How anti-Brexit campaign groups are coming together

Business Insider has been looking at the coming together of several different pro-European groups to form a new, more effective push against Brexit:

The rise of pro-EU groups such as the Scientists for EU, Best For Britain and the New European newspaper has created an increasingly powerful, but disparate pro-European movement…

Now for the first time, these groups have joined together under the “Grassroots Coordination Group (GCG)” which is chaired by Labour MP Chuka Umunna and championed by Conservative MP Anna Soubry, Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas, and Jo Swinson, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats.

This sort of cooperation with people outside the Liberal Democrats who share the party’s views on a particular issue is just the sort of approaching argued for in Reinventing the Liberal Democrats and which the party’s proposed new strategy supports.

Crucially this new group recognises the importance of shifting grassroots opinion on Brexit. How to do that?

The GCG believes there are two fundamental factors which will tip the balance away from a hard Brexit.

Firstly, it senses a dynamic which favoured Leave campaigners in 2016 has been flipped on its head.

Two years ago, Remain figures were “straight-jacketed” by the obligations of being a government-led campaign, Umunna said, while the Leave campaign’s anti-status quo pitch put it on the front foot with more room to manoeuvre.

Now Leavers are in government and on the back foot as their campaign promises are held to account…

Secondly, GCG campaigners believe they are both outnumbering and outarguing their pro-Brexit counterparts.

The group plans to campaign in constituencies nationwide — north and south, Leave and Remain — while Umunna is scheduled to appear in a number of debates. “There will be door-to-door campaigning and stands in your local high street, but also online campaigning and big rallies across the country,” the Labour MP for Streatham said.

Jo Swinson says of this push,

The energy and the passion are absolutely on the side of the people who want to see Britain’s future inside the European Union.

That is where the energy is.

2018 is going to be pivotal. There’s absolutely still a chance that we can choose a different path. It’s perfectly reasonable for people to look at the facts as they know them after this negotiation and then decide what the way forward ought to be…

What this is about is putting aside party politics for the good of the country. This transcends normal politics.

Cooperating across party lines is also very much part of Vince Cable’s approach as he highlighted in response to pro-European comments by Labour and Conservative MPs:

It is good to see cross-party cooperation between Tory and Labour rebels. But the truth is that the the Lib Dems are the only party united and consistent in  opposing the hard Brexit pursued both by Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn and calling for the public to have the final say on the deal.

I am optimistic that the rebellions in both Tory and Labour parties will spread in coming weeks. My party is working with them, currently in the Lords. If any Tory and Labour parliamentarians are forced out by the forces of reaction in both parties, they are of course welcome to join us and continue the struggle in that way.


7 responses to “How anti-Brexit campaign groups are coming together”

  1. The recent lone press conference by Michel Barnier has made it clear that there are problems with the transition/implementation period which may be insoluble. Is it not time to examine urgently the recent suggestion by Jacob Rees-Mogg (of all people) that an extension of the Article 50 time period be sought as an alternative? As far as I can see this would avoid all the problems specified by Barnier and keep the UK longer in a decision-making situation, avoiding what Rees- Mogg calls a “vassal state” role. It would allow the time needed to achieve some sort of agreement on the longer term way forward, whether the Lib Dem call for a referendum at that stage was heeded or not.

    This would need unanimous agreement from “the 27” but I reckon that would be available. The only reason I see against this is the government’s reluctance to tell the brexiteers that the date for formally leaving the EU will be postponed. Surely there are more important considerations here than that.

  2. Please refer to my four part series in Liberal Democrat Voice in mid January.

    Nick Hopkinson
    Chair, Liberal Democrat European Group

  3. The article 50 extension is not going to solve the major problem the vote for Brexit created and which has grown in severity since: the irreconcilible split – cultural, social political, economic – between Remainers and Brexiters.
    This is no longer about the EU or our relationship with the EU. It is about us: what country we are to be for the next generation and what relations we are to have amongst ourselves. Brexiters, led by reactionary Brexiteers, are cultural conservatives seeking to reintroduce social paternalism of the old England (with her rigid class system, regional kinship, nativist allegiance and Arcadian dreams of “green and pleasant land” that bound communities and provided a ready made identity for every single English newborn, like it or not – a place of certainty that modern times banished to the margins). Add to it the populist rhetoric and what we have is a very potent left/right ideology that has taken hold of half of the country and is not going to ebb any time soon. But it has at the same time left out the other half who have no choice but to be opposed.
    Lib Dems need to craft a new approach to the new political climate and broaden the Europe/Brexit question to include the questions on Britain’s wider social and cultural future. Not just economic (not least because it did not work to put economy at the heart of the Remain argument). The internal social and cultural dynamics were shaken during the referendum campaign and, thus undermined, began to change after the result of the referendum. And continue to change. And will to continue to change. Political discourse must catch up. Forget Europe for the moment. It is now about us.

  4. I am delighted that something is finally happening. I am, and always have been a Remainer. I was truely gutted when we lost the referedum. Too many people never realy understood the truth behind the consequences of leaving. I have felt ashamed. Thank you for what you are doing.

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