This open letter has been sent by CB4EU to every candidate standing in the May 3rd 2018 local elections (and has already been reported in the Barnet Borough Times – read the article here)
Chipping Barnet for Europe is part of a growing UK-wide network of local volunteers campaigning for a meaningful vote on any Brexit deal agreed by the government, with the option to remain in the EU if the negotiations leave people worse off. I am writing to you, a candidate in the Local Elections on 3 May, to express our concerns about the impact of Brexit on Barnet residents; to point out the disadvantages of ignoring Remain voters and to press for a re-think on the destructive course our country has followed since the 2016 referendum.
As you will know, in the 2016 referendum the people of Barnet were overwhelmingly in favour of staying in the EU. For nearly two years now we have watched with increasing dismay as the major parties have failed to engage with Remain voters.
At the 2017 General Election, Theresa Villiers’ majority was cut from 7,656 in 2015 to just 353, with much of the swing away from the Conservatives being attributable to tactical voting aimed at denying Theresa May a mandate for her version of Brexit. Unfortunately, a poor General Election performance has done nothing to change Conservative Party policy. Meanwhile, the Labour leadership continues to assert that Brexit is inevitable, despite the wishes of the majority of Labour supporters.
Incredibly, as the Barnet Local Election campaign begins, there seems to be a conspiracy of silence around Brexit from both major parties. This massive change is barely mentioned in campaign literature and canvassers would rather talk about bins and potholes. But Brexit is not something that will happen somewhere else and to somebody else. Whether hard or soft, jobs first, red, white or blue, Brexit is very much a local issue, affecting all aspects of life in the Borough.
Evidence for the damaging effect of leaving the EU continues to mount. Jobs are moving from Britain to Europe. Recruitment to the NHS is collapsing as doctors and nurses from the EU27 return home because they no longer feel welcome here. Rather than getting extra cash for the NHS, we are wasting millions on replicating arrangements that we currently share with our European partners. Internationally, Britain’s reputation is being trashed.
With varying degrees of openness, some local politicians have been prepared to admit to pro-EU views and if the subject is raised at all we are invited to vote for them on that basis. But the aftermath of the General Election showed that a vote for a pro-EU candidate from a pro-Brexit party will be spun as a vote to leave the EU.
For this reason, Chipping Barnet for Europe cannot endorse parties with a pro-Brexit stance, whatever the views of individual candidates and despite vague promises from some quarters that policy is ‘evolving’. The clock is ticking. We no longer have the luxury of being able to sit back and allow a long game to play itself out. We will therefore be advising our supporters to think carefully about how to use their vote to advance the pro-EU cause on 3 May. This pattern is being repeated across the country and Remain supporters are increasingly ready to break with traditional party loyalties to ensure their voices are heard.
As an individual who cares enough about Barnet to put your head above the parapet and stand for election, we would urge you to think carefully about the consequences of persisting with Brexit. Please make the case for remaining in the EU to your party, nationally as well as locally, and stand up for what the majority of Barnet voters know to be right.
Standing up for us means standing up for friends and colleagues in Barnet who are EU27 nationals and who for months now have lived with crippling uncertainty about their future status. It means standing up for the NHS, which will be irrevocably damaged by Brexit. It means standing up for those who are least able to weather the economic consequences of Brexit – the young, the sick and the elderly who rely on social care. It means standing up for the thousands of decent people who look with dismay at what our country has become since we hosted the 2012 Olympics. It means standing up to those who seek to divide our community by spreading race hatred. And it means helping to reverse a national ‘consensus’ that leaves more than half the electorate unrepresented.
Chipping Barnet for Europe