On 23rd June, West Berkshire voted to Remain in the European Union.

West Berkshire for Europe, formally West Berkshire Stronger Together, was founded after the EU referendum by local people, who had campaigned together to stay in the EU. Disappointed by the national result, we wanted to continue the inclusive collaboration from our campaign, which saw people from all political parties and none working together for the greater good.

This website will signpost you to information on what is happening nationally and locally in response to Brexit and detail the impact for people in West Berkshire. It will also give you the opportunity to voice your opinions and share your stories.

Back Benyon to back Brexit

An article in Newbury Weekly News online today confirms that UKIP are not standing a candidate in Newbury constituency in the 2017 General Election.

Instead they are urging their voters to back Richard Benyon on 8 June in order to back Brexit.

Chairman of UKIP Newbury, Roy Tubb, is quoted as saying:“We suggest … that UKIP supporters consider voting for Richard Benyon, if only to increase the chance of the referendum result being properly implemented.”

In response, Mr Benyon suggests they are not fielding a candidate because UKIP have no one who will stand, but, as the preferred candidate for right-wing Leave voters, how can Mr Benyon represent those who voted Remain?

Mr Benyon has previously said he will use the Remain vote in West Berkshire to lobby the Prime Minister for a better deal with the EU. However, Mrs May seems incapable of taking advice from her cabinet, let alone her backbenchers.

As there is little evidence that he has ever voted against his party, it seems clear that a vote for Benyon is a vote for a hard Tory Brexit that will leave us all worse off.

Happy Europe Day

In the New European today, Stephen Dorrell published an article to mark the 67th Europe Day. He explains:

‘On May 9, 1950 Robert Schuman made a speech as French Foreign Minister which initiated the development of the institutions which became the European Union. His objective was to begin the process of integrating the economic and political interests of member states of a new European Coal and Steel Community so that war between them became “not merely unthinkable but materially impossible”’

Keeping that objective as both a priority and a reality is why many people voted Remain in June 2016, including one of our members.

What are your reflections about our current relationship with our European neighbours on Europe Day?

West Berkshire Stronger Together writes to Guy Verhofstadt

This week West Berkshire Stronger Together wrote to Guy Verhofstadt expressing our desire to remain EU citizens and engage with him to ensure that we are not stripped of our rights:

Dear Mr Verhofstadt,

We write as a local pro-EU action group from West Berkshire. We came together in 2016 due to our collective wish to remain in the European Union. We represent all adult age groups: some of us remember World War 2 or our parents’ experience of it; all of us are grateful for the many benefits the EU has brought to us in terms of our way of life and liberty.

Every single one of us is devastated by the triggering of article 50 and our government’s increasingly hard line stance on so called Brexit. We are sure you are aware of the closeness of the result of our referendum and the inadequacies of the original 2015 Referendum Act. Nevertheless, we do wish to remind you that what Mrs May is doing does not represent the majority of the UK.

We are also concerned for our young people who represent our future yet voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU. We are also very worried about the status of our fellow EU citizens from continental Europe who are resident in the U.K.

Whilst we continue to make the case for as ‘soft’ a Brexit as possible, or even a reversal of article 50, we would like to remain as citizens of the EU. We consider this to be a human right of which we are being stripped. We have read with interest about your gallant efforts on this front. We understand how busy you must be but would very much welcome the opportunity to come to Brussels, talk to you about our concerns and hear your latest views on this matter.

We look forward to hearing from you soon and we thank you for your work to date on our behalf.

Yours faithfully,

Members of West Berkshire Stronger Together

 

 

The Brexit Election

Within 2 hours of Theresa May calling a General Election, it is already being called the ‘Brexit Election’.

10 months after the referendum we have more information now than we did on 23 June 2016 on what Brexit will mean for this country, and the direction the Tory government seeks to take this country in.

How will Brexit affect the way you vote on 8 June?

West Berkshire Stronger Together marches for Europe

West Berkshire Stronger Together was proud to take part in the Unite for Europe march in London yesterday.

Police confirmed 100,000 people attended to demonstrate our continuing desire for a positive relationship with our European neighbours. It was also an important opportunity to pay our respects in Parliament Square to the victims of Wednesday’s terror attack

Were you at the rally? What thoughts did you take away from the day?

 

 

 

   

Unite for Europe March, Saturday 25 March

With Theresa May’s announcement today, confirming that Article 50 will be triggered next week, Saturday’s march has taken on even greater significance.

Whether you voted Leave or Remain, if you are unhappy about the direction in which Theresa May is taking this country in relation to Brexit then join the Unite for Europe march on Saturday in London.

West Berkshire Stronger Together will be travelling as a group, gathering at Newbury Rail station at 8am on Saturday morning. Do join us: you can let us know you are coming, by joining our Facebook group.

 

Impact Stories: electric Mini production may leave Oxford

It has been reported that BMW are considering moving the production of the electric Mini from their Oxford plant to Germany: a major blow to the government which wants to put electric vehicles at the heart of the UK’s industrial strategy.

The move is not confirmed but in a statement BMW have said: “What’s important for us is that the UK’s negotiations with the EU result in uncomplicated, tariff-free access to the EU single market in future.”

With Teresa May’s hard line on Brexit, it looks like BMW will be disappointed and our local economy damaged.

Is now the time to reconsider ID cards?

Last week, as EU migrants protested about being used as bargaining chips in Brexit negotiations, Alice Thomson of the Times posed the question whether now is the time to reconsider the issue of ID cards.

When last considered a decade ago, it was blocked (in part by David Davis) due to privacy and cost concerns. However, our immigration service is at breaking point: would an ‘ID app’  be a way of responding to and allaying people’s concerns about the number of people entering the country and allow those who are here to feel welcome?

Thomson quotes an EU national who moved to the UK from France 18 years ago: “The UK is a very tolerant country but I don’t want to be tolerated. I want to be accepted and integrated.”

The democratic thing to do

Last June, Southampton voted to Leave the EU. Yet Southampton’s Labour MP, Alan Whitehead, voted against the Bill to trigger Article 50.

Reading Alan Whitehead’s explanation makes an interesting comparison with Richard Benyon’s reasons for voting for the Bill.

Mr Benyon supported the Bill because he believed it the thing to do as a “democrat”: the UK voted to Leave.

Although he believes leaving will “produce a worse future for our country”, he wants to use the Remain vote in his constituency to push for a ‘clever‘ Brexit, which “serves the needs of West Berkshire businesses”.

Mr Whitehead felt the Government’s 4 line Bill did not provide a basis for an informed debate:

“I do not think that rushing into triggering Article 50 without clarity on what we will be doing is in our country’s best interest, and I was not prepared to stand by and allow us to go down what I regard as a potentially very dangerous path for the UK.”

Both voted against their constituents: so, which do you regard as the more democratic response?

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