Democratic change could be 'silver lining' to Brexit, says Lib Dem MEP

PUBLISHED: 08:19 30 January 2020 | UPDATED: 08:19 30 January 2020

Caroline Voaden MEP,  leader of the Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament, during an interview at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA.

Caroline Voaden MEP, leader of the Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament, during an interview at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

A Liberal Democrat MEP says she thinks the 'silver lining' to Brexit will be the anger and pain will drive people to campaign for electoral reform.

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Caroline Voaden, who was only elected as an MEP in May, said it was ironic that the UK now has the biggest pro-European movement of any member state.

"British people don't generally take to the streets - we've seen millions of people on the streets saying, 'We don't want to do this'," the MEP for South West England and Gibraltar told the PA news agency.

"I hope one of the results of this is that the division that it's caused and the pain and the anger will drive people to campaign for a change in our electoral system, because I honestly believe that this has been fuelled by the fact that we have a system that is fundamentally unfair."

She added: "People wanted to be heard, people felt disenfranchised by that system and by government after government after government who they felt did not represent them and their vote.

"So maybe the silver lining is that we will have democratic change and then we will never be able to be held to ransom again by a vanity project like Brexit."

Describing her feelings about Wednesday's vote on the final Withdrawal Agreement, she said: "It feels quite surreal to be finally at this day that has been talked about for so long.

"I had hoped we would never get here."

She added: "There have been lots of tears and it feels like a bereavement or a loss.

"It's not just on a personal level - we know that when we walk out of here on Thursday, Britain has no more voice in the European Union and that feels really quite significant."

Voaden said she had serious concerns people of Gibraltar, who voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU.

She said: "There's (only) 34,000 people on Gibraltar and if that becomes a sticking point in negotiating a trade agreement then I would have serious concerns.

"The Gibraltarians are being very pragmatic and saying 'let's wait and see' and there are some good people in government in London who understand the Gibraltar issue and have worked very hard on it, but I think things could get a bit sticky going forward."

When asked about her plans for the future, she said: "Have a rest - this has been quite bruising - and regroup and find something else."

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