Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Yes, There Are Fine British Europeans!

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 1st August, 2017

Stephen HaselerI was saddened today to learn of the sudden death on 20 July of Professor Stephen Haseler, whom I often encountered at Federal Trust events and other pro-European occasions. He was a forthright speaker, whether as an academic or a broadcaster, and recently hoped that opposition to Brexit could lead to the realignment of British politics that he had long championed. It would be a fitting tribute to his memory if that is indeed what now happens. The Conservative government is charging blindly on with Brexit, despite the fact that it still has no clear plan for a post-Brexit Britain, while the official Labour Opposition’s leadership mouths meaningless slogans about enabling a “people’s Brexit”, even though most experts agree that Brexit is going to hit most people’s pockets hard. In fact, the negative effect is already being felt. Hard core Brexiteers say that doesn’t matter, that the pain is worth it to be “free” from the EU. According to one opinion poll today, a significant proportion of them would even be prepared to see members of their family lose their job, in order to achieve their precious Brexit. But those extreme Brexiteers are not a majority; in fact, several recent opinion polls have indicated that a clear majority of British voters would now vote to stay in the EU, in contrast to the narrow result in June 2016. There are plenty of MPs within both the Conservative and Labour parties who understand that Brexit is a grotesque form of national self-harm. It is time for them to set aside their knee-jerk party loyalty and to rally round with those in the Liberal Democrats, SNP, Greens and others who want to save the country from decline and isolation. Quite apart from all the citizens from other EU member states who currently live and work in Britain, there are millions of Britons who are committed Europeans, who recognise that European project, while in need of some reforms, is the best guarantor of peace and prosperity on our diverse continent. It is noteworthy that senior Conservative and Labour political figures, both in the House of Lords and in life outside Parliament, have stood up and denounced Brexit for the folly that it is. It is time now for more MPs to do the same, unequivocally, and for people to take to the streets over the summer and into the autumn political conference season, to show to our EU partners and to the wider world that, yes, Britain has plenty of fine Europeans too!

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