Don't forget the Green contributions in the fight against Brexit
PUBLISHED: 14:39 30 August 2018 | UPDATED: 14:44 30 August 2018
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The claim that the Lib Dems are “the only UK-wide party willing to stop Brexit” simply isn’t true says Green activist Nate Higgins.
If Remainers are to stop Brexit in its tracks, we have to work together. That means Liberal Democrat activists, and large amounts of the mainstream media, need to stop sowing discord within the Remain side by pretending that there is only one party committed to stopping Brexit. The Liberal Democrats would have you believe that no other party is fighting for the 48% of people who voted Remain (or the majority of people who now support a People’s Vote according to many pollsters). Who can blame them, that’s their thing and every party likes to present themselves as unique when no such uniqueness exists. But when the mainstream media, from opinion writers to high-profile journalists, echo this false claim, that is when we have problems.
The Green Party has never stayed quiet on our opposition to Brexit. But often it is hard to be heard above the “fake news”.
Of course, some, like The New European’s Jane Merrick, have started to preface this false claim with “the only UK-wide party”. But the Lib Dems are not UK-wide, as they do not stand in Northern Ireland. Instead, their sister party Alliance stands. Not only is this ignorance to Northern Ireland part of why we ended up voting for Brexit in the first place, it is also true that the UK Green Parties use the same “sister party” structure to operate across the UK that the Liberal Democrats and Alliance do. The Green Party of England and Wales, Scottish Green Party, and Green Party in Northern Ireland all cooperate on a vast range of issues, with many members of any single Green Party opting to become members of a sister party. For example, our peer in the House of Lords, Jenny Jones, represents all three Green parties, not just the Green Party of England and Wales.
While parties on the British mainland have often opted to stand sister parties in Northern Ireland due to the large chasm in political culture and beliefs, Greens opted to do the same with Scotland in recognition of the same chasm there. We are vindicated in this decision, with Scotland voting in a different direction to the UK in every election since 2005 (including the Brexit referendum).
The ignorance to the Green’s place in the Brexit fightback is especially frustrating when you realise that Lib Dem flagship policy on Brexit, a vote on the final Brexit deal, was not their original Brexit policy immediately after the referendum.
Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavillion, was the first politician making the case for a People’s Vote, shortly after the referendum. Then, in early September 2016, Caroline was elected co-Leader of the Green Party and the policy was ratified by Green Party Conference. A few weeks later, the Lib Dems adopted the policy too. Lucas began the movement for a Brexit deal referendum, but the Lib Dems are afforded a false uniqueness on this issue. One poll after the referendum even suggested the Greens were the most pro-Remain party, with 75% of 2015 Green voters voting Remain while only 70% of 2015 Liberal Democrat voters voting Remain.
If Greens and the Liberal Democrats are to continue to work together to stop Brexit in a democratic manner, we all have to do better to stop the discord that will prevent a successful “exit from Brexit”. This begins by recognising the Greens contribution to the fight against Brexit. The pro-Brexit media would love us to focus on internal squabbling instead of on them and we have to do better, and we can’t do that while dismissing the roles we each play.
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