But we’re not talking football and not just Peterborough: Theresa May struggles with fellow Conservatives to agree how to demote ourselves from the Premier league to the Championship. Jeremy Corbyn is no different, Labour says what it thinks people want to hear, but doesn’t plan to deliver.
Labour is split like the Conservatives: Tony Blair said last weekend “stopping Brexit is the key national priority”, “more important than Labour winning the next election”. Peter Mandelson admitted last Sunday that Brexit is not “some natural phenomenon we are consigned to live with” “we must insist on the democratic right to change our minds”. But their problem is that despite support from some activists in Peterborough, Labour refuses to oppose Brexit.
Liberal Democrats aren’t divided: we’re passionate about the EU. No framework is perfect: democracy is ideal and no one’s thought of a better system. The EU has given us jobs and investment, more trade, joined-up security and a greener environment. And, of course, if we stay at the decision-making table, we can keep making the EU better.
Some look back through rose-tinted glasses to the empire; they want British control. But no country is an island nowadays (ironically, if we insist on our own waters to fish in, they’ll be smaller). If we throw away our position at the top of the EU league, we’ll have less control over the rules we must follow. Being in the single market and the customs union might sound tedious, but Brexit creates more barriers in our modern interdependent world. And barriers matter: more red tape and costs for Peterborough firms which buy and sell inside and outside the EU, longer waits with fewer staff for the NHS, and local businesses going bust without migrant workers.
Some look back to 1960s “them and us” with unions fighting management; Britain fighting the world. But local farming will be crippled without EU Common Agricultural Policy handouts; and the Tories are already threatening EU worker protection like the 48-hour week and paid holidays. It was the EU that British courts relied on to get Equal Pay for British women, as Eastern Angles’ play about Freemans here in Peterborough reminded us last month.
The LibDems are open, tolerant and united. For us, it’s a moral and practical issue: we look outward and forward to maintain stability and world peace, we rely on fairer trading relationships, respecting all human beings and the planet.
We’re “never going to give EU up”: email me firstname.lastname@example.org to join us campaigning in Peterborough on Boxing Day if you want some sociable fresh air away from eating and shopping! And it’s not impossible: Tony Blair agrees with the LibDems that we can stay in the EU, with enough people on-side…
British voter opinion is changing, with 51% now backing remain, 41% for Brexit*. In Parliament, LibDem leader Vince Cable says, following our win last week: “now that MPs will have a meaningful vote on the EU deal, give us a vote on Britain’s negotiating position, which could affect people’s rights, jobs and living standards for years to come.”
LibDems believe that what was started by a referendum should be ended by one: we should get the chance to vote on whether to stay in the EU or accept their Brexit deal.
Beki Sellick, Peterborough Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate
Published as Speakers Corner in the Peterborough Telegraph 21 December 2017
*BMG research poll published on 17/12/17