In 2016, the Yorkshire Party did not campaign either for or against Brexit. Instead, we left our individual members to act according to their consciences.
However in the referendum, Yorkshire voted heavily to leave - with the leave vote in Yorkshire well above the national average. As a party, in 2016, we pledged to respect whatever decision the electorate made. Given that, we believe we must respect the instruction the electorate gave us, and leave the European Union.
The debate we need to have now is what the future should look like after we leave. 'Brexit' can mean many different things to different people. The Yorkshire Party believes it is time for the country to come together and have an adult debate - moving beyond the culture of abuse that has infected our politics in recent years - about what the UK's future relationship with the EU should look like. Yorkshire deserves better than endless political failure over Brexit.
Respecting the referendum
People voted to leave in 2016. It is important to respect that. However 'leave' can mean many different things. We believe many of the UK's current problems stem from Theresa May and the Tory Party's wrongheaded and unpleasant focus on immigration above all else when negotiating the Brexit deals. By attempting to reduce Brexit to a way to be tough on immigration, Theresa May's Government failed in its duty to debate, and ultimately agree, what trade-offs should be made when negotiating the UK's future relationship with the EU.
Securing a Good Deal for Yorkshire
Every vision of the UK's relationship with the EU after Brexit involves trade-offs. The more autonomy the UK has, the less European market access it enjoys. This is a formula which applies to trade across the world. Those who advocate for a future relationship based on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules are, in effect, calling for a massive barrier to be placed on the UK's ability to trade freely with Europe. We believe creating massive barriers to trade is a bad thing, which would likely lead to job losses. Yorkshire deserves better than a form of Brexit that means job losses.
Instead, we believe the UK's relationship with the EU should be modelled on the principles of free trade - where UK businesses can freely trade with Europe, but the UK has the ability to also strike free trade deals with other countries around the world, much like our relationship with Europe before we joined the European Economic Community in 1973. To that end, we support the option of, after Brexit, the UK joining the Free Trade Association which non-EU countries like Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein participate in. Those countries are not in the EU, and have autonomy on issues like fishing, justice, the military and foreign affairs, but are able to trade freely with Europe and strike their own trade deals across the world.
Taking powers back from Westminster
We believe powers that are returned from Europe after Brexit should be devolved to Yorkshire, where appropriate, to ensure our economy can thrive in a post-Brexit world.