For over 75 years, the Federal Trust has studied the interactions between regional, national, European, and global levels of government. It has nurtured a particular interest in the European Union and Britain’s place in it. We have warned that Brexit could seriously damage Britain’s prosperity and standing in the world. Unfortunately, there is increasing evidence that these fears were justified.

The price people are paying for Brexit is too high. Prohibiting the free movement of goods and labour has rigidified the economy, caused supply chains to collapse, increased financial difficulties for British universities and research institutes, and made consumers worse off. It is threatening the cohesion of the United Kingdom and has created new conflicts in Northern Ireland. At a time when China aims to be the new superpower in the world, Britain has raised its voice for the defence of human rights, but it has no leverage to protect victims of abuse. As an EU member, it would be far easier to address and resolve these issues. A new approach to determining the UK’s relations with Europe is required.

The idea of federalism has long been misunderstood, if not vilified in our country. It was presented as a centralising and dominating force from abroad. However, for nearly 400 years federalism has sought to combine the efficient governance of public goods with the diverse plurality of local traditions and cultures. Federalism supports national identities. It is an idea that could give new meaning to the UK’s relations with Europe.

We believe that Britain’s future is inexorably linked to Europe. We therefore favour moves toward re-joining Europe. However, this requires fundamentally rethinking how this could become possible. We intend to use our strength and experience as a research institute and think tank to help Britain find a new, purposeful and beneficial role in the European Union.

The Federal Trust is a registered charity for the purposes of education and research and has no allegiance to any political party. The way forward must be to bring together all pro-European forces and we aim to work with anyone who shares our convictions. We are aware that there are several initiatives seeking to re-join Europe. We are not endorsing any of these in particular, but we offer our general support and wish to make a well-founded intellectual contribution to this objective. We hope and trust this will enrich and lift the public debate.