“We must urgently heal the divisions created or deepened by the referendum” by Steve Dyke

The article below was printed in the letters page of Medway Messenger on Friday.

The Green Party cannot hide its disappointment at the result of the EU referendum, having campaigned strongly for a vote to remain.  However we acknowledge that the result here in Medway indicates many people had strong grievances with the EU.

However the vote to leave does not give our Government a mandate to slash hard-won rights at work, cut environmental regulations or privatise our NHS and public services. It is important for people to recognise that at the moment in practice nothing has changed – the same Conservatives remain in power, both nationally and locally.  Many of our environmental and social protections in particular originated from the EU and we must fight to protect these from the worst instincts of Tory ministers.

Much of what happens now remains uncertain, but the decision to leave could turn out to be particularly devastating for our environment. The EU has been at the forefront of global action on climate change and Britain has been leading that push. Leaving the EU not only undermines our standing in the international community, but represents a huge gamble with our own green energy targets and performance. The Government must urgently demonstrate that it will remain resolutely committed to the agreement made in Paris last December and to its national obligations under the Climate Change Act.  European laws protect some of our most precious habitats and species, cut air pollution and clean up our beaches. Any attempt to do away with these vital rules must be resisted.

The so-called EU ‘debate’ was bitter and divisive, stirring up hatred.  The vote shows people’s alienation from mainstream politics, especially in austerity-hit and financially struggling communities.  Our political system needs fixing and a priority for all parties must now be to build a more inclusive democracy, reforming our electoral system to make it proportional and representative.  It will be ironic if many people voted to get rid of what they saw as an undemocratic European Union only to find themselves governed by an unelected Prime Minister when Cameron’s successor is chosen by a small group of Conservatives.

We must urgently heal the divisions created or deepened in the country by the referendum.  Problems of neglect, inequality, alienation and racism cannot be allowed to grow.

Who knows, the ‘Brexit’ crisis may even provide us with an opportunity to build a better society in the UK.

Steve Dyke

Medway Green Party

 

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