EU & Brexit

Lord Owen reveals his letter to EU Heads of Government sent in advance of the EU Summit meeting.

Lord Owen comments on the letter he sent to the heads of all EU governments ahead of the EU summit on 10 April, 2019:

There is still just time to avoid the UK having to fight the European elections and to agree the Withdrawal Treaty on the basis of this letter sent to the European Heads of Government.

The Irish backstop would be re-examined, something the German government appears open to, as spelt out by Chancellor Merkel’s successor, but only if there is agreement in the Conservative/Labour talks on a customs arrangement and access to the single market. See article

House of Commons agreement on the Treaty could follow given the passing of the Malthouse resolution and the near passing of the Clarke resolution.

Click to read the full letter Lord Owen sent to all EU Heads of Government

Lord Owen speaks out on constitutional issues involved in Yvette Cooper’s European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.

Video of Lord Owen speaking in the House of Lords debate on Yvette Cooper’s European Union (Withdrawal) (No 5) Bill today (Thursday 04April 2019) and raising various constitutional issues: HouseOfLords 04–04-19

Read the text here: HoL 04.04.19 text

Lord Owen re-issues correspondence with PM on Britain’s EFTA option outside the EU.

As the House of Commons begins a series of indicative votes on the Brexit process beginning on 27 March, Lord Owen re-issues his long correspondence with the Prime Minister on the EFTA option for Britain outside the EU.

He believes that the Withdrawal Treaty must be ratified as soon as possible: also that there are ways in which the 27 Member States of the EU and the UK Government can indicate that there is scope within the Political Declaration for the views of the House of Commons to be fully considered within the negotiations during the status quo period currently due to end on 31 December 2020.

DO & PM Pt 1

DO & PM Pt 2



“I’m with David”: Green Brexiteers draw on Lord Owen’s comments to support an alternative view at the recent ‘Put it to the People’ march.

Green party supporters of Brexit handed this flier out at the anti-Brexit march in London on Saturday 23 March 2019.

“I’m with David” flier

In a major interview with The Guardian, Lord Owen discusses The Independent Group, the Labour Party and Brexit.

Read Lord Owen’s interview here: Guardianarticle21.3.19

This is no SDP rerun, but a younger socialist could still take Labour to power.

Lord Owen writing in The Sunday Times, 24 February 2019.

Read the full article here: Sunday Times article


“…Disowning the largest democratic vote in our history, and commitments made as recently as the 2017 general election to deliver in parliament the referendum result, is, to put it mildly, an odd basis for starting a new centre grouping intended to destroy the other two parties, as the Independent Group of MPs did last week…

“…Of course, in the Independent Group MPs leaving their parties, there are some similarities to the creation of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1981. Yet 38 years ago the debate in the Labour Party turned on two vital policy issues.

“Michael Foot… refused point blank to promise a referendum before withdrawal from the common market, and reiterated his commitment to full unilateral nuclear disarmament involving Nato.

“In our Limehouse declaration… there was a specific disavowal of any intention of creating a centre party. We pledged to take the Marxist/Trotskyist, authoritarian, trade union-dominated, block vote, policy-making Labour Party head-on in a bare-knuckle fight to replace or transform it.

“…It was when Shirley Williams declined to stand in the Warrington by-election and Roy Jenkins did so instead (he went on to become party leader by beating me, not Shirley) that we became irretrievably linked with the Liberals as a centre party.

“If this Independent Group of MPs now goes down that same centrist route, it may well, like Nick Clegg, form a coalition with the Conservatives, but not with Labour.

“…All is not yet lost for the Labour Party if more of its MPs join the Independent Group.

“…It is imperative, however, that Corbyn agrees to step down as early as 2020, when he will be 71, for a younger leader not afraid of being called a socialist but able to present themselves as a modern prime minister not tarred by the past and ready to work with the Scottish National Party in government.

“There is a traditional Labour agenda out there, somewhat reminiscent of 1945’s, ready to be grasped in modern form…”

We must face up to that withdrawal agreement over the next few weeks – and the sooner, the better.

Lord Owen’s speech in the House of Lords debate to take note of the outcome of negotiations with the European Union, 29 January 2016

View Lord Owen’s speech here

Read the full text here: HL28.1.19


“I suggest that in the political declaration, we ask that if on 31 December 2020, the UK wishes, as a non-EU contracting party, to be a member of the European Economic Area, it would not stand in our way but would allow it to go through … This would lead to a number of different things.

“We would start to have some influence on trading matters; like Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein, we would have a voice …

“We would be able to stand by our pledge to the fishing community to introduce UK management of fishing in our waters … (this) would also give some sustenance to those people in the peripheral parts of this country who are, by and large, overwhelmingly in favour of Britain leaving.

“This idea would also put us into an organisation where, if we wanted, we could apply to continue being in the customs union.

“…I speak as one who has had to be responsible for international treaties. At the end of the day, you must go into this with the belief that you will carry your country with you. I say to the people who advocate thrusting this aside as if it is a matter of no consequence: it is a matter of huge consequence if we do not live up to our commitments, not just to our electorate and the people who voted in the referendum and the 2017 election, but to those people from 27 countries with whom we went into negotiations.

“We cannot just shred the agreement and throw it away; it would be very hard to replace. We must face up to that withdrawal agreement over the next few weeks – and the sooner, the better.”

Lord Owen recommends: ‘Brexit is about sovereignty and Parliament must respect that’.

Lord Owen recommends a recent article in the UK’s Financial Times commenting “it is one of the best articles on the Brexit debate.” Brexit is about sovereignty and parliament must respect that | Financial Times