James Airey writes to Tim Farron over Lib Dem’s new ‘extremist’ Brexit policy

Councillor James Airey, the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Westmorland and Lonsdale has written to Tim Farron calling on him to confirm if he intends to stand as Liberal Democrat candidate at the next General Election following the party’s adoption of a new policy to revoke and cancel the result of the 2016 EU referendum.

Commenting, Councillor James Airey said: “The Liberal Democrat’s new policy to revoke Article 50 is an extremist position which would whip up more anger at a time when we least need it.

“It would also be a democratic outrage – ignoring the voice of 17.4 million people who voted to Leave, but also the view of those who voted Remain but who want to move beyond Brexit.

“It should be clear to anyone who values democracy in this country that politicians do not get to choose which votes they respect.

“That is why I have written to Tim Farron asking him whether he intends to stand on his party’s new manifesto commitment to cancel the Brexit result in parliament, as a Liberal Democrat candidate, at the next General Election.”

Full text of the letter:

Dear Tim,

At the Liberal Democrat conference last week, your party voted to support the policy of revoking Article 50 – i.e. cancel the Brexit vote. 

The EU referendum was the most significant exercise of democracy in the UK. The vote to Leave was more substantial than any popular vote for any Prime Minister. The Conservatives and I believe the best response is to work towards securing a deal with the EU, which allows for a smooth transition and respects the 2016 result: while preparing to leave without a deal if necessary. However, we must also move the conversation beyond Brexit, focusing on the reasons behind the Leave vote and taking advantage of the opportunities leaving the EU offers. 

The Conservative Party has already begun to look ahead, seen in our commitment to investing in the NHS, education, police, and continued work on the North Powerhouse. 

Closer to home, following conversations with the Education Secretary, I have helped to secure extra investment for pupils with special education needs and disabilities. I have also made efforts to lower the rate of tax levied on beer in pubs in relation to beer sold in supermarkets, made possible after Brexit, which would help keep more pubs open.

The Conservative approach, then, is positive and forward-looking. This contrasts with your party coming out in favour of turning back the clock by revoking Article 50. Revoking Article 50 is an extremist position which would whip up more anger at a time when we least need it. It would also be a democratic outrage – ignoring the voice of 17.4 million people who voted to Leave, but also the view of those who voted Remain but who want to move beyond Brexit. It should be clear to anyone who values democracy in this country that politicians do not get to choose which votes they respect. 

In 2008 you voted for an in/out referendum and did so again in 2015. In 2017 you argued for a second referendum. In May 2019, while campaigning in your party’s European election campaign, you said you wanted to stop Brexit. 

I have received numerous calls and emails from people who are concerned about you and your party’s position on Brexit which is now explicitly to vote to cancel Brexit in a stitch-up between politicians in London.

Therefore, I ask whether you intend to stand on your party’s new manifesto commitment to cancel the Brexit result in parliament as a Liberal Democrat candidate at the next General Election and look forward to your response. 

Yours, 

Councillor James Airey

Conservative parliamentary candidate for Westmorland and Lonsdale

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