Starmer raises the white flag over Europe without a whimper

“When cowards flinch and traitors sneer” goes the Red Flag but when it comes to Europe Starmer’s flag is deepest white and he’s the coward in giving up Europe without a fight.

So, there we have it. Starmer gives up on Europe to follow the Tory line that we need to make Brexit work. Well, the evidence is that you cannot make it work because it is an inherently bad idea.

He is raising the white flag at a time when there is a clear majority of people who think that Brexit has not worked for us and an equally clear majority of people who want to seek closer links with Europe which remains our major market although a declining one. He raises it at a time when the stupidity about the Northern Ireland protocol which he negotiated is under pressure not for economic reasons but to appease a bunch of DUP morons.

Let us look at the Northern Ireland situation in more detail. Northern Ireland is, in economic terms, the most successful part of the UK in terms of an expanding economy. In fact, compared to England, Scotland and it is the only part of the UK with an expanding economy. It is in that luxurious position because it has remained part of the single market. The effects of the border which Johnson drew in the Irish Sea is largely negated by the opportunities of trading with the rest of the EU. This was an opportunity that the UK large threw away.

Starmer says that we cannot keep going over the arguments of the past. But this is an argument about the future. How will he pay for all the things that he believes, along with the Liberal Democrats, which need doing? Where is the money going to come from for better social care, or our hospitals or our crumbling schools and roads when our GDP is either declining or at best not keeping up with inflationary pressures? Who will stop our farmers or our fishermen going out of business when they cannot export their produce?

Our rate of inflation is approximately 10% of which 6% can be ascribed to Brexit. Our currency has been tanking with immediate effects on the price of fuel for our vehicles, gas, and electricity. We wait in long queues to go on holiday and our hauliers wait for even longer in queues which cost money and cause wasted products. Our local fruiterer cannot get nectarines or peaches from the Continent because of cost and wastage.

So, what is Starmer going to do now? Make Brexit work! Deal with things that can be negotiated with Europe. Try and deal with some of the self-imposed problems such as failing to deal with the increased bureaucracy properly. Of course, there can be marginal improvements, but they will never amount to more than that. Whilst we remain a small unattached country with few friends and a declining influence in the world the structural problems inside our Country will get worse.

Fortunately, for those that believe not only in the principle but the practice of Europe there is a Party which represents your view. The Liberal Democrats have reaffirmed that our goal is to return to the EU. There are three steps in that:

  1. Return to the Single Market. Arguments that we want to be law makers not law takers are bogus. Recently said that UK manufacturers and users will not need to adhere to an EU directive which standardises certain types of electrical connections. This is common sense not politics. How often have you ended up with the wrong lead for the wrong equipment? If UK manufacturers want to sell into Europe we will buy into their specifications. If we want to buy from your from Europe we will do so with their specifications. No one will increase costs to service a small market when there is a big market to be serviced.
  • Free movement of Labour. In many ways we have this. Whilst the Tories appeal to the fascist instincts of some of their voters with boats in the Channel and Rwanda restrictions have been eased on wide range of employment from medicine to health care from lorry drivers to farm workers. Free movement has returned but with lots of expensive bureaucracy.
  • Return to non-threatening institutions and partnerships. There is a range of partnerships for universities and their students such as joint research and the Erasmus programme which never harmed our sovereignty even in the minds of the most swivel eyed Brexiteer. Let us find ways to get back into them
  • Finally, back into the EU itself so we can share the decision machining process and its costs and benefits.

Now is a huge opportunity for the Lib Dems. We were a pro-European Party when I joined the Liberal Party 55 years ago. We are now the only mainstream Party who has established both a principle for re-joining Europe but also a road map which will take us there. Lib Dems are the only Party that speaks for the majority of the UK’s population in making the case. Ed Davey and our other Leaders need to be out there making the case for Europe and challenging the cowardice and backward-looking nature of Labour who are meekly following their Tory mates.

It is time for Lib Dems to be bold. There are millions of people who share our internationalist principles and believe that a return to Europe is the only way we can progress our other polices for vital public services. Let us not fail the people of the UK at this crucial time.

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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