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Tim Farron to launch Lib Dem plan for Britain in Europe

September 7, 2016 1:00 AM
By Caron Lindsay in http://www.libdemvoice.org/

Last week, I took part in a Conference call with Tim Farron and was very reassured at the strength of his resolve to ensure that the UK has the strongest possible role in Europe. Our commitment to campaign to stay in the EU, or rejoin if we leave remains at the heart of what we will offer the British people at the next General Election.

In that call, we found out that Tim would be doing something that the Government with all its massive resources hasn't managed to get it together to do - launching an actual plan for Britain's future in Europe which he will do tomorrow morning.

He sets out a seven point plan which covers everything from free movement and access to the single market, to environmental and law and order concerns. He insists that the British people should have the chance to vote on any Brexit deal before it becomes final. It has to be said that there's not a huge distance between the criteria for negotiation and actually keeping Britain in the EU but all of these things are absolutely essential for the next generation's future prosperity.

This plan should reassure those members who were concerned that we were stepping back from our earlier statements. IN fact, what Tim will say later today reinforces what he's been saying since the referendum:

"We demand that the British people should have their say on the final deal in a referendum. And in the meantime we will hold the Conservative Brexit Government to account and fight for the best possible deal for Britain.

Voting for departure is not the same as voting for a destination. Brexit means Brexit but we still don't know if that means £350m a week extra for the NHS, immigration controls or membership of the Single Market. This is not an attempt to re-run the first referendum. It is to enable the public to vote on the final deal, reflecting that there is disagreement even in the cabinet over every major aspect of Brexit.

The British people should be allowed to choose what comes next, to ensure it is right for them, their families, their jobs and our country. Our relationship with Europe affects our economy, our security, climate change, our influence in the world and so much more.

"Our policy on Europe is simple: we want to stay in the European Union. We wanted that the day before the referendum, we wanted it the day after and we want it today.

The Liberal Democrats are now the real opposition to the Conservative Brexit government, and are fighting to keep Britain open, tolerant and united."

In Summary: The Lib Dem Plan for Britain in Europe

Introduction

Liberal Democrats continue to believe that the United Kingdom's future is best served within the European Union, a position held consistently for over fifty years. However, following the referendum, the Liberal Democrats are setting out clear answers to some of the big questions and what we think should happen next.

Key constitutional questions

Should we re-run the referendum to overturn the results of the first?

No. We believe that the Leave campaign lied blatantly, leading many people to believe things such as a vote to leave would mean £350 million a week for the NHS. However, we should not keep re-running the last referendum in order to get the result we wanted.

Should the British people have the final decision on the government's negotiated deal?

Yes. In voting to leave, there was no opportunity to vote for how future trading relationships should be, or how we should work with other countries over things like criminal justice, law and order, ease of travel etc. Voting for a departure is not the same as voting for a destination. When the deal is negotiated, in however many years' time, the British people must have a chance to say if they would prefer the new arrangement, outside the European Union, or would prefer to remain inside the European Union.

Should young people (16-18) have a vote in a future referendum?

Yes. Liberal Democrats would introduce legislation to lower the voting age to sixteen.

Should Parliament vote on Article 50?

Yes. Parliament is the supreme law-making body in the United Kingdom. There should be a formal vote in Parliament to give notice under Article 50 and trigger the process for withdrawal. Liberal Democrats will decide how they will vote after they see the terms on which the government proposes to negotiate.

Key issues for negotiation

Protection of rights for EU citizens and UK citizens

Those who have made the United Kingdom their home should be allowed to stay. We will seek to secure the same for UK citizens living in European Union countries.

Freedom of Movement and the Single Market

Any deal negotiated for the United Kingdom outside the European Union must include membership of the Single Market and protect freedom of movement.

Maintaining environmental standards

We have a duty to future generations to protect our environment and tackle climate change. We will ensure that everything is done to maintain those high standards in UK law.

Law enforcement and judicial co-operation

We must maintain maximum cooperation to ensure criminals are pursued quickly and effectively.

Protection of Erasmus, investment in our universities and research networks

We should do everything we can to protect Erasmus, as well as other EU funded schemes increasing opportunities for young people. We will campaign to sustain the levels of investment in UK universities and their associated research networks.

Travel and tourism

We must make every effort to ensure that we retain 'soft' traveller benefits such as the European Health Insurance Card, reduced roaming charges and pet passports.

British industries

The City of London must retain full rights in EU financial markets. We must also protect the support provided by the European Union to domestic industries such as farming, tourism and the creative industries, as well as regional support for deprived areas.