Tim Farron vows to fight for 'left behind' voters and protect EU-born workers
Tim Farron argues Britain must remain an open and civil country after Brexit, and not allow right-wing populists to claim the Leave vote as their victory.
The Liberal Democrat leader, speaking at an event in Manchester for the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) today, is expected to attack the ‘malevolent forces’ of Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen that seek to ‘hijack the result’ of the EU referendum.
Farage recently flew to the US to attend a Donald Trump rally, where he painted the demagogue’s campaign as a battle against the people and ‘the establishment’, and urged Trump’s fans to repeat the success of Brexit.
Tim Farron will say people across Britain were right to be angry, but that the European Union was the wrong target, pointing to bankers’ greed, inequality and failures by successive governments.
He will say a ‘new battle is emerging’ between ‘tolerant liberalism’ and ‘intolerent, closed-minded nationalism’, and will reassure people living and working in Britain who were born in Europe or elsewhere that ‘we will stand by you, no matter what’.
Farron is expected to say:
‘Plenty of my mates voted Leave and I can tell you that the overwhelming majority of those who did vote leave are utterly appalled that Farage, Le Pen and their ilk now seek to claim the result as a victory for their hateful brand of intolerance, racism and insularity.
Britain is better than that.
But I’m not so blinded by those emotions that I don’t see the new divisions that are opening up between us. New political boundaries which chop the old certainties of Tory and Labour into little pieces.
Because there’s a new battle emerging. Between the forces of tolerant liberalism and intolerant, closed-minded nationalism.’
He will add:
‘We will not stand by to let Nigel Farage or Marine Le Pen dictate our policy, our direction, or our morality.’
Farron’s speech comes as research by the Joseph Rowntree Trust finds Leave voters were more likely to have been from households with low-incomes, few qualifications and living in low-skilled areas with few opportunities.
Of households earning £20,000 or less, on average 58 per cent supported leaving the EU, compared with 35 per cent in households earning £60,000.
The report notes: ‘Over 70 percent of people with no [educational] qualification voted for Brexit, over 70 percent of people with a postgraduate degree voted to Remain.’
Farron’s speech also comes amid a fiery Labour leadership contest in which Brexit has been the greatest point of difference between the two candidates.
Challenger Owen Smith has promised to fight to keep Britain in the EU, calling for a second referendum or a general election on the terms of Brexit, and attacking incumbent Jeremy Corbyn for his lacklustre campaign to Remain and his calling for Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to be triggered on the morning of the result.
Corbyn has said the public vote must be respected and Labour should fight to protect workers’ rights and other EU protections during Brexit negotiations.Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.