Conference 2019: Lib Dem conference backs policy to stop Brexit

Today at Liberal Democrat party conference, members passed a Europe motion that commits the party to revoking Article 50 in the event of a Liberal Democrat majority government.

Speaking after the motion, Liberal Democrat Leader Jo Swinson said:

“The Liberal Democrats are crystal clear: if we win the next election, we will stop Brexit by revoking article 50 and remaining in the European Union.

“People deserve better than Boris Johnson’s No Deal Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Brexit. At the next election, voters can instead choose the Liberal Democrats, and our clear and unequivocal policy to Stop Brexit.

“Before an election is called, the Lib Dems will continue to work cross-party to prevent a dangerous No Deal Brexit, and support a People’s Vote, with the option to remain. We will do all we can to fight for our place in Europe, and to stop Brexit altogether.”

Liberal Democrat Europe Spokesperson, Tom Brake MP said:

“Brexit would be catastrophic for the NHS, jobs, and the environment. Yet both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn are set on taking us out of the EU, regardless of the damage it would do.  

“Liberal Democrats have been fighting to stop Brexit for over three years. We are the biggest, strongest party for Remainers across the UK.

“This Brexit policy makes it completely clear that a Liberal Democrat majority government, with Jo Swinson as Prime Minister, would revoke Article 50 and keep the UK in the EU.”

N-E Derbyshire Parliamentary Spokesperson, Cllr Ross Shipman said:

“I never thought I would see myself voting for this policy, in fact two years ago I got up at conference and argued against us adopting it.

“A lot has changed since then, so I am proud that today my party has taken a strong stance on the most important issue of our day, the European Union.

“It’s not ideal and my party shouldn’t have had to do this; but when the Conservative party leadership have FAILED to deliver what they themselves promised during the referendum, the continued lies, the breaking of parliamentary convention and the willingness to break the law for their own ends, we need a party that is willing to stand up and say ‘NO! This has to stop!’”

The full text of the motion as passed is below:

F17 Stop Brexit

Conference notes that:
A. The Conservative Government have made a mess of Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party have been helping them to deliver this destructive Brexit.
B. Speaker Bercow has stated that exiting the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement (a “No Deal” Brexit) is impossible without Parliamentary Approval
C. The European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill passed through all legislative stages and received Royal Assent on the 9th of September, and requires the Prime Minister to request an extension of the Article 50 notification period to the 31st of January 2020, and to accept such an extension.
D. The European Court of Justice has ruled that the UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50, and therefore no-deal is avoidable.
E. Liberal Democrats fought the 2019 European Elections on a clear Stop Brexit manifesto and secured the best EU Election results in the party’s history, returning 16 MEPs and taking second place in vote share across the country.
F. Reports were widespread of UK citizens abroad and EU citizens living in the UK denied their right to vote in the EU Elections.
G. On the 24th of July Boris Johnson became Prime Minister and committed to taking the UK out of the EU with or without a deal on the 31st of October, setting aside an extra £2.1bn for no-deal preparations.
H. In the early hours of the 10th of September, the government forced the prorogation of Parliament until the 14th of October. The Court of Session in Scotland has subsequently ruled that this Prorogation was illegally obtained by the Prime Minister because it had the purpose of stymying Parliament, and is thus null and of no effect. This decision has been appealed to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, where it is due to be heard in the coming week.
I. The Conservative Government has announced plans to end Freedom of Movement, a move that would cause chaos, deprive UK citizens of their rights to live, work and study across Europe, and leave EU citizens vulnerable to the Hostile Environment; Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is also committed to ending Freedom of Movement.

Conference believes that:
i) There is no deal that could be negotiated that could be more beneficial than continued membership of the EU; leaving the EU would therefore be damaging to the UK’s fundamental national interests.
ii) A no-deal scenario would cause immeasurable damage to our NHS, jobs, and the environment.
iii) Freedom of Movement brings enormous benefits to the UK’s communities, public services, society and economy; ending it would hurt UK employers and separate friends, families and colleagues.
iv) The denial of citizens’ right to vote is an attack on our democracy; it is vital that the system is reformed to prevent such disenfranchisement from occurring again.

Conference reaffirms the Liberal Democrat commitment to:
a) Fighting in Parliament for an “exit from Brexit” referendum and for the public to choose between “the deal” or staying in the EU; with Liberal Democrats campaigning for the UK to remain a full and active member of the EU.
b) Revoke Article 50 if the House of Commons has not passed a resolution approving the negotiated Withdrawal Agreement one week ahead of the date on which the UK is due to leave the EU.
c) Protect Freedom of Movement and extend the right to full participation in civic life to all EU citizens who have lived in the UK for five years or longer.
d) Work cross-party to ensure Parliamentary sovereignty is upheld, and a Conservative government is unable to force through a disastrous no-deal Brexit.

Conference calls for:
1. Liberal Democrats to campaign to Stop Brexit in a General Election, with the election of a Liberal Democrat majority government to be recognised as an unequivocal mandate to revoke Article 50 and for the UK to stay in the EU.
2. The government to implement urgent electoral law reform, in line with the 2014 Electoral Commission’s recommendations, including introducing a legal requirement for Councils to inform citizens of the steps they must take to be successfully registered; and making necessary changes to ensure that the UK has an automatic system of inclusion in elections.
3. The Conservative government to implement a declaratory system to grant settled status to all EU citizens living in the UK, rather than the current constitutive process, so that they need not apply but can simply register to receive physical proof of their right to live in the UK.
4. Liberal Democrats to celebrate our Membership of the European Union, its values, its achievements and its aims in our campaigning and our policies; to reject the false narrative where the other two main parties seek to blame the EU for their own failures; to seek change hearts and minds by these positive actions.

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