Backing grows for a People's Vote on Brexit deal
Originally published by Liberal Democrat European Group
The odds on a second Brexit referendum before 2020 have shortened to 2.48 after polls showed that, for the first time, a majority of Britons want to vote again on their country's future relationship with the European Union. It is becoming clear that the Government's Chequers 'deal' is not going to work and increasingly the choice is a "hard Brexit" or stay in the EU.
The June 2016 referendum was a vote on an idea. Leave offered no agreed plan. A referendum on the terms of the Brexit deal will be the first time voters have a choice between two concrete options: an inevitably poorer deal and what we enjoy now as an EU member.
A referendum on the terms would be quite different from 2016. It would ask about the plan for Brexit, not the idea. No one takes a project from idea to implementation without renewing the project plan.
Voters only gave the government a mandate to negotiate Brexit. We have yet to consent to the final Brexit deal. It is like buying a house - if we don't like the survey, we have the right to withdraw our offer. Jacob Rees-Mogg MP argued: "we could have two referendums… it might make more sense to have the second referendum after the renegotiation is completed." (24 October 2011).
Brexit promises broken
Brexit is not delivering the benefits promised to the British people. What happened to the £350 million per week for the NHS? Instead, studies show Brexit is already costing us that much.
The British people were told leaving the EU would not mean reduced single market access: only 22% of Leave voters thought full access was at risk. See here.
Sir John Major, former Prime Minister, has argued leaving the EU is a massive fraud on the British people and a historic mistake. He recently said "I know of no precedent for any Government enacting a policy that will make both our country and our people poorer…. So far, the promises have not been met and, probably, cannot be met". - 1 March 2018.
If the Government can't decide, the people should. It's time for a #peoplesvote.
Damage already done....
… to the UK economy
The UK will be worse off under all Brexit scenarios (HM Government, January 2018). According to the 2016 Autumn Statement, Brexit is forcing the UK government to borrow £58.7 billion more up to 2021. That means more pressure on funding for the NHS, social services, education and transport infrastructure.
Before the EU referendum, we were the fastest growing G7 economy, now we are the slowest. In 2016, the UK was the world's fifth largest economy, now we are its seventh.
"UK businesses are in despair, (they have) no option but to consider postponing investment, or moving their money and investment from here to the continent. The downsides are becoming more evident as time passes." - Michael Heseltine, former Deputy Prime Minister
"Leaving the EU would mean supply chains flowing less smoothly resulting in additional costs." - Paul Kahn, Airbus UK chief executive.
… to squeezed living standards
Leaving the EU is not making things better. Brexit is already making families worse off.
The 10% fall in the Pound against foreign currencies, notably the US dollar, since the June 2016 referendum has contributed to a 3% increase in inflation and a further squeeze in living standards. Brexit's false promises have already cost each household more than £900 a year (Bank of England).
Brexit has resulted in an average increase of 5% for our food and drink including bread up 25% and beer up 16%.
The drop in the pound already means our holidays are 6% more expensive and free travel to 27 EU member states could become more difficult.
If we stay in, the EU will continue to help us curb banking excesses, tackle customer rip offs (eg reduce mobile phone roaming charges, cheaper air travel), and minimise corporate tax avoidance).
… to public services, notably the NHS
Brexit is hijacking government and impairing service delivery. "Leaving (the EU) would mean embroiling the Government for several years in a fiddly process of negotiating new arrangements, so diverting energy from the real problems of this country." - Boris Johnson.
We were promised £350 million extra a week for the NHS but studies show Brexit is in fact already costing us that much. That means that if the government doesn't borrow more money, there is and will continue to be less funding available for the NHS, education and social services.
According to NHS Providers, 75% of hospital leaders believe Brexit is bad news for the NHS (none of the remaining 25% believe it will have a very positive effect).
The 10% post referendum fall in the pound has pushed up NHS supply costs by £900 million pounds a year.
Nurses and doctors from the EU are essential to keeping the NHS running. The Royal College of Nursing notes "lack of certainty (about residence status) is undoubtedly a key reason that EU nurses are no longer choosing to work in the UK, which is already putting pressure on staff and services".
Any trade deal with the US will be America first, Britain last. Any potential deal might involve the UK having to consider privatising all or part of the NHS.
The damage to come
Brexit means losing our EHIC card, cancer treatments, latest medicines and funding
The European Health Insurance card (EHIC) gives us state-provided emergency healthcare for free or at a reduced cost when we travel in 30 European countries. If we leave the EU, EHIC benefits may no longer be available.
No one voted to leave Euratom yet the Government arbitrarily decide to leave. Leaving Euratom risks breaking a series of time-sensitive supply chains for Isotopes used in radiotherapy/MRI scans for cancer sufferers (the UK does not have suitable reactors).
The European Medicines Agency (EMA), whose headquarters will now leave the UK thanks to Brexit, carries out scientific evaluation of all medicines. Delayed access to the latest medicines could cost lives. "Leaving would lead to disruption, expense and significant regulatory burdens for a new authorisation system" - UK Life Sciences CEOs.
"Leaving the EU would be a disaster for (UK) science" - the late Stephen Hawking. About half of our overseas (research) collaborations are with EU partners. "The UK puts in 12% of all EU (research) funding yet wins 15% of (it)" Jo Johnson, then Minister for Universities and Science.
In June 2018, the EU stated that the UK outside the EU will no longer receive more Horizon 2020 funding than what it contributes.
Leaving the EU diminishes our sovereignty and control over our laws
No nation is sovereign in the conventional sense in today's inter-connected global economy. We enhance, not lose, our sovereignty through membership in international organisations like the EU and NATO. "Parliament has remained sovereign throughout our membership of the EU" - Government While Paper, February 2017.
By participating in EU forums, Britain is deciding rules which affect not only us, but influences those of others. If we absent ourselves, others will decide the rules we shall have to follow anyway, without our input. If we are not at the EU table, we're on the menu.
In order to trade, countries have to accept common standards and regulations, and in so doing, they pool some sovereignty. Large trading blocs such as the US and EU oblige smaller economies to comply with their regulations to gain access to their large markets. Size matters.
The UK 'won' 97% of the votes in the EU Council between 2004 and 2015. Why spend so much effort and money on going it alone when there are no obvious tangible benefits?
In today's global economy, multinational corporations have real power which most nations cannot regulate alone. These corporations can pressure countries into offering tax breaks and subsidies. By banding together, smaller EU countries can better mitigate the anti-competitive and tax avoiding practices of Facebook, Amazon and Google. Mark Zuckerberg testified before the European Parliament but has yet to accept our Parliament's invitation.
There is little that the EU has stopped us doing. Can you name three EU laws which the UK should repeal after Brexit? Can you name three UK laws the EU has prevented us from implementing? What has EU membership stopped you or your organisation from doing? Do you have control over what Westminster does?
Leaving means losing control of our money
The drop in sterling shows leaving means less for your pound in your shopping basket.
Only a third of one penny in the pound we pay in tax is spent on the EU. For that, we get the right to live, work and study in 27 developed countries; export freely to the world's largest market which has more trade deals than the US, China and Australia combined; have greater influence in the world than alone; have greater security, and benefit from greater protection of working, consumer and environmental rights and food safety. Above all, what value do you give to peace in Western Europe since WW2? Leaving means losing a bargain.
Brexiters promised more money to end austerity and chronic underfunding of the NHS, social services, education and transport. However, the 2016 Autumn Statement showed Brexit is reducing tax revenues, requiring £58.7 billion more in government borrowing before 2021. As the economy stagnates, there will be less money for public services and Government austerity will last longer.
Leaving won't improve control of our borders
By leaving the EU, we are not just stopping EU citizens coming here, we are restricting our own freedom, particularly that of our young, to work and study and export to 27 developed EU nations. It also means foreign travel will be more costly and travel is more difficult for our pets.
Leaving the EU will not reassert 'control' over the main source of immigration (more than half of net migration comes from outside the EU).
Much of the problem with immigration is due to shortcomings in our own policies and administrative systems. The Windrush scandal is the most recent example. If the diagnosis of the problem is wrong, so is the proposed Brexit cure. Much can be achieved ourselves without leaving the EU including checking people both arriving and leaving the UK, removing temporary foreign students from government targets, increasing resources for public services in local communities affected by disproportionately high inflows, and implementing the EU's own free movement rules.