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Let's Lead Europe Launch (Alex Cardigan)
Taking to the stage last, after both Bibi Lauria and Roy Hattersley, fellow Co-Chairs of Let’s Lead Europe, have spoken, is Liberal Democrat leader, and MP for rural Montgomery, Alex Cardigan. He is dressed in less formal attire than his colleagues, but still in a fairly charmingly rustic way, having decided it was far too hot to wear a tie or jacket.

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Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, thank you all for being here. Having heard these speeches, from my colleagues in both the Conservatives and Labour, I do feel a bit like we are doing something rather brave, and rather rare here, at least in British politics. We are all here to genuinely work cross-party for the common good. But, I’ll be honest with all of you. When I was first asked to be a part of this project, I was actually slightly reticent. After all, Europe has issues, issues that we all acknowledge. On the Common Agricultural Policy, we need real change, and I know that farmers in my constituency are crying out for reform. On the environment, I feel that the current community isn’t ambitious enough - we could do a lot more. On the level of accountability and democracy, there are valid concerns - I could go on. But I tell you what, my issues with the British Parliament far outnumber those with Europe. And my issues with lazy local Councils outnumber them too. Politics isn’t perfect, and it is an act of political cowardice to let the great be the enemy of the good. And this project, the European project, one which brings people together, former political adversaries together, and allows us to work, live, laugh, love, and be at home across a whole continent, well, that is absolutely worth fighting for.

I am here because I firmly believe that Britain’s future lies in Europe, and lies as a leading player in Europe. I have zero interest in playing a superficial, outer-circle role here. I want to make a clear case both to the British people and to our friends and allies on the continent that we mean business, and we are going to pioneer the reforms, changes, and new, ambitious projects that the community desperately needs. We are a great nation that has always had enormous overseas influence - let’s prove that, and let’s lead the way in creating a stronger continent. I make a very direct emotional plea here. Yes, the economic advantages are huge, and the jobs and industrial benefits are enormous, but that isn’t the case I wish to make. I want to make a case for this being a first step to adopting a more European form of politics, a more co-operative and compromising, Christian brand of doing things in this country. That’s why I’m so delighted to be here on a podium, not just as a Liberal Democrat, but amongst friends from other parties, who have similar ambitions, and understand the need to make this case, whatever the whips may say.

I’d also like to make it clear that all of us here want to act democratically, and want to put the will of the people at the centre of the discussion. Having a vote on the European issue, on the single currency, is important. We cannot do this top-down, and have no wish to impose an unwanted change on the public. What we want to do is make our case, in an open and free election, and to show that Britain’s future is brightest, strongest, and best if we are leaders in the continent. Because if we want reform, and if we want change, then we have to be the champions of it. We have to be the ones proposing things, acting proactively, not playing the role of armchair critics. I want us to lead the way in supporting more co-operation on environmental legislation, I want us to lead the way on creating a currency that will make trade between nations and job creation the easiest it has been in our lifetimes, and I want us to be proud that we are part of a community of nations. I spent a long career in the BBC travelling the world, meeting all sorts of people, and seeing all sorts of culture. I do not want that to be the preserve of those who are merely lucky, as I believe I was - I want those opportunities to be there for all British people, to travel, to trade, to have a better life. Adopting the single currency would not infringe on sovereignty, it would expand it, and expand our nation’s frontiers as far as the Mediterannian sea. Surely that ideal is worth fighting for?

Lastly, I just want to make a very simple argument. I was born in 1945, the year that war across Europe ended. We have had peace in Europe, in our time, for my entire life. I am one of the first British people in history to be able to say that, and mean it. That is a remarkable achievement and has only been made possible through co-operation, through working together, and through leadership from nations who are willing to be politically brave to do the right thing. I want us to be a country that does the right thing, and that leads the way in the world - that’s why I’m here today, backing this campaign, and why I cannot wait till Britain is stronger and better off for it.

Cardigan left the stage to applause from the assembled crowd at Trafalgar Square, and grabbed the hands of Hattersley and Lauria, lifting them up in a cheers-ing motion, as a lovely sign of unity.
Alex Cardigan MP
Deputy Prime Minister (1992-present)
Leader of the Liberal Democrats (1990-present) | MP for Montgomery (1983-present)
Former BBC Broadcaster | Liberal Party | XP: 20 | Issue Champion | Safe Pair of Hands
Another speech on an issue of foreign policy from Cardigan, who some have begun to speculate could be a potential Foreign Secretary in a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition in a hung parliament after the election...

Some of his rhetoric here raises eyebrows, particularly noises about "lazy local councils" but the self-belief here is obvious too, which reinforces the perception that Cardigan is a passionate pro-European.

1XP to Cardigan
Redgrave | A-Team

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