Following meetings of the National Executive and the National Council last week, I am therefore writing to set out the plans we are developing to ensure our voice is heard on key European issues over the coming weeks.
Firstly, and most obviously, there is a developing consensus, both in the UK and within the EU, that the transition period needs to be extended. This does not involve revisiting the fact that we have (regrettably) left the EU. It is a prudent exercise of national sovereignty to safeguard our essential economic interests at a time of unprecedented social and economic upheaval. To insist that the transition must end on 31st December 2020, without ensuring that arrangements are in place to safeguard essential medical supplies, never mind trade and our wider economic interests, would be an act of pig-headed folly. It would prioritise ideology over the vital interests of the British people. The European Movement will continue to make this argument and will seek the support of our members for local campaigns to support this position.
Secondly, we shall continue to develop a series of campaigning initiatives that are already underway. These include expanding our relationship with the3million and supporting their arguments in support of EU citizens living in the UK, as well as campaigns for UK citizens living within the EU. We will also be looking at ways of holding virtual Cafe’s in the future if possible; expanding our relationship with the European Parliament; and working closely with the youth of the country whose interests are most affected. At a time when barriers are going up all over the world and national leaders, including our own, are backing away from international commitments, the European Movement is firmly behind the rights of UK and EU citizens and we will continue to fight for their interests.
Thirdly, we shall continue to develop our Brexit-Watch initiative. While attention is focussed on the public health emergency, we need to be vigilant in monitoring Brexit developments. Behind the cover of the current crisis, the government is pursuing an extreme and isolationist version of Brexit. It is refusing to publish the impact assessments for its policy, and it is unable to devote the resources necessary to ensure that it minimises the adverse impacts for British people. Decisions will be made over the next few months to change supply chains and employment patterns to reflect a world where Britain is no longer part of the European Single Market. We know that British Governments of all political persuasions have, for over 70 years, consistently championed the importance to the UK of a level European playing field but, for the first time since 1945, we have an openly protectionist government. Brexit-Watch will assemble the evidence of the damage that their policies are inflicting on an economy which is already weakened by Covid-19.
Finally, The European Movement is also taking advantage of this period to address some of the internal issues which urgently need to be addressed. Hugo Mann has initiated a review of our data handling to ensure that data is available efficiently to those who need it, and we are recruiting a membership officer to support efforts to expand our movement. Most importantly, we are developing our digital campaigning capacity so that we are able to continue our efforts at a time when Covid-19 makes our traditional campaigning methods more difficult.
Political engagement is above all a social activity, and we all look forward to a time when we can resume a programme of meetings and public campaigning. In the meantime, we must and will continue to make the important arguments to safeguard our European values and interests which are under attack as never before by all means available.
I am very grateful for your continued support at this important time.
Chair, European Movement UK