Let’s rejoin the EU

One of the things that has been saddest about the none medical and care aspects of the Coronavirus is the way that it is totally obscuring the problems to our economy caused by Brexit.

In the last week two things have happened which expose the folly of the departure. Two leading protagonists for Leave have had to look at themselves in the mirror and see who caused many of the problems that we are now facing.

Lord Frost, who was the Government’s chief negotiator, admitted that the protocol deal that he and Mr Johnson negotiated has had a “damaging” impact on the ground in Northern Ireland. In order to get rid of Theresa May’s “backstop” arrangement, Mr Johnson agreed on a customs border in the Irish Sea, leaving the province under EU single market regulations for trade in goods.

Tim Martin the Jester in Chief of Brexit, but really the Chief Executive of Wetherspoons, has appealed to the Government to reopen our borders to EU migration because his tawdry chain of drinking establishments cannot get enough people to staff them. This is true of much of the hospitality industry.

Fruit, vegetables and flowers have been ploughed back into the ground all over the Country as pickers could not be found from the EU and Brits were not prepared to fill the gap.

Many Brits, some of whom voted for Brexit, have had to leave their homes in Spain and other European Countries because they didn’t have the necessary papers and some had been working cash in hand to avoid tax.

Liz Truss has announced a series of trade deals with a range of countries the latest of which were with Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. Every trade deal announced has been nowhere as good as the trade deal that we had. The priority for the USA (remember the easy deal we would have with them?), Japan, Canada, New Zealand, Australia all have considered the first priority for trade to be with the EU and deal with us coming a poor second, if that!

The fishing industry for which we nearly went to the deadline for trade negotiations is being decimated by the deal which we agreed on their behalf because bureaucrats at the urging of buffoon Johnson had no understanding of how their industry works.

Financial Services Companies have been relocation to France and Germany either quitting the UK altogether or leaving a token presence here.

Student & University relations have suffered with the Erasmus scheme which has served us well for decades being replaced with a much lower elver British schemes which experts say is doomed to failure.


If you think that the last paragraph is bonkers, so do I. But that is the argument which is basically being put up by Frost and Johnson. After selling us down the river to get re-elected they are trying to claim that the EU should not expect us to stand by our word. This is very sad when the renowned saying used to be, “An Englishman’s word is his bond”.

Many people were simply unable to understand that when we left the EU we would be treated like any other third country. The EU member states are not picking on us. They are dealing with us equally on the same basis as all other none-EU countries.

I believe that the Liberal Democrat Party has sold itself short by making the assumption that we should not make a return to the EU a major priority for our campaigning. From the Kent Farmers to the Cornish Fishermen, from the car manufacturers to the food importers an increasing number of people ae crying foul. Day by day we are haemorrhaging jobs and businesses are closing. Yes, the virus has had a considerable impact on all these things. The impacts of the virus, however, have been greatly magnified by Brexit.

So here we have the considerable paradox that with a majority of the people of the UK now supporting a policy which has been a cornerstone of our Party policy since I joined it 54 years ago and which is vital to our Country the Lib Dems are running scared of promoting that policy because of their fear of the minority! It was right last year to concentrate on the Virus and associated issues. It’s just as right now to concentrate on Europe.

Everything that we said during the referendum and afterwards has come true. The UK is shrinking in world importance and that is having an effect on our economy, on jobs, on the nation’s wealth and on the employment and financials prospects.

The promised £350 million a week for the NHS wasn’t a mistake it was a downright lie. All services are being hit because we are simply not generating the cash to pay for an improved environment, better public services, a better public realm and enhanced job security which leads to enhanced mental stability.

My simple plea to our Party Leaders is take up once again the EU baton. Yes, some people won’t vote for us because we do so. There’s a risk and potential down side to any policy or proposals but this isn’t just any old policy or proposal. It is one that is dear to what can be considered the soul of liberalism – a belief in internationalism.

Let’s have the courage of our convictions which took 1.25 million of us onto the streets of London in 2019. We are on the side of the people of the UK. Let us not shrink from proclaiming our European beliefs and fighting ignorance with logic. Let’s fight to get back into Europe.

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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1 Response to Let’s rejoin the EU

  1. Henry Penshaw says:

    I think people did understand that the UK would be dealt with as any other independent country. They just didn’t know how badly the EU treats other countries.

    Sure you can trade in. The more the merrier. IF you can complete all this paperwork first please. That paperwork isn’t designed to keep food safe or electronics free from slave labour. If it was their own manufacturers would be rather more tightly regulated than they actually are. Instead, the UK’s exit has exposed a rouse designed to lock out competitors by providing unfair advantage to their own firms. Equivalence only when it suits.

    As for the NI protocol. Yes it was stupid of the UK to sign it. But they weren’t the ones to use it as a weapon. Looks like the internal markets bill wasn’t such a bad idea after all. What makes the borderless integrity of the UK less important to us than that of a third party? And that’s what the EU now is.

    There’s no need to put a hard border on Ireland. We have a CTA with them which predates the EU. If they want to put a border on the island that’s up to them, but we don’t have to.

    Why seek to rejoin this club, especially if the preference is to be internationalist.

    And if we did, does this sound like the type of organisation to do anything other than completely destroy any risk to them from a future divergence through dismantling the country, its institutions and wealth.

    Sorry Richard, but rejoining the EU is loopy. And this is from a Remain voter.

    The ideals of internationalism, including the behaviours of the EU itself, are best served now by a democratic UK not being a doormat and setting good examples.

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