I’m standing to be an MEP because only our party can unite the country behind a new referendum

European Elections 2019: meet the candidates in this month’s fractious EU parliament vote

Eloise Todd
Friday 17 May 2019 12:30
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Keir Starmer confirms Labour will vote against Brexit legislation without cross-party deal

I was born and bred in east Yorkshire, and have always been Labour through and through. I’ve put myself forward as a candidate for Labour in Yorkshire and the Humber because I want Europe and Britain to provide opportunity for all working people, whatever their background.

My introduction to political activism was in the struggle against climate change, and I am proud that Labour under Jeremy Corbyn has become the party of radical economic change built on a Green New Deal.

On Brexit, I have spent the last two and a half years campaigning for a public vote and to stay in the EU. It’s clear now that the Brexit the nation was sold is a fantasy. Labour’s talks with the government have been going round in circles, so it is right that we have pulled the plug. We now need to make sure the people get to decide what happens next.

Labour is the only party that can deliver us a public vote on Brexit, and the only campaigning force that can win such a vote to stop the right-wing, race-to-the-bottom Brexit.

In these elections, Labour is trying to do something no other party is even attempting to do – build a political space open for all communities, whether they voted Leave or Remain. It’s a tough line to walk, but the right one – and while the Brexit clock is ticking, we need to be crystal clear with voters that our destination is a public vote on the Brexit deal.

On the doorstep, most people want a way out of the current mess, to get over the divisions in our country, and to crack on with the crucial issues that have been put on hold since 2016. Handled well, the very process of giving people the final say could be an essential part of bringing our country back together.

As well as the example of the confirmatory vote on the Good Friday Agreement, we can learn lessons from the peaceful and constructive Irish referendums on equal marriage and abortion. Town hall discussions were at the heart of the Irish approach, much like the citizens’ assemblies promoted by Lisa Nandy.

A Final Say referendum is just one step though: until we tackle the root causes of inequality, particularly between London and regions like Yorkshire and the Humber, we won’t be able to heal our divided communities, torn apart after decades blighted by Thatcherite neglect and austerity.

Labour’s radical programme to improve workers’ rights and to tackle climate change offers high quality jobs and a brighter future for our communities, as well as clean air and hope. Brexit is a distraction from these policies, and if carried out would mean 10 more years of trade deals, negotiations and new, less favourable relationships.

That’s why it was so crucial that we stop the talks, and equally crucial that we now go on to campaign for a confirmatory vote, and fight to deliver our bold agenda at home and across the EU. To anyone that says this is not the Labour position, I say this: Labour has voted down Tory Brexit four times in parliament and has whipped in favour of a public vote on any deal twice.

If I’m fortunate enough to be elected to serve Yorkshire and the Humber, I will fight at every turn for every single piece of funding, investment opportunity, and for change that will hasten our transition to high quality jobs, renewable energy and a give a green economic boost for the communities that need it most.

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Finally, the rise of the far right is not just taking place in Hungary, Poland and Italy. It is happening right here too. Hope not Hate says that if young people don’t turn out to vote, then there is a very real chance that “Tommy Robinson” could become an MEP in the North West, and here in Yorkshire the rise of Farage’s Brexit Party is bringing a Trump-like populism that threatens to worsen, not heal, the divisions in our country. Only Labour can keep the migrant-bashing far right at bay.

If we do well on 23 May, there is also a good chance that the European Socialists will end up the biggest party in the European parliament, meaning a progressive majority fighting for democratic reform, action on climate change and a Europe-wide living wage. It is all to play for in the European elections with a week to go.

Eloise Todd is a Labour MEP candidate in Yorkshire and the Humber

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