Liberal Democrats passionately believe that Britain is stronger in the European Union. We are the biggest, strongest anti-Brexit party and we have led the fight to stop Brexit for three years.
Liberal Democrats are open and outward-looking. We passionately believe that the UK is better off in the European Union. That is why every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to stop Brexit.
The EU remains the best framework for working effectively and co-operating in the pursuit of our shared aims. It has led directly to greater prosperity, increased trade, investment and jobs, better security, and a greener environment. Britain is better off in the EU.
Liberal Democrats campaigned for the UK to remain in the EU. However, we acknowledge the result of the 2016 referendum. The decision Britain took, though, was simply whether to remain in or to leave the EU. There was no option on the ballot paper to choose the shape of our future relationship with the EU on vital issues including trade, travel or security.
While much remains uncertain about Brexit, it is now clear that the Conservatives are working towards a scenario in which the UK crashes out of the EU. This means leaving the Single Market, ending freedom of movement, and abandoning the Customs Union – even though these choices will make the UK poorer.
The effects of Brexit are already being felt. Growth in the economy has slowed, and the government is already borrowing billions more to fill the gap in lost tax revenue. Urgent problems, such as the NHS crisis and climate emergency, are being neglected because of the sheer scale of the challenge posed by Brexit.
Brexit would make all these problems worse. It is the wrong choice for the country. Liberal Democrats will fight to stop Brexit.
Before the end of October, there will be a decision on what Brexit would actually look like. The Conservatives want the decision to be taken by politicians. Liberal Democrats believe the British people should have the final say.
That’s why we will put the Brexit deal to a vote in a referendum, with the option of staying in the EU on the ballot paper. We continue to believe that there is no deal as good for the UK as the one we already have as a member of the EU.
Every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to stop Brexit.
The Conservatives have made an absolute mess of Brexit. It has become a national embarrassment. Labour are enabling this crisis to continue.
The best way to protect jobs and vital public services is to stop Brexit.
Liberal Democrats commit ourselves to using our strength in Parliament to maintain our relationship with the EU. Our priorities will include:
- Protection of rights for EU citizens and UK citizens: We will press for the UK to unilaterally guarantee the rights of EU nationals in the UK, ending their ongoing uncertainty. We will call for the overhaul and simplification of the registration process and the requirements for EU nationals to obtain permanent residence and UK citizenship, as the current system is not fit for purpose. We will urge the government, and use our influence with Liberal leaders in European countries, to secure the same rights for UK citizens living in European Union countries.
- Membership of the Single Market and Customs Union: We believe that any deal negotiated for the UK outside the EU must ensure that trade can continue without customs controls at the border; and must maintain membership of the Single Market, which smooths trade between the UK and the continent by providing a common ‘rule book’ for businesses and a common mechanism to ensure that everyone abides by the rules.
- Freedom of movement. We support the principle of freedom of movement – to abandon it would threaten Britain’s prosperity and reputation as an open, tolerant society. Any deal negotiated for the UK outside the EU must protect the right to work, travel, study and retire across the EU. Any restrictions sought by the government must take account of the vital importance of EU workers to the British economy, including public services.
- Opportunities for young people: In an increasingly globalised and complex world, it is vital that our young people are afforded the same opportunities their parents enjoyed to work, study and travel abroad. To that end we will do everything we can to protect Erasmus+ and other EU-funded schemes which increase opportunities for young people.
- Defending social rights and equalities: Many important protections such as the right to 52 weeks’ maternity leave and rights to annual leave are currently based on EU law, and many of these rights have been upheld at the European Court of Justice. Liberal Democrats will fight to ensure that these entitlements are not undermined.
- Maintaining environmental standards: The European Union has created the highest environmental standards in the world. We have a duty to future generations to protect our environment and tackle climate change. Liberal Democrats will ensure that everything is done to maintain those high standards in UK law, including the closest possible cooperation on climate and energy policy.
- Law enforcement and judicial co-operation: Europol, the European Arrest Warrant and shared access to police databases have helped make Britain’s streets safer. We will fight to maintain maximum co-operation to ensure criminals are pursued quickly and effectively and police are not frustrated by huge amounts of red tape.
- British Business and Jobs: We must protect support to domestic industries such as farming, tourism and the creative industries, as well as regional support for deprived areas. The City of London is Europe’s financial capital and must retain its full rights in EU financial markets.
- Science and research funding: Research is vital for our long-term prosperity, security and wellbeing – but he Leave vote has already started to affect existing and proposed research programmes. We will campaign against any reduction in investment in UK universities and for their right to apply for EU funds on equal terms.
- Travel and tourism: Britain is an outward-looking country with commercial and leisure interests around the world, particularly in Europe. We will strive to retain traveller and tourist benefits such as the European Health Insurance Card, reduced roaming charges and pet passports, all of which are at risk by leaving the European Union.
- Respect for the interests of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland: We will fight to ensure that the priorities and long-term interests of the nations of the UK are fully taken into account during negotiations. We will oppose any moves that threaten the political stability of Northern Ireland. We will also campaign to protect the rights of the people of Gibraltar.