Martin Horwood MEP dissects Brexit Withdrawal Agreement

Early votes have been taking place in the European Parliament on Boris’s Brexit deal. They suggest it will be passed when the full Parliament votes tomorrow. But I’m finding more and more reasons to vote against it.

Early votes have been taking place in the European Parliament on Boris’s Brexit deal. They suggest it will be passed when the full Parliament votes tomorrow. But I’m finding more and more reasons to vote against it.

Defending our democracy

Our British and European democracy needs to be protected from covert foreign interference and while the ISC Russia Report remains locked in Boris Johnson’s desk, the European Parliament was still at work last week for Lib Dem MEPs to ring the alarm bell.

Our British and European democracy needs to be protected from covert foreign interference and while the ISC Russia Report remains locked in Boris Johnson’s desk, the European Parliament was still at work last week for Lib Dem MEPs to ring the alarm bell.

The Solomon Islands and the case for stopping Brexit.

Find out why one trade agreement with the Solomon Islands is taking us closer to tackling the climate emergency – and why that means we need to stop Brexit.

Westminster MPs recessed, then prorogued, now dissolved altogether. Don’t worry, your Members of the European Parliament are still hard at work!

Find out why one trade agreement with the Solomon Islands is taking us closer to tackling the climate emergency – and why that means we need to stop Brexit.

Science Matters

Science matters, so I visited the Royal Society to get a better understanding of the impact Brexit is already having on UK science and the impact actually leaving might have.

The best deal for the future of British science is the one we already have. We must stop Brexit to safeguard the future of British science.

Coffee with Caroline & Martin: What’s next for Brexit

Caroline Voaden and I met up for coffee and a chat this week to get our heads around the recent dramatic Withdrawal Agreement Bill vote in Westminster, and what happens next here in the European Parliament.

Brexit

Martin passionately believes that Brexit is wrong for this country.  He still believes our future safety, prosperity, environment and culture will all benefit from membership of the European Union.  Even Leave voters must now despair of the Conservative government’s inept and disunited approach to the EU negotiations which still risk the UK dropping out of the EU in January 2021 without a deal, like a crate of eggs off the back of a moving lorry. (Yes that’s right.  We left in January 2020 in legal name only with all the rules and conditions of membership continuing for now, so Boris didn’t “get Brexit done” last year at all).

Martin supported the British people having the final say on the Brexit plan with the option to vote to remain in the EU after all. That chance was lost after just 43% of voters backed Boris Johnson’s Conservatives in the 2019 general election.  Only our crazy voting system delivered the ‘landslide’ majority he needed to push Brexit through.

As the Lib Dem party spokesperson on Europe in the 2010-15 parliament, Martin repeatedly confronted anti-European Conservative and Labour MPs who were pressing then Prime Minister David Cameron to bring in the Referendum Bill.

During the referendum campaign itself, Martin put a strong case for Britain remaining in the European Union.  He still believes EU membership is:

  • The best guarantee of British jobs and future prosperity, through our full membership of the world’s largest single market
  • Enormously important for tackling cross-border organised crime, people trafficking and terrorism, and for bringing British and other EU criminal suspects to justice through the European Arrest Warrant and EU agencies such as Europol
  • The best way for Britain to find its voice in highly competitive global negotiations on everything from climate change to world trade
  • The best way of safeguarding the environment which transcends national boundaries and requires co-ordinated action for its protection
  • The guarantor of many human rights, consumer protections and employment rights
  • An enormously important cultural, educational and scientific benefit to the UK, and in particular for future generations.

Martin told local businesses during the campaign: “Cheltenham businesses, from high-end engineering firms to the social care sector, benefit from millions in investment from within the EU and employ hundreds of people from other European Union countries and would in many cases struggle to fill those posts if visa or residence qualifications ever got in the way. Our businesses benefit from their skills and productivity, the UK benefits from the taxes they pay – and of course we get the right to live, work, study, sell our goods and services and even retire anywhere in Europe on the same terms as local citizens. Why would we throw all that into doubt with a costly and uncertain divorce from Europe?

Sadly, the vote for Brexit has already damaged the UK.  It was followed by an immediate drop in the value of the pound which has been maintained as business confidence and investment has faltered, the NHS, public sector and many companies now face a crisis in recruitment and retention of valued European staff and young people feel rightly cheated of their future work and study opportunities.  There is good evidence we have sacrificed as much as 3% GDP growth since the vote.

Martin moved the policy amendment at the 2020 Liberal Democrat conference that guaranteed the party remains committed to UK membership of the European Union without campaigning to reverse this the moment we leave in 2021.  We have to acknowledge that winning back hearts and minds on this issue will take time.

Martin moves the policy amendment at the 2020 Lib Dem conference that guaranteed the party remains committed to UK membership of the European Union.

Cheltenham EU citizens deserve right to remain

Cheltenham’s Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Martin Horwood has called on the government to accept their defeat in the Lords on Wednesday and accept the right of EU citizens already in this country to remain after Brexit.

Speaking to a meeting of Cheltenham’s Polish Tenants & Residents Association earlier this week he strongly condemned the government’s plan not to guarantee the right to remain of citizens of other EU countries until reciprocal rights for British citizens in the rest of the EU had been secured as part of the ongoing Brexit negotiations – ‘as soon as they can’.

“Those negotiations could drag on for many years and agreement might never be reached” Martin told the TARA. “Yet the government could sort this tomorrow if it wanted.  It is just immoral to use people as bargaining chips in this way. People have lived here for years and have always been told they had the right to remain here.  They have jobs, families, children that can’t simply be uprooted. They are working hard, paying taxes and keeping the NHS and care sector functioning.  No-one imagines that a sane British government would actually deport them on the day we leave the European Union but employers and landlords and banks would start to ask for evidence of their right to live and work in the UK and make life more and more difficult.  Yet it is entirely within the power of the UK government to guarantee their right to remain regardless of the negotiations.”

Cheltenham is thought to have thousands of citizens of other EU countries living and working here, including in the NHS and in local technology companies.  Martin Horwood criticised Theresa May’s hardline stance on this issue during the Conservative leadership contest last year (http://www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk/martin-horwood-criticises-theresa-may-over-eu-citizens-stance/story-29478677-detail/story.html).  The TARA meeting heard many Polish Cheltonians complain about the uncertainty the row had suddenly caused them and how current Home Office systems to grant permanent leave to remain were simply not set up for people who had always had that right and never before needed documentary proof of permanent residence.

Following Wednesday’s House of Lords vote Martin Horwood added: “The House of Lords have shown the government the way by amending the Brexit bill to guarantee EU citizens’ right to remain.  The government should accept this defeat gracefully and do the right thing for our European friends, neighbours, family members and workmates.  The House of Lords isn’t seeking to stop Brexit, just impose some moderation and humanity on the process.  The government should follow their Lordships’ lead and make the guarantee now.”