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My views on Brexit and Revoking Article 50

November 13, 2019 7:00 PM
By Andrew Simpson

Lots of people have asked me about my views on Brexit and why I support the Lib Dem policy of Revoking Article 50 and remaining in the EU. So I have set out below the reasons why I support this policy and why I am committed to trying to keep us within the European Union.

Eu and UK flag

Let's consider the starting points:

What about the 17.4 million people who voted to leave - don't their views count?

The referendum did see one of the highest turnouts at a poll in recent years - in particular it motivated a lot of people to vote who don't normally and who don't usually engage in the political process - people who were put off by the mainstream politicians and parties.

It also motivated people to vote who were angry about the impact of austerity and the direction the country was heading.

But we also now know that Boris Johnson and the Leave Campaign deliberately misled voters with:

The Leave campaign was also fined the maximum amount by the Electoral Commission for spending more than it should.

So the referendum result was built on many false claims https://fullfact.org/media/uploads/leave-remain-the-facts-behind-the-claims.pdf

But we should still do what people voted for, surely?

No: the referendum was not a mandate to leave the EU - legally it was an 'advisory referendum'.

It was David Cameron (and subsequent Conservative leaders) plus Brexiteers who said they would deliver the 'will of the people'.

But 52% is not the 'will of the people' as 48% of the people voted to Remain and they should not be ignored either.

In fact those who voted to Leave expressed the 'will' of only 37.4% of the electorate (i.e 27.8% of people didn't vote at all and so didn't express their 'will either way!).

What have the Lib Dems done about this?

The Lib Dems have been clear all along that whatever the deal we believe that the UK should be part of the EU.

We have a long history as an internationalist and outward looking party - it was the infamous Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe - who was the first party leader calling for Britain to join the then EEC (that's if you don't count Winston Churchill after the 2nd World War wanting 'to build a kind of United States of Europe').

So in context, moving to a policy that states clearly that electing a Lib Dem Government would Stop Brexit (and Revoke Article 50) is a principled, consistent and logical step.

Is this Democratic?

Under our electoral system - however flawed - a majority Government (in terms of having a majority of MPs) is seen as being able to legitimately implement its manifesto commitments - and in fact it should do so.

If we did get a majority Lib Dem Government it would be accepted as a consequence of how we elect Governments in the UK and it would be a mandate to revoke article 50 and stay in the EU.

Also it is clear that:

You could add that it would then enable the nation to consider whether it should hold another referendum based on a clearer understanding of what the actual consequences are of leaving and of where we want our future to be.

I think politicians have to be brave, fearless and show leadership - and this policy certainly does that.

I don't think that means Lib Dems are ignoring the result of the referendum - in fact by stating we want to 'build a brighter future' and announcing some very specific policies to do that I think we are trying to address the issues that led to people voting leave in the first place.

In Summary

I believe that: