“When we are elected in May we will oppose a damaging Tory hard Brexit”, my speech to Wandsworth Council

It’s been 20 months since the EU referendum – a referendum that was not called in the national interest but to settle Tory party divisions and satisfy the personal ambitions of a handful of boys from the same boys’ club.

Since then, we have had a serious devaluation of our currency. We have turned ourselves from the fastest growing economy in Europe to the slowest growing.

Both private business and public-sector organizations like the NHS are facing labour shortages.

St George’s University has seen the greatest drop in EU student numbers of all south west London universities since the Brexit result. It’s not just hitting staffing and recruitment. St George’s relies for 13% of their research budgets on EU funding. All this at a time when the NHS is being starved of funds.

All this at a time when the NHS is being starved of funds.

According to a recent survey of council leaders 61% believed Brexit would have a negative or very negative impact on their regions. And 68% said they had not received adequate support from central government in preparing for Brexit.

In the face of all this, and no doubt mindful of the 75% in this borough who voted Remain, this council has written two letters – one to the Prime Minister and one to Barnier – and held an advice surgery for concerned EU citizens – a good thing, but not much, given the scale of the issue.

The letters asked for EU citizens to be given reassurance about their status. The one to the PM included some glowing words about “new opportunities and endeavours”.

 

You don’t lobby someone who’s “on the other side” unless you’re not really too fussed about the outcome so I’m not clear why the Council wrote to Barnier. You lobby your own government. I’m glad the Council has asked for reassurance for our EU citizens, but I would have liked their lobbying to have gone further and clearly stated that a hard Brexit will hurt Wandsworth and this Council opposes it.

But this Council never stands up to the Tory government, even when it’s in the interests of its residents to do so.

It’s not just Brexit, this council has been silent on the 40% reduction in Local authority funding that its citizens must carry, the £9m in cuts to schools, the £1bn taken from the Met’s funding over the past decade.

According to independent recent analysis a hard Brexit will result in 2,300 job losses in Wandsworth.

And in the middle of it all is Wandsworth Council, locked in its perennial bind of being unwilling to stand up to this Tory government and unable to stand up for Wandsworth.

Voters in Wandsworth now have a choice.

This is a vibrant, diverse, multi-cultural, forward-looking borough. Come May, voters can choose to stick with a party that can’t represent them because it is gagged by the national Party and paralysed by its policies. Or choose one that will show leadership, be an advocate for its residents and defend and represent their views on the issues that are important to them.

When we are elected in May we will oppose a damaging Tory hard Brexit.

 

the Brexit march

 

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