other, more petty hindrance is that there are quite a few in the SNP who don’t want to be seen supporting policy ideas of other parties. Some will remember that the Labour party motion on opt-out organ donation being rejected by the SNP last year, ostensibly because it wasn’t their bill and they didn’t want Labour to get the credit.

    However, with high profile Labour party members such as Khan also supporting a further referendum, and Vince doing an excellent job of keeping the possibility in the discussion, the SNP will be under increasing pressure to take a stance. If they don’t back our policy, then it’s going to look a lot like they aren’t a upset about the UK leaving the EU as they claim.

  • The SNP tries to talk to Willie about a lot of things but rather than talk about the day job, all he wants to talk about is another divisive referendum!

    Lets remember that it was Willie during the EU referendum campaign that called on the SNP to stop campaigning for remain e.g.,…

    And it is Willie who has repeatedly voted with the tories in the Scottish Parliament for hard brexit. Perhaps he is a fifth columnist and a not-so-secret brexiteer? We know there are quite a lot of these in the Lib Dems. In the UK parliamentary vote on article 50, the Lib Dems emerged as a deeply divided party on the subject while the SNP remained united against invoking article 50.

    Every time the Lib Dems face the test on Brexit, they fail to live up to their rhetoric. Hopefully the talks will result in the Scottish Government persuading Willie to finally back the campaign to support Scotland’s interests in Europe.

  • Dr David Hill 8th Oct '17 - 12:00pm

    Control is important that Germany (and France) always require and others like the SNP, but these people have not done their own homework. For even before the Brexit vote official figures pointed clearly to come out and the single comparison with Commonwealth trade and the EU clearly determined this with Commonwealth trade already in PPP terms outstripping the GDP of the EU.

    ‘ Commonwealth Trade v European Union (EU) Trade – The UK’s economic future resided in the ‘Commonwealth’ and not the European Union (EU), even before the Referendum vote was made’ -https://worldinnovationfoundation.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/commonwealth-trade-v-european-union-eu.html

  • The Commonwealth makes up a relatively small part of UK trade. Around 9% of total UK exports went to the Commonwealth in 2015, against 44% to the EU. The EU also accounted for 53% of UK imports, versus just 8% from the Commonwealth.

    UK goods exports to the Commonwealth nearly doubled from just under £13 billion in 1999 to close to £25 billion in 2010, but the trend has since reversed. UK goods exports to the Commonwealth fell from £29.9 billion in 2013 to £25.1 billion in 2015. The decline is consistent with falling global trade in recent years. UK goods exports to the EU were worth over £151 billion in 2013, before falling to £134 billion in 2015.


    So we give up 44% in the quest to expand the 9% do we David. You better get busy that’s a hell of a lot of trade to make up. Brexiteers as a friend of mine once said “It’s Pork mate you can’t teach it you can only cure it”

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