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Why we should “Stay” and not “stop Brexit”

Much of our campaign since the 2017 general election has revolved around the "Exit from Brexit". We need to win over Remainers; by having a clear and repeated anti-Brexit position, the electorate will know what we stand for.

There are a few problems.

Firstly, we are not "anti-Brexit", we are pro-EU. Every time we say "Brexit", we evoke certain thought patterns within the minds of voters, particularly the so-called ReLeavers (those who voted Remain but feel we should Leave because of the referendum).

We normalise Brexit. We make it seem mainstream. In an effort to be radical outsiders, we make Liberal Democrats seem like they want to do something weird that nobody voted for. As such, we should avoid the term at all possible costs. For starters, Tom Brake should no longer be our Brexit Spokesperson but our EU Spokesperson.

Secondly, "stop Brexit" terminology forces our current campaign to be negative.

Thirdly, in many areas of the country, we are trying to win over Leave voters.

For instance, Sheffield Hallam - now a Labour seat - voted heavily to remain. Yet even here, part of Nick Clegg's defeat can be attributed to Conservative Brexiteers who voted Conservative in 2017 having previously voted Lib Dem to keep out Labour.

Many Leave voters want to vote for us, particularly at a local level. It is easier to create space between local and national campaigns if we drop the word "Brexit" which is so fraught with emotion. By changing our wording to "Stay", we build a positive case for EU membership.

In the context of the core vote strategy, Stay evokes many of the values that would attract those core voters. Togetherness, community, stability: all things that Conservative and Labour Remainers (or even Stayers) crave.

We'll need a new slogan. So far, I've got to the distinctly average "time to stay" and "stay safe" whilst rejecting the even more awful "a final say and a chance to stay". But this change of terminology allows us to attract a core vote without evoking a negative reaction in those voters who support the Lib Dems but voted Leave.

* Rajin Chowdhury is a junior doctor specialising in anaesthetics and critical care. He is also an ordinary member on the Sheffield Northwest and Central branch executive.