Brighton and Hove stand together in the rain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Performance poet Michael James Parker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vote remain or become little England

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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