I am the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Haltemprice and Howden.
On December 12th, the United Kingdom will be voting in a new Parliament – this is despite the fact that the country last voted in June 2017 and the Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011, introduced by Nick Clegg, states that general elections should be held on the first Thursday of May in the 5th year of the previous general election. The reason this election has been called is for the Conservative Party to get a clear majority to ‘Get Brexit Done’ following the in-out membership of the EU referendum of June 2016, which returned a 3.8% majority in favour of leaving the EU.
Following the election in 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May lost 13 Conservative seats, overall majority of the House of Commons and did not secure the ‘clear mandate’ she wanted to pursue Brexit. Her first Minister for Exiting the EU, David Davis, failed in his task to negotiate a deal with the EU which would be acceptable to Parliament and resigned; he was replaced by Dominic Raab, who also failed and resigned. The current Minister is Stephen Barclay. Theresa May resigned as PM on June 7th 2019 as her Withdrawal Agreement for leaving the EU was not acceptable to a, by now, bitterly-divided Parliament. The Conservative Party elected Boris Johnson as Prime Minister who decreed he would take Britain out of the EU on October 31st, otherwise he would rather be ‘dead in a ditch’; fortunately for the country, Boris Johnson was unable to get his reinvention of May’s Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament and, fortunately for him and his family, he is still alive and kicking. However, £70bn has been wasted so far on measures to Brexit – that would have funded the NHS for a whole year.
The reason why it is unlikely Boris Johnson will get an overall majority is that 3.8% difference in voting, despite the fact 67% of the population voted, is not a ‘clear’ majority. Trades Unions and other countries require a 66% majority to effect change. It is also true that successive polls have shown a move towards remaining in the EU, although whether that will translate at the ballot box is unknown. The Liberal Democrat Policy at the election is therefore to Revoke Article 50, stop the Brexit process and negotiate for positive change within the EU, working with our nearest neighbours and continuing to enjoy all the benefits of the belonging to the EU.
There is encouragement for tactical voting amongst Remainers with Best for Britain suggesting that voting for the Liberal Democrats in Haltemprice and Howden is the best way of stopping Brexit. Other constituencies have worked together as Unite to Remain Alliance, standing down candidates who would compete for Remain votes.
A General Election is more than just Brexit. The Independent Newspaper, for example, is clear that the majority of voters are concerned about climate change and that the electorate will vote for the candidate with the ‘greenest’ credentials. As environmental protections are better within the EU, voting for a pro-EU candidate will also mean endorsing measures to tackle eco-issues. The Liberal Democrat climate change manifesto is the most robust, best-costed and researched manifesto which demonstrates clearly how the UK can become net zero carbon by 2045, with major milestones in GHG emissions along the way. The LibDems will invest heavily in new technologies, making the UK a world leader in fighting climate change and creating thousands of green jobs. It is a fact that had the Conservatives not stopped the green initiatives put in place by the LibDems during the coalition Government, 80% of our electricity would now be from renewables, with households generating much of their own power.
Holding general elections are highly democratic – the charge that the LibDems are undemocratic is very odd, especially when the country only returned 13 MPs out of a total of 650 at the last election. After all, as a certain local failed Brexit Secretary said: ‘A country which cannot change its mind ceases to be a democracy.’