Bunting talks Business in Chesham- MEP Life 8

This week I have had a short break after visiting all over the South East over the past few weeks. However, I managed to squeeze in a couple of things over the weekend which I wanted to tell you about.

I was invited to speak at an event in Chesham, by the group Chilterns 4 EU, about Brexit (whether no-deal or bad-deal) and the effect that it has had so far on small businesses as well as the likely effect it will have should it go ahead.

I want to reinforce to everyone reading this that Brexit is NOT inevitable! Negotiations are afoot behind the scenes to force a vote of no confidence and form a government of national unity. The only job of this government will be to seek an extension to the Article 50 deadline and organise a ‘People’s Vote’ which offers one specific BREXIT option and the option to Remain in Europe.

And so, back to Chesham; this Town Hall event sold out within a few days. Chaired by Walid Marzouk of Chiltern Lib Dems, the meeting went ahead with 115 people attending, all of them people who wish to remain in the EU and many of them running local businesses which are being damaged already. The popularity of this session was a surprise to me. It shows how even in areas which are represented by Brexit-supporting MPs, the strength of feeling and understanding of what a disaster Brexit would be, is growing.

Ian Slaney was an attendee who told the meeting; “I was a businessman during the early 1970s. I dealt with imports and exports for major manufacturers of motor cars.  I remember shipping cars through a freight ship and the paperwork and the delays and the complications we had to engage in. When we finally joined the EU and this was probably about the turning point of my responsibility, in 1973, things suddenly changed completely and the world became so much easier.”

I was joined on the panel by Sonali Parekh, an Independent Expert from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) who leads their research into the effect of Brexit on small businesses. Sonali told the meeting; “A lot of our [FSB] members are concerned about preparedness within the smaller business community for a potential no deal on 31st October. When we polled last year, only 14% of smaller businesses were prepared for a no-deal scenario.”

“A total of 66% of our members that trade with the EU felt that a no-deal could have a detrimental impact on their short-term business continuity.”

“1 in 5 of our smaller businesses have at least 1 EU member of staff. Since the outcome of the EU referendum, 40% felt that recruitment from the EU had become more challenging.”

“For those of our smaller businesses that have a supply chain that criss-crosses the EU and the UK, they are giving serious consideration to moving more of their operations to the EU.”

As well as taking about business, I met Yasmin, who passionately wants to remain part of the EU so that she and her generation can enjoy the opportunities that the rest of us have enjoyed for almost sixty years.

Brexit, especially leaving without a deal continues to be doggedly pursued by the Prime Minister and we hear daily about the horrible effect that this would have across the whole of the UK including Agricultural Business;

We still have a chance to make a difference and push for the MPs to get involved in blocking a no-deal scenario. 

I have one further week before I return to Brussels and will be visiting Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight. I look forward to getting back to representing you in EU parliament. Have your say by making contact with me

My newsletter will be concentrating on Apprenticeships and the impact Brexit will be having on these, do sign up before the end of August to hear about some exciting news about supporting Apprentices across the UK.

 

An eventful week in politics- MEP Life – week 5

MEP Life

They say a week is a long time in politics, well they are not wrong!! From the London march through to two new party leaders, this week was super-eventful. Thanks to all who attended the March for Change in London, the many photos and videos from the day are just brilliant. We must keep up the pressure and be vocal of our need to Stop Brexit.

Jo Swinson, Leader of the Liberal DemocratsMonday saw the Liberal Democrat leadership announcement, with Jo Swinson elected as the first female leader of the party. Jo gave a barnstormer of a speech that was powerful and motivating and she was clear: “I stand here as a candidate for Prime Minister”. 
And if you have any doubts about how realistic this is, take a look at the latest You Gov polls on Westminster voting intention.

Jo’s election continues the LibDem surge and we have seen well over 20,000 new members join us after our successes in both local and European elections. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to join us. This is the fightback for liberal Britain.

Judith Bunting officeArriving back in Brussels I have recorded another MEP Life podcast with Caroline Voaden, where we discussed everything from travel, pollution, elections, and the heatwave. In Brussels, this was a week of committee work. Committee weeks come twice a month and are where the real legislative and policy work gets done. On the Education and Culture committee, the Renew team is currently campaigning to increase the budget for Creative Europe, Erasmus Plus and other educational schemes by 10%. On the Industry and Science committee, I was involved in proposing a visit to the fascinating Chalk River Research Facility in Canada, where they do a lot of good work from which I believe the EU could learn, The suggestion was welcomed and the visit may well go ahead in 2020. 

Outside of committees, our MEP delegation joined colleagues in co-signing a letter to the Polish Prime Minister in response to the attacks on the Pride March in Bialystok, and distribution of ‘LGBT-free zone’ stickers. This goes against the Liberal Democrats fundamental principle of a ‘free, fair and open society’. We firmly believe in tolerance, respect, and anti-discrimination for all.

We also met with the group ‘British in Europe’ and counterpart campaigners, the3million, to talk over what will happen to the 1.3 million Brits currently living in Europe and the 3 million EU citizens living in the UK if Boris Johnson goes ahead with a no deal Brexit. These citizens are our friends, family and neighbours. They set up cross-border families and working lives in good faith, while no one had any thought of the UK leaving Europe. If our government chooses to break that contract, they should receive special dispensation to live as Europeans for the foreseeable future. We also discussed the ‘Denied my vote’ movement is raising money to take the UK government to court over the electoral chaos which surrounded the most recent European elections. They have the lawyers and a great case, now they need the cash.

This week saw the launch of my monthly newsletter, you can sign up here. Other ways to keep in touch are Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Podcast, Website, or email.

Crowd funding, the3million and electoral chaos

Yesterday I met with the British in Europe Group to talk over what will happen to the 1.3m Britons living in Europe if Boris Johnson goes ahead with a no deal Brexit. This situation is a living nightmare for so many people. British and EU citizens abroad are being used as bargaining chips without regard for their lives, their families or their children.
 
Many people have set up cross-border families and working lives in good faith and are now left in a worrying situation. No deal will rip families apart, shred basic rights, and destroy lives.
 
Thousands and thousands of EU citizens were unable to vote in the European elections in May, and the #deniedmyvote movement highlighted a national scandal. As a group of MEPs we have called on the Venice Commission for intervention over this electoral chaos. Our Government has ruled out a public inquiry, but the group the3Million is crowd funding a legal challenge to take them to court.  
 
With only 7 days left please share, donate and get involved if you are able to. 
 

Twinning- an exchange of culture

I was honoured to recently join the Twinning events and ceremony between Newbury, Berkshire and Carcaixent, Spain, as part of my role as an MEP for the region, and also in relation to the education and culture committee of which I am a member. It has been a joy to see the connections between Newbury and the twin towns grow over the past few years. Twinning is a shared European project and is a fantastic exchange of culture and people. Such opportunities are invaluable and transcend political ideas. I love this movement that has kept doors open to our neighbours across Europe.
 
This unique method of promoting links of exchange and co-operation between towns and communities has been a driving force of growth and development of the European Union. Twinning in Europe has created a dense network of over seventeen thousand links. Bringing many opportunities, including bringing citizens from different countries and cultures closer together. Twinning is the expression of European unity and identity built from the grass roots. It brings people together, creates friendships and romances. It is perhaps the most visible form of European co-operation, with thousands of towns and villages across Europe. The movement started in 1945, instigated by mayors and citizens who vowed that Europe should never again be torn apart by war.
 
The theme of the conference: ‘Brexit: the price of divorce’. I was invited to speak alongside Richard Benyon MP for Newbury, George Chichester from Strutt and Parker and renowned artist Johannes Von Stumm. Listening to the impact that Brexit will have on the agricultural and creative industries was staggering. With some estimates suggesting that up to 30% of UK farms will go out of business, and we have already seen the impact on the European Youth Orchestra which has relocated from London to Italy. 

As a Liberal Democrat MEP, I am working to stop Brexit. The price of Brexit is unacceptable, and I want to work with Europe, not walk away. Brexit has not happened yet, and aside from the damage it is doing to our relationships with our closest neighbours, it has already caused major damage to UK jobs, cohesion and the economy. The economy is now 2% smaller than it would have been if the United Kingdom had chosen to remain in the bloc, according to the Bank of England. Some calculate that economic losses have already reached £66 billion, which is more than the infamous Brexit divorce bill. 
 
The Twinning ceremony was a moving affair, with both Mayors giving speeches on unity and collaboration. In the Mayor of Carcaixent’s speech he pointed out that ‘It may seem like a symbolic ceremony, but it is more than that; it shows our commitment to the idea of a Europe of the people, seen most visibly in the twinning of our towns’
 
The EU is the greatest political success story in modern history. It has guaranteed peace and prosperity on the European continent. Twinning is a fantastic expression of this unity and collaboration. Congratulations to both Newbury and Carcaixent on your twinning.

Sentiment, stunts and a serious point made in Strasbourg

The European Parliament in Strasbourg re-opened today. It was a truly emotional and historic occasion. The European elections were not supposed to happen, and we now have 16 Liberal Democrat MEPS taking their seats.

At the opening session, all 16 of us took the opportunity to make our political point, wearing bright ‘Stop Brexit’ t-shirts as we walked into the huge, impressive Plenary Chamber. This is serious. Now we have your attention –  we have got to #StopBrexit. We should not plough on with a bad idea simply to try and save the Conservative party. Brexit is not good for Britain, not good for jobs, not good for our children, and not good for our future.

In the Chamber, we stood for the EU’s anthem, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, which was accompanied by a saxophone quartet. This was a wonderful moment, and it is worth considering the lyrics of this piece:

Your magic binds again
What convention strictly divides. 
All people become brothers,
Where your gentle wing abides.

Britain belongs in a cooperative union with our nearest neighbours. For the sake of peace, security, trade, jobs and a positive future for our children. If you agree, however you have voted in the past, you are welcome to join our campaign to keep Britain in Europe.

It’s not too late to Stop Brexit

Judith Bunting - Stop Brexit rally Brussels Pro Europa

Addressing the Pro Europa Stop Brexit rally in Brussels, Judith Bunting MEP has called on people to work together to #StopBrexit and save the future of the UK. 

How can the UK survive Brexit? ‘One of my most fundamental worries is the survival of the UK. My country, our country. I am so angry to think of how our country could be ripped apart. The Irish backstop issue is a mess. Scotland is likely to hold a second referendum and will break away from the UK.’

The real damage here is that we are seeing private interest taking down a nation. When you look at the involvement of Cambridge Analytica, and listen to the TED talk by Carole Cadwalladr, where she discusses Facebook’s role in Brexit and the threat to democracy, the threat is very real.

Stop Brexit RallyMy focus to stay in Europe has developed from my personal focus of environmental protection to the protection of small businesses.’ Small and medium sized businesses accounted for 99.9% of all private sector businesses in the UK, and 60% of all private sector employment. 

While that figure ignores public sector employees, it does tell you that small businesses are critical to us all and they are being seriously damaged by Brexit.

If we want to #StopBrexit, we need to work together. Our power is our networks. Mainstream media are not going to help us in this. We must continue talking with family and friends who voted leave to build on the growing number of people who have already changed their minds. 

Support for a people’s vote is growing with every political event. A people’s vote, a final say is the only answer. We must work together to Stop Brexit.

Stop Brexit rally in Brussels

 

Thank You for your support.

Thank you, thank you to everyone who voted for the Liberal Democrats in the European elections 2019. You are amazing.

HUGE THANKS
Huge thanks go in particular to the campaigners across the South East of England who bundled, delivered, tweeted, facebooked and put up those fabulous stake boards and posters. With little media coverage, this is what we rely on to get our message out.

RESULTS
The Liberal Democrat vote in the South East of England more than tripled. We elected three MEPs. Please seek us out on social media. You can read about us, here:

ACROSS THE UK
In a fantastic result spread across the UK, Liberal Democrats elected 16 MEPs. Our biggest team ever. This is a clear indication that people want to STOP BREXIT.

REMAIN WON
The papers are parading a Brexit Party victory, but the total vote for all the Remain-leaning parties clearly outweighs UKIP and the Brexit Party.

  • Lib Dems, Greens, SNP, Plaid and Change UK – all backers of a second referendum polled 39.1%.
  • No-dealers, Ukip and the Brexit Party collectively achieved just 33.7%.

It’s not often that I post links to the Daily Telegraph, but it is particularly sweet to read their report on the result: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/05/27/won-uks-european-elections-leave-remain/

Here, in the South East of England, Nigel Farage’s home territory, we held the Brexit Party to four seats only – the same number of seats that UKIP won in 2014. This time, UKIP won no seats. There was no improvement in representation for Leave.

LIBERAL DEMOCRAT MEPs
You can find out more about the full Liberal Democrat team across the UK, here: https://www.libdems.org.uk/meps

THIS IS NOT THE END
I will write more in the next day or so, but this is just the beginning. Our campaign to Stop Brexit goes on and will continue until we win a People’s Vote.

JOIN US
If you would like to join the team – please sign up here:
https://www.libdems.org.uk/joining-us