Liberal Democrats are open and
outward-looking. We passionately believe that Britain’s relationship with its
neighbours is stronger as part of the European Union. Whatever its
imperfections, the EU remains the best framework for working effectively and
co-operating in the pursuit of our shared aims. It has led directly to greater
prosperity, increased trade, investment and jobs, better security, and a
greener environment. Britain is better off in the EU.
Liberal Democrats acknowledge the
result of the 2016 referendum, which gave the Government a mandate to start
negotiations to leave. The decision Britain took, though, was simply whether to
remain in or to leave the European Union. There was no option on the ballot
paper to choose the shape of our future relationship with the EU on vital
issues including trade, travel or security.
While much remains uncertain about
Theresa May’s approach, it is now clear that the Conservatives, supported by
Jeremy Corbyn, are campaigning for a Hard Brexit. This means leaving the Single
Market, ending freedom of movement, and abandoning the Customs Union – even
though these choices will make the UK poorer and disappoint many leave voters who
wanted a different outcome.
The effects of Brexit are already
being felt. The value of the pound has plummeted. Inflation has risen.
Growth in the economy has slowed, and
the government is already borrowing billions more to fill the gap in lost tax
Locally, farmers risk the prospect of
unpicked fruit rotting in the fields, while the M20 and the M2 become lorry
parks, and local exporters lose business as additional customs checks place an
intolerable burden on their customers.
Young people at our universities, who
voted overwhelmingly to remain, are being told their voices do not matter.
Urgent problems, such as the future of the NHS, are being neglected because of
the sheer scale of the challenge posed by Brexit.
A Hard Brexit will make all these
problems worse. It is the wrong choice for the country. Liberal Democrats will
fight to prevent a Hard Brexit.
At the end of negotiations, there
will be a decision on the deal. The Conservatives want the decision to be taken
by politicians. Liberal Democrats believe the British people should have the
That’s why, when the terms of our
future relationship with the EU have been negotiated (over the next two years
on the Government’s timetable), we will put that deal to a vote of the British
people in a referendum, with the alternative option of staying in the EU on the
ballot paper. We continue to believe that there is no deal as good for the UK
outside the EU as the one it already has as a member.
Even in local elections, every vote for the
Liberal Democrats is a vote to give the final say to the British people.