Lucy Caldicott is a councillor in Stockwell Ward.
Back in June 2016, voters were told by the Leave campaign that exiting the EU would be straightforward and would allow increased investment in public services. After three years of Parliamentary knot-tying, we’ve seen the end of two Tory Prime Ministers, and we are still no further forward. The six month extension afforded the UK by EU leaders, which we were told not to waste, is now being consumed by a focus on the personal political ambitions of privileged Tory men whose wealth will insulate them no matter what the final Brexit outcome.
As a councillor in Stockwell, residents need my help: Families living in overcrowded accommodation, EU citizens uncertain whether they are going to be able to stay in the city they have made their home, disabled people needing extra help with daily tasks, and parents worried about their children’s futures. It’s a great honour to be asked to help but often the serious ongoing cuts to local government financing mean that I can’t. I’m genuinely worried about what a No Deal Brexit would mean for local services and fearful about the division and increasing violence in our public discourse, particularly for those of us from minority communities.
As politicians we fail the people if we don’t represent their interests and listen to what they tell us. I can’t look the residents of Stockwell in the eye if I don’t say I will do everything I can to protect their rights, their services, and their livelihoods. Given that the people of Lambeth voted so overwhelmingly for Remain, it is our responsibility to fight for their opportunity to have their say on the final terms, or to cancel Brexit altogether if that is their wish expressed in a second referendum.
I’d go further. Not only is there an absence of a concrete plan, there is a singular absence of political vision. What kind of country do we want to be after Brexit? At the moment, nine years of Tory rule seem to be forcing us along a path where the most vulnerable in our society are bearing the brunt of ideologically based decision-making without even a conversation about it.
We can’t go on like this. We need a public conversation about what kind of country we want to be. What kind of relationship we want with our neighbours and closest allies.
And the best way to have a public conversation as a country is through a General Election.
Cllr Lucy Caldicott