Re-securing our rightful place at the heart of Europe and the European Union won’t come easy, but it is worth fighting for.
Polls for the election to Chair of the European Movement (EM) close at midday on Monday.
I am one of three candidates standing.
Each of us can demonstrate wide-ranging support from across the political parties and beyond. My endorsers include Layla Moran MP, the Lib Dem Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Catherine Bearder former Member of the European Parliament, William Hague former leader of the Conservatives, two SNP MPs, the leader of Rejoin EU and the leader of the Alliance Party in Westminster.
From outside politics, author and anti-corruption campaigner Bill Browder, and philosopher A C Grayling, are just two further supporters.
All the candidates in this election have skills and expertise that can make a difference to the cause of Rejoin, and have each pledged to work with the new chair, whoever is elected.
So, if you are not a member of EM, but are sympathetic to our ultimate goal, why should you join now?
The answer is simple. Because this is the EM’s moment.
It really feels like the tide is turning. People are noticing that Brexit is hurting them in their pockets, red tape is crippling exporting businesses and employers can’t fill vacancies.
Polls show a growing number of people believe Brexit was a mistake
If you have already taken that step, and are a member of EM but have yet to cast your ballot, why vote for me in preference to the others?
Because to grasp this opportunity the EM needs a chair:
- Who has a track record of supporting grassroots action, as I did in the run-up to and after the Brexit referendum, criss-crossing the country to speak at rallies and events around the UK
- Who is a campaigner, with the experience to grow the European Movement? Winning a marginal parliamentary seat six times, and increasing the membership of an organisation by 50% and its supporter base by 150% in 2 years shows I have that expertise
- Who understands how membership organisations work. 35 years in a political party has taught me a lot about that, as has 3 years running a membership organisation
- Who understands politics and Parliament. With more than 20 years as an MP and 3 as a Minister, I fit the bill
- Who can work cross-party, as I did in Parliament working with six other parties to try to secure a People’s Vote
- Who knows how to influence key players? I sat across the table from Michel Barnier to press the EU to leave open the option of allowing the UK to stay in the EU if Brexit was stopped
- Who has contacts in key EU countries, such as France as I do, to help strengthen relations with EM counterparts
Finally, the European Movement needs a chair who is an ardent European, who believes the UK’s future is in the European Union, and is committed to Rejoin. I am that person.
That’s my pitch. I will know shortly whether it resonated or not with EM members.
But whatever the outcome, I am in it for the long haul. The prize of re-securing our rightful place at the heart of Europe and the European Union won’t come easy, but it is worth fighting for.
Candidate for the European Movement Chair
Director of Unlock Democracy
Ed: The Bylines Network does not support any particular candidate but is happy to give voice to all. Our sister publications have now published articles on the other two candidates – Kent Bylines on Patience Wheatcroft and North East Bylines on Mike Galsworthy.