JANET DABY MP: Why Black and Asian communities are marching for a People's Vote

PUBLISHED: 12:06 22 March 2019

Anti-Brexit campaigners gather in Parliament Square, London. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA.

Anti-Brexit campaigners gather in Parliament Square, London. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

MP JANET DABY explains that now, more than ever, ethnic minorities need to have their voice heard.

With just a week before we’re due to leave the EU, parliament is yet to agree a deal. The prime minister’s deal has been roundly been rejected by parliament on two occasions. There is even an attempt to push her deal through for a third time next week.

The handling of the Brexit process has been ridiculous - plain and simple. Worse still, the voices of ethnic minorities have seldom been heard in this debate. My real worry is how Brexit will affect the rights and experiences of the various ethnic minority communities in this country.

It was a Conservative government who deliberately set out to create a “hostile environment” resulting in members of the Windrush generation being wrongfully targeted and deported. It was Theresa May, as home secretary, who sent ‘Go Home’ vans into predominantly black and Asian communities. Women and people of colour have consistently been marginalised and have had their lives affected by decisions from central and local government which has disproportionately and unfairly affected them. Brexit will be no different.

I was elected to parliament to represent Lewisham East last year and was proud to have been part of an all-women, all-BAME shortlist. However, while there have been some advances in amplifying the voices women and ethnic minorities in politics, I am disappointed to see how those crucial voices have not been consulted in this shambolic Brexit process. When prominent black or Asian MPs do speak out, they get horrific abuse levelled at them. My colleagues David Lammy and Rupa Huq have both had racist messages sent to them, specifically in response to their support for a public vote.

I am delighted to support the People’s Vote campaign. In June last year, over 100,000 people marched outside parliament demanding to have a say on the Brexit deal. In a further march in October, the numbers swelled to over 700,000 people from across the UK descending onto the streets of London pointing out the only way forward out of the Brexit mess was through a public vote.

It is clear that that the calls for a public vote are growing louder by the day. A once far-off thought is fast becoming the only viable option. The momentum is clearly with the campaign to allow the public to have their say on the Brexit deal.

I will be joining their activists from my constituency and Ethnic Minorities for a People’s Vote - which has been amplifying the voices of ethnic minority voices in the Brexit debate - at the Put It To The People March this Saturday.

Now, more than ever, ethnic minority people need to have their voices heard. That is why I encourage everyone, but especially ethnic minorities and women, to come out and march for a people’s vote.

In these crucial days ahead, we’re all going to work harder than ever to make sure our voices are not ignored but heard clearly. With parliament in a logjam, with no clear route out of this mess, it’s only fair to put it to the people.

• Janet Daby is the Member of Parliament for Lewisham East

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