PRO-EU politi­cians state case for Peo­ple’s Vote

Bath Chronicle - - NEWS -

With the Brexit process reach­ing a crit­i­cal point, the Bath for Europe group hosted an event bring­ing to­gether four lo­cal politi­cians. The pro-re­main group wanted to put the ben­e­fits of EU mem­ber­ship and sep­a­rate what they be­lieve to be Brexit myth from fact. All mem­bers of the panel thought that Brexit would leave Bath, and the na­tion poorer in many ways. The panel con­sisted of South West MEPS Molly Scott Cato (Green Party), Clare Moody (Labour) and Julie Gir­ling (In­de­pen­dent, for­merly Con­ser­va­tive). Bath MP Wera Hob­house (Lib­eral Demo­crat), who sits on the Ex­it­ing the Euro­pean Union Com­mit­tee in Par­lia­ment, was the panel chair. Julie Gir­ling was ex­pelled from the Con­ser­va­tive Party af­ter she voted in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment that the UK had not made suf­fi­cient progress in Brexit talks and should not start trade talks ear­lier this year, a move her then party saw as be­ing against British in­ter­ests. She now serves as an In­de­pen­dent. Speak­ing to a packed house in Hayesfield Lower School, the MEPS spoke of the ben­e­fits of EU mem­ber­ship, the im­pact Brexit would have, and why they think it is im­por­tant to push for a Peo­ple’s Vote. Staunch pro-euro­pean Ms Hob­house opened the event, de­scrib­ing the “frac­tious mood” in Par­lia­ment and the grow­ing sup­port for a Peo­ple’s Vote. Clare Moody fo­cused on two top­ics: peo­ple – both UK cit­i­zens re­sid­ing in the EU and EU cit­i­zens liv­ing in this coun­try - and re­search. She said: “We have lost 90 per cent of EU nurses since last year…there have been pretty ab­hor­rent re­ac­tions from some seg­ments of our so­ci­ety cre­at­ing a toxic en­vi­ron­ment of ‘You’re not wel­come here’. We have to chal­lenge this.” She spoke about how the UK ben­e­fits from its re­search links with the EU, for ex­am­ple as a ben­e­fi­ciary of Hori­zon 2020, the largest re­search pro­gramme in the world, worth €100 bil­lion. She said: “We’re lead­ing but we will be shut out. We will have third coun­try sta­tus if we leave the EU.” Molly Scott Cato said the South West faced a 5 per cent drop in GDP in a No Deal sce­nario. Many of those em­ployed in tourism and hos­pi­tal­ity, which are key sec­tors lo­cally, are EU na­tion­als. Mean­while 6 per cent of the re­gion’s uni­ver­sity stu­dents come from the EU, be­tween 20-25 per cent of whom are funded through the EU’S Eras­mus grants. This would have a knock-on ef­fect on uni­ver­sity towns like Bath. Julie Gir­ling said the aim was to keep the door open for a Peo­ple’s Vote. She said that be­cause of what she be­lieves is the Gov­ern­ment’s mis­han­dling of Brexit, “the UK’S po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal is worth noth­ing.” How­ever, she be­lieves we can re­cover this. The Q&A ses­sion cov­ered a wide range of top­ics, from the Ir­ish bor­der, the schism in the Labour Party, emerg­ing il­le­gal­i­ties of the Leave cam­paign and the need to im­prove po­lit­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion in this coun­try. In con­clu­sion, Ms Hob­house said: “There is still time to stop Brexit. A Peo­ple’s Vote is the demo­cratic route for the gov­ern­ment to get out of this cri­sis. We now have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to let peo­ple know how much bet­ter their lives will be if we re­main in the EU.”

The panel (from left) Clare Moody, Julie Gir­ling, Wera Hob­house and Molly Scott Cato

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