Letter to all Leicestershire MPs
from over 20 local Academics, EU experts and residents
One of the reasons that the country is in such a crisis is because it has become acceptable to ignore experts. So on 18th February the Leicestershire and Rutland branch of the European Movement (LEM) held a meeting of local experts at the Secular Hall in Leicester in order to be able to remind our MPs of the benefits of EU membership and the best way forward regarding Brexit.
This comprehensive group of experts, with wide ranging EU and academic expertise, concluded that the only solution to the current impasse and the only safe option for our country is to unilaterally Revoke Article 50 notification with immediate effect.
The cross-party (and no party) group consisted of EU academics, legal experts, former members of the European Parliament, past and present councillors, EU27 citizens, youth representatives and long-term members of the European Movement UK. Most are Leicestershire and Rutland voters.
Whilst the overwhelming majority agreed that Article 50 notification must be revoked and the status quo must be kept, a minority also wanted to ‘put it to the people’. This group mainly consisted of students who could not vote the first time round and want themselves and all young adults to have their say on their future.
None of the group thought that any deal was suitable or achievable without great damage to the country. There are no ‘deals’ better than the one we have already i.e. being a member of the EU. Also, unlike the ‘backstop’, revocation does not mean we cannot change our minds again after a few years.
Our experts have briefly set out in the appendix attached some of the main reasons why the EU benefits us all. We regret the lack of knowledge and understanding amongst many parliamentarians and believe there is a need for a better-informed public so the appendix may be widely distributed.
Since our meeting on Monday there has been an Appeals Court case which, although lost due to timing, suggested that the referendum would have been made void due to corruption if it had been mandatory rather than advisory. Also, the PM’s QC asserted that Theresa May is not legally relying on ‘the will of the people’ but ‘the will of parliament’ in 2017.
In a democracy, parliament may change its mind in the light of new facts, so, as soon as you have the opportunity, please vote to Revoke A50 notification with immediate effect.
Leicestershire & Rutland European Movement executive
Dr Carol Weaver
Dr Neville March Hunnings
Experts and Supporters
Dr Phil Bennion
Prof John Twidell
Dr Natalie Martin
Robert Male (photographer)
APPENDIX to Letter to Leicestershire MPs
The Importance of the European Union for the UK
written by EU Experts
Dr Carol Weaver (EU academic and LEM Chair)
First and foremost, the EU has always been a peace project. It was initially designed after WWII to help prevent any more wars in Europe. Eastern enlargement was another peace plan after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Security is now assisted by the Common Security & Defence Policy and the European Defence Agency, as well as the European Arrest Warrant, intel sharing and Europol.
Professor John Twidell (Amset Centre)
The EU is essential for renewable energy and environmental matters. It is a global leader on possibly the most essential issue of our times. EU collaborative Research & Development has underpinned the UK’s present successes in carbon-free energy generation, e.g. increasing the renewable’s proportion of electricity from about 1% to the present 30%, which proportion will increase as permitted more wind and solar capacity is installed.
Brenner Munden (Politics and IR student, University of Leicester)
The EU is especially important to young people. It is fundamental for various schemes such as Erasmus and youth panels, as well as the freedom to travel and work throughout Europe. The charter of fundamental rights and the promotion of different cultures are also important to young people. These things unite us. If the UK does leave, it is the younger generation that will lose the most. In particular, the young do not want to lose their European citizenship.
Ian Sharpe (Prospective Parliamentary Candidate)
The EU has built the customs union and single market through 60 years of negotiations and compromise. They are given legal force through international treaties. The Customs Union (CU) and Single Market (SM) have created a single EU economy, which has ensured the prosperity of all members and given European countries an influence in the world that individual member states could never have achieved. The founding treaties have functioned successfully because they are adjudicated on and enforced by independent arbiters, the European Courts.
The Brexit promise of retaining the economic advantages of EU membership while leaving the CU and SM and the jurisdiction of the courts is an obvious nonsense and literally as impossible as having your cake and eating it.
Dr Phil Bennion (former MEP and current farmer)
On agriculture the main point is exports to the EU. Agricultural commodities have high WTO tariffs and we export about 35% of our sheep meat to EU countries. We are the biggest sheep producer in Europe and Brexit would render us uncompetitive. We might benefit from a little lighter regulation but the UK is likely to be as bad as the EU for over-regulation. We also face loss of government support which is currently on a level playing field through the EU.
On Ireland the border problem can only be solved through a comprehensive Customs Union Agreement including agriculture. Even then there would need to be an acceptance by both UK and Irish governments that illegal immigration could be a problem in both directions. Hence the UK Government red lines have been mutually incompatible from the start.
David Walker (retired University Economic Geographer and Charnwood councillor)
It is important to understand that there is a very powerful motivation for the campaign to leave the EU. It has to do with taxation and tax avoidance. The EU estimates that 1 trillion Euros a year (four times the total expenditure on the NHS) of tax income could be recovered and is about to pass legislation to require governments to collect that tax. This would destroy the London based tax avoidance industry and explains the massive expenditure on advertising and on Facebook to ensure that the UK escapes from the EU.
Mathew Hulbert (former Councillor, Hinckley and Bosworth)
The EU has promoted minority rights and equality across its members. But now due to Brexit we are already seeing slogans on doors such as ‘No blacks’. This kind of threat is applied to all minorities. In particular there are fears amongst the LGBT+ community that things could change if we leave the EU. Brexit is fuelling the far right.
George Smid (EMUK regional coordinator)
Freedom of Movement has benefitted all but has been hijacked by those who wish to leave the EU. Around half of immigration is not from the EU and many of the EU immigrants are from countries very close to us such as Ireland and Germany, bringing a lot of foreign direct investment (FDI).
Kirk Blackmore (Primary and Secondary Care Specialist)
Having the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in London where it was initiated was of enormous benefit to the UK. The senseless loss of 900 jobs will affect how quickly we can bring new medicines to the UK market and patient safety in the context of both new and existing prescribed medicine delivery. Now we have lost the EMA it will take 2 to 3 years longer to bring new medicines to market in the UK with the EU and US patients having available life changing benefits before NHS patients (ABPI). A second concern is medicine supply and the real lack of government knowledge of the problems involved in drug manufacturing. Cold storage and stock-piling date sensitive molecules is not a viable option. We are also already losing funding for cross-border research and development.
Dr Natalie Martin (Senior Lecturer, Politics and IR, Nottingham Trent University)
The European Union is and always has been a peace process.
Also, the Union has greatly benefited our universities which work together across the EU in some of the world’s largest collaborative research programmes. The UK has been the largest beneficiary from these programmes financially but there is now a threefold attack as we also stand to lose many of the best EU27 academics and students.
Dr Neville March Hunnings (EditorEncyclopedia of EU Law)
The EU has created a zone of peace and tranquillity that makes war (both military and economic) between its Member States impossible. It did this by entwining their economies into a complex organic structure based on an effective inter-State rule of law and by developing a new form of democracy, that between States. This self-discipline of proud sovereign States is unique in human history and should be cherished, not rubbished, at a time when the world is becoming dominated by great Hobbesian powers roaming the multiglobe.
Péter Sasvári (Hungarian PhD researcher, UoL, Alliance Europa Leicester)
The European Union is an alliance based on shared values, European identity, common interest and aims. Divided we would fall, but together we can stand strong on the basis of values and democracy. Europe cannot defend these core values and face the challenges of the new age without increased strength and unity. Without Britain, Europe will be poorer and weaker. Remain is in the mutual interest of both Britain and the rest of the continent. Stay with us!
The letter was written following a meeting held at the Secular Hall on 18 February 2019, chaired by Kiran Solanki(LEM VC)