A hard Brexit may beckon

Brexit and a no deal

Ollie Sykes, Green Candidate for Hove and Portslade Constituency said: “I think Johnson’s deal is worse than Theresa May’s because it has watered down social and environmental protections. It’s a trap door. We will revert to no deal by 2020 if the free trade withdrawal agreement is not agreed. Bringing the possibility of a hard Brexit closer.

“A border down the Irish Sea shows the duplicity and untrustworthiness of the Johnson administration, it shows how quickly they will ditch their partners, the DUP. It’s a step in the direction of breaking up the union.

“The Conservatives made a confidence and supply agreement with the DUP to form a government and then tried to push a border down the Irish Sea through Parliament.”

The problem is I don’t think there is an alternative to a border in the Irish Sea. Boris should simply give Northern Ireland a choice at the end of the transition period about whether to remain in the United Kingdom or join the Republic of Ireland and Europe. I suspect Northern Ireland will opt to remain in the union and then Ireland will be divided once again. (Roz Scott)

There may need to be a referendum in Northern Ireland, particularly if Stormont is still not sitting. We can only hope Stormont will be governing Northern Ireland again by the end of 2020 which is the default end of the transition period if no further arrangements are made. There may be a deal in sight with Sinn Fein to put Gaelic on a par with English. (Roz Scott)

Job losses and economic impact if we Brexit

Mr Sykes said: ‘The government rejected the impact on GDP of Brexit which is between 6.3% to nine percent. It’s slightly less with Boris Johnson’s deal,’ the Guardian predicts 4% by 2020.

He said there are projections for a no deal and a deal. There is a no deal impact study and that shows a decline in GDP. Mr Sykes said: “There will clearly be an increase in inequality if the Conservatives get in with any sort of majority government.”

Mr Sykes pointed to research carried out by Dr Serwicka and Alan L Winters at the UK Trade Policy Observatory (UKTPO.) It has calculated that workers in both East and West Sussex will lose 10,000 jobs meaning total job losses amount to 20,000 with a further 23,000 in Hampshire.

The report said the impact will be felt most strongly in the South East because the region is the most heavily engaged in cross-border trade exporting £45.3bn worth of goods last year (and £39.2bn worth of services in 2016) with nearly a half of these exports destined for the EU.”

Dr Serwicka said cross-border trade and high exposure to trade with the EU, means that a ‘no deal’ Brexit could be particularly disruptive to the South East’s economy.

She actually said: “This research makes very clear that both soft and hard forms of Brexit, but in particular, a ‘no deal’ Brexit, are likely to have a negative impact on the lives of many residents in Hampshire and Sussex.

“Of course, we cannot say for certain that this number of job losses will definitely happen, as employers may choose to reduce number of hours and wages rather than cut workforce numbers.

“But this analysis gives some indication of which places in our region may be most vulnerable to Brexit.

Government misinformation about their statistics

However, Mr Sykes is also concerned about the Conservative misinformation contained in their statistics. Misinformation stretches beyond the Prime Minister and his NHS claims on the Leave campaign bus.

For example, Nicky Morgan when she was cross-examined about 50,000 district nurses in the Conservative manifesto pledge, admitted 18,500 were existing nurses or those returning to nursing. Sajid David claimed rough sleeping had gone down under the Conservatives.

Mr Sykes said: “There’s no accountability. It’s sad and quite frightening that these lies, for example Boris and his Leave campaign bus during the EU referendum. The problems with the NHS, Nicky Morgan didn’t know the district nurse numbers. Sajid David said homelessness and rough sleeping declined under the Conservatives. It’s simply not true.”

Conservatives and the media

Mr Sykes said: “The responsibility partly lies with the media. One of our proposals in our Green manifesto, is that media ownership needs to be restricted.”

This means no media company can own more than 20% of a broadcasting channel. What I’m scared of in respect of the media is that there is no obligation of impartiality.” Mr Sykes gave the example of Fox News based in America.

I asked Mr Sykes what he thought of reporting on the BBC and he said he thinks the BBC feels under pressure. He said: “It has already been threatened by the Government with removal of the TV licence.” Boris refused to give an interview to Andrew Neil.

He criticised the Prime Minister for his lack of accountability, saying Andrew Neil did a three minute piece, outlining the challenges he wanted to put to Boris Johnson. Boris chose to give Andrew Marr the interview instead.

Mr Sykes said: “It’s the overt and covert threats that are the problem. The Conservatives pull in their horns to protect their public integrity.”

Green verdict on Boris Johnson’s government: “dishonesty, entitlement and impunity.”

Ollie Sykes, the Green Party Candidate for Hove and Portslade Constituency said: “When I think of Boris Johnson, three words come into my head: dishonesty, entitlement and impunity. This guy lied to the Queen as was verified by the Supreme Court Judgement and frankly I can’t believe a word that he says. And you know, the platform of Boris Johnson at the moment is: “We are the party that is best placed to sort out the mess that we created.” Frankly if you believe that, you’ll believe anything.” (Who you gonna vote for? Hove and Portslade 2019, The Vote, Latest TV, 29 November 2019)

I interviewed him about his position on Boris Johnson after he gave his verdict about the Prime Minister on Latest TV towards the end of last year.

Mr Sykes said: “I don’t trust Boris to do anything at all.” I asked him what the problem is with Mr Johnson and he said to me: “Impunity, entitlement and dishonesty.” By impunity, Mr Sykes means the Prime Minister’s apparent perception that whatever the Government does, they’ll get away with it including shutting down Parliament.

Finally, he spoke with deep regret about attacks on women MPs and the continuing downward trend of women leaving Parliament because it’s not a safe place to work. He gave examples of attacks on Hastings MP Amber Rudd and Labour’s Stoke Newington MP Dianne Abbott.

I approached Conservative Head Quarters and Councillor Robert Nemeth who is the Hove PPC (Prospective Parliamentary Candidate) for the Conservative Party to give them the right to reply and both declined to comment.

Migrants urge Brighton to consider “One day without us” if we leave the EU

As the exit polls predict a huge Conservative majority in the general election 2019, I am republishing a story written in 2016 before the EU referendum about what happens if we leave the EU. I will miss my European friends very much if we do in fact leave the EU. I very much hope we don’t. EU citizens can apply for settled status to remain in the UK.

Hundreds of people gathered yesterday at Brighton’s clock tower and across the UK to show solidarity with migrants from around the world who are living, working and studying in Britain. The event was organised by Pip from Left Unity to commemorate the UN day of social justice. #1daywithoutus

Monday 20 February was an important day: United Nations World day of Justice and the day Parliament debated US President Trump’s state visit to Britain with Defend Migrants Stop Trump protestors outside.

Jane Allen said she was supporting valued friends, neighbours and workers: “People from all nations get on living together for a common cause. My dentist is Greek, my physio is German. I am not from Brighton, I left Norfolk when I was one year old. Does that mean I should go back to Norfolk?

“I voted against Brexit because I was worried about people who might want to come to the UK. It never occurred to me, I never had any doubt that people who have been here for 20 years could be under threat of having to leave.

“I don’t want them to have to leave. I am here today to show how much I value them.”

Jane Allen

Jane Matthews said: “The more people that stand up, the better, show solidarity, if only everyone came by for 20 minutes, we’re all a bit complacent, it is very easy to ‘sofa shout.’

“I don’t know when multiculturalism became such a dirty word. Cultural diversity should be something we want to bring richness into life, it’s completely bonkers that people don’t want it.

“I challenge you to find me an indigenous Brit. Scaremongering and xenophobia is just all wrong.”

leave the EU

Marta Mouzo Insua spoke at the rally on behalf of the Spanish collective Marea Granate. She said Spanish people have very precarious living and working conditions and because of that many young people are forced to emigrate:

“I am one of them. We come here looking for a job, we do not come here hoping to become rich, stealing from you or taking advantage of your people and country. We just want to live with dignity.

“In exchange, we offer a lot of things to this country:

  • “Our education and work experience. A lot of us have high academic education and or a lot of work experience from our jobs. We are professionals of every sector.
  • “Our hands and bodies to work. Most of us are young people, between 20 to 45 years old.
  • “And our culture. Our culture to share with you and learn about your culture.

“We are the nurses and doctors that look after you, we are the engineers that design your computers or buildings, we are the waiters and waitresses who serve your drinks and we are the kitchen porters that clean your plates.”

Marta Mouzo Insua

Dorothée Fritze-James who came to the rally with her daughter explained the impact of Brexit on her family, the devastating impact if they have to leave the EU and dislikes the dehumanising of EU citizens: “I have been here since 1979. Now I have no right to be here, I am desperate, depressed, the kids, including my grandchildren, are deeply affected. I can’t sleep.”

She said she is lucky that she can afford an immigration lawyer (many can’t) to help her apply for UK citizenship but resents the UK using EU citizens as a bargaining chip and ignoring their pleas for clarity and security. She has had a permit for 33 years giving her indefinite leave to remain in the UK. It may not be enough if we leave the EU.

Sign the permanent residency petition here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/172343

Ms Fritze-James said: “My daughter, who was 10 months old when my ex-husband and I moved to the UK, must apply for Permanent Residency. This is her home, here. She has children and is married to a UK citizen. One of her children is no longer sleeping because of the anxiety, fearing that she’ll lose her mother. My daughter was educated in the UK and has never lived anywhere else.”

Angie Parker works as a special needs teacher is a German citizen carrying an EU passport and a Jew but has been a UK taxpayer for 30 years. She said: “I am going back to Germany because I don’t want to be a pawn in Mrs May’s stupid game. At least Germany is a positive democracy. I work in education but it is not enough to stay here. I am sick and tired of being told to pack my bags.”

Angie Parker

Councillors Phelim MacCafferty and Councillor Leo Littman attended the rally. Councillor MacCafferty urged people to directly promote the voice of the vulnerable and to become champions of compassion and concern.

He warned: “Ignoring prejudice of any sort has never made it disappear. We do not have the luxury of walking away from hatred anywhere in our city. We must be clear: we will oppose the growth of the far-right and will not allow the current climate of fear to go unchallenged. That’s because not just Brighton and Hove, but this country is better than this.”

“Ignoring prejudice does not make it go away. The call is to be better than this.” Yel Karavan’s father is an artist and she has been travelling since the age of three. She works as a dancer and physical performer and said: “It is beautiful when cultures learn from each other and open our minds. We all have a heart, we are all human, we are an organism and only when the organism works together, there is life.”

Greens and Lib Dems stand up to Labour over a proportional electoral system

I asked Hove’s Green candidate, Ollie Sykes, why he did not stand aside for Labour’s Peter Kyle in order to strengthen the ‘remain’ vote and form a ‘progressive alliance’ that mirrors a more proportional electoral system.

Mr Sykes, who served as a Councillor for Brunswick and Adelaide Ward until 2019 said: It’s because of a lack of reciprocation and because Hove is not a marginal seat. It’s extremely clear and it makes perfect sense because of the rationale and the nature of the seat.”

Later in the interview below, Mr Sykes said: “I think Labour and Peter Kyle personally support changes to our electoral system. If Peter Kyle had said he would support something proportional, I would have considered standing aside. In fact, I would have to think about that.”

In terms of a general election, Mr Sykes said: “All we can do is hope for is a hung Parliament.” Liberal Democrats have stood aside for Caroline Lucas from the Green Party in Brighton Pavilion in favour of a proportional electoral system but neither the Green Party nor the Lib Dems have stood aside for Peter Kyle in Hove and Portslade.

The reason this article matters is that a government majority of 66 sets a very dangerous precedent and will undermine Parliamentary scrutiny. I think our democracy is at risk and our constitution because of an unaccountable Prime Minister.

First Past the Post voting system

Mr Sykes said the problem with the British parliamentary system is it’s a two party contest, it’s a rigged game designed and maintained by two players.

“Despite the game being rigged when any other players do well, like the Greens are doing well in Brighton and Hove, the main players will still tell the smaller parties to step aside,” he said.

“Tactical voting is what people do to keep the Tories out. That contribution, that borrowed vote, is purely seen as a deserved, merited win. I think tactical voting causes long-term damage and the depression of the smaller parties.

“Evidently most people don’t spend their lives ‘doing politics.’ When it comes to elections, there’s always lots of discussion of tactical voting. There’s an impression that we do have a form of proportional representation (PR) because of the coalitions.

“But a local vote will have an impact on the vote nationally in terms of the nature of the next government.

“In a first past the post system, people are told a vote for the smaller parties is a wasted vote.

Green Position on Brexit

“The Green Party’s position on Brexit and wanting a People’s Vote has been clear from very early on. We think the only way out of this Brexit debacle is to have two options on the ballot paper, Leave and Remain.”

I asked Mr Sykes again why he did not stand aside like Lib Dem Paul Chandler in Brighton Pavilion to ‘stop Brexit’ and the Green Party Candidate said: “I think Labour and Peter Kyle personally support changes to our electoral system. If Peter Kyle had said he would support something proportional, I would have considered standing aside.” He then slightly retracted this by saying: “In fact, I would have to think about that.”

However, when they were both cross-examined at a hustings by the electorate according to Mr Sykes, Mr Kyle said that all proportional systems of government lose the geographical link.

Marginal Seats versus a proportional electoral system

I asked Mr Sykes what he thought of the Alternative Vote electoral system. He said in the marginal seat of Ceredigion in Wales where Gethin James was standing for the Brexit Party, 70% of votes cast were against the candidate that won the election. He said: “It’s possible in a multi-way marginal under the first past the post system.”

“In the 2015 and 2017 general elections, the number of votes that were effectively wasted were 64% and 71% respectively.”

Electoral turnout in Ceredigion, Plaid Cymru won by 0.2% with only 29.2% of the vote. None of the other votes were transferred from the losing parties so they were effectively wasted.

In a two party system, both the main parties want to win an outright majority. Mr Sykes admitted that in a proportional system there will be more extremists where parties are “forced to speak to each other, it’s just grown up politics.”

A proportional electoral system

The problem is a proportional system is not the way the political system in marginal seats works at the moment in the UK. In Britain the constitution which is unwritten works by a series of checks and balances between the executive i.e. the government, Parliament and the judiciary.

The power of a referendum or an election is to shift this balance of power by asking the people. The problem at the moment is that politicians can’t decide if and how to implement the outcome of the last EU referendum.

Labour’s Position

In response to Mr Sykes remarks, Labour MP for Hove and Portslade, Peter Kyle who has campaigned for a Confirmatory Referendum which is like a People’s Vote, said: “The Greens are obsessed with doing deals, I just want some common sense in this one-off Brexit election.

“I’ve said throughout this campaign that Labour supporters in areas we have no hope of winning, should consider voting for an anti-Tory party. Ollie is only interested in a deal that helps his party out, his first thought is ‘what’s in it for me and my party.’ This simply isn’t how I do my politics, I put our country first every time.

“The Greens and Lib Dems support a version of electoral reform that delivers for their party interests. I support a comprehensive review of what is wrong with our politics and finding appropriate ways of fixing it. Everything should be up for discussion including electoral reform but not limited to it.

“I’m sad that stopping Boris Johnson’s Brexit comes second to getting a vague commitment on proportional representation for Ollie, but it is what I’ve come to expect.”

Labour’s Jack Straw who served in Tony Blair’s government preferred an Alternative Vote system to Proportional Representation. The problem with PR is it has many electoral forms and tends to result in coalitions.

Liberal Democrat Position

Beatrice Bass who is the Liberal Democrat candidate is also standing in Hove. She said: “I am standing in this election to uphold the liberal values which the Liberal Democrats hold dear – equality, liberty and community.

“And I contribute to our aim of building a fair, fee and open society. I am proud to be standing on a fantastic manifesto with progressive policies and a comprehensive plan to tackle the climate crisis, improve health care and our education system, boost our economy and invest in our left behind regions and nations.

“In fact, the manifesto contains a policy that I introduced: to protect music venues in support of our vibrant music scene. And as a ‘Remainer’ and internationalist, I support the Lib Dems in our fight to stop Brexit.

“Hove is not a Remain Alliance seat because the Labour party is not part of the Remain Alliance, and Peter Kyle is standing on a manifesto to negotiate a new Brexit deal.

“Labour has been sitting on the fence for too long and has suffered under the antisemitism scandal.

“Many Labour members have ended their membership and have recently joined the Liberal Democrats (our local membership has increased significantly in the last few months and many former Labour members are now part of my campaign team.)

Liberal Democrat position on Brexit and a proportional electoral system

“People don’t trust Labour who want to negotiate their own Brexit deal and who continuously refuse to back Remain.

“The Lib Dems tabled People’s Vote motions 17 times in Parliament, but they did not pass because of a lack of Labour support.

“Increasing Labour MPs will mean we might have another delay whilst they negotiate a new deal and we’ll have further uncertainty over what that deal will be. There is also a high risk that this deal would win backing at a confirmatory referendum, which means we get a Labour Brexit after all.

“The safest way to stop Brexit is to vote for a party that is committed to fight for remaining in the EU.

“The Liberal Democrats are the biggest and strongest remain party and I am standing on a manifesto to either revoke article 50, if the Lib Dems gain a majority, or, if there is a hung Parliament, to continue our fight for a referendum, where the Lib Dems firmly, unanimously and unequivocally back Remain.

“Further, Brexit has changed the political landscape and people are moving away from the traditional right or left wing politics to voting either for an open, pro EU, pro equality party like the Lib Dems or Greens in the South East.

“Or they vote for a populist, protectionist and anti EU party like the Conservatives or the Brexit party.

“Many former conservative voters in Hove feel politically homeless. They do not support Boris Johnson’s protectionist Brexit direction. They also strongly disagree with Jeremy Corbyn’s hard left socialism.

“They are now looking at the Liberal Democrats and I would like to give these constituents a credible alternative and an opportunity to vote for a progressive party with policies fit for the 21st century.”

In Brighton and Hove we are beginning to see a progressive coalition on the left that may, win a People’s Vote that will help us break the Brexit impasse and could also herald in a proportional electoral system at Westminster.

Caroline Lucas launches her ‘new deal for nature’

During a frantic fortnight of this general election campaign, Brighton Pavilion’s Green Candidate for re-election, Caroline Lucas, launched a ‘new deal for nature’ last Thursday 5 December. She set out a range of policies to protect and restore wildlife and biodiversity in the UK.

Mrs Lucas has tabled a private member’s bill to take a ‘new green deal bill’ through Parliament. If she is successful as a private member (as opposed to the Government,) an announcement will be made in the Queen’s Speech which sets out the legislative framework after the general election. Hove MP Peter Kyle is also taking a bill through Parliament to outlaw domestic abuse and it has already been guaranteed a second reading.

Ollie Sykes is the Green Party candidate standing in Hove and Portslade. Newly elected MEP Alex Phillips is standing in Kemptown for the Green Party. You can find a full list of candidates for the general election here.

Mrs Lucas said: “We are not only running out of time on the climate emergency, there’s also little time left to reverse

Mrs Lucas said: “We are not only running out of time on the climate emergency, there’s also little time left to reverse the catastrophic decline in nature and wildlife.

“This election has to mark a turning point and the moment when people vote for nature.”

She said that in the last two centuries Britain has seen a catastrophic destruction of wildlife which is now one of the most densely populated countries in Europe.  Over the past 100 years, we have destroyed 99% of flower-rich meadows.  Just in the past 30 years, 44 million breeding birds have been lost because of habitat destruction.

As the foreword to the report says: “If we continue to trash our planet we will consign not only other species to extinction but, ultimately, ourselves. We must put the self-sustaining variety of life – biodiversity – at the centre of all work by government departments. This report provides a blueprint for how to achieve it.”

Caroline Lucas commissioned the report to assist her work as an MP, and to inform the Green Party’s own policies on wildlife and land use. Mrs Lucas also is taking a new green deal bill through Parliament.

Brighton’s one and only Green Party Candidate said: “While the climate emergency has rightly risen to the top of the political agenda, much less attention is paid to the crisis facing nature.  But it’s equally urgent that we address this too.

“The Green Party has the best and most ambitious policies on nature of any political party, as both Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have recently concluded.  But we cannot be complacent. 

“It’s not enough to have strong policies: we need to be constantly challenged to go further, and I hope this new deal for nature will put our natural environment at the centre of public debate, so that MPs in the next Parliament take decisive action on what’s needed to protect and restore nature and wildlife in Britain.”

The Green Party’s manifesto already contains over 70 policies on nature and wildlife and a commitment to put the natural world at the heart of government decision-making.  Among the pledges are the introduction of a Natural History GCSE, a 10-year transition to agro-ecological farming methods, better enforcement, and a Sustainable Economy Act which sets new legally binding targets for biodiversity, soil health and water quality alongside other measures.

Their new deal for nature puts forward 80 policy recommendations in areas including national parks and other protected landscapes, farming, urban wildlife, schools & young people and biosecurity.

Among the recommendations are:

  • A new statutory nature framework to place wildlife at the heart of planning
  • A new goal to designate 20% of Britain as national parks
  • Support for farmers to devote at least 15% of their land for nature
  • One hour a day learning outdoors for all primary school children, in addition to break time
  • Re-imaging towns and cities as places for people and wildlife with pocket parks, rewilding of public land around hospitals and other public buildings and some brownfield sites to be allocated temporary SSSI status

Patrick Barkham who writes for the Guardian about natural history is one of the authors and he said: “We are one of the most nature-depleted countries on the planet and still our wildlife declines. Policies for nature are too often seen as fluffy, inconsequential green window-dressing.

“We have a moral obligation to better live alongside other species but policies for wildlife are policies for people too. Our survival depends on other species and they enrich us all, wherever we live. A New Deal for Nature offers a mix of practical and inspiring ideas to show how we can revive nature in our backyards, neighbourhoods, cities and farmland.”

Another author, Helen Smith, president of the British Archaeological Society said: “Successive governments have regarded looking after our wildlife as a luxury, and as a soft target in hard times. This neglect has to end. Whether or not you have regard for the species with which we share the planet they, collectively, form our complex and fragile life support system – and the great weight of evidence shows that this system is crumbling.

The Green Party’s document ‘new deal for nature’ was written by a group of leading UK conservationists and nature writers, Mark Cocker, Jeremy Mynott, Jake Fiennes, Helen Smith and Patrick Barkham and commissioned by Caroline Lucas.

Fareshare Sussex calls for volunteers to feed people

FareShare Sussex urgently needs volunteers to help collect food from 21 to 23 November as part of this year’s Tesco Food Collection. The charity delivers surplus food to 122 frontline charities in Sussex.

Volunteers are required next Thursday to Saturday to encourage Tesco shoppers to donate vital store cupboard essentials, such as pasta, tinned food, tea and coffee. These will be redistributed by FareShare to charities such as domestic violence refuges, lunch clubs for older people, breakfast clubs and homeless hostels.

The Tesco Food Collection is the UK’s biggest food drive and last year the public donated enough food to provide 3.5 million meals to vulnerable people across the country. Customers doing their regular food shop at Tesco will be asked to buy an extra item to donate to FareShare. Tesco also tops up all customer donations by 20 per cent.

Fareshare Sussex

Farihah Choudhury, a volunteer at the last Tesco Food Collection, said: “I loved volunteering last year – it was great to speak with shoppers donating food and the kindness I saw was wonderful. I believe everyone should have access to good, healthy food and I’d encourage anyone who can, to give some time to help stop people going hungry this Christmas.”

Mark Richardson, Fundraising and Communications Manager at FareShare Sussex, said: “Charities and community groups can struggle to keep up with demand during the cold winter months so donations are needed now more than ever to help vulnerable people.

“The Deputy Mayor of Brighton and Hove, Councillor Alan Robins, will be paying a special visit to Tesco Portslade next Friday 22 November to encourage people to donate and tell them about the work we do across Sussex.

“Volunteers play a huge role in the success of the Tesco Food Collection each year – by giving up just three hours of your time, you can make a big impact in helping more people understand the importance of donating food. The donations will help to ensure more people get a hot, nutritious meal this Christmas.”


FareShare Sussex is the region’s branch of the UK’s largest food redistribution charity. We save over 563 tonnes of good surplus food from right across the food supply chain and redistribute it to 122 charities and community groups throughout Sussex.

In 2018/19 Fareshare Sussex provided enough food for over 1,300,437 meals (worth over £963,800 to the charity sector in savings.) It was given food from 500 food companies right across the food supply chain

FareShare Sussex is part of the UK’s largest food redistribution charity, with 22 Regional Centres across the country. It takes food from the food industry that can’t be sold in shops, either because of packaging errors or a short shelf life or overproduction.

That food, which is the same as the food you’d eat at home, is then redistributed through a network of 11,000 frontline organisations, across the UK such as homeless hostels, school breakfast clubs, domestic violence refuges, older people’s lunch clubs, food banks and hospices. FareShare provides enough food to create almost a million meals for vulnerable people every week and it saved 74,171,500 kg of carbon last year.

If you have three hours to spare, why not volunteer at any Tesco across Brighton and Hove and encourage people to donate food this Christmas so that as many people as possible across the city get a warm, home cooked meal over the festive period?

Anyone interested in volunteering can find out more and sign up here.

Film Brighton presents High Water: drugs or murder?

Look out for High Water, a feature-length thriller that opens with the discovery of a young man, Jake, dead on the beach in Brighton. It’s a film, directed and co-written by Ewan Gorman who wrote and directed the Beast of Bevendean in 2014, available on Amazon Prime.

The coroner rules that Jake died because of a heroin overdose but his father, Vince Sand is not convinced. Vince is an investigative journalist who sets out to discover the truth.

High Water
Vince Sand

As he searches for answers Vince discovers an underworld in Brighton of homelessness and drug-taking and a mafia-like web of businessmen ruthlessly exploiting the ‘Street People.’ Bitter rivalry divides the drug barons. Vince’s ex-wife is married to Lockwood, who owns a restaurant and knows the drug-dealers. Is Lockwood involved and if so, how?

Mr Gorman said: “High Water is about them and us. Homelessness is normalised: people in tents and sleeping bags and the imbalance of power between renters and landlords. Homelessness is a complicated one for lots of reasons and one of those is drugs. Addiction isn’t a choice.” Vince has been away from Brighton for five years and he sees a change when he returns.  

Real life murders inspired Mr Gorman to write his screenplay because he believes films must contain some truth to be authentic. He said: “This film is based on my own experiences, the people that I know, and events that have happened here in Brighton.” For example, he said a drug addict was murdered in Portslade because he couldn’t pay £100 debt, a body was found in the woods of a Brighton golf course and another on Hove Seafront. People repeatedly stepped over a dead body in a squat before reporting it.

Expect a revenge element where Vince is pushed through anger and grief to do things he wouldn’t normally do. High Water’s central question is what is the value of human life and does every life matter or do some lives matter more than others?

Mr Gorman teaches filmmaking at the Youth Film School and Hove College. He has set up Film Brighton which is a Community Interest Company that aims to ensure more feature films are made in Brighton and Hove. High Water is shooting this month and looking for investors at the moment. It’s the first of five feature films to receive £10,000 production funding from Film Brighton to be shot here in the city.

Hove MP fights for the rights of domestic abuse victims

Last week, Hove MP Peter Kyle urged the Government to finally outlaw the cross-examination of domestic abuse victims in family courts by perpetrators. In a House of Commons debate Peter Kyle MP urged the Government to make sure the long-awaited Domestic Abuse Bill is carried over to the next Parliamentary session.

Mr Kyle said: “[Survivors of domestic abuse] have been waiting for 25 years, and indeed for much longer, but for the past three years, the Government have been promising to outlaw cross-examination by perpetrators of domestic violence.

“People have waited for so long, so will he now give a commitment that this Bill will be seen through before the House is prorogued once more? If it was not, that would be the final straw for many very vulnerable people.”

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland MP confirmed that the Bill will be carried over to the next Parliamentary session and allowed to progress.

Peter Kyle
Peter Kyle MP for Hove and Portslade

Mr Kyle has been campaigning about domestic abuse since he was first elected in 2015, when a constituent at one of his surgeries told him of her horrific experience being cross-examined. Mr Kyle spoke about this in yesterday’s debate, and stressed that there must be no further delay.

He said: “I was made very aware of the problem of cross-examination by perpetrators of domestic violence when a woman came to see me at a surgery soon after I became a Member of Parliament. She had suffered so much abuse—she had been raped multiple times, she had been knocked unconscious and she had been hospitalised more than a dozen times—but the perpetrator of those crimes, from prison, summoned her to family court on three separate occasions.

“She told me that on the third occasion she had to ask the taxi driver to stop on the way home so she could vomit in the gutter because of the experience of being cross-examined by the perpetrator of the crimes against her.

“She told me that if she was summoned a fourth time, she would capitulate and give him whatever he wanted. She was broken, not just by the criminal who raped and abused her, but by the system that allowed her to be cross-examined by him, and that allowed the abuse to continue under the nose of judges, and in front of police—the very people the state appoints to support and protect women like her.”

Mr Kyle also pointed out that almost three years have passed since the Government first committed to outlawing cross-examination.  

In response to his urgent question, he said: “After a huge campaign, both from Members from across the House and in the media, the Government finally gave way and agreed to make a change. I credit Mr Speaker with granting me an urgent question on the subject in January 2017, almost three years ago, at which the Government relented for the first time and promised to change the law.

Sir Oliver Heald, then Minister for Courts and Justice, said in reply: “This sort of cross-examination is illegal in the criminal courts, and I am determined to see it banned in family courts, too. Work is being done at a great pace…the urgency is there.”

Mr Kyle said: “That is important. The woman I mentioned cried with joy at the news that there would be a change. In her words, she felt liberated; a weight had been lifted from her shoulders.

“However, we must recognise the scale of the suffering that there has been since the Government gave that commitment almost three years ago. While we celebrate the Bill finally bring brought in, there has been much suffering as a result of the delays.”

The full debate can be found here.

My article was first published in Brighton and Hove News.

Brighton MP launches first Green New Deal Bill for UK

As thousands gather for what is expected to be the UK’s biggest climate demonstration yet, MPs Caroline Lucas and Clive Lewis are launching the first legislative attempt to introduce a Green New Deal Bill in Parliament.  

According to the Green Party, the Bill aims to transform the infrastructure of our society and at the same time fix an economic model that continues to fail the majority of people, as well as to destroy the planet.  

It’s also a response to the top demand of the climate strikers and is being launched today to show that at least some politicians are listening and have a plan of action to meet the scale of the crisis. It addresses the climate crisis, accelerating biodiversity loss, the unsustainability of our current farming methods and the destructive inequality in our society.

Brighton Pavilion’s MP, Caroline Lucas said: “The young climate strikers on the streets today don’t just want climate action, they want a Green New Deal that delivers for everyone.

“If we are to mend our broken democracy and give people hope for their future, we must invest in an economy where we live sustainably, differently and more equally.

“We know this is possible. We know it’s essential. Our system is in crisis and faces an environmental and political breakdown. Our Green New Deal Bill, launched this morning, sets out an action plan. When parliament returns, we will be doing everything we can to make it happen.”

Green New Deal
Brighton’s Green MP Caroline Lucas

The key aims of the Bill are to:

  1. Introduce legally-binding targets to cut emissions, reverse inequality and turn around the degradation of our environment, year-on-year to 2030. After 2030 Greens will maintain a zero carbon economy.
  2. Change the way the Government manages the economy to enable extensive public and private investment in a Green New Deal.
  3. Appoint a Green New Deal Commission to draw up a comprehensive action plan to transform our energy supply, transport system, farming, buildings and the way we work.

The bill includes measures to:

  1. Take back control from the markets to open-up opportunities for public-led investment in the Green New Deal.
  2. Make sure that the government, Treasury, Bank of England and the Debt Management Office cooperate so that the funding required for the Green New Deal will be available at the lowest possible price for society.
  3. End our fixation with growth and prioritise new measures that help guide us towards improvement in people’s health and well-being, the reduction of inequality, tackling the climate emergency, and the restoration and protection of the natural environment.
  4. Redistribute democratic power and resources to devolved government and elected mayors, including the power to raise their own green bonds.
  5. Guarantee climate justice, by ensuring investment across the UK, with a particular focus on de-industrialised areas and the many communities who have been excluded from full participation in the economy and society.
  6. Transform our energy supply and transport systems, eliminating greenhouse gas emissions and reducing air pollution.
  7. Make housing energy-efficient, ensuring all new homes are zero-carbon and meet social need.
  8. Decarbonise our farming, reducing the ecological damage caused by current methods and improving our food system.
  9. Promote global justice by ensuring finance and technology for the global south, and by promoting the Green New Deal approach worldwide.

A report, The Green New Deal: A Bill to make it happen, by the Green New Deal Group – of which the MP Caroline Lucas is a member – accompanies the publication of the Bill.

The Decarbonisation and Economic Strategy Bill was first set down by Caroline Lucas MP and Clive Lewis MP in March 2019 and tabled in full just before Parliament was prorogued.

An explanatory note to the Bill, produced by the Green New Deal Group is available at: greennewdealgroup.org with the fifth report of the Green New Deal Group: The Green New Deal: A Bill to make it happen.

This article is also published in Brighton and Hove News.

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.

Muslims: “Whosoever kills a person, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind.”

Unfortunately, people currently associate Muslims with terrorism. It’s not a new phenomenon. The Irish had the same problem in the 1980s. And Muslims are blamed for terrorism at the moment more than any other group.

‘Love for all, hatred for none’ is the Ahmadi motto and central tenet of their faith. Ahmadi Muslims swear allegiance annually to their faith, their Caliph who is their worldwide leader and to the country in which they live now, not their country of origin. They are pillars of the communities where they live and as yet, no Ahmadi Muslim has ever been tried or convicted of terrorism charges.

Pledge of allegiance to the Ahmadi faith, the Caliph and the UK

Their central challenge is how they turn around perceptions about Islam, not least perceptions in the media. As several people remarked over the Jalsa Salana, if a white person massacres people, his background is immediately investigated. If a Muslim does the same, the media think terrorism first.

The media don’t always call out white perpetrators as racist and they have protection if they suffer from schizophrenia or another mental health condition. I don’t recall hearing about the background of Muslim terrorists, only their deadly intent and how they were radicalised.

I caught up with the Ahmadi Muslims at their annual convention which is known as the Jalsa Salana. It takes place at Oaklands Farm, Alton in Hampshire. 38,000 Ahmadis flock from all over the world and 5000 of them serve as volunteers to ensure the smooth running of the event. It’s an example of the Ahmadis commitment to service. But it doesn’t stop there.

They hold an annual walk for peace in every region of the UK raising money for the Poppy Appeal and British Heart Foundation as well as much smaller local charities. Non-Ahmadis are invited to participate and there is no joining fee. As a community, the Ahmadis are inclusive and outward looking.

Humanity First enables the Ahmadis to travel the globe and provide disaster relief. A lot of the doctors give up their annual leave to travel at short notice and help when disasters strike. A team went to the Tsunami and are active in many parts of the world reaching out to people of many faiths and none. Humanity First is a disaster relief charity set up by Ahmadis but operated independently and “serving all of mankind” (their motto). 

Ahmadiyya Press team, Ismael, Atif Malik with Roz Scott

Guests at the Jalsa said they were impressed by the Ahmadis because they put their faith into action, they walk their faith. They demonstrate God’s love through charitable works and humanitarian aid and let this love speak for itself.

It’s not commonly known that the root of the word Islam means peace. Ahmadis preach and live this message of peace led by their Caliph, Mirza Masroor Ahmad. Declan Henry believes the Caliph’s leadership is one reason that this community is so strong and peaceful. Mr Henry is a writer and social worker who has written a book called voices of modern Islam. Mr Henry is an Irish Catholic but he thinks it is worse to be a Muslim at the moment because they can be targeted and face discrimination.

Mr Henry believes other Muslims distrust the Ahmadis because of theological differences about whether the Messiah has arrived or is yet to come and he said many sects of Islam lack true leadership. He said: “Other Muslims envy the Ahmadis who have the Caliph, a holy and honourable man. The Ahmadis are the most integrated of Muslims in the UK.”

Set up after the Paris attacks, Ahmadis have led the campaign ‘United Against Extremism’ that counters the rhetoric and ideology of terrorism. They quote from the Qu’ran for their inspiration: “Whosoever kills a person, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind.” (5:33)

Ahmadis come to Hampshire in force for their annual Jalsa Salana

At Oaklands Farm in Hampshire last weekend over 39,000 Ahmadi Muslims from 155 countries met for their annual convention , the ‘Jalsa Salana.’ 355 new mosques have been built including one in Tilford. The reported reach of the event coverage was 59.3million in TV, radio, print and online.    

David Harmer, County Councillor for Waverley Western Villages in Surrey said: “If the rest of the country was as well organised as the Jalsa is every year, we wouldn’t have any problems.” Mr Harmer said he was fascinated by the motto, ‘Love for all, hatred for none’ and even more impressed that the Ahmadis live to it. All members of the Ahmadiyya Community pledge allegiance to their faith, the Caliph and to the country where they live.

Councillor David Harmer, Waverley Western Villages with Roz Scott, journalist

It’s important to notice, they pledge allegiance to the country they live in, not their country of origin. In my experience, Ahmadi Muslims speak impeccable English and contribute significantly to Britain’s net worth and GDP. Their faith requires them to integrate into the very fabric of British society and to become pillars of the communities they live in.

An example of this is when the Ahmadiyya Community built their mosque in Morden they were committed to open communication. Councillor Peter Southgate of Merton said they ‘anticipated planning resistance but the mosque is a force for good. The impact on the ward and the social cohesion is very positive. There are new businesses in the Morden area. Without the Ahmadis, the retail units would be empty.”

Doing charitable work is central to the faith of the Ahmadis. Doctor Chaudhury Ljaz Rehman is the President of the UK Ahmadiyya Muslim Elders Association: “There’s an ethos to our charitable work. Every year we support the Poppy Appeal and British Heart Foundation.

“We have a national walk for peace in every region of the UK every year. Schools are asked to join in. We don’t charge an admin fee. Religion teaches us to serve people regardless of creed, colour or religion. The British are a charitable nation, we want to do the same. The world needs more people committed to charitable work based on their faith in God. Without God, the work is rarely sustainable.”

Sue Carter, Mayor of Rushmoor, said she had never heard of the Ahmadis until she became Mayor. She said: “As soon as a bomb goes off, it’s all news and then we dissect it.” She works with a lot of young people including ex-gang leaders to help them transform their communities and said: “Life changes, sometimes it’s a struggle but you can get through it.”

Councillor Sue Carter, Mayor of Rushmoor with Colonel James Sunderland

Councillor Richard Billington, Mayor of Guilford, said: “It’s almost bewildering in its scale, the scale of the operation, the attraction of the Ahmadis is worldwide. The problem is press presentation. They tend to write about the bombs and the bullets, you don’t hear about the gentle, charitable work. It breaks the hearts of the Ahmadis. They are polite, kind, Westernised but in a slightly Islamic way.

“I worry that some immigrant communities are not as confident of themselves to integrate but the Ahmadis are confident. They integrate without feeling they are losing their identity.”

While visiting the Surrey Police stall I recognised this drive to integrate while speaking to Farhan Hayat, an Ahmadi Muslim. He explained his role as a Positive Action manager in Surrey Police and appealed to others from under-represented groups to join the force. Reflecting on his visit to the Jalsa Salana, Robin Perry who is a Councillor in Camberley was “fascinated” by his visit. “It was a real education,” he said, “In the SE of England people are reserved and share the same sense of humour as the Ahmadis.”

Colonel James Sunderland is head of Army Engagement. He travels the country talking about the work of the army and promoting collaboration. He said: “The Ahmadis are warm, hospitable, they care about the communities where they live. What’s nice about the Ahmadi community, they are always reaching out. I am always made to feel very welcome. They are apolitical just like the army. They are interested in family and shared values. I wear my uniform for a reason, it’s important to extend the hand of friendship.”

Wang Jen Zhen likes the Ahmadiyya Community because of the learning the community affords. She said: “The Jalsa is brilliantly organised. Brilliant exhibition. I like the fact you just learn a lot. I am there to learn about people’s beliefs.”

Dignitaries have come to the Jalsa from across the world, King Yahaya Abubakar Etsu Nupe is the King of Niger State in Nigeria. He said: “Love, peace, unity, this is the best thing.” He likes the Ahmadis because they build schools and hospitals and try to help people.

EU residents face extra hurdle to vote in European elections

If you are an EU resident of Brighton and Hove, you have an extra hurdle to jump if you want to vote in the European elections on May 23rd. This is a separate election to the Brighton and Hove City Council elections which will be held next Thursday, 02 May.

Nearly fourteen thousand EU residents of Brighton & Hove work in our hospitals, teach in our schools, serve in our restaurants and pay their taxes. All EU residents must complete and return a form UC1 or you will be turned away at the polling booth.

Even if you think you have a vote as an EU resident because you have a polling card for the local elections on 02 May, you still have to return the UC1 form to be eligible to vote in European elections. The form will be sent to you by the council and you must return it by 5 pm on the 07 May.

Brighton and Hove Electoral Services are poised to send notification of this to all the EU residents next Wednesday. But this leaves you less than a week to get your registration form UC1 back to the council. Alternatively, you can download it from the Electoral Commission.

Sadly some Brexiteers have threatened, if elected, to disrupt the EU Parliament. All of us must do all we can to ensure that our chosen MEP’s have our best interests at heart, as well as those of our fellow Europeans.

UKIP won the most number of seats in the European Parliament during the last round of EU elections in 2014 but their popularity in the UK has subsequently declined.

You can check the government website to see what to do if you come from the EU and want to remain living in the UK.

EU residents are entitled to vote in local elections in the communities where they live automatically. Local elections will take place next Thursday 02 May across Brighton and Hove.

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.

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.

Peter Kyle wants remain on the ballot paper and wants the people to endorse any deal before Parliament votes it through. What worries me is that politicians have manifestly failed to “get Brexit done” thus far. I hope we can trust them with our future.

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.

This is why what Peter Kyle is suggesting is a confirmatory vote of what politicians decide which is likely to be a Brexit deal in line with the referendum result. Then like many remainers, Peter Kyle wants to give the the public a right to veto i.e. the people saying they would prefer to remain, given facts unavailable at the time of the last referendum.

This is reasonable, 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.

This article was updated on 12.12.19.

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.

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 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.

Hove MP criticises closing and replacing the Western Road Post Office

Hove’s Labour MP condemned the ‘sham consultation’ and the closing down of the Western Road Post Office during has a debate in Parliament this week about franchises.

Post Office bosses claimed that the number of customers using this post office had declined and said the branch was no longer “commercially sustainable”. After a public consultation over its viability, the Western Road Post Office was closed down in spite of public protests. Mr Kyle handed a petition with 5,400 names to the post office with community activists before the Western Road branch was closed in February 2016.

Western Road Post Office
Western Road Post Office

Only a year or two later, the Post Office has now installed a new branch in the Western Road newsagent, just feet away from the location of the closed crown post office.

This has raised questions over the sincerity of the public consultation as well as the Post Office’s stated reasons that the original crown office was “commercially unviable.”

Mr Kyle has taken a keen interest in post offices and other public services for many years. He chaired a public meeting about the Western Road Post Office closure back in the summer of 2015 and has followed all subsequent developments closely since then.

Speaking in a Westminster Hall debate about franchising last Thursday 10 January, Mr Kyle said: “I have absolutely no doubt that I was misled, that the community I represent was misled and—worst of all—that the customers who used and depended on that post office were misled and the staff who had given a career and indeed a lifetime in work to that western road post office branch were misled.

“The western road post office staff’s jobs disappeared and the jobs that have been created in their place have no pension liability and no guarantee that they would have the standards that people who work long-term in the Post Office can expect. And those workers were no longer part of the Post Office family.

“We have a Prime Minister who stood on the steps of Downing Street and said she was going to maintain those sorts of rights and tackle injustices.

“The Post Office is one of her companies; it is an organisation that she runs. However, she has allowed it to dwindle, to be stripped of assets and to be taken away from our high streets, and replaced with something that has less value, makes less of a contribution to our communities, and that offers less stability and value in the workplace to the people who work for it.”

Mr Kyle then called on the Business Minister responsible for postal affairs, Kelly Tolhurst MP, to intervene:

“I say to the Minister directly that I understand that she has said that it is not her job to meddle with the running of the Post Office.

“However, in times such as this, I and my community expect her to roll up her sleeves and get stuck in because if branches are being taken from our high streets, and MPs and our communities are being misled, we are their elected officials. She is speaking on behalf of the Government and we expect her to act.”

This article was first published on Brighton and Hove News website.

“It’s a matter of life and death: Communities united fighting for our public services” (Sussex Defend the NHS)

On a slightly drab but mild October morning, I set off early to go to the Level in Brighton and meet supporters from across Brighton and Hove at a rally to promote public services today, Saturday, 13 October. It was organised by Sussex Defend the NHS and Brighton and Hove Trades Council.

Before formal proceedings kicked off, I met Beverley Berstow who is standing as the Women’s Equality Party next year in Hanover in the local elections. Ms Berstow explained her party’s vision to me in this way: “We don’t really want to exist as a party but none of the other parties are doing anything for women’s rights. I don’t think they are taking them seriously.” She said many members of other parties including men as well as women came to the Women’s Equality Party because of disaffection with mainstream politics.

Women's Equality Party
Beverley Berstow with her colleagues.

Abi Pearce and Claire Campbell are teachers in Brighton and Hove. Ms Pearce said: “The funding crisis is having a huge impact on schools and has a big impact on teachers. Schools can’t retain or recruit teachers which impacts directly on children’s education.”

Ms Campbell wanted to talk about the detrimental effect underfunding was having on special educational needs. She said: “Schools cannot afford to employ 1:1 teachers and general classroom assistants. All the council services are being streamlined so referrals are taking longer, assessments are taking longer which is hugely frustrating for parents and teachers.”

Next, I met Glory and Michelle who are both British, Glory is a Latino Brit who has lived in Britain for many years. Michelle said: “I believe in a caring society where you are valued and not equated (judged by) your ability to pay for the NHS. Some years back, in healthcare representatives didn’t check how much money you had before giving you the healthcare. That is no longer true.”

Glory said: “I work in education and my son is a junior doctor. I think it’s disgraceful that essential services are being underfunded and sold off and our conditions of employment are getting worse.”

Michelle and Glory

Valerie Mainstone who works at the Brighton Unemployed Centre among other places across the city said we should challenge the government’s hostile environment wherever we can. She said: “I saw the valuable contribution made by the immigrants to the NHS ever since 1948, when African-Caribbean nurses first appeared in hospitals.

“My great-grandmother died for want of a sixpence before the NHS because no doctor would come unless you could pay.

“Our NHS was created to be publicly owned and free at the point of need for everyone – and that’s how it should stay.”

Maud from Migrant English Project and Brighton Migrant Solidarity took to the podium to talk about immigration and, in particular, unfair detention. She said the UK has the largest number of detainees in Europe, although the number of children in detention has dropped from 109 in 2009 to 42 this year. She criticised the government for putting structures in place that means people from outside Britain pay a healthcare tariff which is 50% higher than the tariff the government pays for British nationals.

Brighton migrant solidarity
Brighton Migrant Solidarity

Clara Astill is a member of the Unite union which was set up to help unemployed people, fight for a fully funded NHS, truly affordable housing and a decent welfare system. She said: “The latest campaign which we, with other groups, are involved with is the fight against Universal Credit. This benefit has impoverished, not only the unemployed, leading to people losing their homes and sometimes their families, but has begun to affect employed people, those paid so little they rely on state benefits to top up their income.”

Matthew Webb, a member of Brighton and Hove Trades Council which is a branch of the TUC, said: “The misfortune of sickness should not become a burden of poverty and indignity.” He said trade unions supported the victims of Grenfell and the Schools SOS as well as the NHS, migrants and young workers at Wetherspoons.

He said: “We support the NHS and the people who rely on it to get from one day to the next.” And he warned politicians locally and nationally: “Where we see injustice, we will organise.”

Brighton Council’s Unison leader said it was an ominous sign three days ago when Prime Minister Theresa May appointed a suicide prevention minister for the first time whose name is Jackie Doyle -Price. She said: “We could not make this up.” Mrs Beatty criticised the government for taking millions of pounds from public services and giving it to private companies but she told the rally to take heart because, “we are the many, you are few.”

Brighton's Green MP Caroline Lucas
Brighton’s Green MP Caroline Lucas

Green MP Caroline Lucas opened her speech by saying: “We’re here to protest against the way this government has wrecked our public services. A government that is dismantling the welfare state, flogging off public services, privatising services, attacking the rights of migrants, impoverishing our children. And we’re here to say, ‘Enough is Enough – the fightback is on!’

“We’re here because we’re angry. Angry that this government continues to break up and marketise our NHS.

“Angry that Brexit will make this even worse – putting off EU workers who no longer feel welcome here. Freedom of movement is a precious gift – the right to work and study and live and love in 27 other countries – we should be defending it, not trashing it.

“Angry that health workers have to rely on handouts and foodbanks. And that’s why our message is loud and clear – invest in public services and Stop the Cuts.

“The Prime Minister had the gall to stand up at her party conference and to expect our gratitude for declaring that austerity is over. The truth is that austerity was never needed. It had nothing to do with the financial crisis and everything to do with an ideological obsession with shrinking the state.

“And the damage that has been done to our hospitals and schools is immense.

“They’re at breaking point:

  • Ambulances backed up outside A&E departments.
  • One of my 84 constituents left alone on her bathroom floor for over four hours waiting for an ambulance.
  • And when it comes to our schools, per pupil funding slashed.

“It’s wrong that head teachers are forced to sack teaching assistants, to end support to pupils with mental health problems, that parents are having to organise jumble sales for basics like books.

“So as well as saying Defend our NHS, we are absolutely here to say, Save Our Schools as well…

Public services rally

“So what can we hope for from his replacement (Jeremy Hunt’s) at the Department for Health, Matt Hancock? Well, don’t hold your breath.

“This is the Health Minister who has received £32,000 in donations from the Institute of Economic Affairs – an organisation which describes the NHS as one of the most, “over-valued, inefficient systems in the world.

“A Health Minister who’s been actively endorsing the GP at Hand app operated by the private company Babylon, and requiring patients to deregister from their existing practice before they can sign up.

“With a tally of 10 GP practices having closed in our city in the last few years alone… (he should) start investing properly in our national health service.

“Friends, we know things could and should be different. And we know that by coming together we can make them different.

“We are the sixth richest country in the world, and we are working for a country with

  • No patients waiting hours on a trolley in A&E.
  • No patients suffering in pain, as operations are repeatedly cancelled.
  • No more running down and dismantling our NHS.
  • No more slashing funds for our schools and our welfare state.

“I’m proud to be standing up in Parliament to fight for our public services. I’m proud that the Green Party has championed the NHS Reinstatement Bill from the very beginning.

“And I’m proud that all of us together are saying – loudly and clearly – No to the government’s ‘Slash, Trash and Privatise Agenda’ – and Yes to keeping our schools and our NHS public. Always. Thank you.”

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

Brighton and Hove Green Party

Prevent suicide by working together says Brighton charity

When asked how to prevent suicide, Roz said: “Sometimes it’s very hard to know how to carry on. But if you talk to someone, you may just manage to turn a corner.”

World Suicide Prevention Day is an annual event on Monday 10 September led by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and the World Health Organisation. The emphasis this year is on the role that communities and individuals can play in helping to prevent deaths by suicide in their communities and the theme is ‘Working Together to prevent suicide.’


Grassroots Chief Executive Stella Comber said: “Many people fear talking about suicide in case they get it wrong or even put the idea in a person’s head. Talking about suicide needn’t be confronting, it can be gentle and reassuring but more importantly it could help save a life. Our Real talk workshops are designed for everyone, they use clear and simple language to help reach out and support a person who might be struggling.

“It’s important that we understand how common these thoughts are, so that we start to break down the stigma and the fear of talking. We need to get right away from the belief that somehow talking makes it worse. Talking about suicide is OK. Yes, it takes courage but its courage that we all have

Most deaths by suicide in Brighton and Hove and across the UK take place in the community not in mental health settings. So it’s down to us to start that conversation. That’s why we want more people to get involved, it’s essential that we pass on the skills and confidence needed to save lives. By working together, supporting each other we really can make a difference”.

Changemaker Tiff said: “I am open to talking about suicide because the thought of losing someone I love is catastrophic. If I can talk about suicide, you can.”

Brighton & Hove City Council’s Public Health team support the work of Grassroots Suicide Prevention, a Brighton-based charity, through their public health programme. Grassroots will be marking World Suicide Prevention Day with a range of awareness raising activities across the city. These include a number of public stalls, a photography exhibition at Brighton Station, and delivering a Real Talk workshop with the simple aim to get people talking about suicide in an open, safe and honest way.

Grassroots invite members of the public to come and find out more about how they can get involved and mark suicide prevention day on Monday (10 September:)

  • An evening ‘Real Talk’ workshop in Brighton followed by a screening of a short film about Grassroots’ volunteer Change Makers – 6.30-8pm at 68 Middle St. Brighton, BN1 1AL Click here to book your place.
  • An information stall at Jubilee Library to support starting conversations about suicide prevention work in the city, and encouraging engagement through a variety of means, such as, downloading the appattending training and taking the ‘Tell Me’ pledge. You can read more about the stay alive app here. It gives local contact details for concerned residents and a gallery to put photos that give you a reason to stay alive.
  • An information stall at Brighton Station with a similar focus to the library stall
  • A photography exhibition at Brighton Station, running September 9th – 18th, using the long wall along the wooden walkway at the back entrance. Following the theme of ‘Working Together’ this will include portraits of local people who care about suicide in the community and are taking action to prevent it.

Grassroots Suicide Prevention was established in 2006, to use education and innovation to help make communities safer from suicide. They provide mental health and suicide prevention training courses and expertise to large and small organisations both locally and nationally.

Grassroots is not a crisis service, it trains people to talk about suicide and seek help. If you’re feeling like you want to die, it’s important to tell someone. Help and support is available right now if you need it. You don’t have to struggle with difficult feelings alone. You can call the Samaritans at any time, day or night, Tel: 116123 or email jo@samaritans.org.

Further resources are available here.

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

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