Federal Policy Committee
- Notes that the benefits of membership of the EU which Britain has enjoyed for the last 43 years include peace, increased trade, investment and jobs, greater security, cultural enrichment, academic and scientific cooperation and stronger environmental protection.
- Deeply regrets the outcome of the referendum on membership of the EU in which a majority voted to leave, and notes the government and parliamentary attention, and significant resources, that Brexit will absorb when there are so many other pressing demands.
- Condemns the Leave campaign for the dishonest and divisive messages it delivered in the referendum campaign and its failure to take responsibility for providing a coherent and practical plan for exiting the EU, which has still not been produced.
- Is deeply concerned about the increase in xenophobic and racist threats, abuse and violence against both EU citizens living in the UK and British citizens of ethnic minority backgrounds that has taken place since the referendum, and calls on the government and police to take decisive action to protect potential victims and crack down on the perpetrators of hate crimes.
- Further notes that the complications surrounding the positions of Scotland and Northern Ireland after the referendum present a risk to the continued existence of the United Kingdom, and in the case of Northern Ireland to the peace process supported by the Good Friday Agreement, and also that the interests of Gibraltar have been put at risk.
- Further regrets that Brexit will result in a loss of UKÕs ability to shape the future direction of the EU during a period of rapid change.
- Recognises that the priority should be to address the justifiable sense of economic grievance, alienation from the establishment and powerlessness which came to the fore in the campaign and which had domestic rather than EU drivers, including a voting system that has allowed politicians to become distanced from the people they purport to represent, and resolves to address its underlying causes through the pursuit of progressive, liberal policies on the economy, regional development and migration (including via a Migration Impact Fund), the devolution of power to communities and a fair voting system to give power to the people to elect a Parliament that properly represents their views.
- Calls for a parliamentary vote on the terms of the negotiation before Article 50 is triggered and for continuing parliamentary scrutiny of negotiations on EU withdrawal, as well as on future international relations and trade negotiations being led by the two newly created government departments, the Department for Exiting the European Union and the Department for International Trade.
- Resolves on the following priorities in any negotiations about Britain leaving the EU:
- Protection of acquired rights, including the right to remain, of citizens of other EU member states residing in the UK, and of UK citizens residing elsewhere in the EU.
- Membership of the Single Market, with its 'four freedoms' of freedom of movement for workers, free movement of goods, free movement of capital and freedom to provide services, so that British companies can continue to trade with the EU without additional restrictions, as well as retaining full 'passporting' rights in EU financial markets to preserve London's status as the finance capital of Europe.
- Protecting freedom of movement, so that British citizens retain the right to live and work throughout the EU, and opportunities are maximised in particular for young people, including participation in the Erasmus scheme, which is a fantastic and enriching experience for students and apprentices.
- Maintaining environmental protection, ensuring that the UK continues to benefit from the highest environmental standards in the world.
- Keeping the high level of health, safety, consumer protection, employment and equalities standards the UK currently meets as an EU member.
- Ensuring effective law enforcement and judicial co-operation, including keeping the European Arrest Warrant which allows the police to track down criminals more efficiently.
- Protecting British business and jobs, including protecting the level of support provided by the EU to domestic industries such as farming, tourism and creative arts, as well as regional support for some deprived areas.
- Promoting scientific cooperation and funding for research, including continuing funding for existing projects, so that valuable medical, defence, security and other areas are not harmed and our universities maintain their world class rankings.
- Encouraging travel and tourism, by keeping benefits such as the European Health Insurance Card, pet passports and reduced roaming charges.
- Commits to giving the British people the final say through a referendum on whether the terms of the deal agreed for the withdrawal of Britain from the EU should be accepted in which 16 and 17-year-olds must have the right to vote.
- Believing that any deal the Government negotiates for the UK outside the EU will not be as beneficial to the British people as continued EU membership, commits the Liberal Democrats to continue to campaign for the UK to remain a member of the EU.