by derekdeedman on 1 August, 2017
I always find the summer break offers a good time for reflection. We’ve dashed through the first half of the year and now is the opportunity to take stock and recharge our batteries before we approach the autumn period.
And what a lot to reflect on. The results of this year’s General Election show us two things: the Liberal Democrats are once again relevant to the debate (and let’s keep cheering our result – 50% increase and four women MPs)! And that Mrs May has no mandate to pursue her most damaging form of Brexit by leaving the Single Market and, worse still, the Customs Union.
What’s more this government are doing nothing to address the huge chasm between the 48% and the 52%. Never has our country been more disunited – hate crimes are on the rise, EU citizens have no certainty about their family’s future and we teeter on the edge of political uncertainty.And the Prime Minister’s solution? To pursue a form of Brexit that does absolutely nothing to bring us back together again.
Returning again in Autumn, I hope many of you will join me in continuing to campaign for our membership of the Single Market, for a vote on the terms of the deal but, ultimately, an exit from Brexit.
I’m not underestimating the uphill struggle we have, but, as the effects of Brexit begin to bite, more and more are joining us in calling for a vote on the terms of the deal. The vote on June 23rd signalled a departure when no one knew the destination. Once we know that destination I wouldn’t mind betting we want to get as far away from it as possible.
So, rest up this summer, enjoy the sunshine, take stock and join me in September for the fight of our lives.
I was delighted to meet our new Leader Vince Cable when he came to visit Abingdon this week. I have known Vince for years and am pleased he now finds himself in the driving seat of the party.Vince gave me, and the packed hall his assurances that he will be doing all he can to continue Tim Farron’s fight not only for a second referendum but to expose this Brexit madness for what it is and ultimately keep us in the EU. I love his phrase of ‘Exit from Brexit’. Let’s keep using it as much as we can.
I look forward to working closely with Vince and his Westminster team to keep them fully abreast of developments with the Brexit negotiations from the European Union side.
Fighting for EURATOM with Layla Moran, Lib Dem MP for Oxford West & Abingdon
Since Article 50 was invoked I’ve become increasingly concerned about the UK’s relationship with legal entities that don’t form part of our membership of the EU.
We currently belong to vital bodies that help us fight cross-border crime: Europol and Eurojust; that ensure we are safe when flying: the European Aviation Safety Agency and the Open Skies Agreement and, of particular importance to many, that drive research into nuclear power and clinical science: the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) – which controls the movement, inspection and control of all radioactive materials.
I’ve been working with Layla Moran and have visited industry experts within our constituency to hear their concerns – I wasn’t surprised to hear that this degree of uncertainty is hugely destabilising for them. That’s why we’ve introduced a motion to conference.
Despite what the government may have us believe, our membership of Euratom is not entirely dependent on our membership of the EU. The Government’s apparent distaste for the European Court of Justice, which is the main arbiter, means we will have to create an entirely separate deal on nuclear regulation with a new ‘independent’ court – tearing up years of cooperation.
There are benefits for both sides to ensure the UK remains full members of all of these bodies that are not explicitly part of our membership of the EU. I will be working with colleagues from other parties in the EU and continuing to work with Layla Moran and colleagues in Westminster to apply pressure on both sides.
The current agreement ends at the end of 2018 so let’s hope the lights don’t go out while David Davis is still busy negotiating.
I have been absolutely mortified with the way our Government has dealt with the issue of citizens’ rights when approaching the Brexit negotiations. People are not political bargaining chips and need to be treated with the respect they deserve. Our lives are all very complicated and so many of us have family from across borders – security for them and access to health and insurances across the EU is all at risk if the negotiations fail.
With this in mind, I have been working with my fellow liberal MEP colleague Sophie in ‘t Veld to set up a Citizens’ Task Force to hear the views of EU nationals living in the UK and vice versa.
We have already held a hearing earlier this summer and we are planning to hold another one in September. These hearings offer a great opportunity for us as MEPs to hear the concerns of people affected and to feed them back to the Parliament and its Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt as well as the Commission.
What’s clear is that the Government’s offer doesn’t go far enough and citizens’ rights should be ring-fenced ahead of the negotiations in a standalone agreement to give them security – this will be especially important if the negotiations fail.
The 3 Million are a new campaigning group set up to lobby on both sides of the Channel and their website has more information and opportunities to get involved.
You can see my speech in Parliament on the issue by clicking on the screen grab above.
Some good news for biodiversity
This July saw the Europe-wide ban on the sale of raw Ivory. Although the market for this is mostly in the Far East, Europe is a big transit area for so much of the poached – or legally shot (through hunting permits) tusks. Although this measure doesn’t go far enough, as the whole trade needs to be banned to strangle the demand, it’s a good start. In the European Parliament I lead a group of dedicated MEPs who continue to work with the Commission and Evironment Ministers to work to save these animals.
What’s more, some of the African countries are stepping up their enforcement activity, and we are beginning to see cases come to court with big sentences for the culprits. Notwithstanding this progress, making sure we continue to help protect the endangered animals remains a real challenge. The EU has an Action Plan to work with local communities, and is helping financially – but it’s the brave men and women protecting our wildlife on the ground we should be most grateful to.
Have a good summer – whatever the weather might bring,
|Liberal Democrats · United Kingdom|