The Liberal Democrats’ General Election candidate for Lichfield and Burntwood says people should get the chance to vote again on Brexit – despite the area voting to leave.
Cllr Paul Ray is one of two confirmed candidates for the 12th December vote in the Lichfield constituency so far, with current Conservative MP Michael Fabricant also set to stand again.
The Lib Dem hopeful – who has also contested the last two General Elections – said he believes views will have changed since the referendum,
”The Lib Dems are the only major party to have come out unequivocally against the UK leaving the European Union which would impoverish the country for at least a generation,” he said.
“The Conservative party appear to wish to lead the country over the cliff of an economic and social disaster and Labour’s current leadership seems unable to make up its mind.
“Jeremy Corbyn though has always been against membership of the EU that has brought billions of pounds of benefits to communities throughout the nation and this region.
“I realise that this constituency voted to leave the European Union but the evidence is that many of those who voted leave did so because of misinformation, distortion of facts, or outright lies promoted by the leave campaign.
“The wishes of the majority is not to forge full steam ahead into the iceberg of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.
“The final decision should rest with the general population, including those who were too young to vote in 2016 but whose lives will be among those most affected in the event of a Brexit.
“Remember, no-one born in this century voted – to leave or to remain.”
“The composition of the electorate has changed”
The issue of Brexit is expected to dominate the General Election as parties adopt their positions on the issue.
And Cllr Ray believes many of the arguments around the democratic process being followed in terms of the previous vote on the country’s future in the EU are flawed.
He explained. “To claim, as do some in the leave camp that a confirmatory referendum or People’s Vote would be ‘undemocratic’ is to ignore that opinions change as new facts come to light.
“And the composition of the electorate has changed, with the overwhelming majority of the younger generation being in favour of remaining as full members of the EU.
“How, after all, is asking the people to give their view undemocratic?
“”Lib Dems have always supported democratic solutions: voting at 16, reform of the House of Lords, proportional voting system, opposition to the ‘Snoopers’ Charter’ and so on.
“The extreme Leavers, including Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant, have repeatedly blocked any attempt in Parliament to accept a deal which would soften the blow for those most vulnerable and weakest in our society.
“A People’s Vote would mean that we would be able to make an informed decision about staying or leaving the EU.
“Whether you voted for leave or remain, we should make decisions about the future for our children and grandchildren based on facts rather than slogans and the last-minute panic which seems to have characterised the Conservatives’ ham-handed efforts so far.”
“Policies of fairness”
Despite failing to beat Labour or Conservative in the past two votes, Cllr Ray says recent council votes show the Lib Dems are gaining traction in the area.
“In the May local elections for Lichfield and Burntwood, our candidates won almost 30% of the votes where they stood,” he said. “That was almost 10% ahead of Labour.
“Since then support for the Lib Dems and their policies of fairness and vision of an equal level playing field for all has increased.”