Interview: Malcolm Wood talks Lib Dems’ stance on EU

Malcolm Wood
Malcolm Wood

“People who want to stay in the EU should vote for us, and if there was a Liberal Democrat majority, I think that would be a mandate to tear up Article 50, and remain in the EU.”

Malcolm Wood, is quite clear on what he sees as the Lib Dem message for this coming election.

The Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath candidate believes voters in Britain have been sold a dummy, and are being led down a path which they hadn’t bargained for.

“For me and for the Liberal Democrats, the big issue is Britain’s membership of the European Union.

‘‘Theresa May said that the country is united behind Brexit – and it’s not. And every vote for the Liberal Democrats is really a vote saying ‘no, we’re not united behind Brexit, we don’t approve of what you’re doing.”

So where do the Lib Dems see the impact of a hard Brexit landing?

“I think the first big damage from Brexit would be to our economy, and then knock-on effects to the NHS and education.

‘‘The Liberal Democrats feel very strongly about mental health care, which needs more funding.

‘‘That again requires a strong economy, and that requires good trade relations with our neighbours.

“And the hard Brexit that seems to be on the table puts our economy at risk.

“There’s obviously things like our right to live and work in Europe, and for our businesses to trade easily with Europe.

‘‘Then there’s less obvious things like the fact that we depend on people from Europe coming here to do jobs. I know that this area is short of GPs, that every GP’s waiting list is full, and we can get GPs relatively quickly from other countries, whereas it takes many years to grow them ourselves.”

Mr Wood is not your typical career politican. A software engineer and family man from Dalgety Bay, he is a relatively late arrival to frontline politics, who hasn’t stood before.

‘‘But it he felt the need to step up after the events of 2016.

‘‘I was barely involved in the party until about six months ago. I’ve been a member for a long time. Some people say it was a mid-life crisis,” he laughs. “But at my 40th birthday, I thought ‘it’s time that I did something more useful than complaining to my friends about the state of the country’.

“I suppose the big motivating thing was the events of 2016, there was Brexit, then there was the election of Donald Trump, and I thought ‘I don’t like the direction things are going in. and I want to be one of the voices trying to get things back on track.’’

So is the party’s big message that we would have another EU referendum?

“For the Europe question, the only way we can see out of the impending mess is to offer another referendum on the final deal, which says ‘do we accept this deal?

‘‘Or do we tear it all up and remain a member of the European Union?’

‘‘And we feel that while many people voted to leave the first time round, they didn’t know what the deal. Some of them just voted because they were angry, some I think were misled by quite a lot of lies and misinformation.

‘‘And some people maybe misunderstood the issues.”

So a replay of the Brexit referendum is something we could see under the Lib Dem plans, but does that mean they would also like to see a replay of the Scottish Independence referendum?

“The Lib Dems are strongly against a second referendum on Scottish independence. We feel that question was answered three years ago.

“We’ve got a mess to get out of for the Europe question, we’ve got a mess we don’t want to get into on the Scotland question.

‘‘And that’s where we are. We didn’t want the vote to leave the EU, but the way we can see to prevent damage is another vote.”