Hundreds gathered at Brighton’s “Stop Brexit” rally

Britain for Europe and Brighton and Hove for the European Union hosted a “Stop Brexit” rally with speeches, a panel debate chaired by Polly Toynbee, comedy and music at Brighton Dome last Sunday 25 September.

Professor A C Grayling was the keynote speaker and he opened his remarks by criticising the Labour Party for not singing the right song. Already, he said, Britain is losing funds from the EU and businesses who are relocating, finding better infrastructure and better working conditions in Europe. He said: “We must stop Brexit sooner rather than later. Europe cherishes civil liberties, progress and a rational cooperative way, the EU is a wonderful model of cooperation.”

Mr Grayling said the alternative is less money for public services, “a low tax, deregulated, offshore economy.” He said people who voted leave had very few reasons, they don’t have reasons so much as feelings. He urged the remain camp to tell their story and win back the Brexiteers, to fill the bins of MPs with letters, to stay determined.

“Brexit is politically illegitimate and constitutionally improper,” said Mr Grayling. “The franchise excludes 16-17 year olds, expats living abroad and EU nationals living in the UK. They should have had a voice, only 37% of the electorate voted leave. That is not a mandate for a major constitutional change.”

Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas spoke next and said Britain must remain welcoming. “We are here to say Britain is better than that.” She said the Prime Minister has no mandate: “She went to our electorate and she lost and we must never let her forget that.”

She said she was furious about the EU Withdrawal Bill because it takes sovereignty away from the people and Parliament.

And she had a message for the Labour Party: “You cannot be in favour of leaving the EU and in favour of ending austerity.

“Freedom of movement for young people is a precious gift, she said, to travel, live, work, fall in love with people from 27 countries. I am truly sorry for our young people, whom Brexit is betraying.”

She concluded by saying it is not migrants who are responsible for austerity, it is the Government that is responsible.

Caroline Lucas MP

Guardian Columnist Polly Toynbee then chaired a panel debate with questions. Seb Dance is a Labour MEP representing London, Johnathan Bartley is co-leader of the Green Party, Catherine West is Labour MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, Ian Dunt is an author editor of and Darren Jones is Labour MP for Bristol North West.

Mr Dance opened the debate by saying: “We won’t get anywhere by lying to the electorate.” As evidence he cited the depreciation of sterling and goods, EU nationals leaving the NHS and companies relocating. “A two year transition gives them time to move.

“We have to be ones to tell the truth. Be honest about the problems linked to Brexit, there is no shift in attitude yet,” Mr Dance said.

Mr Bartley said we have to change attitudes, particularly around migration. He said: “It’s so desperately sad, the whole agenda around migration has been hijacked. The Green Party is an insurgent party, we shift agendas… Both Labour and the Tories have failed with migration, their hostile environment. I have visited Calais, Dunkirk and UK detention centres where instead of welcoming migrants, people are detained indefinitely. You have to say very clearly, ‘no, no, no!’”

Mr Dunt said that Tony Blair could be useful in helping make the case for remain even if some people dislike some of his policies. He said up to 50% of the electorate are soft Brexit or soft Remain voters and these are the people the campaign should target.

Labour MP Ms West said civic education was critical to counter the negative narratives in the right wing press.

Mr Dance said: “How do you change the rules of the club if you leave the club and spent the last six months telling the club it was wrong?”

Panel discussion chaired by Polly Toynbee

Explaining about his roots, Mr Jones said his constituency includes the council estate where he grew up: “Every Friday at surgery it breaks your heart: people stuck in awful housing and nurses going to foodbanks.

“Labour can’t help them in opposition, we need to be in government,” according to Mr Jones.

He said economic prosperity is required to fund the NHS. He thinks people voted leave out of desperation but said: “This self-harm will hurt them the most.”

Linda Dalgleish asked a question about the need to respect the will of the people who voted leave in the referendum.

The message from the EU referendum was clear, Mr Dunt said: “People don’t like the way things are, so they give the whole system a damn good kicking.” Later he said: “We need another referendum, another popular vote. Popular votes are not frozen in time. But people who give easy answers to difficult questions cannot be trusted.”

Since the Scottish independence referendum, Mr Bartley said, people are becoming more politically mature, using YABE campaigning, there are ground for optimism.

Ms West said that EU families are being split up, she said tell their stories to win the arguments.

Peter Harbet from Abingdon asked if European Citizenship would be an option for people left out and unable to work. He said: “If I fall ill in my old age how will I get to my family in Europe?

European citizenship is complex to introduce because most member states don’t want it, according to Mr Dance, and they will see it as yet another benefit for Britain, the country that is leaving.

Ms West said she fears realignment with America and a denial of climate change. She said we need to reframe the debate, giving people the facts about the NHS: “It’s about how we educate people who ignore the wonderful history since the Second World War. We need to teach our own history again. My uncle is buried at Passchendaele. We must reframe the question of fear.”

Mr Jones said: “We must make the emotional, economic case to protect jobs, increase wages and fund public services.”

Partners sponsoring the event included Brighton and Hove for the European Union, Britain for Europe, the European Movement UK and Scientists for the EU.

This article was also published in Brighton and Hove News.

Labour’s rally resembled a pop concert with Jeremy Corbyn as the headline act

Yesterday hundreds of supporters gathered at the Level to hear Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn set out his pitch for a more equal Britain. He outlined his commitment to end austerity, save the NHS, protect refugees and homeless people and bring the railways, water industry and post office back under public control.

But Shadow Chancellor John Mc Donnell opened the rally saying Labour was about hope not fear which appealed to 65% of young people at the last election.

He said Labour offers: “Decent education, education is a gift from one generation to another, not a commodity to be sold off.” He said the Labour Party will scrap tuition fees if they win the next election.

He also said every Tory government tries to get rid of the NHS.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell

Second to take to the podium was Amal Bidair, a young, Muslim activist originally from Eritrea who was involved in helping people after the fire at Grenfell Tower.

She also campaigns about Police stop and search which unfairly targets BAME people, Islamaphobia and she supports Mr Corbyn’s stance on recognising the state of Palestine. She said Labour made their politics legitimate.

Later Martha Osamore, mother of Kate Osamore who is in Mr Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet, explained that she came from Nigeria to London in 1963.

In his keynote address, Mr Corbyn said that although Mrs Osamore had many personal problems, she never asked for anything for herself, she talked about her neighbours and community facing racism from the National Front.

Mr Corbyn said: “So many people came together, young and old, black and white.” He said they were stronger for being together.

Mr Corbyn praised the organisers of the Club of Sanctuary for refugees (also known as Brighton Table Tennis Club.) He said the club gives sanctuary, hope and unity to refugees, people with learning difficulties and travellers.

“One fundamental thing is the inequality within our society. The rich majority live at the expense of the poor,” said Mr Corbyn. He criticised the Conservatives because their priority is to stay in office and he ridiculed Prime Minister Theresa May’s “strong and stable” government.

He said the Conservatives will: “Turn this country into an offshore tax haven on the shores of Europe” and he guaranteed to protect the rights of EU nationals living in the UK.

Mr Corbyn reaffirmed Labour’s commitment to an NHS free at the point of need which he described as a basic human right and he criticised the Conservatives for selling off land and services and then taking the profits offshore.

When talking about homeless people in many of Britain’s cities, he said: “They are not the cause of this housing problem, they are the symptom.” He said he was determined to help and to fight for them by building one million more homes and to lobby for proper regulation of the private rented sector.

Returning to foreign policy, he said: “Refugees have human rights. Victims of war have to be supported and wars of the future must be prevented.”

Lucy Anderson-Jones is a lifelong Labour supporter. She said: “I just vote Labour because it is the only way to destroy austerity and support people.

“I don’t want the NHS sold off. My husband had a liver transplant last year. I am part of an American forum where people are dying because they can’t afford the treatment or the transplant. We are not even watching the NHS quietly being sold off.”

She said Tony Blair didn’t listen to people: “It’s easy to encourage people to be generous, he (Mr Blair) was always keen to steal votes from the Conservatives.” On Friday a charity shop gave her a blanket for the homeless person sitting outside.

Lucy Anderson-Jones

Four students from Sussex University explained why they voted Labour. Serena Vaughan who is studying politics, said: “Jeremy Corbyn knows how to access particular (groups of) people.

“The Tories have no policies for young people. Jeremy Corbyn is the first politician that has identified with young people. I shunned politics until I found a politician that is interested.

Helena Bow-Ader said her family were Labour supporters but it was when she went to University and got the right to vote that she began to take a real interest in politics.  She said: “Jeremy Corbyn is so focused on students, he has completely swung me.”

Molly Dawson felt it is important to take an interest. She has always been Labour but joined the party to vote for Jeremy Corbyn before his first leadership election.

Scarlett Walker comes from Worcestershire which is a very conservative area. She has taken a particular interest in politics since she was 16-17. She likes Labour and the Greens.

Students from the University of Sussex

A head teacher from Brighton and Hove who does not want to be named has always voted Labour but is not a confirmed supporter of Mr Corbyn. He said: “I haven’t always tuned into his message without anything else in the way.”

His wife voted Green because she lives in Pavilion constituency. She said: “I am here to see if it (the rally) will change my mind.”

This article was also published in Brighton and Hove News.

New Brighton and Hove wardens tackle business crime

Wardens are being deployed across Sussex to deter and disrupt criminals who are targeting businesses.

Six community guards sponsored by Sainsbury’s and Mitie are now being deployed in Brighton and Hove alongside the current Business Improvement District ambassadors.

The wardens take the task of reporting crime away from businesses, securing physical and digital evidence and preparing statements for Police. Their role has been supported by Sussex Police and the Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne, who praises this partnership approach to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.

Business wardens

Mrs Bourne said: “The feedback from business communities about the value and impact of wardens has been excellent.

“It is vital that local organisations and the police work together to reduce business crime and help to create a safe and secure county in which to live and work.

“Because wardens are trained to secure the best physical evidence and take statements, they are helping businesses save time and reducing demands on police. They are also able to provide services beyond security like first aid, counter-terror awareness and emergency planning.”

Nationally business crime accounts for up to 25% of all crime. In Sussex that figure is 19% and Mrs Bourne is keen to encourage more firms to report it so this percentage continues to fall.

Sussex sees 28.3 crimes per 1,000 businesses, putting it 12th from the bottom of all 43 forces across England and Wales. Shoplifting accounts for 45% of all business crime in Sussex while criminal damage is just under a fifth; crimes at a convenience store represent 8.7% of the total number of business crimes.

Since 2015 business and community wardens have been introduced in Hastings, Eastbourne, Littlehampton, Bognor Regis and Haywards Heath. They were initially hired for an 18-month pilot jointly funded by the Home Office and the Southern Co-operative.

The existing business wardens in Sussex have powers to seize alcohol thanks to a community safety accreditation scheme which allows organisations and their employees to be given targeted police powers by the Chief Constable. These powers mean wardens can seize alcohol from under-18s or people drinking in designated spots, deal with begging and request the name and address of someone they believe has committed a relevant offence.

You can read more about the PCC’s activity and sign up for her weekly newsletter here.


Britain must remain “welcoming and compassionate” to defeat terrorists (PM May)

Last Friday 15 September commuters ran from a homemade bomb on a crowded train at Parson’s Green underground station in London. This is the fifth terrorist attack we have faced in the last six months and the fourth in London.

Three of the attacks involved vehicles mowing down pedestrians by lone terrorists but yesterday an IED bomb failed to detonate correctly and most commuters were spared. The explosion caused life-changing burns and a stampede to leave the underground but no deaths. We should be grateful.

Yesterday Prime Minister Theresa May upgraded the risk of a terror attack to critical suggesting another attack may be imminent. An 18 year-old man has been arrested and held at Dover and another man has been apprehended in London.

Mrs May was right to say we need to carry on as normal: if we overreact, the terrorists win. However, ignoring them also means resolutely avoiding the temptation to introduce more draconian anti-terror legislation.

Terrorists attack free people everywhere including Muslims coming out of a mosque most recently at Finsbury Park in June during Ramadan. On this occasion the attack was motivated by Islamaphobia and carried out by Darren Osborne, a white Welshman.

After the Finsbury Park incident Mrs May said: “There has been far too much tolerance of extremism in our country over many years, and that means extremism of any kind including Islamophobia…”

But if the Prime Minister wants to be the protector of our freedom and democracy as well as law and order, she must be careful.

In the same speech Mrs May said it was diversity that made London great: “This is an extraordinary city of extraordinary people, it is home to a multitude of communities that together make London one of the greatest cities on earth, diverse, welcoming, vibrant, compassionate, confident and determined never to give in to hate.” She must hold onto this conviction.

We live in a liberal democracy, not a surveillance society, and this is what we must protect: freedom from terrorists and freedom to live, work and travel around the United Kingdom safely.

Join budding young estate agents at Brighton Metropolitan College to pursue a lucrative career

Brighton Metropolitan College, formerly City College, is the second in the country to offer a new course for estate agents giving young people an advantage when seeking work.

It is a Level 3 business course applied to the property sector which provides formal qualifications, transferable life skills and progression into apprenticeships for young people aged 16 and over. You can still apply to join this course by contacting

The course is unique because it has been designed and led by people in the industry. Chris Sawyer, Director of Sawyer and Co. Estate Agency in Hove met Jan Hytch, partner at Arnold Keys, an estate agency in Norwich who wrote the course for professionals new to the sector. He was interested because he said the industry has a problem with recruitment. For both of them, the purpose of the course is to drive up standards in the industry, create jobs and equip young people with life skills.

Jan Hytch who wrote the course

He said trainees joining the firm are often confined to the back office because it takes a few months for them to master basic protocols. He said: “The course enables them to hit the ground running. A job in an agency is often sink or swim and sometimes if the environment is wrong, it might not work out.”

Mr Sawyer is the dedicated agent liaison person and will provide support as an industry expert by tutoring at college about leasehold properties, enfranchisement and other technical issues. He was also the president of Brighton and Hove Estate Agents Association in 2016.

If estate agents are interested in collaborating, they should contact Jane Miles who is curriculum coordinator at Brighton Metropolitan College to get involved: or Mr Sawyer for sector specific information:

Head of Business and Industry Services at Brighton Metropolitan College, Helen Curtis, said work placements are key: “Students will do a minimum of 30 hours work experience, ideally much more, where they will be inspired and encouraged to get involved.”

She said: “Some vocational courses at the college have tenuous links with employers but in this case we have been working closely with industry from the outset and businesses remain on board. It never happens to have so much support locally” (for a course.)

For several students A-Levels are not the answer and they want a direct route into employment. Others want transferable life skills while they work out their next step.

Day two for students at Brighton MET

Reana Muca is combining the estate agency course with an accounting Level 3 that she started last year. Ms Curtis said this could set her up well if she wanted to become a financial advisor in the property sector. She came to the Brighton MET from BHASVIC to learn skills that will prepare her for work. She said: “I am interested in property and there are always jobs.”

Like Reana, Ricardo Seaman took A-Levels but now wants a practical course. He enrolled because of the qualification in customer service. He used to work at Primark and in a call centre. He said: “I guess I just talk to people and I know how to sell.”

Autumn-Moon Chan-Garvey has already achieved applied law, sociology and psychology A-Levels but she wants to do an apprenticeship rather than going to university. She said she likes the course because it combines knowledge with practical skills and it’s her last year of free education.

Property course tutor Kerry Salkeld became an estate agent in Shoreham because it fitted in with her family commitments. She provides holiday cover at her old firm in the sales team to keep abreast of developments in the industry and brings real-life scenarios to college. She aims to build student’s confidence and give them industry specific knowledge and transferable life skills. She told the class estate agents don’t have to be loud.

Mrs Hytch is former president of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) which is now called Propertymark. She wants to remain in the estate agency business so Propertymark, which accredits the course, is helping her to roll it out across the country.

She said anyone interested in running this course should contact Propertymark’s Head of Qualifications Michael Smith: Rightmove and TDS charitable foundation are also sponsoring the course.

Mrs Hytch wrote the course for professionals working in the industry. Ms Salkeld said her job is to simplify the information so that all students understand what an estate agent does and learn about customer service. They can then make an informed decision about whether the industry is for them. For Ms Curtis and her team, giving students choices and a future is what education is all about.

An edited version of this article has been published by Brighton and Hove News.

Brighton MP condemns immigration proposals as “economically illiterate and plainly cruel.”

Yesterday a Home Office document leaked to the Guardian revealed proposals that a new immigration system will end the right of EU nationals to settle in Britain (free movement) and restrict their rights to bring in family members. Europeans will need to carry temporary biometric residence permits which are a form of ID card.

According to the Guardian, work visas for EU nationals would be limited to two years if they were considered “low skilled” migrants and three to five years if they were “highly skilled.” You can read the full document here.

At this stage, these are proposals only which will have to be agreed by ministers and the EU but they reveal a worrying trend. They are part of a policy to put British residents first.

Brighton MP Caroline Lucas said: “The Government’s post-Brexit immigration crackdown isn’t just economically illiterate, it’s plainly cruel too.

“Ministers know that ending free movement will damage the British economy – yet they are ploughing ahead regardless. Now they’re also planning draconian rules on family members of EU nationals and harsh income requirements too.

“Britain has benefited from freedom of movement and from the enormous contribution of EU nationals.”

To introduce these harsh new migration rules for people coming from the continent is a profound mistake, and one I will be fighting at every turn.”

Caroline Lucas MP

Leader of the Lib Dems Vince Cable said:  “When I was Business Secretary there were up to nine studies that we looked at that took in all the academic evidence.

“It showed that immigration had very little impact on wages or employment. But this was suppressed by the Home Office under Theresa May, because the results were inconvenient.

“I remember it vividly. Overwhelmingly it has been the case that overseas workers have been complimentary rather than competitive to British workers.

“The exodus of trades people, NHS staff and tech industry workers shows the potential damage of an extreme Brexit.”

Paul Chandler, agent for the Brighton and Hove Liberal Democrats backed up Mrs Lucas saying: “This leaked proposal just proves how difficult it will be to find a fair, humane and workable alternative to freedom of movement.

“It’s a truly horrible dog’s dinner of a proposal that will be expensive to administer, widely abused and ineffective.”