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Europe - what next meeting in Harpenden
08 Jul, 2019

Harpenden for Europe, our neighbouring group, organised an event on Tuesday 2 July entitled 'Europe - What next?'. Judith Leary-Joyce, one of St Albans for Europe's founder members, reports on the evening.

Harpenden for Europe did a really good job – plenty of folk around to welcome the audience, take donations, sell raffle tickets…… and a full house. The meeting was chaired by Richard Scott (Harpenden for Europe's Chair) with the following speakers:

Stephen Dorrell, Chair of European Movement UK
Femi Oluwole, co-founder of youth movement, Our Future Our Choice
Alex Mayer, former Labour MEP for East of England
Cllr Sam Collins, Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Hitchin and Harpenden
Elizabeth Campion, Constitutional Lawyer

The most important question:

What should we do next?

  • More of the same. Be relentless, make your cause as visible as possible. This is a political fight - the fight of our lives. Ask people to go public.
  • Get out to other areas that are less vibrant. Think about the businesses that will suffer from any kind of Brexit. Think of the language – let’s stop talking about Remain. Let’s talk about being stronger, richer and better connected.
  • Write to your MP / any MP. Tell them how you feel about No Deal and what you want to happen. Keep going!

To summarise the questions and the main points of reply:

What is the impact on EU and why would they want us to remain?
• Disappointment and disbelief that UK should want to detach itself from EU when there is increasing need for strong liberal values.
• Sadness at the outset, now just frustration – they are struggling to understand what Britain wants.
• Want us to remain and not weaken the Union. They want to maintain peace

There will be a fresh mandate with the new PM - how will that work?
• Boris is looking after himself, first and foremost. He knows No Deal is a disaster for him, so he’ll have to extend. EU will require a good reason, so he must find another way. John Major has suggested Revoke, then hold PV – which will force new discussions and probably another two years – maybe he will follow him.
• We are stuck, so something has to happen to move us forward. But are we hoping for what we want? Boris won’t want GE – it’s a big gamble – but then he is a gambler. 

What are the numbers in parliament? How can we build a movement of hope and connect with people throughout the country?

We will leave on 31st unless Parliament does something – unless there is a majority for anything other than no deal. Write to everyone to get them to change their minds and tell them how desperate you are about no deal. Brexit party have monopoly on hope – we keep insisting we’re right and just keep trying to prove them wrong.
• Any discussion about numbers requires us to trust what they say. Impossible to do. Fix it or Brexit.
• Don’t think there is the will in Parliament for crashing out. Where there’s a will there’s a way.
• Hard to predict on the night. Big majority that says it will vote against no deal. It’s easy to see how members of current cabinet, including Hammond could build a coalition with the Remain Labour MP’s against no deal.

If we got PV would you let 16/17 yr olds vote?
• Overwhelming Yes
• Re 16/17 yr olds. If we get another vote, it has to be done in the same way as the last one or there will be claims of ‘cheating’ if we change the rules it will affect that. If we are to put this to bed for next generation we can’t have any options for complaint. It’s time to show that we are Patriotic too in voting for Europe. Need everyone to feel proud of UK.

Would anyone support citizens assembly?

• No country in the world has chosen not to have trade deal with their nearest neighbour. Citizens assembly can’t be final arbiters but could be a reference point. Everyone should be shown the terms of the deal in the way they did with the abortion vote in Northern Ireland.

A recording of the event can be found here.