WBST attend Britain for Europe Conference

On 24th October 7 members of WBST attended a Pro EU Lobby and conference at the QEII Centre in Westminster organised by the cross-party Britain for Europe organisation.

A series of speakers representing all major parties addressed the conference, along with leading members of Britain for Europe and other pro EU groups.

Speakers at the Conference included David Lammy MP (Labour), Dominic Grieve QC MP (Conservative), Caroline Lucas MP (Green) and Wera Hobhouse MP (Lib Dem).

David Lammy opened the conference and told the audience: “Delivering a Brexit that will satisfy the Conservative Party, let alone the country, will be impossible”.

Dominic Grieve, encouraged attendees to carry on campaigning and to remember Brexit Minister and colleague David Davis’s own words: “If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy.” Mr Grieve has spent a great deal of time studying the legal aspects of preventing Brexit. He believes that it could be stopped if there is a change in public opinion.

Wera Hobhouse reported on her experiences of winning her seat in Bath at the General Election by campaigning with a strongly pro-EU message.

Several speakers put forward suggestions on how to take the pro-EU campaign forward:

  • Talk to soft ‘leavers’ – use local arguments to persuade them to change their minds, such as citing examples of local healthcare workers, teachers and others deciding to return to Europe in the face of an uncertain future in the UK
  • Point out the impact that the fall in the value of the pound has already had on household spending on food
  • Most people have more in common with immigrants than politicians. Many people when challenged will admit that immigration is not a problem in their own area

During the afternoon 6 of the WBST group crossed the street to the Houses of Parliament to meet with Richard Benyon MP. In response to questions from the group, Mr Benyon said that although he had been a strong campaigner for Remain he had accepted the result of the referendum. He said he would do his best to ensure that Britain got the best deal possible. In particular, he is working with Greener UK to ensure that any new environmental legislation matches that of the EU.

Mr Benyon strongly believes that ‘No Deal’ is not an option and he would support ‘stopping the clock’ if this meant there was a chance of a better deal. He is also confident that MPs will be given a vote on the final Deal. However, its clear that currently he will only follow the government line.

Tom Bruffato, Chair of Britain for Europe, stated clearly that Article 50 is revocable – parliament has the power to reverse it.

At the conclusion of the conference we were urged to:

  • Continue campaigning
  • Keep lobbying MP’s and show them that public opinion is shifting to a pro-EU stance
  • Encourage pro-EU MP’s to come forward and work for an ‘Exit from Brexit’
  • Keep saying that we want a vote on the deal.

Ceinwen Lally, WBST Member

29 October 2017