Party conference motion commits Liberal Democrats to supporting freedom of movement
Liberal Democrats voted overwhelmingly for any Brexit deal to be put to the British people in a referendum – and to campaign to remain inside the EU.
A policy motion was passed this morning at Lib Dem party conference in Brighton that would also see Lib Dems campaign to keep Britain’s relationship with the EU as close to the status quo as possible.
This would include membership of the single market, and keeing rules on workers’ rights and health and safety, environmental rules, rights to remain for EU migrants here and Brits in Europe, and funding for farming, tourism and the arts. (See full list below.)
It also explicitly commits the Lib Dems to campaigning for freedom of movement for workers, as part of the single market’s four freedoms on labour, goods, services and capital.
This move has been opposed by former Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable, who has repeatedly spoken out at conference against free movement as it stands.
Europe has been the dominant issue at Lib Dem conference, with leader Tim Farron making it one of the party’s three key issues, along with replacing Labour as a ‘decent opposition’ and improving the NHS.
‘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.
Believing 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.’
Vince Cable, who was party leader during the 2007 interim between Menzies Campbell and Nick Clegg, has called it ‘disrespectful’ to call for a second referendum on EU membership, and said the June result was a message that voters are concerned about EU immigration. However, he has indicated support for a vote on the terms of Brexit.
Here is the text of the policy motion:
Resolves on the following priotities in any negotiations about Britain leaving the EU:
- Protection of rights for EU citizens and UK citizens, so that those who have settled in the UK are allowed to stay and British people living in EU countries can remain.
- Membership of the single market, with it’s 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 maintain London’s status as the finance capital of Europe.
- Protecting freedom of movement, so that British citizens maintain 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.
- Providing scientific cooperation and funding for research, including continuing funding or existing projects, so the 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.
Believing 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.
Adam Barnett is staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.