Cllr Claire Holland gave the closing speech on Labour’s motion passed at last week’s full Council meeting demanding a People’s Vote.
I am proud of our diverse population in Lambeth. We are home to over 30,000 residents of EU origin. We speak 150 languages. Portuguese is the second most widely spoken language, and Spanish the third. And I’m proud that reflecting that diversity and internationalism, our residents voted 79% for Remain. And the fact that we are the most remain part of the UK outside of Gibraltar places an extra responsibility on our shoulders when considering this issue.
We are less than six months away from Brexit. And as that radical, firebrand Tory peer Lord Willetts says: “it will be impossible to deliver a Brexit deal that comes close to matching all the promises that were made, let alone one that is in the national interest”.
And herein lies the rub. The country voted to leave Europe, by a very slim majority, but there is no agreement as to what that actually looks like. What form should Leave take? The Leave campaigners were split 2 years ago between the hard Brexiteers and the soft Brexiteers. Now they are split every which way with Theresa May, and therefore the country, having been held to ransom by the hard right of the Tory party, the very people who lied to us about the £350m a week for the NHS.
Do we have access to the Single Market or don’t we? What will our rights in Europe be?
What will the Irish border look like? Will it bob across the Irish Sea, wiggle up and down the coastline or will it be a hard, land border, East to West, jeopardising the hard-won peace of the Good Friday Agreement?
Business after business and the Bank of England have warned of the economic risks we face right now, and in the future, through the chronic uncertainty of a shambolic and shameful Tory Brexit.
Our residents are deeply worried. We have had 8 years of Tory and Lib Dem austerity. Cuts in the police force, cuts to the NHS and to our schools and our budget here at Lambeth council slashed in half by a Tory government that doesn’t care about hitting our most vulnerable residents the most.
And now on top of Tory incompetence and rigid ideology we have Brexit damaging our economy even further.
What sort of future is this to hand down to our children? 1.4 million young people have turned 18 since the referendum. Where is their voice? 1.4 million citizens silenced. But it’s their future and their lives at stake here. Don’t they have a right to have a say in what our relationship with Europe should be? To build a future with Europe that protects our environment rather than destroys it? That acts in solidarity in the face of a refugees crisis? That protects jobs against the profits of multinationals and upholds our rights as global citizens?
They need to have a voice in shaping their future.
And we need to have a voice too. As the trade-offs become clearer, once a deal is finally formulated, or not, the British people need to be asked: is this what you want?
A People’s Vote is not a re-run of 2016. It is what that revolutionary man of the people Jacob Rees-Mogg acknowledged back in 2011 would need to happen. In the event of a Leave vote, we would have to then have “2nd referendum after the negotiation was completed.”
We are in a Brexit crisis. And we need a democratic solution. Democracy didn’t stop in June 2016. Parliament has no majority for any option. And the British public won’t tolerate a Brexit that doesn’t have majority support.
We need to take back control. Deal or no deal. We have a right to vote on it. I urge you to support this motion tonight.