Revoke Article 50 now

Its great to see these two strong women, Luciana Berger and Jo Swinson united in the Lib Dems to fight leaving the EU which would be so damaging for the Country and particularly damaging for Liverpool

So, the advice that was given to Her Majesty the Queen about proroguing Parliament has been found to be illegal and both Labour and Tory Parties are facing four (at least) different ways at once on Brexit. It seems very complex and very messy then along comes our knight in shining armour, Jo Swinson, with the sword of light to cut through this darkness. Her proposition is simple, “revoke Article 50 and stay in the EU”. Whether you like it or not that is simple position, everyone can understand it and it would end the Brexit debate in its tracks.

As I look at the Labour and Tory Parties, I am clear about one thing – that even if we were to leave on October 31st (or any other date) there will be years of arguments and parliamentary time taken up with the aftermath of a Brexit. 500 pages of the Withdrawal Agreement will need to be made into laws, treatises and agreements. That will continue to mean insufficient or no time being spent on major issues like social care; the NHS; falling education standards and climate change.

Let me look at the situation in England. Please forgive me for not looking at the other three nations of the United Kingdom. I know what the Lib Dem position is there but not what the nuances of the SNP; PC and NI Parties positions are.

Let’s start with the Tories. This is a much easier position than that of Labour because most of the people who want other options than the preferred waffle of the Prime Minister have either been chucked out or have chosen to leave. We can see this in Parliament but we can also see it in the membership surge into the Lib Dems in the past few months. Yes, most of them have been from Labour or the social democrat tradition but many have been from the One Nation conservatism of the Conservative Party.

We know that even Johnson supporters in the Commons are being by-passed in favour of discussions with his evil band of advisers such as Dominic Cummings. His own Party members in the Commons and Lords have branded him a serial liar. The most egregious of his current lies is that he is negotiating alternatives to the May Withdrawal Agreement specially over the vitally important back stop on the borders between Northern Ireland and the Republic. The Irish Prime Minister made it clear that there have been no proposals put forward by Johnson and does not believe that there any that have not already been considered. Johnson claims to want a  deal but is not trying to negotiate a new one with anyone.

So, let me summarise Labour’s position if I can! “There is no credible alternative Brexit”, says Tom Watson, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, but in fact its far more complicated than that! Labour faces four ways on this vital issue:

  • Corbyn’s policy is an election, then referendum with leave & remain options –
  • Today Tom Watson will say referendum FIRST
  • 50+ backbenchers want to agree a deal in Parliament and leave
  • A handful of MPs would settle for No Deal

None of these four positions are actually consistent with the fact that the vast majority of Labour members and voters want to Remain! It is also significant that Corbyn continues to sit on the fence on this issue. He won’t say if Labour would campaign to leave on his newly established Brexit deal or vote to remain. The position remains that should Labour get a new deal large parts of the Party will then vote against it!

Of course, the fact is that this will not happen. It would be possible to negotiate a new deal but not on the lines suggested so far by Corbyn. In particular his negotiating stance on the Freedom of Movement so contradicts the fundamental principles of the EU that there would be no point in putting anything else on the table.

Against all this murky obfuscation from Labour and Tory Parties the Lib Dem position is clear, as Jo Swinson says, “I relish the chance to take the fight to Boris Johnson in an election and I’m confident we’d make significant gains. Whenever the election comes, our position is clear and unequivocal. A majority Liberal Democrat government would not renegotiate Brexit, we would cancel it by revoking article 50 and remaining in the European Union”.

She then makes clear that if there was not a majority Lib Dem Government the Party will work with others to ensure a second referendum and would campaign as a Party for Remain.

You might not like this policy but at least you know what it is. You can decide to vote for Lib Dem candidates or against knowing what we actually stand for which is far more than you can say about your choices elsewhere.

However many votes the Lib Dems get at the next General Election and however many MPs we will get at the next General Election each one of them will count to keep the UK in the EU; the only logical and credible situation for our Country to be in.

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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