The most democratic way forward on Brexit is to return power to the people
Labour is avoiding answering questions on Brexit, says Liberal Democrat candidate for Lewisham East LUCY SALEK. We need a final say on the Brexit deal
This week MPs vote on the Brexit bill. The people of Lewisham East also have a vote and a choice, either they send me to Parliament, safe in the knowledge that I will vote against a Tory Brexit, or they can back Labour so that Jeremy Corbyn has yet another MP to send through the government voting lobby.
Lewisham has watched the Labour Leadership for two years patiently waiting for them to listen to the public on Brexit. We simply cannot wait any longer.
The Leave campaign was dishonest about money, immigration and trade, and won only a narrow victory. Jeremy Corbyn half-heartedly campaigned with Remain, and since then he has told us we must roll over and accept Brexit at any costs.The day after the referendum Jeremy Corbyn called for Article 50 to be triggered instantly.
In fact, if Jeremy Corbyn had have got his way we would be leaving the EU just 13 days after this by-election, on June 14.
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Remain voters in Lewisham have looked on in shock: former MP Heidi Alexander was respected for being ardently pro-EU and for doing her best to represent the interests of her constituents, but we can only conclude that she eventually stood down because of the sheer weight of Euroscepticism from Jeremy Corbyn's office.
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The pro-EU MPs in Labour are being silenced by their leader. The only way to give pro-EU MPs from all parties a louder voice is by voting for the most pro-EU candidate in this election, and that means voting Liberal Democrat.
Since 2016 the incompetence of the Labour and Conservative parties has been unbelievable. On the one side we have Theresa May, who - two years down the line - still has no cohesive plan for the country. And on the other you have the Labour Party blocking any move by backbenchers and the Liberal Democrats to stay in the Single Market and the Customs Union.
As I fight to be elected here in Lewisham, my Liberal Democrat colleagues in Parliament are battling against the Tory Brexit while Labour plan to abstain on our motion to stay in the Single Market. In Lewisham this is seen as a sad indictment of what the party has become.They have refused to back amendments secured by Liberal Democrats in the Lords. How can they say they oppose the Government and yet stand aside when it comes to saving our place in the Single Market?
I have met hundreds of passionate campaigners who fear a Tory Brexit, and this week the East Lewisham for Europe campaign officially endorsed me to be their next MP.
Gaining the support of groups like East Lewisham for Europe has been a real high point for our campaign. Members of these groups are from all parties, but have backed the Liberal Democrats because of our clear stance on Brexit. Many have shared their disappointment that the so-called "pro-Remain" Labour candidate failed to confirm her stance on giving the people a final vote on the deal. Last week she failed to respond to the European Movement request for her to join their campaign, which I gladly signed. This week voters were disappointed to see that she would not even attend a hustings to answer the questions of the public. People are right to think that the Labour party are avoiding answering questions on Brexit.
Talking to voters at train stations, cafés, doorsteps and charities, people are simply exasperated by Labour. Most people cannot understand why Corbyn will not offer the people a final say on the deal. The most democratic way forward is to return power to the people.
So, joined by hundreds of activists, we will be working hard right up until the polls close to ensure that the result in Lewisham sends a clear message to Labour: join with the Liberal Democrats in our shared fight to stay in the Single Market and the Customs Union and, crucially, to give us the final say on the Brexit deal.
Lucy Salek is the Liberal Democrat candidate for Lewisham East
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