In a rare display of cross-party unity, Green, Liberal Democrat and Labour politicians today came together to demand a second Brexit referendum.
In St Helen’s Square at midday on Sunday (13 October) the leaders launched the York Declaration For Europe.
This calls for a no deal Brexit to be taken off the table, and for the people to be given a “final say” on our membership of the European Union.
And the cross-party group threw their weight behind a ‘stay’ vote in any second referendum.
A statement issued by York For Europe said:
We are campaigning for a public vote on a final deal over our relationship to the European Union to put to rest the Brexit debate.
In signing the ‘York Declaration for Europe’, a clear statement has been made by the politicians of York that a dangerous ‘no deal’ should be immediately taken off the table.
Our future is best served through remaining in the Europe Union to have a voice in shaping the future of Europe.
Jobs are at risk
The group says the impasse since the 2016 vote is “having an impact on families, businesses and the wider economy in York.
“When jobs, the environment, our peace and security and our rights are being put at risk, we believe that we should put our differences aside and work together for the greater good of our community.
“Now that people have seen what Brexit looks like with a deal before them, they should be able to decide if this is what they really want for their future. This was not available in 2016.
“We will work on creating opportunities for people in York to come together to discuss aspirations for our future by creating spaces for dialogue over our relationship with the EU.”
The group has created a petition where people can support the declaration.
They are also organising coaches from York to go to the Let Us Be Heard march in Westminster on so-called ‘Super Saturday’ (19 October) – when Parliament will sit at a weekend for the first time since the Falklands War to debate Brexit.
Not all unity
However the cross-party unity only goes so far. Before the York Declaration for Europe was launched, deputy leader of the York Liberal Democrat Group Cllr Anne Hook took a swipe at York Central’s Labour MP Rachael Maskell.
Cllr Hook said the Lib Dems were the “largest party of remain”:
We will continue to lead the campaign against the Government’s reckless Brexit strategy and we are pleased to see that the Labour Party has finally come round to supporting the idea of a People’s Vote with the option to remain.”
However, it remains extremely disappointing that the Labour Party continue to face two ways on Brexit and that their leadership have abandoned millions of remain voters with their latest party policy.
If Rachael Maskell truly supported the campaign for remain, she would publicly distance herself from her own party’s policy and challenge her party leadership.
The York Declaration For Europe in full
We believe that everyone carefully cast their vote in the 2016 Referendum, for the best interests of their families, their community and the country; however came to different conclusions. We therefore need to find a way forward, not least as the political context has changed considerably since then.
We are deeply concerned at the impact that taking the UK out of the European Union will have, not least on jobs, our environment, our peace and security and our rights. In the light of global uncertainty and the climate crisis, domestic economic risk and uncertainty for EU citizens who currently live in the UK, or UK citizens who currently live elsewhere in the EU, we believe that remaining in the EU and working to reform the operation of the EU is in our country’s best interest.
We further believe that remaining in the EU is important for York as a city.
York has welcomed many EU citizens to live and work across our city, and this has brought real social and economic benefit to York. Whether studying in York, working in the NHS, public services or business in the city or supporting our community, we believe that all EU citizens should have the opportunity to remain in York and share the rights that we all enjoy as they contribute and belong to our city.
As a member of the EU the UK gains the benefits of membership of the Single Market, the Customs Union and other European agencies. These ensure the free movement of goods and services and set high safety standards for consumers and the protection of the environment. Importing goods from countries where standards fall far below those that we have come to expect will drive standards down here in the UK. This will result in more goods being flown or shipped greater distances and will add to the UK’s carbon footprint, further jeopardising our environment.
As a member of the EU we have a voice in shaping the future of Europe and the UK. Like all political institutions, we believe that the EU is not perfect, and are therefore committed to reforming the EU, which is now the central focus of the European Union.
We conclude that the benefits of staying in the EU and being part of the change far exceed those of leaving and we will campaign to secure the UK’s future within the EU. We will work together to campaign against a ‘no deal’ scenario, and while we will campaign to remain in the EU, we believe that the people of York should have a final say.