Let the people decide

hero_euflagsToday I have sent an  email to John Mann (180527 Letter to John Mann) to ask him to support the amendment tabled by Tom Brake to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill that will give MPs the chance to call for a public vote on the the final deal with the EU on our withdrawal.

None of the proposed versions of Brexit on offer are what those in the Leave campaign said would be available.   Far from releasing £350 million a week, it is likely to cost us that much or more in lost economic output.

Tom Brakes’s amendment will give us the people a chance to stop the madness of Brexit.  There is no wonder those who support leaving the EU are scared of allowing the people a say, they know they will loose,

So please write, to your MP (you can copy my email if you want) to let them know that we, the people, demand a say on the final agreement.  You can also join the Lib Dem campaign on this issue


By the way, I have had a response from Mr Mann.  It was (in full):

It was your government and specifically your leader who proposed a referendum. The Liberals voted as a party to have one and abide by its result . End of.

As usual, Mr Mann is being economical with the truth as I have pointed out in my reply to him

Mr Mann,

The European Union Referendum Act 2015 called for a non-binding referendum on membership of the EU.

Yes, the Lib Dems voted for it but making this non-binding vote (with no provision for a super-majority) the final say on membership was not what was intended in the Act and not what MPs voted for.

You have avoided answering the question though, will you support the Brake amendment to give the people a vote on any Withdrawal Agreement? If not, is it because you know the people will reject any agreement that will leave them worse off, as leaving the EU will undoubtedly do?

Leon Duveen

Like other Quitters, Mr Mann seems to think that we, the people of the UK, are not allowed to change our mind, lets show him that we are.


Why Brexit negotiation are doomed to fail

BrexitOne of the tricks of successful negotiations is to understand the position and drivers of the people you are negotiating with.  If you don’t do this, you won’t know what you can ask for and you won’t understand their “red lines”.

It is obvious that the UK Government hasn’t done this with the Brexit negotiations which is one of the reasons why they are floundering and failing to get anywhere.

To get a better understanding of why May Davis , et al are failing so badly, let’s try to look at looking it at Brexit from the position of the EU27, the EU Commission & the EU Parliament.

First and foremost, they want the best possible deal for their citizens and for the EU.  However, they see this not just in economic terms but also in what will strengthen the Union in the future.  The last thing they want is for Brexit to succeed as that would encourage other anti-EU groups across the 27.   Few if any in the EU27 hate the UK or wish us harm but neither do they care too much about what happens to the UK.  Their attitude is we voted to leave, it is up to us to make a success of Brexit, not them

Many in the EU have also concluded that taking the hit of losing the 12% – 15%, of trade, the percentage of all EU trade, they do with the UK is a price worth paying for keeping the EU together.   They also have (not unrealistic) hopes that much of that trade will any way migrate to stay within the Single Market & Customs Union, for example all the Euro Clearing trade, other financial business, and manufacturing that relies in the free movement of components.

Let’s not forget also that for the EU27, Brexit is not a big issue.  The future of the Union, supporting democracy, making the EU more responsive to its citizens and dealing with the other problems across Europe are far more important issues.  Quite frankly, for many, the sooner the whole Brexit soap opera is concluded, deal or no deal, the happier they will be.

Once all this is understood, it is obvious that the UK’s position in the Brexit negotiations is very weak.  Only the deluded (or those wish to delude others) would keep on saying that “the EU needs us more than we need them”, the reality is that, unless we put something worthwhile on the table (like continued free access to the UK for trade under Single Market / Customs Union rules, like continued payments in to the EU budget, like continued free movement of workers), the EU have no reason to give us any concessions.

The sooner we realise this the sooner we can also realise that Brexit is a hopeless idea and we are mad to carry on with it.  Tine to #ExitfromBrexit

Who would have thought the EU would put politics before economic on Brexit? 

brexitOne of the biggest complaints I heard about the EU during the Referendum was that it had become a Political Union as opposed to the Trading Union (the Common Market) we join in 1973.

The fact that this complaint is false and that the EU, even from its earliest incarnation as the Coal & Steel Community founded in 1951, has always been a political entity and this was made abundantly clear both when we joined in 1973 and in the 1975 Referendum was not deemed relevant because, as with most facts about the EU, those wanting us to leave the EU have a complete disregard for them.

However, what continues to amaze me is that despite make the complaint that the EU is “too political” during last year’s Referendum, the same self people are now amazed that the EU is being “too political” when it refuses to give in to the whining and bombast from the Leave camp over the Brexit negotiations.

The EU (that is the other 27 nations & the EU institutions) are simply trying to defend the integrity o the EU and will not want to weaken it in any way.  If that means that the UK can’t get the “having our cake and eat it” sort of deal that the Leave campaign promised voters last year, then that is of no concern to the EU.

To put is simply, the Leave campaign sold an unrealistic and unattainable idea to the voters in 2016.  They now need to answer to the public about the distortions, misrepresentations & downright lies they told.  They need to explain why, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, they kept telling people false, demonstratively false, stories about how we will be better off out of the EU.

It is not the Remainers who are making Brexit a disaster, it is those who campaigned for it, knowing it would be a disaster and impossible without a long period of severe economic hurt, that should now be answering to the public.

May is leading us to economic suicide

10-theresa-may-gettyToday, Theresa May will announce that she has decided that the UK will commit economic suicide by not only leaving the EU (which is bad enough n it’s own right) but also say she will drag us out of the European Single Market and it’s Customs Union.

This will mean that all import of goods from the EU & our exports to it will not only be subject to tariffs & quotas but have to undergo customs inspections at EU borders (including when being transported in or out of the Irish Republic).

The consequences of this are that costs to industries that import raw materials from the EU will rise, our exports to the EU will become more expensive and therefore less competitive and the prices in shops on any goods brought in from the EU will go up.

Inevitably, this will lead to inflation in the UK at the same time as wages will be squeezed as companies try to mitigate cost rises elsewhere.

It also means that companies like Toyota, BAe, Bomdardier and many others who have multiple facilities across the EU will not be able to move parts in or out of the UK as easily as they can now with a knock-on effect on jobs here.

Sterling has already taken yet another dive in the Currency Markets because of leaks from May speech, adding to inflationary pressures here in the UK

What May is proposing is economic madness and only those who are ideologically blinkered over the EU will welcome it.  For most of us it will signal her intention to inflict a long, hard period of economic hardship on the British people.  We must stop her.

Letter for Bassetlaw – May 15th 2016

This week we have learnt the Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospitals Foundation NHS Trust have had to suspend Emergency Surgical Admissions at our local Bassetlaw Hospital because they don’t have the Junior Doctors needed to provide cover for this service.

I have written a post on this earlier in the week (see Why is Bassetlaw losing Emergency Surgery?) so will not go through everything again here.  I am speaking Mike Pinkerton, the Chief Executive of the Trust, on Wednesday to get an update on the issue.  I will also take the opportunity to raise any concerns that local people may have.  If there is something you want me to ask Mr Pinkerton, please email me at bassetlaw.sherwood.lib.dems@gmail.com.


On Saturday, I was involved in the Liberal Democrat’s National #INtogether Day of Action for the EU Referendum.  All across the country we have had teams of Lib Dems out right across the country, you can see some of the pictures on the Liberal Democrat Facebook page

While we had one team out on Carolgate in Retford, I was with another team in Ollerton, a town where Lib Dems haven’t campaigned in for years.  I was a bit worried about how our pro-Remain message would be received in a town that is widely regarded as a strong pro-Leave area but in the event, most people were happy to take our leaflets and to talk to us.  We certainly were able to get people to think about the issues and what leaving the EU would mean.

Because the Referendum is a national vote, every vote counts, unlike in normal elections.  This means we need to take our message to towns like Ollerton, Hucknall (where I was out delivering leaflets last Sunday) and all across Bassetlaw.  To do this in the few left before the vote on June 23rd, we need all the help we can get.  If you can deliver some leaflets in the area around where you live, please let me now, it would be greatly appreciated, just contact me at ld4bassetlaw@gmail.com.


One of the most disturbing parts of the Referendum Campaign is the way the different Leave groups seem to be competing with each other to tell bigger & bigger lies about the EU.

From the repeated myths that they have been peddling for years like claiming the EU is undemocratic (it isn’t, see here for an explanation on how democracy in the EU works) to more recent ones like the UK pays £350 million pounds a week to the EU (we don’t, that figure has been repeatedly shown to be wrong, but the claim is still being repeated by those running the leave campaigns), through to Boris Johnson’s ridiculous claims that the EU is like Hitler’s Europe (it isn’t, it simply isn’t, read this post on IN Facts) there has been a steady stream of misinformation. Exaggerations & downright lies from the leave campaigns in an ever more desperate attempt to make people vote to leave the EU.

Why can’t they stick to the truth?  Why do the different Leave campaigns all have to resort to such tactics?  Could it be they know that it is the only way they can con the British public into leaving the EU?


Finally, a few words about the County Council elections that will be coming up next May.  We are in the process of selecting our 9 candidates in Bassetlaw as well as the other 58 across Nottinghamshire.  If you think you can do a better job representing the people of Nottinghamshire better than our current County Councillors, this is your opportunity.  Get in contact (either of the two email addresses above) and help us make Nottinghamshire a better County to live in for everyone.





Letter for Bassetlaw – March 20th 2016

Another busy week with work, family & political commitments combining to keep me rushed of my feet. To be honest, I wouldn’t want it any other way, I find not being busy just as tiring and much less productive.

I did however make time yesterday to watch England beat France (always something worth celebrating) to complete the Grand Slam.  Not a classic game but a great watch anyway & a good way to round off a busy day.

Yesterday afternoon I was out on Carolgate in Retford, helping with a “Stronger In” street stall.  It is always great to get out and talk to those who will be voting and while there were plenty who had already made up their mind and no amount of facts or evidence was going to change that, many were either already in favour of Remaining In or were undecided and wanted to find out more.

What did surprise me was the level of argument that some in the “Leave” campaign use.  When any attempt to give factual information to show why we are better off remaining in the EU, is met with “that sh*te!”, it is really hard to a sensible discussing.  If they cannot do better than that, then the British public will soon realise that the “Leave” campaign is built on bluster & daydreams and that we need to stay in the EU.

One discussion we had yesterday was with a student who wants to go on to University to study Law.  He was initially favouring the Leave side but when it was pointed out that, if we stay in the EU, he could study in English at a leading European University where there are much lower (or even no) Tuition Fees or that, even if he goes to a UK University, he could spend a year at a University in Europe as part of his course[i] he saw that Remaining In, was not such a bad idea.  This leads me to discuss the second of the areas that I suggest people should look at when thing about how to vote, Opportunity.

Being in the EU gives us more than direct economic benefits.  Part of the being in the single market means we enjoy the benefit of the Free movement of persons.  As we pointed out to the young student, this means that students from the UK can study at Universities in the EEA (EU + EFTA countries) on the same terms as students from those countries.   It means that works from the UK can work anywhere in the EEA without being discriminated against (except in some circumstances where knowledge of the language is critical, as in medicine), remember the TV series Auf Wiedersehen, Pet?  It also means pensioners can retire to Spain or France.  Many UK citizens have made use of these rights and there are about 2.2 million Brits who for at least part of the year, live work or study elsewhere in the EU.  This compares to the 2.3 million citizens of other EU countries who live, work or study in the UK[ii]

It is not just people who benefit from the opportunities being in the EU.  Companies in the UK can tender for work anywhere in the EEA and many do.  Not just in manufacturing, bust also in services & finance, British companies are look for customers & opportunities across Europe, providing work for people here in the UK.

All this would be at risk if we leave the EU.  The opportunities for young British people to expand horizons by studying abroad, the opportunities for British people to work anywhere across Europe would be curtailed & the opportunities for our companies to tender for contracts & openings in the EU will be diminished.   Is this what you want?

[i] http://www.erasmusprogramme.com/

[ii] https://fullfact.org/europe/eu-migration-and-uk/

Letter from Bassetlaw – February 14th 2016

Leon Duveen 140920aFinally, I managed to spend a little time in the garden earlier today trying to tidy up the bushes and spread some compost.  Since the New year, I have hardly had time to stop and am grateful that this week I have a short break between finishing one job and starting the next.  Time to get my office tidied up & cleaned and all my paper work (as I am self-employed, there is plenty of that) brought up to date.


Later this week David Cameron will be going to Brussels to try to finalise the renegotiations on British membership of the EU.  If he succeeds, then the chances are he will set the date for the Referendum on British membership of the EU.  The date that seems most likely is June 23rd so we will be in for few months of campaigning by both those who believe that the UK’s future lies in being part of the EU and those who (mistakenly in my view) think that the UK can survive & prosper out of it.

In the run up to the Referendum, be it in June or later in the year, there will be much written for and against staying in the EU.  I will not doubt be contributing my efforts as well but for now I just want to give some advice on how to judge what is written.

As I know, it is all too easy to sit at a computer nowadays and put out a post expressing views as if they are facts, dressing up opinions as if they are the indisputable wisdom that has been passed down from on high.  This is true of both the Remain & Leave campaigns (although I hope not me) so how can you tell what is worth reading & paying attention to and what is just, to put it simply, unsubstantiated codswallop?

My advice is trust none of it unless the writer has taken the time to reference the sources of the facts they claim support their views   By this I mean the source data, not just someone else who supports their views.  Look for links to reports from authoritative bodies, not think tanks, or to statistics collected by governments.

Most of all use your own mind to think through the decision.  Read what is written & listen to what is said but you will need to draw your own conclusions and vote in the Referendum accordingly.  Don’t forget, the Referendum is not to join the EU, we are already members and cannot turn the clock back 40 years.

You will be voting to decide if we should leave the EU, will this make the UK more Prosperous, give us more Opportunities, help protect the Peace that Europe has enjoyed for over 70 years, secure our Environment from pollution and climate change and, finally, improve our Security against international criminals & terrorism?

If you, like me, think that leaving the EU would not be able to deliver on all these issues, then don’t vote for it, vote to Remain In.


I was saddened to here of the death of Lord Avebury earlier today.  I never met him but Eric Lubbock was one of the first Liberal politicians I became aware of & the Orpington by-election (which I don’t remember but I can recall hearing about as the original Liberal revival) has become a standard which all our election results are judged by.  By all accounts he was a decent honest man who worked hard as an MP and was respected across party lines for standing up for what he believed in

His death marks the end of an era and a reminder that even though at times the Liberals (and now the Lib Dems) may have been down to single figures of MPs (there had 6 before Orpington), the party can never be written off.  I just hope it doesn’t take another 50 years to get back into power though as the UK need a strong Liberal voice.

Indeed, at a time when we have one of the most right-wing, regressive Tory Governments we have ever seen (even more so than Thatcher’s Government) and a Labour Party in opposition that seems more intent on fighting itself than opposing the Government, we need a strong Liberal voice to stand up for ordinary people, to make sure we all get a chance to get on in life, not just those with rich families or links to those that run the Unions, as the Preamble to the Liberal Democrat Constitution puts it “. . . to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full.”   If you agree with this statement, your place is with us in the Liberal Democrats.