Thank you for allowing me to speak. I am Tom Franklin, chair of York Green Party and parliamentary candidate for York Central.
Happy No Brexit Day!
After climate change Brexit is probably the greatest issue that we face as a country. It has divided communities in a way that few other issues have. When the conservative party started on this before the 2015 general election it was not an issue for people, with less than 5% of the population saying it was an important issue. The referendum was supposed to be a way for dealing with an internal Conservative party issue. We then had a referendum in 2016 which did not say what kind of Brexit we wanted, and was narrowly won by less than 52% to over 48%. That result was achieved through fraud, to the extent that a high court judge ruled that if the referendum had been binding it would have been declared void.
Brexit will do huge damage to York and the people of York. Our NHS relies on staff from Europe, our two universities are hugely enriched by staff and students from Europe including from programmes like Erasmus and EU funded research. We have friends and neighbours from the EU who we welcome and who enrich life in York. People who fear that they will be turned into illegal immigrants because of the bureaucratic nightmare of registration, where many of people find themselves refused because they have not kept paperwork from many years ago that they never needed until now. This is a very real fear given the number who have been refused indefinite leave to stay, and who have seen the suffering inflicted on the “Windrush generation” who had been here for years.
Personally, I support the Green Party’s long held position that we need a confirmatory referendum, as the original referendum never made clear what type of Brexit was being considered. So, we need a vote between whatever deal the new government may negotiate after the election, a “no deal Brexit” and remain. Whether that would be by single transferable vote or a runoff second ballot I don’t mind. As you can probably tell from my beret I will be supporting remain.
We clearly need a way forward, and one that avoids petty party-political point scoring. One aimed at bringing people together. So, as a member of the Green Party, I welcome the motion from the Liberal Democrat especially as improved by the Labour Group amendment. As one of the signatories of the concordat mentioned in the amendment, I would hope that we can build on it and all work together to prevent a deeply damaging no deal Brexit that is supported by those on the extreme edges of the Conservative party.
Further, if we are to have any chance of electing an MP in York Outer who favours a people’s vote then it is essential that either Labour or the Liberal Democrats stand down in favour of the other party. If one or other agrees to then we too will stand down in York Outer.
I urge you all to put aside point scoring, build on the concordat and support the Labour Group amendment and then to support the amended motion, which can bring us all together.