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Participative democracy and civil dialogue

European Movement International: Breakfast Club with Paddy Ashdown

On Wednesday 25 May, the European Movement International organised a private briefing, kindly hosted by BDO, with Paddy Ashdown, President of the European Movement UK, and former leader of the Liberal Democrats. The Breakfast Club saw Mr Ashdown share his thoughts and answer questions put forward by the attendees on the UK’s upcoming EU Referendum. The former High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina is a passionate Pro-European who has been campaigning throughout Britain to gather support for the Remain campaign ahead of the upcoming referendum on Thursday 23 June.

The European Movement international has also recently launched its own paper on the consequences of a UK exit from the EU, which you can find here.

Mr Ashdown discussed a variety of topics with the participants, notably the key challenges that will impact the upcoming vote – one of which is deemed to be encouraging likely ‘remain’ voters to get out and vote on election day. With the Leave campaign holding entrenched support from a large, vocal and visible demographic of eurosceptic voters, the Remain camp has its work cut out to encourage those who would favour staying in to turn up to the polls, particularly younger voters.

The event also entertained an in depth discussion on the many lines of division brought into focus as a result of the campaign, both within the political parties and across the countries that make up the United Kingdom. It was remarked on that the traditionally larger parties (the Conservatives and Labour) were experiencing immense change as a result of differing views on the EU and the future direction of the respective parties.

With Scotland expected to vote largely in favour of remaining within the EU, and a rising English nationalism possibly set to sway England’s vote to narrowly choose to leave, the future of the United Kingdom hangs in the balance. This kind of dilemma was highlighted as a potential catalyst for another Scottish Independence Referendum and the eventual breakup of the United Kingdom.

While there are still four weeks to go before the British people head to the polls, participants were keen to discuss the consequences of what either vote would mean. The point was made that in the event of a vote to leave, nationalistic voices would gain momentum throughout the European Union, in particular with the likes of Marie Le Pen in France, and even across the Atlantic to Donald Trump in the US Presidential Election.

Paddy Ashdown at European Movement Breakfast club

The Breakfast Club with Paddy Ashdown produced some fascinating discussions and points to reflect upon. The European Movement International would like to thank all the guests that attended, our sponsors for the event BDO, and of course our esteemed guest, Mr. Paddy Ashdown.

Take a look at our recent publication on the consequences of a British exit from the European Union here.

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