We have to stop Brexit to protect freedom of movement – and only the Lib Dems will do it

The people who've moved to Britain from the EU have been enriching our diverse communities for decades. But by enabling Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn's Labour is planning to close the doors

Matt Sanders
Friday 22 November 2019 17:45
Siobhan Benita: London could keep freedom of movement for EU citizens if Lib Dems seize control of City Hall

Brexit will be a disaster for London’s communities. But, bizarrely, from a party that has had a grip on our capital’s politics for years, Labour’s manifesto proves that Corbyn doesn’t even want voters to think about it.

I will never forget the feeling of arriving to live in London and that sense of living at the centre of the world. Everyone, it seemed, was in London – a heady mix of people from all across the planet, of all races, religions and backgrounds, choosing to make this city their home.

And now, as I fight to be elected to parliament to represent Hampstead and Kilburn, a small slice of north London, I am once again struck by the openness and love of diversity that we have here.

We have been enriched by people who came to escape war and persecution 70 years ago, and by refugees from conflicts that continue today. Everyone has been made welcome in the great embrace of London.

This unique culture has not come about by accident, and people here know it. Going door to door, voters in Hampstead and Kilburn constantly tell me that the freedom to live, work and travel abroad is one of the reasons they desperately want to Remain in the European Union. They know that Brexit is a unique threat to our community.

Jeremy Corbyn wants Remain votes, but he does not want to Remain. He has always been hostile to Europe. Corbyn voted against joining the European Community and against the Maastricht Treaty. He and his allies continue to insist that Labour is not a Remain party; he has pledged to negotiate a Labour Leave deal, and will give no indication of which way his party will campaign in a future referendum.

In the vacuum, we are forced to judge Corbyn on his record. In Hampstead and Kilburn, 76 per cent of voters voted Remain, and they deserve honesty on where the parties stand.

Votes for Labour could elect a party that will be campaigning to leave the European Union in as little as six months. That would mean ending people’s right to come here to live and work and our right to do the same in Europe.

Every Labour candidate in the country, including in Hampstead and Kilburn, is campaigning to make Jeremy Corbyn prime minister. They are standing in support of a Labour leadership who want us out of the EU.

In this election, the Liberal Democrats offer the only clear Remain position. Boris Johnson’s Conservatives are determines to plunge us come what may into a damaging hard Brexit, one from which we may never recover. Meanwhile, Labour’s manifesto is an exercise in distraction. The Corbyn leadership want voters to think about everything except the one policy that will determine whether we will be as prosperous, as safe and as healthy as we are now.

Yes, our country faces pressing problems of economic inequality – but they won’t be solved by leaving the EU, because they weren’t caused by being in the EU. In fact, it is only by Remaining that we will be able to address inequality, invest in public services and tackle the climate emergency.

Liberal Democrats like me are standing up for tens of thousands of people who have come to contribute to our cities and our country. Our policy is honest and unequivocal: only stopping Brexit will protect our diverse communities. And only the Liberal Democrats will stop Brexit.

Matt Sanders is the Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments