I woke up on the morning of Friday 24 June 2016 shocked and devastated by the result of the Brexit Referendum.
Like the 69 per cent of our city and the 81 per cent of voters in Preston Park – the ward I am proud to represent – I voted Remain, as I did in the first Referendum, back in 1975.
Nearly three years later, it is clearer than ever that any “Hard Brexit” will be a disaster for our city.
Be it a revived “Theresa May’s Deal” or worse still, “No Deal”, our city’s economy and public services will take major hits, threatening jobs and vital care and health services.
Many of the safeguards we have enjoyed for so long on the environment and workers’ and consumers’ rights will be put at risk.
Not least, our freedoms to travel, work, live and study in Europe will be drastically curbed and vice versa.
Above all, the future of our young will be on the line, despite voting overwhelmingly for Remain.
As chair of the Planning Committee, I know a Labour city administration (hopefully, re-elected in May) would face an even greater challenge, particularly on council finances and the delivery of needed jobs, homes and regeneration schemes.
In contrast to the deceits of the Brexiteer referendum campaign, this is the reality of a Hard Brexit. Surely, no Leaver voted for this.
True, a “Soft Brexit” deal like the “Norway model”, where we stay in the Customs Union and, ideally the Single Market, can take the sting out of leaving.
But this will always be second best to remaining a full partner in the EU, where we can continue to be a rule-maker rather than merely a rule-taker, and shape the future of Europe.
And, of course, through the power of the EU block, we are best placed to tackle pressing global issues, not least climate change.
Tragically, the government is wedded to the “May Deal” and Parliament is at loggerheads.
And if this persists and Parliament cannot agree on the terms of any extension to Article 50 the EU allows, there lurks the real danger that we could still crash out of the EU by default in a matter of days with “No Deal”.
I passionately believe the only way out of this deadlock and the most democratic solution which can best heal the divide is to go back to the people.
For this we need a sufficiently long extension of Article 50 to hold a second referendum in the summer.
My preference is along the lines of the backbencher amendment being promoted by our own Peter Kyle MP.
This would make any deal approved by Parliament subject to a binding subsequent confirmatory public vote.
If backed by the people in such a referendum, we leave the EU on the terms of the approved deal: if not, we remain in the EU. End of.
Like so many in our city, I am going to the “Put It To The People” march and demonstration on Saturday 23 March in London to make our voice heard and best safeguard the future of our city and, especially, our young people. Please join us.
Meet at 12 noon for 1pm start by Park Lane near Hilton Hotel, London W1 (Marble Arch or Bond Street tube stations). Contact www.bh4eu.org for more details.
Councillor Julie Cattell is a Labour member of Brighton and Hove City Council.
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