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Merton shows what to do

July 4, 2016 3:25 PM

Don't Leave the EUHow to tap into that post-referendum potential in practice? Well Merton Lib Dems were out straight away with some smart campaigning, as local party member Simon McGrath explains.

In the London Borough of Merton we have around 20,000 EU nationals living in our community. One issue which kept coming up in our canvassing and street stalls during the referendum campaign was what would happen if the vote was to Leave. The concern became stronger as the polls got worse, though Wimbledon - where we did most of our canvassing - was very strong Remain.

On Brexit Friday those concerns grew and we realized we could - and should - do something to provide reassurance. A few quick calls later and a street stall was arranged for the following day, promoting a petition calling on our local councils and MPs to give reassurance to EU citizens that they could continue to work, live and study here and some simple posters printed off.

The next day we had nine members turn up to help and literally as soon as we had put up the stall in the centre of Wimbledon we had people queuing up to sign our petition, not just Remain supporters but people who voted Leave as well.

There was no doubt that people from the EU were grateful for our support but most British people wanted to see them treated properly and not subject to years of uncertainty. When people are shaking your hand to thank you and going out of their way to sign you know you have found an issue that people care about.

We have followed this up with an online petition supported by Facebook advertising. Further stalls have followed and we are now planning a mailshot to reach people through their letterboxes as well as their smartphones. It also gives us a local campaign that our 130 (and growing!) new members can identify with and support.