Stephen Williams, the Lib Dem candidate to be the West of England regional mayor, has released a statement in response to the government’s decision today to trigger Article 50.
The formal notification of triggering Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon marks the government’s intention to withdraw from the European Union, following two years of negotiations.
Last Saturday (25th March) Stephen Williams and the West of England Lib Dems joined tens of thousands of people from across the country, in London, to show their support for the EU.
Both Bath and Bristol voted overwhelmingly in the referendum last year to remain in the EU.
The full statement released by Stephen Williams reads:
“The Liberal Democrats have always believed that Britain should be outward facing, collaborating with other countries to tackle global challenges. Our membership of the European Union allows us to do that. By working with our European neighbours we have created the world’s largest free trade area, we have delivered peace and we gave the British people the opportunity to live, work and travel freely. History shows that Britain is better when it is part of a united Europe.
“In Parliament the Lib Dems have been fighting to guarantee EU citizens’ the Right to Stay and guarantee a meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal. Regrettably, the Leadership of Labour refused to support us. Labour have shown time and time again that they will not stand up to the Tories on Brexit leaving us as the only party that is fighting for an open, tolerant and united Britain.
“The West of England’s prosperity has been underpinned by membership of the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union. I worked with others to secure a strong Remain vote in the area during the referendum. As West of England Mayor I will continue to fight against the damaging hard Brexit being pursued by the Tories, with the collusion of Labour. I will defend the rights of the tens of thousands of EU nationals who live and work in the region. Their contribution is essential to many of our key industries, our universities and our public services.
“The road ahead is unclear. No country has ever left the European Union before and the rules for exit – contained in Article 50 – are brief. But on May 4th residents do have a clear choice. The election for the first West of England regional mayor is between me and the inexperienced, Brexit-defending Tory candidate and I will bring Bath, North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire, together, with one voice.”