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Local Councillor Hits National Headlines Over Brexit

Published on: 14 Feb, 2021
Updated on: 16 Feb, 2021

By Hugh Coakley

Local Lib Dem councillor, George Potter (Burpham), was in the national headlines last week after a spat with the Lib Dem leader over his party’s stance on Brexit.

George Potter campaigning for the Liberal Democrats at the university hustings in 2019.

Sir Ed Davey said on the BBC: “We are not a rejoin party, but we are a very pro-European party”.

Cllr Potter was quoted saying; “I was shocked and angry” and described Sir Ed’s comments as “a complete contradiction of party policy”.

We asked Mr Potter to expand on his thinking. He said: “Thankfully, Davey clarified his remarks and apologised for misspeaking. He intended to convey the message that the Lib Dems are not only a rejoin party.”

According to the BBC Mr Davey had conducted “a damage limitation exercise” including a Zoom call with MPs and others “during which the leader apologised for what some saw as an error of judgement”.

A few days later he wrote the Liberal Democrats were “committed to the UK being members of the European Union again” and insisted that members may have “misinterpreted” what he said on the Marr programme, but once he had clarified his answer his party colleagues “were completely relaxed”.

Ed Davey being interviewed by Martin Giles in October 2020

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Cllr Potter added: “We do recognise that there are more important and immediate issues right now and that any prospect of rejoining the EU is some years away.

“Polls show that the majority of the public think that that leaving the EU was a mistake and tens of millions of people want to re-join. The Lib Dems need to be the party that represents their views.

No patriot can stand idly by and allow the immense national self-harm of Brexit to become permanent. We should absolutely be focused on dealing first and foremost with the pandemic, but Brexit will remain a crucial national issue.”

Brian Creese.

We asked other parties for their views. Chair of Guildford Labour, Brian Creese said: “The last General Election gave people a final opportunity to rethink their position on Brexit – but they didn’t.

“Our job now is to deal with the economic consequences of that decision which comes hard on the heels of a devastating pandemic. The tasks facing local politicians are to repair the local economy, support the people who have been hardest hit and to build strong relationships with Europe that will aid exporters and importers.

“It is time for the likes of George Potter to move on….”

Zoe Franklin.

Lib Dem parliamentary spokesperson, Zoe Franklin, sidestepped her leader’s controversial statement. She said: “Here in Guildford we are not immune to these [Brexit] issues. I was talking to a local business recently that has had to open an office in Europe in order to ensure that they can continue to access the specialist employees their work requires.

“The UK outside of the EU is not the draw it once was to potential employees. Of course, this is investment and tax revenue that is going elsewhere.

“It is right that in the short term we focus on ensuring the closest partnerships possible with the EU and addressing the impact and ensuring a positive recovery in every sense from the current Coronavirus pandemic.”

We asked Guildford MP, Angela Richardson, but we had not received a comment at the time of publication.

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test 3 Responses to Local Councillor Hits National Headlines Over Brexit

  1. Stuart Barnes Reply

    February 15, 2021 at 9:03 am

    That policy will ensure that the Liberals will never again win enough seats to influence government, so at least there is some news to cheer us even in these difficult times.

  2. Susan Fox Reply

    February 18, 2021 at 3:14 pm

    This is most certainly not a time to move on, as each day passes it becomes more and more evident that the deal concocted at the very end of last year is woefully inadequate, under-researched, expensive and is leading to job losses on an unprecedented scale.

    Foodbanks and child poverty is rising, admittedly not helped by Covid but surely if we had to leave it would have been better to extend the transition period so that government had time to concentrate on the issues properly.

    We see fishermen going out of business, the Arts and Financial sectors – both big contributors to GDP – struggling. Not to mention the mountains of red tape engulfing exporters, the Ireland problems too numerous to mention including shortages of basic foodstuffs and unable to import anything with earth attached, like trees, to start the battle against climate change. Then there are the shortages of NHS and Social services staff if they happen to be of European origin needing to be paid £26k to join us.

    It wasn’t so long ago we all clapped on a Thursday night for those very people.

    Is this the golden uplands we were promised?

    No doubt many of your readers were dismayed that US Republicans were so scared of their voters that they failed to stand up for democracy. I was brought up to stand up for the things one believes in and not to give up – if at first you don’t succeed try again. Personally, I’m a European Irish woman who has benefitted from a great education, the NHS and freedom of belief and movement. Despite having lived in more than six different English counties, having being born in Surrey.

    • George Potter Reply

      February 19, 2021 at 3:10 pm

      Hear hear!

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