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The Liberal Democrats in Europe have a new chair!

April 4, 2018 2:12 PM

It's been an honour to be elected Chair of the Liberal Democrats in Europe for the rest of the year. I'd like to thank our outgoing Chair, Paul Fisher, for the work that he has done in the past year in re-organising our "local" party and we wish him well in his new role as the Chair of the Local Party in France.

For those of you who don't know me, I'm based in Munich where I've lived now for the past twenty-five years. I work as a company director and board advisor in high-tech companies (mostly young startups) and also on technology transfer and licensing. I'm married with two children and have stood as a European Parliament candidate for the German FDP. I've been a member of the Liberal Democrats and Liberal Party since my student days.

This year is going to be a watershed in British politics. On current plans, the last day of our membership of the European Union will be 29 March 2019. Every day seems to bring more bad news about how Brexit will affect not just the UK, but our lives in Europe. I write this before the European Council meeting at the end of March which should see the Withdrawal Agreement finalised - and the Citizens Rights fomalised. We'll be watching this with concern as the current draft comes no way near in meeting the original promises that "your life will remain unchanged".

Better news comes in the form of the Votes For Life Bill currently going through the Westminster Parliament. It passed its Second Reading and is now in Committee stage. The bill is supported by the Government, by the Liberal Democrats and many sections of the Labour Party. We hope that it will finally be placed on the statute book before the next General Election (or indeed the hoped-for Second Referendum).

There are still no plans for Overseas Constituencies. This was in the LibDem manifesto and has support in other parts of parliament. We'll certainly be returning to this point in the next few years, but the priority has to be on restoring voting rights to those of us disenfranchised for many year. Maybe we should be advocating for some members of the House of Lords to be selected from the British diaspora?

You can follow me on Twitter at @RobHarrison_EU and on Facebook.