Flying the flag for Europe
Lib Dem Council Group Leaders across the Liverpool City Region have today writen to our Labour, Conservative and Green opposite numbers inviting them to jointly campaign in the proposed European Referendum for a Yes vote for the UKs continued membership.
I believe that too many myths about Europe have been allowed to circulate unchallenged. From straight bananas to square tomatoes; from massive bureaucracies to incompetent spending those myths have been peddled with an adequate response.
Being part of a vibrant Europe is vital for all the UK but especially so for the Liverpool City Region. We have gained massive benefits from Europe through the Objective One programme and still receive substantial funds which we would not have got from Westminster. But grants are only a very small part of why Europe is important. Our Port is undergoing a major expansion which would be massively underused if we were to see a weakening in our relationships to the big markets of mainland Europe.
Liberal Democrats will, of course, run their own campaign. We believe in the EU although we share some concerns as to how it is run. But at a national level and we hope a local one we have agreed to work together with other parties and no party to deliver once again a yes vote. I hope that the other political leaders throughhout the City Region will respond positively to this request.
The full text of the Liverpool letter from me is beneath this.
Cllr Richard CBE,
Leader, Liverpool Liberal Democrats,
509, Smithdown Road,
To the Leaders of the
Green, Labour & Conservative Parties in Liverpool
16th September 2015
Working together for Europe in Liverpool
Although we do not know when it seems very likely that next year there will be a referendum on continuing membership of the European Union.
The Liberal Democrats are, of course, fully in favour of staying in the EU although we recognise its shortcomings and the need for some reforms. The EU has been of vital assistance to our area because of the massive Objective One grants that we received for 15 years and we are still in receipt of significant sums from Europe. This is money that we would not have got from the Westminster Government.
The EU, however, is more important than just money. As a major port city we are dependent on two way trade and thousands of jobs will be lost if we do not stay in. We can see from events such as the current refugee crisis and disturbances in the financial and trade markets how important it is that we remain part of a larger bloc of nations.
It is possible that the referendum could be held as early as next June or as late as winter 2017 although we do not know more than this. We also do not know the details of what the Prime Minister may or may not have been able to get from his negotiations with the other 27 Countries. But we cannot just wait to see what happens. In our view we have to be ready and in the short-term pointing out the positive effects of us being in the EU and the deleterious effects if we leave it.
At a national level the Liberal Democrats have decided to both run our own campaign for continuing membership but join with other interested parties in a coordinated campaign.
I would like to suggest that we do likewise in Liverpool. In 1975 what were then the three main parties came together to campaign jointly and we were successful. Every constituency on Merseyside had a yes majority.
If you and your wider Party are interested in taking this further please let me know and we can meet with 2/3 people from each Party and from the local European Movement, which is being fully inaugurated in Liverpool City Region in October, to examine what can be done in the short, medium and long terms.
Cllr Richard Kemp CBE
Cc: Theresa Griffin, Labour MEP
Jacqueline Foster Conservative MEP
Chris Davies Chair NW Regional Liberal Democrats
Peter Cranie Lead Green Candidate 2014