"This Council calls on the Government to hold a further referendum before exiting the European Union" - Cllr angela wilkinsRead Now
This is a cross-party issue, so I am going to open by quoting Harold Macmillan who, when asked what he most feared, replied: “events dear boy, events”.
This reply in response to being asked “What do you most fear?”
How appropriate that resonates.
I voted to remain, and despite not liking the result of the vote, I respected and accepted it for the first few months. It is the course of events since then that scares me most and that leads to this motion.
On 23 June 2016 the UK voted, albeit by a very small margin, to leave the EU. Our Borough, albeit by an even smaller margin, voted to remain. The country is bitterly divided.
But in June 2016, we’d heard from various politicians and media commentators, not one of whom had any real idea what Brexit would actually look like.
The referendum campaign was awful – full of people who voted in response to a campaign of contradictions, speculation and (putting it mildly) misinformation from both sides.
Setting aside resignations and arguments from the government.
This is putting it mildly – downright lies might be a more accurate description when you consider the famous bus promising £350m per week for the NHS. Events since then include :
This adds up to exerting influence beyond the limits of the law. Spending in elections in the UK is limited simply and solely to stop wealth exerting undue influence.
So, the referendum campaign was not frank & honest and did not comply with our own electoral law.
In the absence of accurate information, my view, I think most people voted with their hearts and not their heads – for ‘taking back control (great slogan – empty rhetoric), for an end to free movement and for an end to very large payments being made to Brussels.
No one who voted to Leave knew exactly what they were voting for – realistically they couldn’t because no country has ever left the EU, no country has ever negotiated an exit deal nor left the EU without one.
It was all a bit like asking someone who has lived all their life in leasehold or rented accommodation if they’d like to own their own freehold detached property:
Of course they’d say yes they’re interested – but, before buying the property they’d want to view it, to have legal searches done, check how much the bills come to, have a survey done to make sure it’s a sound building.
And to know exactly how much they have to pay now and in the future.
And many would pull back once they knew the answer to these questions – not necessarily staying in their old home, but perhaps looking for something different.
Once we know the details of leaving the EU we need a further referendum in just the same way as someone buying a house needs to know more before contracts are exchanged and the sale completed.
Turning to Bromley: Democracy depends on an educated electorate. 15 months on we may not know what Brexit would look like, but we do know a whole lot more about some of the ramifications.
Even setting aside what has happened since the referendum, It is far more appropriate now for this Council to consider its position than it was when we voted in this chamber in 2016.
In April 2016 we didn’t know how our residents would vote in June – we voted on personal opinions.
Events change things and the public momentum for a further vote is growing by the day
We know from the poll on Bromley High St just ten days ago that 81% of people want a further referendum.
We are elected representatives. Part of our job is to represent. Where our wards voted differently to us, we are in a similar position to many MPs.
We can vote for ourselves tonight or we can vote for our residents.
“Events, dear Madam Mayor, events…”
Much has changed since we voted on the UKIP motion; tonight this council should review the vote we took here in 2016.
Theresa May have amused her party conference, but she is not the Dancing Queen of the EU.
We need to know whether her version of Brexit – whether its Chequers, the Canada option, no deal (effectively “Take a chance on me” ) – is what those who voted Leave in June 2016 thought they were voting for.
There is no way to judge the “Will of the People” on the most important decision of their lives without asking whether they accept Brexit’s destination rather than just its departure point.
We need to call on the government to hold a further referendum before we exit the EU.
Councillor Angela Wilkins
"This Council calls on the Government to hold a further referendum before exiting the European Union" - Cllr Simon jealRead Now
I will be supporting the motion tonight. I want to use my time to focus not on the politics or the process of Brexit, but on people, some of those who are likely to suffer hardship if we continue towards the current Bad Deal or No Deal, unless a better deal or other solution such as a second public vote can be found. In particular I want to focus on three groups- people born in EEA countries currently living in Britain, people who identify as part of minority groups and young people who were denied a say back in 2016.
I campaigned for and voted Remain in the 2016 referendum, as did the vast majority of Penge residents and by a small majority of Bromley voters. One of my saddest memories of that campaign was speaking to those who supported remaining in the EU, those weren’t able to vote but whose lives would be greatly affected by the outcome- both British residents from EEA countries resident in Britain and 16- & 17-year olds (who were denied the opportunity to vote then but can do so now).
According to the most recent figures I could find, from 2016. Workers born in the EEA held 748,000 or 14 percent of jobs in London, compared to just 6 percent in the UK as a whole, those from the EEA were more likely to be ‘over-qualified’, meaning a higher percentage are graduates working in non-graduate jobs, than workers born in the UK or non-EEA countries.
These figures also show those from EEA countries are proportionally particularly employed in many positions, in hotels, catering and food services- making up almost a third of workers in these sectors, as well as forming a major part of the workforce in construction, finance and IT, education and public services such as health and social care- representing 61,000 health and care workers as one example. Workers from EEA countries are performing vital roles in both the private and public sectors and are an important part of our communities in Bromley.
It is therefore concerning that the government is currently indicating there will no preference given to EU citizens after Brexit and will focus on ‘skilled workers’ (ignoring that many of those doing such roles are skilled but underemployed , or that ‘unskilled’ jobs are nonetheless critically important to our local economy) despite clear evidence many businesses and entire sectors are reliant on those coming from the EU to work for them. Having had no say in the referendum it seems unfair those so many will lose out after years, in some cases decades, of living, working and contributing to Britain.
Alongside this, and something I hope concerns all of us in the chamber, is the unprecedented rise in hate crime since the referendum in 2016, not just in the UK but across Europe and the United States- the growing threat of extremism, of targeting and abuse directed towards people because of their skin colour, nationality, religion, sexuality or other characteristics is deeply worrying- as has been the tendency of ‘populist’ politicians, on all sides, creating further division through ‘them and us’ messaging and negative, ‘dog-whistle’ politics to try and harness support when throughout history, in times of economic and social upheaval, those who look different or are ‘outsiders’ often become scapegoats.
Taking just one example, the rise of antisemitism in recent years, not just on the far right but also on the far left and not just in the UK, I recently heard holocaust survivor Susan Pollack speak at our Labour party national conference and I took away her words of warning/ “I think we are only going in the wrong direction and it is incumbent on all of us in this room, whether you are Jewish or not, to stand up very loudly and say this is not OK and we need to do something very urgently about it.” It is vitally important we heed the warnings of those who have lived through such evil and know the rising danger of rising hate when they see it.
Those who voted leave were undoubtedly almost all not doing so for racist reasons and the current rise in hate crime is clearly not only caused by Brexit, but at least in part, the division that has occurred following the referendum has given rise to targeting of minorities and, while I can’t honestly say a second vote carries no risk of making things worse, neither is carrying on the way things are now going to make anything better- after all, at some point it will be clear that the promises made of a post-Brexit Britain can’t be delivered- taking history as a guide, communities who lose most from a bad deal or economic downturn will be looking for those to blame- I very much doubt it will end up being those who look or sound like George Galloway, Boris Johnson or Nigel Farage.
Finally, I’d like to focus on those under 18 at the time of the referendum whose futures will be forever changed by it- a YouGov poll published last month found those now aged 18 and 19, who can now vote but were too young in 2016, would vote to remain by a margin of seven to one or 87%.
I graduated and started job-hunting in 2009, just after the financial crisis and in the midst of the recession, I’m part of the so called ‘left behind’ millennials- but I was still incredibly fortunate- I got to study in the Netherlands as part of the EU’s Erasmus scheme, my university benefited from tens of millions in EU funding that provided better facilities while I was studying and I had rights (even if I didn’t need to use them) to go and find a job in any of 29 other countries if I couldn’t find one here.
But for young people now, some who have just started university or are on apprenticeships as mentioned earlier tonight, in a few months they are likely to lose the rights and chances I had, lose the funding and opportunities the EU provided just as the economic consequences of Brexit mean more and more graduate, apprenticeships and entry level jobs are likely to move out of London to places like Dublin and Frankfurt, while unaffordable unpaid internships remain the only way of accessing many career paths and public sector workers remain stuck in the overworked and underpaid conditions after eight yeas of cuts, under a government which may have said ‘Austerity is over’ but takes no action to improve public funding, pay or working conditions.
These young people will be deprived of the chances I and older generations had - all because of a decision they weren’t able to participate in. It seems perfectly reasonable to me that they would want an opportunity for a public vote on a decision that will so limit their futures, having been shut out from the previous one.
For these reasons, along with others my colleagues have set out in their contributions to the debate tonight, I support the option of a public vote before Brexit hurtles to a disastrous conclusion and will be voting in favour of the motion.
Councillor Simon Jeal
"This Council calls on the Government to hold a further referendum before exiting the European Union" - Cllr Ian dunnRead Now
This Council calls on the Government to hold a further referendum before exiting the European Union.
Thank you madam mayor,
Members will recall that four years ago, we had a referendum on Scottish Independence. It was very different from the Brexit Referendum. The Scottish Nationalists produced a detailed white paper describing their vision for independence. People knew exactly what they were being asked to vote for.
The Brexit referendum was very different. It was based on 350 million pounds a week for the NHS and the slogan of “Take Back Control”. Well the first has evaporated and I will come back to the second later.
There was a lot of detail of Brexit not spelled out and it wasn't made clear what the British People were really voting for; or against. We know that no one was voting to be worse off, but even today, more than two years later we can't be sure of that.
I would like to cover some of the things which weren't made clear.
Firstly Ireland. I can't remember Ireland being mentioned once in the campaign. But this is the point where vague concepts come up against the hard reality of a land border. I am sure everyone in this Council Chamber applauded the Good Friday agreement and all the hard work by governments of both parties in the 90's which led up to it. I am sure many people are as appalled as I am by the cavalier way many Brexiteers have put the Good Friday Agreement at risk. The current approach to Brexit is said to have brought a United Ireland closer than 30 years of The Irish Troubles. Did the British people really vote for that in June 16?
The other land border is the Channel Tunnel. We know how much inconvenience Operation Stack causes for road travel in south east Kent. It appears that this will be more common, with the M20 east of Ashford converted into a lorry park with rows of portaloos. Did the British people vote for that?
Moving on to what has happened, the European Medicines Agency is moving from London to Amsterdam. That means good jobs moving out of London. Some people from Bromley probably work there. And a blow to the British Pharmaceutical Industry. Did the British people vote for that?
On the subject of jobs we have the impact of Brexit on the car industry. This is still unclear, but both the Mini and Rolls Royce car plants have brought forward their summer maintenance to April next year, because it they are concerned about their supply chains. Other companies are holding back on investment. Did the British people really vote for a Brexit which will damage our car industry? One of our few recent manufacturing successes?
I said I would return to Take Back Control. For many people that means taking control of immigration. But the office of national statistics figures show that over the last 10 years non European immigration, which we have control over, has been consistently higher than European which we do not. How many people who voted to Take Back Control were aware of that?
From a Local Government perspective, Take Back Control, is an interesting slogan. But not from the European Union. Taking back control from Westminster is a much better idea.
Madam Mayor, when the British people voted to leave the European Union in June 2016, the full consequences were not made clear to them. They are still not clear. The few examples I have given show that many of these consequences are negative and not what the British people would have voted for.
The British people deserve a vote on their future based on the full facts; not vague assertions.
Once it is really clear what Brexit means in practice, the Government is under an obligation to give the British People that vote.
I have pleasure in seconding the motion.
Councillor Ian Dunn
While some residents noted the hard work of park staff, others have been told by IDVerde that the current contract and specific issues with staffing do not allow for extra or larger bins and staffing needed for busy periods such as last weekend.
Bromley Labour Group Leader and Crystal Palace councillor Angela Wilkins contacted the council executive member responsible for the Environment, noting that this is not the first time the park has seen such issues, asking for a copy of the contract to confirm what standards are required by IDVerde and noting that, with the contract coming up for renewal, she has heard that IDVerde may be reluctant to put in a bid that would solve these problems out of fear the Council will reject them for a cheaper offer. (See in full below)
We await his reply and will update with his response. We continue to raise litter issues reported to us and will be working to ensure any new contract will ensure sufficient resources to keep the park clean and open for families and all residents to enjoy.
Organised by the Pesticide Action Network UK, the pledge for candidates running in the local elections (coming up Thursday) aims to make London the first UK city to go pesticide free!
The group’s research found that 41 different toxic pesticides were being used in UK towns and cities, being sprayed in parks, playgrounds and other green spaces, road verges, pavements and around shopping centres and schools.
These chemicals being used have been linked to an array of health problems, particularly affecting vulnerable groups such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. They also have a devastating impact on the local environment and wildlife.
There are lots of non-chemical alternatives available and hundreds of towns and cities around the world have already banned pesticides. Many towns and cities that have already gone pesticide-free! (Examples here and here)
By pledging to make their borough pesticide-free, your Bromley Labour candidates are committed to supporting this campaign if they are elected onto Bromley council and to undertaking at least some of the following activities:
Cat Smith MP visits Anerley to talk about the council’s decision that Bromley voters need ID to cast their vote.
Thank you for your correspondence about the decision by Bromley Council planning committee to refuse the planning application for a new secondary school on St Hugh's Playing Fields in Bickley.
I have receieved a significant amount of correspondence on this application in favour of and in opposition to the proposed school. To clarify the situation in relation to the requests to call in the application, the Mayor of London Order establishes a series of criteria against statutory categories that detirmine which planning applications submitted to London boroughs must be referred to myself. Once an application is referred, then I have a range of statutory planning powers, including
For all applications referred to me, at the initial stage (Stage One), I issue a consultation report to the council setting out an assessment of the strategic planning issues. Once the application has been considered at the council's planning committee, the requirement to refer it back to me is dependent on the category of the application:
In the case of Bullers Wood School, the application was referred to me on 13 July 2017 under category three of the Mayor of London Order. This means that I only have the power to direct refusal of the application should the council approve it, and have no statutory power to take it over for my own detirmination, should the council resolve to refuse planning permission at any point.
I considered the Stage One report for Bullers Wood School on 23 August 2017. On 4 October 2017 Bromley Council resolved to approve planning permission, and on 17 November 2017, following referral by the council in accordance with the statutory requirements of the Mayor of London Order, I considered the proposal and concluded that I was content to allow the Council to detirmine the application itself and did not want to direct refusal.
On 25 January 2018 the council considered the application at committee for a second time and resolved to refuse planning permission. As stipulated by the Mayor of London Order, I have no statutory powers to intervene in the council's decision to refuse planning permission, and the council is not required to refer this decision to myself for a further Stage Two.
You can find further details on the City Hall website at: www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/planning/planning-applications-and-decisions/what-powers-does-mayor-have-planning. "