Saturday, July 16, 2016

Brexit: A lost battle, not a lost war

While Tim Farron is virtually unknown outside the United Kingdom and hardly a household name within the country, the Leader of the minority Liberal Democrat Party has a smile on his face these days.

Since the referendum in favour of leaving the European Union last month, the party has signed up 15,000 new members — at one point its head office was handing one inquiry every minute — and has seen swings to it of up to 30 per cent in a number of admittedly minor local government by-elections.

The Liberal Democrats, popularly known as the Lib-Dems, is the only UK political party that has remained resolutely pro-European throughout its history, and after the referendum resulted in a narrow 3.9 per cent majority for leaving the EU, Farron described it as a lost battle – not a lost war.  

His pledge to continue to campaign against Brexit, promising that a future Liberal Democrat Government would seek to restore the UK’s membership, has struck a chord, both with disillusioned pro-EU supporters and not a few who are having second thoughts about their vote to leave. 

As the Conservatives continue to be divided between Brexit and Remain supporters and Labour is in a state of chaos over Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, Farron has said that while the outcome of the referendum has to be respected, voters should know the Lib-Dems remain committed to the EU and would continue to have a platform dedicated to re-joining.

“For many millions of people, the referendum was not a vote to leave Europe, it was a howl of anger at politicians and institutions that they felt were out of touch and let them down,” Mr Farron said.

“The British people deserve the chance not to be stuck with the appalling consequences of a Leave campaign that stoked that anger with the lies of Farage, Johnson and Gove.

“The Liberal Democrats will fight the next election on a clear promise to restore British prosperity and its role in the world with the UK in the European Union, not out.

“If you agree with us, join us to make this happen.”

At first sight this seems a long shot. The Lib-Dems have just eight MPs in the 650-member House of Commons, down from more than 50 after voters punished them for keeping the Conservatives in power as the junior partner in a coalition between 2010 and 2015.

The latest surge in their popularity would see the party regain that lost ground and possibly more if an election were to be held now.

Of course, one is not due until 2020 and new Prime Minister Theresa May has said the Government will serve its full term. However, given the current volatile state of UK politics, that is a brave statement.    


  1. The conventional wisdom among the intelligentsia is that the majority who voted in favour of Brexit are a bunch of racist, Little-Englander simpletons who were far too stupid to understand the issues. That view is at best patronising and in any case just plain wrong. For example, I doubt very much that the President of the Royal College of Surgeons, who today applauded the electorate's verdict, is a racist idiot. And, despite the dire warnings, non-EU countries are queueing up to offer the the May-led Government the possibility of trade deals. The FTSE 100 index is at a year-long high and the FTSE 250 has regained most of the ground it lost in the immediate post-referendum panic. Incidentally, all the polling data suggest that the reason most people voted for Brexit had little to do with immigration; the loss of sovereignty and the lack of democracy inside the EU were regarded as far more important. As for Mr Farron promising another referendum when the next Lib Dem Government takes office: trust me, hell will freeze over before Farron becomes PM.

  2. To add to my previous comment, the Lib Dems polled 7.9% of the vote in the 2015 general election (down 15.2% from their showing five years earlier, when they formed part of a coalition Government), while the swivel-eyed loons of UKIP (of whom I am not a supporter) managed 12.6%.