What is Europe?    Speech to Royal Holloway University

Richard Ashworth spoke to students and staff at Royal Holloway University at a hustings meeting on Wednesday 9 May 2019.

What is Europe?

– A peace project.

– After 200 years war…. invariably separated by English speaking coalition.

– Today 500 m people, 28 countries.

– living through the longest period of peace  and greatest prosperity ever.

and that success is built on three pillars;

– 1, Union of values  (human rights, rule of law, democracy, liberal markets).

– 2, solidarity     (past, never again, future, stronger together).

– 3, internal market.

The principles of free movement goods, services, capital, people has created the  World’s largest, wealthiest single market….bigger than the USA.

And for young people that means  – opportunity     ( study, work, live, travel and culture).

But in 2016 the British turned their backs on that.

Four issues,

First…  very poorly understood.

To British…. never talk of values and solidarity, it’s just a market.

But, a very complex and very poorly understood market….. CU, SM, WTO.

Blame part schools, part media, but in main part blame politicians.

Put into that mix the rise of populism (always negative, always backward looking (appealing to nostalgia of older generation) appealing to patriotism, but stirring up nationalism; always intolerant to any minority group and always divisive.

Sinister….the world last saw all that in the 1930’s.

Second …..realisation that the promised Brexit can’t be delivered.

Either because of unrealistic expectations… or deliberate lies and deception;

No Brexit scenario that brings any benefit to the UK. (eg. govt’s own impact assessment).

In all cases the country, and individuals, will be worse off.

That’s not what people were promised, and it’s not what they voted for,

It’s clear the majority don’t want  Brexit that damages them and their country, (and that’s mirrored by the house of commons, which is deadlocked).

Third……. Mrs May’s strategic error

She  took personal ownership of Brexit, left her, and the Conservative party, exposed.   It made it far too easy for the opposition to sit on the fence; and that brings me to my fourth point;

Fourth…….both major parties are just not listening to the people.

The  government still insists it’s the ‘will of the people’. Example…Interpretation of message from local elections….to suggest “not Brexit enough…so I’m going to vote for remain party”. ludicrous.

Perfect storm

The growth of Populism means

The two main parties have deserted the middle ground and adopted extreme; leaving millions of voters

–  feeling unheard, unrepresented.

–  country divided, parliament in deadlock

–  country that once taught the world parliamentary democracy, now humiliating itself before the world.

We are a better people than that, we deserve better politics than that,  that’s why I say enough is enough…. we can’t go on like this.

That’s why I support Change UK.

A middle ground party formed by break away MPs from both parties.

We are moderate, pragmatic politics,

We are passionate about remaining in the EU and we are calling for a peoples vote.

We are there for 1.5 million Brits abroad, and 3 million Europeans living here . They don’t deserve the uncertainty.

  • We are there for young people….  the group of people who never got a say in their own future.

And we will be there for the people who were persuaded that Brexit was an opportunity to register a protest. About austerity, about inequality, or anything else…they were told it didn’t matter, because there were no downsides to Brexit.

These are the people who can least afford to be financially worse off, and yet these are the people who will be hurt most.

We are there for the people who want to stand up to populism. And we are there for all those people who feel let down and abandoned by the two main parties.