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All over the country, cross-party meetings on Europe are taking place

September 14, 2016 10:48 AM
By Antony Hook in Liberal Democrat Voice

http://www.libdemvoice.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/amersham-meeting-cross-party-sept-2016.jpgI cannot recall a political issue since I joined the party in 1998 that has engaged public interest so deeply and for so long as the EU referendum and its aftermath. Almost 3 months after polling day, you can still hear people you pass at the bus stop, in pubs and cafes and other public places talking about it.

I agree with the analysis of David Allen Green of the FT that Brexit is not inevitable and will be with us as a political issue for a very long time.

Tim Farron has set out the Liberal Democrat plan for Britain in Europe. We do not want a re-run of the 2016 referendum. But we demand that the people of Britain should have the final say. When the government can tell us what the terms of exit actually are, the people should be able to vote on whether they want them or not. That is the legitimately democratic stance. The public did not vote on 23 June to give a blank cheque. They did not vote for "Leave on any terms". Quite the opposite.

The public may have instructed the government to negotiate exit terms. The public can give further instructions on whether to accept those terms or not.

All over the country local meetings are taking place between people from progressive parties (and people of no party) about this issue.

Last Friday I spoke at such a meeting in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, where the local MP campaigned for Leave despite most local people voting for Remain. Over the summer, I have spoken at a number of other meetings in other counties too.

Last Friday at Amersham saw a packed meeting with Liberal Democrat, Labour and Green speakers. I explained the Liberal Democrat position and invited progressives of all parties to get behind this. Many people said they agreed with what Tim Farron has said. Pictured above are just some of those who attended.

It will take many years before the government is in a position to say "here are the draft terms for exit on offer". It is vital that we do not wait until then to organise our campaign but make our case now, and continue to make it. Our case is a liberal, open, prosperous Britain, which is in the Single Market, protects the environment and gives UK citizens all the benefits they currently enjoy as EU citizens.

Over the years ahead, more and more people will come to conclude that they were lied to in June 2016. They were lied to about £350 million per week. They were lied to about immigration. They were lied to about Turkey. And, fundamentally, they were lied to that exit could be beneficial and not harmful. As with Blair's WMD in Iraq, time will expose these lies. Our job is to prepare a better option for the future.

We are one people in Europe, with a shared history and a shared future, shared problems and shared strengths. We need to say so and go deeper than the vacuous arguments of Cameron and Osborne that failed so badly on 23 June.

Public meetings like this should be encouraged to continue to take place and so should taking every opportunity to get the Liberal Democrat message across.

* Antony Hook was #2 on the South East European list in 2014, is the English Party's representative on the Federal Executive and produces this sites EU Referendum Roundup.

All over the country, cross-party meetings on Europe are taking place

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