On a glorious autumn day, as the Lib Dems' national conference kicked off in Bournemouth, nine Brighton & Hove Lib Dems and a dog joined over 20,000 Rejoiners (5,000 more than last year) for a peaceful and good-humoured march from Park Lane to Parliament Square, cheered on by passing Londoners.
A young Swiss and his French friend tapped me on the shoulder as we left Victoria station. "What's happening? What's this all about?" I explained that we wanted to rejoin the EU and asked if the French would have us back. "YES! Of course!", he cried, "and we'll march as well."
In Parliament Square, MEP Terry Reintke, co-president of the Greens group, said the EU’s “door would be open” to a possible return by the UK … People are clear we want the UK to be part of that and we want the UK to rejoin the European Union. The next steps are clear: we want you back in the Erasmus programme and want closer trade links … The growing citizens' movement for rejoin is being followed very closely in Brussels, where Britain is missed a lot."
Former Belgian Prime Minister, Guy Verhofstadt, told us that there was "an absolute need for the UK to rejoin the EU and it is always welcome back."
We deliberately carried two banners identifying ourselves as Brighton & Hove Lib Dems, which not only attracted fellow Lib Dems from other parts of the UK ("Not at Bournemouth, then?") but drew comments along the lines of, "Oh, it's the Lib Dems, they do want to rejoin!"
Organisers of the march described as "absolute nonsense" Ed Davey's announcement that, despite Lib Dems' strong opposition to Brexit declared only a few days after the June 2016 referendum, rejoining the EU was currently "off the table" because most people on the doorstep weren't talking about Europe. Ahead of the Bournemouth conference, Ed Davey had said, "We want Britain to be back at the heart of Europe but we're also realistic that’s going to take some time.”
We can point to our pre-election manifesto, agreed at the conference in Bournemouth, that states: “ … We have set out a four-stage roadmap to rebuild the relationship: with initial unilateral steps to mitigate the damage of the deal followed by confidence-building measures such as joining Erasmus Plus. Then, we will deepen the trading relationship with measures like a veterinary agreement. Finally, once the ties of trust have been restored, we would aim to place the UK-EU relationship on a more formal and stable footing by seeking to join the Single Market. All these measures will help to restore the British economy and the prosperity and opportunities of its citizens, and are also essential steps on the road to EU membership, which remains our longer-term objective.”
Labour leader, Keir Starmer, aims to try and improve the government’s Brexit deal but has also insisted there is no case for rejoining the EU, its single market, or customs union. Not until autumn 2022 did the Green party finally pass a motion to rejoin the EU like that passed by the Lib Dems at every conference since autumn 2020.
Thanks to our brilliant press officer, Caroline Ellis, Latest TV interviewed Paul Chandler, Brighton & Hove Lib Dems' Treasurer:- fb.watch/niNCFschZE/.
Data from YouGov's latest Brexit tracker survey on 23rd June 2023 found that, excluding those who said they would not vote or did not know, 58.2% of people in Britain would now vote to rejoin.
Brighton & Hove Liberal Democrats
31/01/2023 - A report out today from the IMF forecast that the UK would be the only G7 country to experience negative growth this year with even Russia experiencing greater growth than the UK. Additionally a report from Bloomberg said that Brexit had cost the UK Economy £100 billion a year in lost growth with pro-Brexit areas showing the lowest growth.
08/05/2022 - As the Tories put off import controls yet again they fail to realise how they are loading the dice against our industries by giving them unfair conditions to trade around the world. It is time to revisit the decision not to join the single market and customs union.
Our campaign will continue to find solutions that will result in closer co-operation with Europe even as Brexit bites deeper into lives. See our last report on where we stand Here