Volt UK deeply regrets that the United Kingdom has left the European Union, and strongly believes that this decision hurts both the UK and the EU. We implore decision-makers on both sides of the Channel to use the transition period to develop as close as possible a relationship in all its aspects. It is vitally important in many areas that the UK and the EU continue to work in close co-operation for example, in security policies. Alongside this, Volt UK will support efforts by civil society and non-governmental organisations to continue building strong relationships between the UK and the rest of Europe.
Ultimately, Volt UK wants to see the UK return to the EU in the future. We accept, however, that this may take a long time, and that it requires significant reform in the UK, as outlined, but also the EU. Brexit illustrates that the European Union suffers from a democratic deficit, which must be properly addressed to avoid other member states potentially choosing the same path. The EU must also decisively address the descent into authoritarianism in Poland and Hungary, and not allow right-wing populists to destabilise the world’s greatest peace project for their own divisive ends. Through our partnership with Volt Europa, we will combat this across Europe as well as the UK.
Fundamentally, the causes of Brexit lie with the UK: this sad episode illustrates all that is wrong and unjust in the UK. Volt UK will work to correct these faults, through significant political, economic and social reform so that the UK will once again take its place amongst the family of European nations as a leader.
Delivering on citizens’ rights
Above all, however, Volt UK calls for the rights of UK citizens residing in remaining EU member states as well as otherEEA countries and Switzerland and of EU, EEA and Swiss citizens living in the UK to be protected.
UK citizens who moved to the EU in good faith, many of whom are of working age, must not be treated simply as citizens of a “third country”. Volt UK will support efforts to ensure that all the EU-27 citizens who want to stay in the UK retain their rights to do so by completing the Settled Status application process. We call for the UK government, however, to review aspects of the process: proper, official, confirmation that the process has been successfully completed must be provided to all applicants. Additionally, EU-27 citizens living in the UK must retain their rights to vote in local elections in the UK.
Neither side in the upcoming negotiations during the transition period must use UK and EU citizens as bargaining chips.
Transition Period Extended
Volt UK notes with concern the stated intention of the UK’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, that the UK government will not request an extension to the transition period. The UK government’s current position places great pressure on both UK and EU negotiators to secure a trade deal within 10 months. This puts limits on the nature of the deal. If a deal is not agreed, the UK would automatically adopt WTO tariffs and terms- this is a scenario which would hurt EU member states but would cause severe damage to the UK economy. Volt UK implores the UK government to reconsider their position on requesting an extension.
The UK is deeply divided over Brexit- regular polls of the British public over the last year have demonstrated a consistent and clear majority for now staying in the EU, whilst in the general election of 2019, the majority of votes were cast in favour of political parties advocating a confirmatory referendum on the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, with an aim to stopping Brexit and remaining in the EU. The Withdrawal Agreement was rejected by the UK’s three devolved parliaments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but was still enforced due to the votes held at Westminster. With this in mind, we call for the government to genuinely and seriously promote reconciliation between Leave and formerly-Remain voters, in the interests of social cohesion.
Volt UK will resist efforts to limit the scope of the British judiciary and the House of Lords: whilst there are serious issues with the ways in which members of both institutions are selected, their ability in holding the government to account must not be reduced. Additionally, we call upon the UK government to restore and increase the scrutiny powers of the House of Commons on the UK’s trade negotiations, and to make the UK’s positions in trade negotiations as transparent and accessible as possible.
Volt UK believes the whole situation has- and will further as the reality of Brexit sinks in- erode trust in politics and politicians in the UK. For years prior to the referendum of 2016, British politicians have unfairly blamed the EU for their domestic failings- we are concerned who politicians and the media may turn on if they can’t constantly blame the “bogeyman” of Europe, and implore UK citizens to resist attempts to further divide the country.
We need to choose: the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic or prolonged depression. Recovery will require a constructive relationship with the continent; conversely, it will be halted by another economic shock caused by a No-Deal. We call on the government to heed to the calls of both civil society and business leaders and extend the transition period to aid the COVID-19 recovery in the UK.
Addressing the Reasons for Brexit
The referendum campaign itself was fought on the back of exaggerated promises, outright lies and base nationalist appeals- a bad-tempered period culminated in the assassination of MP Jo Cox. After the referendum, numerous organisations and individuals were fined by the Electoral Commission for committing offences against electoral law. The following three years of parliamentary struggle tested all the UK’s institutions, and found most badly lacking.
Volt UK calls for meaningful democratic reform in the UK. It is all too clear that the First-Past-the-Post electoral system used in general elections will never truly reflect the British electorate’s views and must be replaced with a Proportional Representation system. Volt UK is working alongside Make Votes Matter in their campaign to bring this about. Rules about spending for electoral purposes, especially for any future referendum, must be tightened and enforced, so that powerful actors can’t simply buy their way to the outcome they desire.
The UK is one of the most centralised and unitary countries in the world. Too many regions in the UK are economically and politically disadvantaged- these regions need to be given the tools and support to unlock their potential. Significant powers should be incorporated into the basic competences of UK’s constituent countries and regions. Central and local political reforms are necessary to ensure proper citizen participation and active government response. People across the UK should feel empowered to take informed political decisions, be able to influence politics beyond elections alone and exercise their democratic rights within a fair, resilient and highly deliberative democracy. We believe that this can be achieved through the fostering of a pluralistic information & media landscape and utilising tools & technologies created specifically for political engagement and empowerment.