The Local Elections 2018 will take place next week – on Thursday 3 May. We would urge you to think very carefully about how to use your vote to advance the pro-EU cause. That may well mean breaking with traditional party loyalties to ensure our voices are heard.
Unless things change (and we continue to campaign for a Final Say for All), this will be the last opportunity for Barnet voters to express their concerns about the impact of Brexit; to protest about the way Remain voters are being ignored and to press for a re-think on the destructive course our country has followed since the 2016 referendum.
As you know, in 2016 the people of Barnet voted 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. Her 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.
During this Local Election campaign there seems to have been a conspiracy of silence around Brexit from both major parties. This massive change has barely been mentioned in campaign literature, and canvassers would far rather steer the conversation towards 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 mentioned 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 believe the time has come to take a stand. That 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 irretrievably 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.
Please make sure you vote, and encourage all your friends and family to vote. Together we will beat Brexit. Our voices must be heard.
Chipping Barnet for Europe