Lib Dems will fight next election on policy of returning Britain to the EU

Tim Farron on European Union

That’s the message from Lib Dem leader Tim Farron in an email to party members this evening, following a meeting of the party’s Federal Executive earlier today. The idea of sticking with the Lib Dem pro-European policy in the face of the the referendum result is easier in the light of comments since the result from leading Brexit campaigners such as Dan Hannan saying he doesn’t think Brexit will reduce immigration and both Nigel Farage and Iain Duncan Smith discarding the ‘£350m a week for the NHS’ line (see below for details). Both of those were key parts of the Brexit case which, without the negotiation team having even yet been formed, are now being rapidly repudiated even by the campaign’s own leading figures.

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Whether the policy will be brought forward, as it were, to call for a second referendum once the exact terms of Britain’s exit from the EU have been negotiated and are therefore actually known, is something to keep a close eye on. Following a referendum on the broad question in abstract with a second referendum on the exact details would end up being not a bad process, and indeed such two-referendum processes have often been used on a variety of issues in other countries.

Tim Farron’s email also, I’m glad to say, also makes supportive reference to the many people living in Britain who are currently worried and afraid that they will lose their rights to live here:

Liberal Democrats have always believed that Britain should be outward facing, collaborating with other countries to tackle global challenges. Our membership of the European Union allows us to do that.

Britain has now voted to leave. The margin of victory was small and risks dividing our country. We must respect the outcome of the referendum in how we talk about moving forward.

We also have to understand that for many people this was not just a vote about Europe. It was also a howl of anger at politicians and institutions who they feel are out of touch and have let them down.  Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove won this campaign by deliberately deceiving voters. They offered cheap slogans and easy answers that they knew they could never keep. Their hollow pledge of £350 million for the NHS has already unravelled and people will be right to feel angry that they have been let down again.

We must also remember that there are many, many European citizens who have made Britain their home. We are immensely grateful for the contribution they make to our country and we are committed to ensuring they can remain here and feel safe here.

I believe our country’s future is still best served by our membership of the European Union, despite its flaws. Millions of our fellow citizens believe that. I also believe many of those people share our vision of a country that is tolerant, compassionate and positive about Britain’s role for good in the world. They share our vision of a country that wants to repair its divisions by working hard together, not by offering cheap slogans.

That is why I want to make clear that the Liberal Democrats will fight the next election on a clear and unequivocal promise to restore Britain’s prosperity and role in the world, with the United Kingdom in the European Union, not outside it.

At the same time, we must address the difficult issues that this referendum has raised about Europe and our country – but with real answers, not cheap slogans.

Since the result of the referendum became known, thousands of new members have joined our party. I encourage you all to reach out to family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances and encourage them to join us to build that Britain together.

Here is that Nigel Farage comment on NHS funding in his own words:

Whilst here is Iain Duncan Smith:

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