Wokingham Today

Anti-Brexit party seeks candidates


A NEW political party being launched to raise awareness of the local impact of Brexit is appealing for candidates to stand in Wokingham in the forthcomin­g local elections.

The Viva Europa group said it is a single-issue party that wants to fight against Brexit and it is focusing on Wokingham as the borough voted, by a clear majority, to remain in the European Union, something that puts it at odds with one of its four MPs, John Redwood.

Ed Thompson, who co-founded the party last week, feels that Brexit would “make us all poorer in so many ways”.

Speaking to The Wokingham Paper he said: “This is a completely local issue. Since 2010, central funding of local councils has gone down 40%.

“Bear in mind the impact assessment­s show that a hard Brexit will give an 8% hit on national GDP, so all local councils will have a local funding reduction.

“The local impact will be huge.” And Mr Thompson (pictured) wants candidates to step up and take an active interest in the local area, if they are to be elected, citing conditions of roads, rubbish collection­s and other local services as issues that its candidates will be interested in.

“Brexit is not a national issue, it’s going to affect local services,” he added.

In a statement introducin­g the party, Viva Europa said: “Remainers have been holding out for someone to ride along and harness the huge anti-Brexit sentiment in this country. But this just hasn’t happened.

“The Viva Europa party has been created out of this frustratio­n. For every 17 people who voted to Leave, 16 voted to Remain. It is time for those 16 to have a voice at the ballot box.”

The new party is aiming to field candidates across the country for the elections which will be held on Thursday, May 3, but has set its sights on Wokingham.

“We believe people are more attuned to what’s happening and they’re starting to ask questions,” he said. “They want to make a protest against Brexit and what’s happening nationally.”

As the party has only just been launched, Mr Thompson said it’s too early to say what level of support they will have, but promises to vet potential candidates thoroughly.

“It’s a difficult thing to do,” he admitted. “We need people to stand up against Brexit and, crucially, we insist people are committed, if elected, to represent their locality.

“If people cannot commit, if they’re not passionate about local services and their wards, we are just not interested.

“It doesn’t cost anything to stand, but we need people to start thinking about it now.”

However, Wokingham MP John Redwood felt that the party’s mission is misguided and that they would have been better standing in last year’s General Election.

He told The Wokingham Paper: “I cannot see what advantage they will have if their main issue is Brexit, as of course that will not be settled at borough level.

“They would have been better putting up a candidate for the General Election last summer, when they would have offered another Remain choice.

“At that election their view was ably represente­d by the Liberal Democrats who did contest the election on a ticket of a second referendum and came a poor third.

“I made clear in the General Election that I would vote to implement the result of the national referendum if elected to Parliament, and that approach won majority support from those voting.

“I feel honour bound to carry through my promises, and the pledge of the Conservati­ve party to accept the verdict of the people on the EU issue.”

Anyone looking to stand in Wokingham – for whichever cause or party - needs to have lived or worked in the borough for at least the past 12 months. Nomination papers must be submitted to Wokingham Borough Council by Friday, April 6.

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