Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas is backing a second referendum as only a “people’s poll” will stop the government “marching us towards a national calamity” that is a hard Brexit.
The Greens’ joint leaders, Mrs Lucas and Jonathan Bartley, plan to spell out their message to colleagues today (Saturday 3 March) at the party’s spring conference in Bournemouth.
Mrs Lucas intends to accuse the government of “playing politics with peace in Northern Ireland” and she will urge Prime Minister Theresa May not to “sacrifice the Good Friday Agreement on the altar of an extreme Brexit”.
She is expected to tell the conference: “We win when we stand up for what we believe in – from the smallest issues in a local ward to the biggest issue of the day – Brexit.
“Let’s not forget that the EU was originally a peace project, forged in the wake of the destruction and devastation of the Second World War, rising from the rubble left by bombs and armies (on) the principle that nations who share resources will value peace above war. And the cause of peace is at stake again today.
“The way this government is playing politics with peace in Northern Ireland is reckless and indefensible. So our message to Theresa May is very clear: sacrificing the Good Friday Agreement on the altar of an extreme Brexit is nothing short of criminal and it must not be allowed to happen.”
In his speech, co-leader Jonathan Bartley will criticise Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn for pursuing a Brexit that will “hit poorest communities hardest,” and call on Labour to stand with Greens for a people’s poll on the final deal.
Yesterday Mrs May made a speech about Brexit at the Mansion House, in London. She called for “reciprocal commitments to ensure fair and open competition, an independent arbitration mechanism, an ongoing dialogue, data protection arrangements and maintaining the links between our people”.
The Prime Minister said that she wanted no tariffs and only one set of regulatory checks for goods between Europe and the UK. She repeated an earlier commitment to leave the customs union while avoiding a hard border in Ireland. She wants to limit barriers to movement of labour but to mirror free movement without signing up to it.
In response to her speech, Mr Bartley is expected to say: “The Green Party will not give up on staying close to Europe. We are proud to be campaigning for a people’s poll on the final deal that explicitly includes an option to remain part of the European Union because as we march towards the national calamity of Brexit, we know there is an alternative.
“But, far from acting like an official opposition, Labour risks being complicit in an unfolding disaster and one felt first and foremost in those very communities it seeks to represent. Both Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May are committed to a Brexit that will hit poorest communities hardest.
“And that’s why today I want to make a direct plea to the Labour front bench: show some leadership, put the national interest above your party interest, stand up for free movement, stand up for young people and stand with all of us campaigning for a people’s poll on the final deal.”
To read more articles by Roz Scott, visit www.rozscott.com.