Many of us campaigned 24/7 for the UK to Remain in the European Union (EU). London4Europe members engaged in all forms of campaigning, notably giving some 150 talks, debates and media interviews throughout Greater London. We are proud to have articulated publically what we believe is best for our country.
Although we are bitterly disappointed by the result, now is not the time to look back, but to look forward. Whilst we accept we lost a major battle, we know the war is not yet over.
The June referendum advised the Government to negotiate withdrawal from the EU. There are a number of resulting possible scenarios:
- Triggering Article 50 based on the Royal prerogative vested in the Prime Minister without parliamentary approval and assent of the devolved authorities;
- Triggering Article 50 after parliamentary approval (e.g. through repeal or amendment of the European Communities Act 1972) and assent of the devolved authorities;
- A General Election, whether sooner rather than later, resulting in the election of pro-European parties advocating a new referendum or abandonment of the Article 50 process;
- A hard Brexit after years of negotiation resulting in a bad economic deal and strict immigration controls;
- A soft Brexit with a good economic deal;
- A referendum asking the people whether they support the actual terms of Brexit negotiated by the Government (judged necessary by many legal experts);
- Leaving the EU without a deal with the EU and falling back on World Trade Organisation rules (although some trade experts believe this may too require a series of negotiations, this time with 161 countries).
As pro-Europeans, London4Europe members know Britain’s membership of the EU has been central to our post-war peace and prosperity, retaining full access to our major export market and global markets, British influence in Europe, strengthening security in Europe and its neighbourhood, and underpinning a fairer and more tolerant British society.
We know we have the best deal now as part of the EU, and many pro-Europeans find it hard to believe the Brexit negotiations can offer a better deal. We do however acknowledge that the benefits of EU membership have to spread more equally across the UK and control of our borders have to be improved, but these have always been matters for the Government in Westminster to resolve, not Brussels.
The current direction of travel is for the Brexit negotiations to be launched next year. The negotiations will be complex, difficult and protracted. The political, constitutional and legal implications of Brexit are far-reaching. The 23 June vote leaves the future of the United Kingdom in doubt. Scotland is seriously re-considering the possibility of a second independence referendum. There is now uncertainty in Northern Ireland about whether we should erect an EU border with the Irish Republic and whether the Good Friday peace process will be undermined.
The Brexit negotiations will coincide with a slide in foreign investment (already underway) and according to some forecasts a recession and job losses. In time, some in the electorate, as in past Irish and Danish EU referenda, may consider they were misled by unscrupulous politicians, made a mistake and wish a second say.
Far from believing the issue of the UK’s relationship with the EU is resolved by the EU referendum, London4Europe members will, as part of the European Movement UK, continue to campaign to ensure the UK assumes its rightful place as a leader, not leaver, of Europe.
We hope you may join us.