Over the past two weekends I have been out with pro EU campaigners from all Parties and none talking to the people of Liverpool about the EU and our membership of it.
This has always been a relatively easy job in Liverpool. Our City as a whole did vote 58/42 to remain. Quite simply the people of Liverpool did not believe the clear falsifications or misunderstandings made by the likes of Nigel Farage; Boris Johnson and Frank Field. They knew how much our City has benefited from the EU getting money for regeneration that no Government of any Party would have given us.
The easy job has got even easier. An opinion poll in November across the Country showed that all 5 constituencies in our City were now if favour of remaining in the EU. An even bigger majority was in favour of resolving the issues was to have a second vote on the facts now that people know what the deal is compared to what we have now.
Yesterday I was pleased to stand alongside both Labour MP Louise Ellman and Green Councillor Tom Crone to suggest what should happen next. I often disagree with both of them on policy but on this, the most important issue of our generation,we were in complete agreement.
Firstly, the deal that is on the table that has been negotiated by Theresa May is the best we are going to get. But it is not a good deal. It will mean huge problems for food supplies for farmers, for the fishing community for employment in manufacturing industries and for growth in the economy. This must surely be a key message for anyone in the Tory Party.
Secondly, but just as importantly it makes it decision time for the Labour Party. I don’t know whether Corbyn and his acolytes are stupid; incapable of making up their mind or have a cunning plan to let us crash out of the EU so that they can try to create a socialist nirvana. We now know officially what most of have known for 2.5 years. The EU have a series of rules agreed by all nations, including us and their ability or even wish to change them on our behalf is limited.There is no point in May going back but there is also no point in Corbyn pretending that his dream deal is at all possible. It just isn’t.
This point was repeatedly made by Louise Ellman although she was more diplomatic than I was about a fairy tale Corbyn deal. This is not an interesting constitutional debating point. Lib Dems want to spend more money on health; social care; the environment; education; council services. So, we understand do Labour. The problem is that if we leave the EU even on the negotiated deal of May the economy will weaken; jobs and businesses will lost; taxes will be lost and we will have even less money to spend on those vital services.
So, the way forward to Louise, Tom and I was absolutely clear:
- We need to stay in the EU but, just as there is no majority for any possible deal in Parliament so it is unlikely that there is a majority for this. So, if the MPs and Peers cannot make up their mind, we need to invoke plan B!
- The way to achieve this is to go back to the people with a first referendum on the facts. Or as we call it a People’s Vote.
I will be tabling a motion to council about this on 18th January and hope that it will get support from all Councillors. There is a saying, “now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the Party”. That saying is wholly inappropriate in these circumstances. We must put Party loyalties behind us and work together to save our Country. If we leave the cost and time needed for re-entry will be horrific.
We have just 100 days to go before we crash out. A crash out or May’s deal will hit everyone but it will especially impact adversely on the poorest in our Community. There is still time to stop this happening but it will happen unless Corbyn and his inner sanctum forget their dream of as socialist state; come down to Planet Earth to see what is possible and what is not and commit themselves to working with Lib Dems Nationalists; Green and yes, even good Tories like Kenneth Clarke and Dominic Grieve.