Lib Dems lead public conversation on Brexit in Peebles

Tuesday August 9th 2016

Willie Rennie Brexit implications

Phil Bowen, Midlothian View editor

Over 60 people ignored the pull of the Olympics, the Edinburgh Festival and the sunny weather to attend a public meeting in Peebles last night.

Organised by the local Liberal Democrats but open to all, it was a ‘public conversation’ discussing the Brexit implications for Scotland and Britain’s future place in the world.

The two keynote speakers were the Liberal Democrat peer Jeremy Purvis and the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Willie Rennie.

Jeremy Purvis opened the proceedings by saying that following the EU Referendum result the UK was in unchartered waters, with no precedent and therefore there was a strong need for a public conversation.

He said that since the result he had not met a single international politician who thinks that the UK has done a good thing in voting to leave.

Willie Rennie was concerned with the message the EU referendum result sends out to countries around the world, who he said would now be saying “If you can’t work with your neighbours how do we know you can work with us?”

Mr Rennie is clear that the Article 50 decision cannot be delayed forever as there is a need for certainty. He said that amongst other things businesses need to know

There are some things that he thought could be resolved quickly:

– The European Arrest Warrant, as no one wanted to return to the days when it took years to extradite criminals from Spain

– The European Health Card, all sides would be keen to see this continue he said

– Research Grants, which he thought could continue as the UK already punches above it’s weight in the amount of good research work it does

But he said these quick agreements could not be agreed until the two fundamental points have been settled, namely how much the UK will pay to be a member of the single market and the free movement of people.

“Whatever happens people should have another say before it is enacted” Mr Rennie said.

Strikingly he said that he would reject any deal as it would not put the UK in a better position than being in the EU.

When questioned as to how the EU would react to a second EU referendum once Article 50 has been triggered, Mr Rennie said that he saw the EU as a pragmatic political body that seeks pragmatic solutions and so technicalities of procedure could be overcome, citing the example of the EU’s pragmatic agreement with Greece and its debt.

Mr Rennie was clear that Brexit was not a trigger for another Scottish Referendum. He said he understood the democrat deficit argument, that Scotland had not voted to leave, but he said that “adding more chaos to chaos was not the answer.”

In September there is a similar event being held in Midlothian on Thursday 1st September at 7pm, at the Dalkeith Arts Centre. The event is being organised by the group Women for Independence but is open to all and as their poster says “Let’s get together. To talk, listen and share different viewpoints”

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