Pray silence: We need European elections

If you want to hear my voice, please allow me silence as Parliament goes into recess over the summer. Without participating in European elections in Britan, we run the risk that there will be no resolution by the end of the extension on Halloween, 31 October and we will have ended up out of Europe by accident.

I’d like to participate in European elections, stop Brexit by a people’s vote and hold a general election. I don’t want to leave it to MPs to confirm the deal the majority of MPs never wanted with Brussels.

I want a say in whether we should leave at all, given all the lies and betrayal of the Leave Campaign. And if we leave, I want a say in how we leave.

Peter Kyle is right to block no deal which I also thought and said (check Facebook) but we need to do more and he needs to have the courage to vote with his conscience. This is because these votes matter more than any other since 1975 when during the first referendum Britain voted to enter the EU. You can read Mr Kyle’s voting record about #Brexit and #EU integration here.

Peter Kyle
Peter Kyle and Ben Bradshaw on Brighton beach

A confirmatory vote is not the same as asking the people, given what you now know, would you like to leave the EU? If yes, how? Customs union, the single market with freedom of movement, ECJ jurisdiction, Ireland and Scotland, terrorism.

What do Brits want Britain to look like? Do we now agree that in fact, the Conservatives have no plan? Britain did participate in a referendum and it’s not customary to ask the public if they have changed their mind.

However, given the facts and lack of independent inquiries into the leave campaign itself, £350m for the NHS, electoral and expenses fraud, Arron Banks and Cambridge Analytica / Facebook, the public have questions that remain unanswered.

So all of this raises the question of when there is going to be another referendum – before or after MPs come up with a deal.

Let’s hope MPs spend the summer finding a solution to the Brexit impasse and not sunning themselves in France.

Silence please, watch this space.

Brexit is breaking up our union in Britain

Britain needs to commit to European elections which must take place between 23 and 26 May this year, 2019.

Britain has three choices:

  1. To leave without a deal with the EU before May 22 –this option has been ruled out for now
  2. To opt out of the European elections making Brexit inevitable  
  3. To participate in European elections and reconsider the Brexit deal

After committing to European elections, MPs then have two choices:

  • Call a general election because Labour and Conservative leadership is poor and inconsistent.
  • Have another referendum on membership of the EU, that is another people’s vote.

Leave Campaign consistently lied about the impact of Brexit and they still have no plan for life in Britain, post-Brexit.

Brexiteers want to leave the EU because they don’t like the regulation but they have no vision for a different Britain and the Conservatives have not yet found a solution to the current stalemate.

Leadership of the Conservative and Labour parties is poor and Brexit is a defining moment in the career not just of every politician in Westminster but more importantly of every citizen of the United Kingdom. Brexit is the defining moment of my generation.

Brexit has divided Britain and made us a laughing stock in Europe. French may well continue to block EU/UK negotiations. They have a track record in doing this. Think of the Iraq War and Tony Blair’s attempts to get a UN resolution.

The Brexit referendum was unnecessary and a mistake. It will leave us trading with America and other countries with poor health, food and climate change standards who are involved in human rights abuses not least to immigrants.

Analysis: Theresa May’s Twelve Red Lines

  1. Providing certainty and a vote in Parliament – immediate fail, we have not yet left the EU because there is no consensus in Westminster about how to do this and the votes have been indicative votes. Theresa May did not want to give Parliament decision-making powers but she now has to. Parliament is sovereign, not the executive, i.e. the government.
  2. Taking control of our own laws – Parliament is already sovereign in the UK and Mrs May does not want the European Court of Justice to have jurisdiction over British laws. As a member of the EU we have another Parliament of 27 member states to help manage trade, climate change, agriculture, fisheries and food and an EU court of human rights.
  3. Strengthening the union – the UK should remain united as four countries on one island and we should remain in the EU. There is no conflict or need to choose between the two but if forced, Scotland may leave the UK in order to remain in the EU. Scotland is very likely to call another independence referendum and to negotiate membership with the EU if the rest of the UK leaves it.

Protecting our strong and historic ties with Ireland and preventing a hard border – peace in Ireland is of paramount importance and so is power-sharing between unionists and republicans. This is fragile as evidenced by the suspension of Stormont’s Parliament in January 2017. Stormont, Northern Ireland’s Parliament, was suspended when Martin McGuiness resigned over the Renewable Heat Initiative (RHI) authorised by then first minister Arlene Foster which cost Northern Ireland £480m. Elections followed and DUP unionists now hold 28 seats, a majority of one in Stormont, nationalists Sinn Fein hold 27 seats. Westminster agreed a budget in November last year but Stormont remains suspended and as yet, there is no official ‘direct rule.’

If Brexit goes through, this deadlock will become even more entrenched and Stormont may be dissolved altogether, returning Northern Ireland to direct rule by Westminster. DUP unionists may prefer to be ruled by Westminster than by Sinn Fein and they have a majority of one in Stormont.

4. Maintaining the common travel area with the Republic of Ireland means the UK will have a land border with the EU.

5. Controlled migration – immigration will continue but the hostile environment will get worse and we will simply attract less educated migrants who will contribute less to the UK economy. Mrs May has provided no information at all about what migration policy will become without the EU post Brexit. I suspect it will be draconian and inhumane.

6. Guaranteeing people who’ve moved (into the UK and to the EU) the right to remain in the country of their choice.

7. Protecting worker’s rights – the European Working Time Directive does this and a myriad of other EU statute and regulations including for contractors, temporary workers, etc.

8. Quit the EU single market membership – Mrs May does not want to adhere to the EU’s four freedoms including free movement of labour, goods, services and capital. If we remain in the EU, UK courts will continue to sit under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. Mrs May does not want to make a financial contribution to the EU.

9. Quit full customs union membership – Mrs May doe not want Britain to be part of the Common Commercial Policy nor to be bound by the Common External Tariff. Mrs May wants a customs agreement with the EU on her terms. Britain currently has to apply the same tariffs as the rest of the EU. If we don’t do this, we’ll need to set up time-consuming bilateral trade agreements like Canada and we’ll lose our competitive advantage, particularly in the City of London and our financial industries who may move to France or Germany. Securing new trade agreements with other countries outside the EU – economics will trump human rights and social justice.

10. A deal for science and tech – continue to collaborate with our European partners on major science, research, and technology initiatives. From space exploration to clean energy to medical technologies research should continue but the best brains may no longer choose to move to Britain.

11. Cooperation on fighting crime and terrorism – The EU has an international police force to fight terrorism across borders and share information. As a previous Home Secretary, Mrs May should take seriously the significant threat of terrorism in Ireland and from outside powers both within and beyond the EU.

12. A ‘phased’ agreement beyond 2019 – Mrs May is already in penalty time and there is no agreement about a way forward in Parliament.

My conclusion is that we need new leadership of the Conservatives and Labour and a general election. This may result in another People’s Vote if there is an independent inquiry first into the Leave Campaign’s policy-making, not simply their electoral fraud including expenses.

Hove Station Neighbourhood Plan Consultation is open

If you want to find out what housing and mixed-use developments are planned for your area, now is the time to find out about Moda. Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum are holding a consultation about their neighbourhood plan which lasts from last Saturday 23 March until Saturday 4 May.

It will be followed by a council consultation but this first consultation matters the most because it’s the one led by the residents of Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum who wrote the Neighbourhood Plan. The consultation was launched at the Have Your Say Day on 23 March at the Honeycroft Community Centre.

Hove Station Neighbourhood Plan sets out policy objectives in part one and aspirational principles in part two for the development area which includes the Hove Station Quarter. Moda has submitted a planning application to provide 265 high density units for the elderly on the Sackville Trading Estate and Coal Yard on the North West of Hove Station.

Moda’s proposals will meet the criteria of policy two which requires a mixed use development providing a minimum of 500 residential units and 6000 sqm employment floor space with small scale retail, public and community facilities as set out in Brighton and Hove’s draft City Plan. If the application goes through, Moda will offer three year tenancies to all tenants giving them more long-term stability. Aspirational policies include having a second footbridge from the Sackville area leading through the car park to Hove station.

Moda aims to build 650 homes instead of the 500 required by the policy with a minimum of 8% affordable rent properties at 75% market rent value. I think 75% market rent value is better than 80% but it’s still too high and there needs to be more affordable housing. However, this may not be commercially viable. Brighton and Hove Planning Committee will decide but an appeal will cause a delay that will increase costs including design costs and the cost of the land and result in multiple viability studies.

Moda is committed to working with the Forum to make sure some of their s.106 money for community infrastructure is spent on the Honeycroft and Vallance Community facilities on Sackville Rd which incorporate a nursery, health clinic, café and language school.

These centres could become a mixed use children’s and health centre with GPs like in other parts of the city if Brighton and Hove Council is prepared to invest a significant proportion of s.106 money to develop and improve the existing site. It’s very clear that the plot of land and buildings are in great need of redevelopment but in spite of this the community work continues apace in Honeycroft and Vallance which are already community hubs.

Linda Robinson who lives South of Hove Station sad:  “I want people who live here to live in Hove and not just go on holiday or to second homes. On street parking is worse than London. London is free both on holidays and weekends, Sundays. We’re not nimbies, we just want it done well. We all agree with the need for development. We just need to know how, the question is how. Everyone wants the development.”

You can read all about the policies and aspirations and make your views heard during the online consultation. Responses must be received by midnight on Saturday 04 May 2019. Hard copies are also available in Hove Town Halland Hove Public Libraryduring office hours. 

You can contact Forum members using the website and keep an eye on the events page to come along and meet the communications team or discuss the Neighbourhood Plan. If you would like to discuss anything about the proposals or come to a consultation workshop depending on numbers, email Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum hovestationforum@gmail.com.

Brexit is dividing Britain

I feel betrayed by the ‘bad boys of Brexit’ both within the Conservative Party and UKIP because they have no plan and never have had for leaving the European Union.

Since the referendum, the media has exposed how figures were plucked out of the air (£350m for the NHS) and the referendum result was probably rigged by Aaron Banks of the Leave Campaign and foreign powers, including Russia and America, exploiting Facebook.

The Leave Campaign has paid it’s fine from the electoral commission in the hope that the electoral commission will not ask any more questions. I sincerely hope the electoral commission or the government’s fraud watchdog and the Police ask a lot more questions because there are questions to be asked. Serious questions about rigging elections and expenses.

The problem with politics is that the ‘Winner takes it all.’ Brexit was and still is a power struggle between political parties and the Conservatives have the upper hand because they are in government. Labour is divided.

Let me put my cards on the table. I voted remain and would much prefer to pay my dues to the European Union and trade with European countries subject to the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights. I am Scottish, British and profoundly European.

Prime Minister David Cameron was the first at fault because he could not win around Brexiteers so he took what he thought was the easy way out and gave the British people a referendum. Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher would not have done this until they had won the argument within their own party. Mr Cameron, I think, will now see a country not united with trading parties around the world but bitterly divided with far less influence within the EU. I do not think this is in Britain’s national interest.

Britain is a country to be proud of but we only have about 70 million people and we need trusted trade partners who abide by our food safety, animal welfare standards and above all our human rights record. We can find a solution to climate change but we can’t do it without Europe, we can’t make as many scientific advances, we’re an island with secure borders but we can’t operate in isolation.

America has very few food safety standards compared to Europe, President Trump does not support climate change and a good economy cannot hide the fracturing within American society symbolised by Mexico’s wall. America is a country of immigrants and they made the United States great.

Theresa May remains the only Conservative MP who was prepared and got enough votes to take up the poisoned chalice of Brexit. For that she should be remembered and applauded. Conservatives did not have confidence in the men who wanted the job. But a coronation, as Gordon Brown knows, is a dangerous phenomenon and may in itself be another poisoned chalice.

Brexit matters because it goes to the heart of our British political system. It is clear that Britain wants to be a sovereign nation and she already is. Britain voted leave in the eleventh referendum in the United Kingdom. Britain voted to enter the European Union in the first ever referendum in 1975.

However, both Mrs May and Mr Corbyn are being protectionist. There is a growing number of MPs calling for a free vote in Parliament and a taskforce of the best minds to find a solution. Parliament was not in favour of Brexit but the country was. Therein lies the dilemma facing British MPs across the political spectrum.

I think the electoral commission does not have enough teeth to deal with fraudulent electioneering which tarnished all the major parties. Their powers are limited and the fines are a drop in the ocean: £60,000 paid this week by the Leave Campaign.

I think the Police or Serious Fraud Office either do not have enough evidence, time or are being blocked by government and members of the establishment within their own ranks from investigating what really happened during the ‘Brexit referendum.’

Criminal investigations are necessary from time to time, as are independent inquiries conducted by the legal system. They are different from public inquiries where the government sets the terms of reference. British democracy is a series of checks and balances between the executive which is the government, Parliament that is divided and the courts which have been totally ignored.

While the terms of reference of a public inquiry will be dictated by the government, an independent inquiry conducted by the courts into vote leave’s election campaign was never carried out. Think of the Liverpool football disaster. Twenty years later, the families still do not know what happened. Grenfell Tower survivors want an inquest which is independent, not a public inquiry.

Cambridge Analytica was shut down. Facebook continues to be exploited but no-one wants to lose their friends. Mrs May is a woman who is being presented in the media as a dictator but who may actually be more of a private civil servant. She says it will be my deal or no deal because she could not negotiate any other deal with the EU.

We need a free vote in Parliament, it may not be the first. If we don’t get that, there needs to be a general election which will mean participating in European elections meantime. Cabinet is in disarray. Parliament has not yet agreed a way forward.  The Attorney General is a member of the government.

I would like us to take part in European elections but if we do, our far right may try to take over and disrupt the European Parliament as they have done before.

Brexit has brought into sharp relief the inequalities and class system within English society which is less of a problem in Scotland or Wales. Ireland is also less classist and religion and politics are a toxic combination. Ireland is in great danger of imploding again if the backstop can’t be resolved.

If we don’t want our Policemen and women and soldiers dying on the streets of Ireland, we need to find a solution. There is a will to do this in Parliament if only Theresa May would listen. Ken Clarke, Dominic Grieve and Rory Stewart who used to be a diplomat will help Theresa May. All she needs to do is ask them.

Peter Kyle wants a confirmatory public vote confirming Brexit. Caroline Lucas and the Lib Dems want a people’s vote and they will fight for proportional representation so that Parliament really is sovereign in future.