Here’s the text of the motion that was passed today at Lib Dem conference. The key vote, between amendment 1 and amendment 2, went for amendment 2 by 1,071 votes to 337 votes. That total turnout was much higher than in the key crunch vote in many previous Lib Dem conferences. It is an excellent sign of how the virtual conference is expanding the involvement of party members.
Speaking after the debate, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:
With our country already facing the biggest economic and health crisis in generations, it is unthinkable that the UK would crash out of the transition period without a deal.
Boris Johnson must start putting the nation first, rather than sacrificing everything and anything in his ideological pursuit of Brexit. This is about stopping the disaster of food shortages, medicine shortages, and more.
At every step of the Brexit process, Liberal Democrats were clear in our pro-EU position. We’ll never turn our back on our pro-European values because we are so much better off standing together than we could ever be alone.
That is why our duty now is to put every last ounce of political energy towards stopping a no-deal and opposing Boris Johnson’s efforts to drag the country’s reputation through the mud by breaking international law.
Conference notes with deep concern:
- The decision by the Conservative Government not to seek an extension to the post-Brexit transition period beyond 31 December 2020 despite the apparently deadlocked ‘future relationship’ negotiations between the UK and the EU on economic, transport, migration, welfare, fisheries and security arrangements.
- That the UK cannot afford to crash out of the EU without a deal in place or to accept a rushed, bad deal at a time when the UK is already facing the biggest crisis in generations as a result of COVID-19 against a background of intensified China-USA-Russia rivalry.
- That the rights of UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK remain at risk, as the Conservative Government attempts to roll back from the commitments it made in the 2019 Withdrawal Agreement.
- The Conservative Government’s Internal Market Bill, which the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has admitted will breach international law “in a very limited and specific way”, trashes the UK’s reputation, sets a dangerous precedent and almost certainly precludes any chance of a Free Trade Agreement with either the EU or the USA unless the offending sections are removed.
Conference believes that:
- There is no deal that could be negotiated that could be more beneficial than continued membership of the EU, and the damage caused by Brexit to the UK’s economy human rights, security, and standing in the world will be profound and long-lasting.
- The UK and its people share fundamental values of liberalism, democracy and respect for the rule of law with our European neighbours and allies; the European Union is our natural home and the UK’s rightful place should be at the heart of the EU.
Conference affirms the party’s immediate priorities to:
- Hold the Conservative Government to account unstintingly as it fails to deliver what it promised, and expose the damage of this Government’s Brexit to our economy, security, society and national unity.
- Campaign vigorously against measures which are prejudicial to British industry, agriculture and democracy, and in so doing point to the benefits of closer relations with the EU.
- Continue to work with others in Parliament (including in the House of Lords) to halt or amend damaging legislation such as measures in the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill.
- Support international cooperation and a global rules-based system, and oppose isolationism and economic nationalism.
Conference calls for:
- The Conservative Government to honour the commitments it made in the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration.
- The rights of UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK not to be further eroded – and where possible enhanced – and the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights and Charter of Fundamental Rights to be respected for all UK citizens.
- The closest possible alignment between the UK and the EU towards customs union, single market and freedom of movement, including minimising tariff and non- tariff trade barriers, no lowering of environmental, food and animal welfare standards, and the maintenance of strong diplomatic, developmental, defence, security, judicial, educational and scientific cooperation.
Conference resolves to support a longer term objective of UK membership of the EU at an appropriate future date to be determined by political circumstances, subject to public assent, market and trade conditions and acceptable negotiated terms.
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