Category Archives: Brexit

Greens and Lib Dems back Labour talks to stop ‘no deal’ Brexit

Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, has accepted Jeremy Corbyn’s invitation to a meeting next week (Tuesday is likely) to discuss tactics for avoiding a no deal.

She said: “A no deal Brexit would be a disaster for this country and Parliament must prevent it in any way possible.  Jeremy Corbyn has done the right thing by reaching out to colleagues and I welcome the fact that all the opposition parties in the House of Commons have accepted his invitation for discussions. 

“I would urge all MPs who have been approached and who recognise the danger this country faces to join these talks with an open mind.  We all need to put our country’s future first.

“That means either pursuing legislative measures or a vote of no confidence in a Boris Johnson government which is showing every intention of driving this country off the edge of a cliff, and replacing it with a caretaker government which is committed to giving the people the right to decide on the Brexit deal.  

“I am prepared to support Jeremy Corbyn as leader of this caretaker government, as should any MP who wants to stop a No Deal Brexit. 

“But if he cannot gain the support of a sufficient number of colleagues across Parliament, I hope he will be prepared to back another MP from his party, or another, who can.   I will ask him again to make his position clear in our discussions next week.“I will also continue to make the case that we need a People’s Vote before a general election, as the only certain way of ensuring that the British people have the final say on Brexit.”

no deal

Hove MP, Peter Kyle, led a very strong campaign against a no deal Brexit in Parliament alongside his Labour colleagues which resulted in the extension to Brexit we have at the moment.

He said: “At this eleventh hour MPs must come together to fight the disaster of a no deal Brexit, which we all know would have unimaginable consequences for our communities and for the country.

“Boris Johnson’s extreme Brexit will damage local jobs, local tourism and opportunities for our young people. So every option must now be on the table, and I’m completely confident that if we work together, Parliament can and will block this impending catastrophe.”

As things stand we should be leaving the European Union on 31 October unless the opposition can unite and find an alternative solution.

Jo Swinson will be representing the Liberal Democrats at Mr Corbyn’s tactics meeting. In replying to his letter she wrote suggesting that the Labour plan to make the Labour leader head of an ‘interim’ government is “not viable.” Mrs Swinson would prefer Harriet Harman or Ken Clarke to lead a caretaker government and steer the country through this crisis.

However, she said: “in this moment of national emergency, I stand ready to work with anyone to stop Boris Johnson and his hard-line Brexit government if it is brought before the House of Commons.

“I am ambitious for the Liberal Democrats, as you are for the Labour Party, but we are facing a national crisis and we may we need an emergency government to resolve it.”

“This isn’t the time for personal agendas and political games. We cannot allow party politics to stand in the way of Members from all sides of the House of Commons working together in the national interest.

“What matters right now is a plan that works and will stop a No Deal Breit.”

Beatrice Bass, Parliamentary Candidate for the Lib Dems in Hove said: “The Lib Dems are the strongest and biggest remain party and will do anything we can to stop Brexit. The coming weeks are going to be crucial and will decide the direction the UK is taking.

“I am glad that our leader, Jo Swinson, is working hard towards cross-party collaboration to find a workable and viable solution. This isn’t the time for personal agendas and political games.”

Nationalist parties, the SNP and Plaid Cymru will also be at the tactics meeting next week. Opposition from Scotland could be key to taking a no deal Brexit off the table for good.

An edited version of this article was published on Brighton and Hove News today.

Boris champions a no deal Brexit at his peril

It feels as if the media has talked and written about nothing else apart from a no deal Brexit all summer. The coverage leaves me asking the question, is the media unwittingly making this outcome more likely and the public more receptive to a no deal Brexit? Is there a fatalism and inevitability creeping in since Boris Johnson, arch Brexiteer and Leave Campaign stalwart, took office?

Clearly there continue to be daily warnings from economists about the impact of a no deal Brexit on the pound. Sterling is tumbling in the markets and may soon be valued at the same price as the dollar. Philip Hammond quotes an OBR forecast of a recession if Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal. Mr Hammond is concerned about Sterling and concerned about the impact on public services. He resigned from the government in protest when Mr Johnson became PM.

I think the best journalists should be poring over the withdrawal agreement terms and seeking to help Mr Johnson find the substance of a deal that will be acceptable to Europe. Mr Johnson says repeatedly that the Irish backstop must be abolished all together to allow Britain to support a deal. EU leaders do not want to do this because they need to protect the position of the Republic of Ireland within the EU.

Sinn Fein is calling for a united Ireland. The long-standing alliance between DUP and the Conservatives makes these negotiations very difficult. Mr Johnson says he is impartial, but is he? It seems he really wants Brexit for England and Northern Ireland and would rather throw off the thorn that is the Republic of Ireland and ignore the dissent in Scotland.

Mr Johnson needs to be build consensus across the union but does he have the will and commitment to do it and the vision to find a deal that is acceptable to everyone? Will he enlist the help of Ruth Davidson and will he negotiate with Sinn Fein?

Sinn Fein are talking about holding another referendum in Ireland in an attempt to win independence and reunite Ireland. There is provision for this in the Good Friday Agreement. As PM, Mr Johnson should look beyond the interests of Brexiteers to find a solution that satisfies all the far flung corners of the union. Brexit is threatening to break up the union. Mr Johnson’s position as Prime Minister and legacy will be secure if he can find a solution that Parliament will pass. 

Irish backstop

In order to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland, the backstop would keep Northern Ireland aligned with the EU single market. This means that goods coming into Northern Ireland from elsewhere in the UK would need to be checked to see if they meet EU standards.

It would also involve a temporary single custom territory, effectively keeping the whole of the UK in the EU customs union.

These arrangements would apply unless and until both the EU and UK agree they are no longer necessary.

Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox, concluded that “the legal risk remains unchanged” that if a post-Brexit trade agreement cannot be reached due to genuinely “intractable differences”, the UK would have “no internationally lawful means” of leaving the backstop without EU agreement.

This temporary “backstop” is meant to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland only kicking in if alternative customs arrangements can’t be negotiated and implemented in time for the end of the transition period in December 2020.

The EU’s version would see Northern Ireland stay in the EU customs union, meaning a customs border in the Irish Sea.

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 does 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 and 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.

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 what MPs decide but there will be the option to remain in the EU. 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. Lloyd Russell-Moyle may be among those who persuade Mr Corbyn to stand aside.

Brighton MP calls for People’s Poll to reverse ‘calamitous Brexit’

Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas is backing a second referendum as only a “people’s poll” will stop the government “marching us towards a national calamity” that is a hard Brexit.

The Greens’ joint leaders, Mrs Lucas and Jonathan Bartley, plan to spell out their message to colleagues today (Saturday 3 March) at the party’s spring conference in Bournemouth.

Mrs Lucas intends to accuse the government of “playing politics with peace in Northern Ireland” and she will urge Prime Minister Theresa May not to “sacrifice the Good Friday Agreement on the altar of an extreme Brexit”.

She is expected to tell the conference: “We win when we stand up for what we believe in – from the smallest issues in a local ward to the biggest issue of the day – Brexit.

Mrs Lucas will say: “Conference, we win when we stand up for what we believe in – from the smallest issues in a local ward, to the biggest issue of the day – Brexit. Let’s not forget that the EU was originally a peace project, forged in the wake of the destruction and devastation of the Second World War. Rising from the rubble left by bombs and armies. The principle that nations who share resources will value peace above war. And the cause of peace is at stake again today.

“The way this Government is playing politics with peace in Northern Ireland is reckless and indefensible. So our message to Theresa May is very clear: Sacrificing the Good Friday Agreement on the altar of an extreme Brexit is nothing short of criminal, and it must not be allowed to happen.”

Caroline Lucas
Caroline Lucas MP

In his leader’s speech, co-leader Jonathan Bartley will criticise Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn for pursuing a Brexit that will “hit poorest communities hardest,” and call on Labour to stand with Greens for a people’s poll on the final deal.

Yesterday Prime Minister Theresa May made a key speech about Brexit at Mansion House. She said: “Reciprocal commitments to ensure fair and open competition, an independent arbitration mechanism, an ongoing dialogue, data protection arrangements and maintaining the links between our people.”

Mrs May said she wanted no tariffs and only one set of regulatory checks for goods (between Europe and the UK.) She repeated an earlier commitment to leave the customs union while avoiding a hard border in Ireland. She wants to limit barriers to movement of labour but to mirror free movement without signing up to it.

In response to Theresa May’s speech on Brexit today, Jonathan Bartley will say: “The Green Party will not give up on staying close to Europe. We are proud to be campaigning for people’s poll on the final deal that explicitly includes an option to remain part of the European Union. Because as we march towards the national calamity of Brexit, we know there is an alternative.

“But, far from acting like an official opposition, Labour risks being complicit in an unfolding disaster, and one felt first and foremost in those very communities it seeks to represent. Both Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May are committed to a Brexit that will hit poorest communities hardest.

“And that’s why today I want to make a direct plea to the Labour frontbench. Show some leadership, put the national interest above your party interest, stand up for free movement, stand up for young people. And stand with all of us campaigning for a people’s poll on the final deal.”

This article was first published in Brighton and Hove News yesterday ahead of the Green Party spring conference.

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.

Hidden cost of Brexit and the impact on the NHS (radio interview)

EU nationals working in the NHS and other industries or for themselves have not been guaranteed the right to remain in the UK.

For those of you who don’t have time to listen to the podcast, here is  a rough idea of what I said about the central question:

I think Brexit is very dangerous because it feeds xenophobia. The government needs to measure, statistically, the income generated by migrants, specifically those from the EU, working in the NHS to understand the true value of their contribution. We need to reframe the debate. All the statistics I could find concentrate on how much EU nationals cost the NHS and if any of this money is recouped.

In making the case for freedom of movement, data urgently needs to be collected about how much money is generated for the NHS and the British economy by EU nationals. The fact that the government is importing GPs from Europe and beyond suggests that EU nationals are voting with their feet and leaving the UK. The governments needs to acknowledge this, apologise and take steps to prevent an even greater exodus of highly trained NHS staff that the government will then need to replace.

A lot of the debate about Brexit has focused on economic arguments. While these are important we saw last winter that the NHS is already stretched to breaking point in the winter and hardly coping. Clearly if 25,000 EU staff leave, the crisis will become acute and it will take time for new staff to be recruited. It is these arguments that people need to hear: that their access to hospital care and GPs may be limited which could be life-threatening. This is the reality that frontline NHS staff battle every day, staff shortages and increasing demand on services.

You can also read my blog about a gathering of EU nationals #onedaywithoutus here describing both their contribution and pain since the EU referendum. It explains in their own words, how EU nationals feel about Brexit and its impact. It is in the February archive of this blog.

The full drive time programme is available as a podcast here.

Brexit opponents make music and mayhem in Hove’s George Street party

Music and mayhem will be the rhythm of the day in a street party at George Street between 12:30 and 2:30pm today. Peter Cook is using music as a vehicle for social change and urges people of all political parties and none to oppose Brexit.

You can join the Brighton and Hove for Europe Facebook group here.

Mr Cook’s street party is being held in the name of democracy, he said: “Democracy relies on a vibrant opposition and that the voice of the people be heard.

“These things have been sadly lacking on all sides in recent years, having handed our futures over to media giants. It’s time to restore the balance for the good of all and our children. Whatever your views on politics, come and have a beer and a chat with us.”

He is part of a movement to stop Brexit called “No 10 Downing Street Vigil” where he spends most of his time when not touring the UK. He has been featured on BBC’s Sunday Politics show and the One Show as well as in most national newspapers.

Mr Cook founded Human Dynamics that gives masterclasses in creativity and innovation and he has written a book. He also runs the Academy of Rock which was largely a tribute band until he found his voice since the EU referendum.

He said he has climbed out of the gutter in Medway (his words not mine) to forge a career in industry, academia and as a self-employed businessman. He won a prize from Richard Branson after his 45 year-old mother and 67 year-old father claimed his birth was a virgin birth. Actually, his parents had more in common with Sarah and Abraham.

Come to the street party in George Street if it tickles your fancy. After all Brexit is not going away.

An edited version of this article was published in Brighton and Hove News.

Greens, Liberal Democrats and ex Labour PM Tony Blair all oppose Brexit

Reflecting on Brexit, Caroline Lucas said: “This General Election changes everything and the choices we all make matter like never before.” 

On Tuesday 2 May the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats agreed to fight for Britain to remain part of the single market. Both parties want freedom of movement to become part of the Brexit deal.

For the Liberal Democrats, this means that Britain should be an open, tolerant United Kingdom where the rights of EU citizens are guaranteed and British citizens can live, work, study and travel freely in Europe.

Green Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas, said she adds protection of the environment to Britain remaining a member of the single market and for continued freedom of movement.

Mrs Lucas joins Tim Farron, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, in announcing a new pledge to give voters a referendum to ratify Brexit that will include the option to remain in the European Union.

A Labour Voice

Ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair agrees with Mrs Lucas and Mr Farron. According to the Guardian he said that while the final exit deal had yet to be agreed, the perils of a hard Brexit were clear: “The single market put us in the Champions League of trading agreements. A free-trade agreement is like League One. We are relegating ourselves.” Brighton and Hove Albion supporters know what that feels like and they know the triumph of victory.

In an interview with Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer on Sunday 30 April, Mr Blair said: “If we really do Brexit and we do Brexit with withdrawal from the single market, you can forget her ideas (PM Theresa May) of a more cuddly capitalism. A low-tax, light regulation, offshore hub economy, that is where you will end up. This is the right-wing fantasy. It’s driven by the right of the Tory party and the cabal that runs the right-wing media in this country…”

“It’s certainly true we don’t have a God-given right to carry on as a competing party of government. But there’s no reason why Labour can’t become the repository of that new coalition of progressive forces that is available to us in today’s society and which is basically the same progressive coalition that brought us to power in 1997.”

A Liberal Democrat Voice

Liberal Democrat Caroline Hynds, Hove Parliamentary Candidate, is also fighting hard against Brexit. She said: “The Liberal Democrat position is clear and consistent. We have long been calling for a referendum on the terms of Brexit and believe the people should have the final say on the deal.

“Our party believes in an open, tolerant and united future with the UK staying in the single market, guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens to stay in the UK, and protecting our rights to live, travel, study and work in Europe.

“Caroline Lucas’ stance on this issue – fighting against hard, divisive Brexit, making the positive case for Europe and giving the people the final say – is an area in which we have much common ground, reflected in Lib Dem PPC (Prospective Parliamentary Candidate) Paul Chandler standing down in Brighton Pavilion.

“I’d like to see more from Labour on this as they are, after all, the official party of opposition, but Peter Kyle’s hands are tied by the policies of Jeremy Corbyn.”

A Green Voice

Mrs Lucas, arguing for public ratification of Brexit said: “This General Election potentially changes everything.  We are at a crossroads – and the choices we make in the coming weeks will have huge consequences for the kind of country we’re going to be in the future.

“And the biggest choice we face is clearly about Brexit.

“Though my party fought hard for Britain to stay in the EU, and I voted against an unconditional triggering of Article 50, we accept, of course, that the referendum was an instruction to the Government to begin Brexit negotiations.

“We do not accept, however, that the decision should be irreversible. The referendum should be the start, not the end, of the democratic process.

“And it’s therefore right that people should have the right to a say on the final deal in a ratification referendum – with the option to remain in the EU if they so choose.

Caroline Lucas, Brighton Pavilion MP

“There are those who will say that this is contrary to the ‘will of the people’.

“But the claim that the referendum produced an irreversible verdict is a sham.

“At a General Election, voters obviously have the right to revisit the choice of government that they made at a previous election.

“It would be ludicrous to suggest people couldn’t change their minds about which way to vote, as facts change, and experience becomes clearer.

“And in the same way, it gives them the right to revisit a referendum result, as long as the parties are clear about the options on the table.

“Whoever forms a Government after June 8 will have a mandate to negotiate with the EU on our behalf.

“But we live in a democracy and it would be deeply undemocratic to impose the terms of any deal on Britain’s citizens, on our communities, young people, and businesses. So let’s give people honest choices.

“Let’s be clear that there is a wealth of difference between a soft Brexit, with membership of the Single Market, and an extreme Brexit – the one our Prime Minister is hell bent on pursuing, where we’re out of the single market, out of the Customs Union, ending free movement, and with our key social and environmental protections at risk.

“The day following the EU referendum the Green Party called for the British people to have a further say on the details of any Brexit deal.

“We stand by that position and today we pledge to voters to go further.

“Our election manifesto will not only include a ratification referendum, it will also explicitly make the option to remain in the EU part of such a ratification referendum.

“Greens proudly and passionately campaigned to remain in the EU. And, unlike some, we’ve not changed our deeply held belief that we are better off in the EU…

“And while we’ve all learned to treat polls with extreme caution, it might just turn out to be significant that last week’s Yougov poll showed, for the first time, a majority of British people now oppose Brexit.

“And maybe that’s because the costs of Brexit are becoming clearer.

Lib Dem EU street stall in George Street, Hove

“Inflation is already rising as imported goods rise in price.  Real wages are stagnating, investment is on hold.  All these indicators will be worse by 2020 when the election was meant to take place.

“The referendum outcome last June was never supposed to be the final word. It was the beginning of a conversation.

“And this General Election is a chance to reflect on what we have learned since then….

“That Brexit is being used by the Tories to drive through an ideological agenda that champions deregulation and privatisation on an unprecedented scale. That people were lied to.

“That there is no £350 million each week for the NHS.

“That the PM has no intention of seeking to enable us to remain members of the Single Market.

“That immigration is unlikely to be controlled because, as David Davis has himself acknowledged, it’s necessary for our economy

“And indeed it’s become clearer than ever that immigration is not to blame for the lack of social housing, GP appointments or local jobs – government spending cuts are.

“What’s also become clear is that the official opposition has been no serious opposition at all. The Labour Party haven’t only given the Tories a blank cheque for a hard Brexit. They’ve given them a lift to the bank and helped them cash it in.

“If Labour had made the case for staying in the Single Market, they could have made common cause with other opposition parties, and together we could have had a chance to avoid this most extreme of Brexits.

“That was a tragically missed opportunity.

“Meanwhile their unconditional support for triggering Article 50 meant that the opportunity to secure some key safeguards was squandered

“Why would the Government listen to calls for an immediate guarantee for EU nationals living in the UK, or for a meaningful parliamentary vote, if the opposition had already made clear its intention to support Article 50 in any and all circumstances?

“The General Election makes a different bigger future possible and it’s crucial that voters are not lied to again.

“Brexit is not inevitable. The triggering of Article 50 is not irreversible. And we still believe we are better off as members of the EU. Greens see the bigger picture and what we stand up for matters.

“Not based on political expediency but based on principle and evidence.

“The Conservatives could have sought to unite the country by bringing leavers and remainers together.

“Instead they chose to sow more discord and division – they cannot be trusted…

“Our pledge is about standing up for young people too. For the generations that have most to lose if we cut ourselves loose from the EU.

“Greens want young people to have big opportunities and a big future. And that means the right to study, travel, work, live and love across the EU.

“A Green vote on June 8 is a chance to stay part of the EU because young people matter. A Green vote on June 8 is a chance to stay part of the EU because a resilient, diverse economy matters.

“And it’s a vote for the certainty that we will stick to our principles and use the negotiation period triggered by article 50 to fight for a deal that puts social and environmental justice first.

If the Government is so convinced that they’ll get a decent deal then there’s no reason that they wouldn’t trust people to have a final say.

“If the Government believes its own rhetoric about the will of the people they’ll respect that electorates are free to change their minds.

“This General Election changes everything and the choices we all make matter like never before.”

While Conservative MP, Simon Kirby, voted to trigger article 50 in February which gave the Prime Minister legal authority to leave the EU, Labour’s Hove MP Peter Kyle and Mrs Lucas voted against it.

Brighton and Hove stand together in the rain

You can also read this article in Brighton and Hove News.

Councillors and activists urged Brighton to love not hate on a rainy Tuesday evening at the Level days after Britain voted to leave the European Union.

Brighton joined many other cities across the country Standing Together alongside the people of Europe and peacefully but proactively reflecting about the future on Tuesday 28 June.

Stand Together organisers said the rally was about moving on from the In/Out campaign which divided Britain and trying to rebuild unity and find positive ways forward regardless of whether people voted in or out.

EU Referendum 007

But feelings did run high. Green councillor Tom Druitt said he was concerned that the vulnerable will be hardest hit by Brexit.

He said: “I was angry.  Angry that so many people had been duped by a pack of lies.  Angry that the right-wing media had perpetuated the myths so wilfully and effectively.

“Angry that people had been taken in  and targeted their understandable disillusionment and frustration with the establishment, not at the people who are actually responsible, but at the most vulnerable in our society.”

Mr Druitt’s initial solution was to give a stranger a hug and then campaign peacefully for the loving, welcoming, open community of Brighton and Hove and beyond.

Councillor Inkpin-Leissner, a German EU citizen, urged all residents to channel their anger and love one another. He said: “It was mentioned that we have to fight the right wing movement. Yes we do. But let me make this very clear.

“When we had right wing marches in Brighton I witnessed violence. Not only from the right wing but as well from the so-called antifascist movement. I cannot and will not stand for that.

“This violence is wrong, may it come from the left or from the right wing. I cannot support this. Violence is always wrong.

“When they come to Brighton, meet them firm, show them that they are wrong and not welcome in our open and free city. But never use violence. Love is always stronger!”

Dr Lucy Robinson, a senior lecturer in history at the University of Sussex and minister of nagging for the Facebook group People’s Republic of Brighton and Hove asked:

“How do we make our little community safe for everyone but more importantly our global community? I’m not going to tell anybody how they should feel, whether they should respond with Love or with Anger, or a mixture of both.

“There’s a place for solidarity and love but righteous anger needs to be acknowledged too.

“I’m not going to tell you what your tactics should be. Each other’s tactics are not the problem.

“But I do believe that we can do more than shout ‘not in my name’. We can organize on whatever levels, in our everyday lives, on the streets AND in mainstream politics.

“We can refuse the divisions that have been imposed upon us. We can insist that we all get the world and community we deserve.

“We can refuse to be sacrificed for some Eton boys’ game. We can refuse to stay broken.”

Performance poet Michael James Parker

Ben Walters from Brighton Anti-Fascists said: “In the killing of Jo Cox and in the rising tide of hate following the referendum, we have seen what fascist violence looks like. We need to organise our communities to drive fascists off the streets. They must not be allowed any chance to spread their ideas and gain strength.”

Chair of South Downs Liberal Youth Drew Miller-Hyndman said: “We attended the rally today, not only to affirm our support for the UK remaining in the EU but in solidarity with EU migrants who have faced unprecedented hatred in recent days.

“It was a great turnout despite the rain and we would like to thank all those involved.”

Green councillor Phelim MacCafferty said Brighton’s two universities will lose £730 million a year of EU research funding for future scientists, medics and engineers spelling disaster for the local learning economy.

However, he encouraged Brighton to stand firm: “Acts of kindness that bind us together as a community have never been more needed. Those at the sharp end of the fear and scaremongering need our support… It is no longer acceptable to remain quiet or walk to the other side of the road if we hear or see prejudice, xenophobia or racism – all of us must challenge them directly.

We also have to say it loudly and clearly: immigrants you are welcome here.”

There is an anti-racism demonstration this Sunday 3 July. Supporters are asked to gather at the Level at 12.30pm.

Vote remain or become little England

Labour MP Jo Cox was tragically stabbed outside Birstall public library, West Yorkshire in broad daylight where she was about to hold a surgery for constituents on Thursday 16 June. This incident has cast a shadow over the EU referendum campaign and led to an all too temporary pause in campaigning and a period of sober reflection.

Jeremy Corbyn spoke in the House of Commons on Monday 20 June and paid tribute to Mrs Cox’s: “compassion and passion to create a better world and in her honour we recommit ourselves to that task.” When Mr Corbyn visited Mrs Cox’s grave the day after her murder he spoke of a “well of hatred.”

It is into this well of hatred that Nigel Farage, Leader of UKIP, speaks. He tells us he is the man in the pub to whom everyone can relate. Do not be deceived. An hour before Jo Cox was killed, Mr Farage unwittingly launched a referendum poster entitled Breaking Point showing a steady stream of refugees flooding into Britain coupled with a call to take control of Britain’s borders. However, he then has the audacity to accuse the Prime Minister days later of playing “despicable” political tricks in the wake of Mrs Cox’s death.

In fact, Mr Cameron was speaking in support of Jo Cox, a seasoned campaigner with many years’ experience at Oxfam. She campaigned about Syrian refugees and other destitute peoples with authority.

Mr Farage accused the PM and Remain camp of misrepresenting the motives of many British people who simply want control of their borders. Unfortunately polls indicate that while economic arguments may have the greatest significance and impact if Britain leaves the EU, it is immigration above all other issues that determines how people will vote.

Britain must decide whether to embrace the European project and the multiculturalism that has made her great or whether to become “little England” with Scotland once more seeking independence and the future of Northern Ireland uncertain, border controls reinstated. The EU is the most advanced and successful form of cross-border cooperation that the world has ever seen, empowered to manage the power of multi-nationals and mitigate climate change.

Vote Remain 002

It is both desperately sad and very alarming that the man who has been charged with Mrs Cox’s murder gave his name during his first court appearance at as “death to traitors, freedom for Britain.”

He is an individual and it is highly likely that he is unwell but his statement indicates a fractured society. While the conservatives make the case for national sovereignty and freedom to trade with countries beyond Europe and forge new agreements; UKIP always campaigns about controlling Britain’s borders and in this case closing them to Turkey. The NHS alone would be on its knees without foreign nationals and immigrants working at every level of the health service.

Gordon Brown, wrote in the Guardian on Friday 17 June about Jo Cox: “She wanted us to shout from the rooftops, as she said in her maiden speech, that there is much more that brings us together than drives us apart. She believed our society’s diversity was our greatest strength… (According to her husband) She would not want us to confront hate with hate, but to conquer hate wherever it is found.”

Mr Brown wrote: “Unless we strive for a culture of respect to replace a culture which does too little to challenge prejudice, we will be learning nothing from what happened to Jo.”

About the referendum, tellingly Mr Brown said: “The business of politics has become more about the exploitation of fears than the advancement of hope.” While the Remain campaign is accused of “Project Fear” it is UKIP that exploits fears about immigration mercilessly, fears about jobs and pressures on public services.

The EU provides jobs, about half of UK trade, national security and allows free movement of labour for the British to work in Europe as well as Europeans to work here. Britain is sovereign within Europe and is part of a 28 strong trading family. She would still have to apply EU rules to retain access to the single market if she leaves the EU.

“If Britain votes out, it is irreversible”, Mr Cameron said. Vote remain.

The same article is published on the News Hub here.