I’ve just accepted an invitation to speak to the UK section of the European Youth Parliament later in mid-December. What a great opportunity it will be, as this once great nation of ours slides into chaos, to reaffirm my belief that I will always be a European, that Liverpool will always be a major European City and why, whether some people like it or not, the UK will always be a European Country.
Over the past few months, it has become absolutely clear that many of those who voted to leave the EU in 2016 bitterly regret doing so. Every single opinion poll taken on the subject in the past year has shown substantial and rising numbers of people regretting leaving the EU. The latest polls have almost a 2/3 split in favour of the EU.
What has changed? As the polls break down the reasons, they correspond to the discussion that we are having in Liverpool. The basic assertions that were made by the Leave campaign were shown to be mostly untrue.
Negotiating a trade deal with the EU can be done in an afternoon. After 3 years of discussions there is no real deal in sight. The Government have failed to realise that all the EU negotiators have been seeking to do is to enforce the same trade conditions which apply to every other near neighbour who continues to trade with the EU. That is what always happened with trade negotiations you have to give as well as take.
There will be no border on the island of Ireland. Totally untrue. There was always going to be a border if we didn’t agree to trade on the standard EU terms. Now new shipping routes have been established between Dublin and Rotterdam which will bypass Liverpool and the UK because of the complexity of the paperwork that will be involved.
There will be a big trade deal with the USA. This was unlikely even before the election of Joe Biden because a market of 60 million people is nowhere near as important as a market of 600 million people. Us effectively breaking the Good Friday Agreement by creating a border a border between North and South is a no-no for the USA who are a joint signatory to that agreement.
The rest of the world will flock to do trade deals with us. No major Country has signed a meaningful trade deal with the UK. The only trade deal with such a Country is with Japan and covers about 10% of the deal that we currently have within our EU membership.
There will be no costs involved. Since then we have discovered that we have to employ 50,000 more staff to deal with cross border bureaucracy and that many of our haulage firms will be unable to transport in continental Europe because they have not got the right external certification.
Our borders will be more secure. No they won’t. At the moment we benefit from cross border information exchanges about the movement of criminals and illicit goods. We are withdrawing from such incredible cross-border information which will allow criminals to move much more freely.
I could go on but won’t! The Government’s own figures show that there will be a 4% drop in our national income if we leave without a deal and 2% if we leave with a deal. But that is just the starting point. Our Universities will lose students and research opportunities. Big factories will close because the difficulties of cross border product assembly will be too difficult. Medicines will be harder to procure and the cost of bureaucracy and delay will push the price of food up.
So how should Labour and the Lib Dems vote when a deal is brought back to the House (if one is brought back)? I believe that Lib Dem MPs and Peers should vote against the Treaty because we already know that it will be a very, very weak one.
One of the ways it is suggested that we treat people with alcohol or drug dependencies is to let them reach down to the very bottom so that they know that they must improve and will have the self-determination to make the effort to change. Most of those who still argue for leaving fall into two categories. The first are the very rich most of whom are at the top of the Tory Party or who have Tory links who will personally benefit from the chaos and even more will benefit from not being subject to the new tax regimes which will come into effect of the 1st January 2021. The second are people who choose to believe what their puppet masters are telling them. They have voluntarily swallowed the Tory and Leave lies. Some are beyond redemption but many more will be appalled when they see what they have done.
It’s in the UK’s best interest now to get to the bottom swiftly so that we can rise again and start to recrate the losses of trade, contacts, influence and income that we are so wilfully giving away. The sooner that this happens the sooner that we will see a mass movement far bigger than the Remainers which will be the Rejoiners. I want the Liberal Democrats to go into the next General Election with a pledge that we should apologise for our ignorance and ask the EU to let us back in.
Such a request will not be easy. I don’t believe that they can take place over a cup of tea in an afternoon. However, I do believe that the EU will be kind to us. Most EU Countries do want us inside the system. It will bring benefits for them although the much greater benefit will be for us.
I’m saying this as a Scouser, as a Northerner, as an Englishman, as a Briton because all those things make me implacably a European. In 1953 I was born a European in London and at some time in the future I will die in Liverpool as a European. I just hope not for my sake but my grandchildren’s that when I do go to the debating chamber in the depths, I will leave it not only as a European but as an EU citizen. That’s the best future for my grandchildren, my City and my Country.