The first priority for Liverpool Lib Dems is Europe


Liverpool Lib Dems will fight to keep this flag flying in Liverpool alongside the Union Flag and the English St George Cross

There’s an old joke going round that when Brummies answered the question, “which is the second city of England?” they said Birmingham. Geordies similarly replied Newcastle; Leedsensians replied Leeds. But when Scousers were asked the same question they replied London! Of course that does not need explanation or discussion Liverpool is certainly the best City to live in throughout the whole of UK never mind England.

The same happened to the Lib Dem Parliamentary candidates for Liverpool. When we were discussing our mini-manifesto we immediately started discussions about areas like health the environment, our green spaces and transport. There was no need to consider as we ranked them which was number one. For us, unitedly as a Party nationally and in Liverpool the number one issue is Europe.

Lib Dems are very clear about what we want:

  1. We do not want to leave the EU and have no hesitation in saying so.
  2. We believe that if we do leave the EU we should be part of the single market where 40%+ of our exports end up; and
  3. Whatever deal is negotiated by the Government should be subject to a second referendum. Will people really want to leave when they know what the cost of leaving will be in the short, medium and long terms?

There are different theories about why Mrs May has called a General Election when she repeatedly said that she would not do so. My own theory is that even in the wildest minds of the Tory Party there is increasingly an understanding that what they said during the referendum and even what they said afterwards about what they would do for Britain is falling apart.

Some started falling apart within hours of the referendum. Within 48 hours the leaders of the Leave campaign told us:

  1. That there would not be £350 million a week available for the NHS; and
  2. That leaving the EU would not really mean less people coming into the country.

Those were the two biggest reasons that people gave for coming out. Significantly last week for the first time the number of people who regret leaving the EU is bigger than those who are still pleased with the decision. This trend will grow. Also last week:

  1. Mrs May complained that the other EU leaders were ganging up on the UK. No they are not. They are simply acting in the best interest of the 27 countries that will remain in the EU. That is what a ‘union’ of any sort is for.
  2. The EU leaders have said that before any trade deal is done we will have to quantify the debt that we owe to the EU for long projects and programmes for which there is a liability that we have agreed upon during our membership
  3. University leaders made clear that the UK was already beginning to suffer from a reduction in the number of students from abroad coming to study here. Each student is worth about £20,000 to our economy. In Liverpool the 10,000 foreign students are a big part of our overall economy.

They also make clear that we are being excluded from cross European research projects of the types that lead to jobs in manufacturing at a later date.

  1. NHS leaders told us that we are heavily dependent on foreign labour with 20% of our health and care services being provided by foreign born workers. Some of the people already here are going home and it is getting more difficult to attract new people because of the uncertainty over living rights and visas
  2. The United States of America told the UK that we would be in second place when it came to negotiating trade deals behind the EU which is a much bigger market for them. This is in direct contradiction to the claims that were made during the referendum campaign.
  3. Our economic growth rate was one of the weakest for years with the costs of basics such as food, clothing and fuel going up much faster than the rise in wages.

In other words everything that the Remain campaign said during the campaign is coming true. We were told we were scaremongering when what we were actually doing is giving people hard facts.

And that is why we are putting Europe at the heart of the agenda. It isn’t some vague notion about waving the Union Flag or our relations with the Commonwealth. It’s the reality of jobs; growth; the Health Service and education. It matters to every single thing we do and Lib Dems have absolutely no doubt that the way the Government are flailing about and trying to negotiate with no cards in their hand will lead to major and irreversible problems in the years ahead.

Nationally and in Liverpool we are absolutely united on this issue. Whilst both Labour and Tory Parties are split, possibly permanently, on this issue we are united. We were the first Party to propose membership and will fight for our national interest in the context of our union with Europe to the last trench.

The people of Liverpool have a choice. On the one hand the hard-Brexit coalition of Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn or the Lib Dems, the thin orange line trying to defend our local, regional and national interest against all comers.

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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