EU referendum – after the vote
UK Green MEPs are working hard to challenge Theresa May’s vision of an extreme Brexit, which we believe she doesn’t have a mandate for and would cast Britain away from Europe as a tax-haven floating on the edge of the Atlantic. I have a new section on my website outlining my views on Brexit that also contains useful information for concerned constituents, including some ways to stay close to our European neighbours and fix our out-of-date democracy.
I welcomed the Supreme Court ruling on Article 50 that the Government does not have the power to trigger Art. 50 without a vote in Parliament, reaffirming the sovereignty of the British Parliament. At the same time, I was disappointed that an overwhelming majority of MPs voted in favour of triggering Article 50 on 1 February. I support my Green colleague Caroline Lucas in asking MPs to work across party lines to stand up to this Government’s extreme Brexit plans at every stage. I have also signed and promoted the Green Party petition to keep freedom of movement.
As I believe that Theresa May’s and Philip Hammond’s proposals to send the country hurtling towards an extreme Brexit will see Britain as the ultimate loser in a global race to the bottom on everything from environmental regulations to workers’ rights, I have lent my support to the Dublin Case alongside Jonathan Bartley, Co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, Northern Irish Green Party leader, Steven Agnew MLA, and Jolyon Maugham QC, Director of the Good Law Project, as a litigant in the case. I have published an opinion piece outlining in more detail why I have signed up to the case.
Transport & Aviation
In the Parliament’s Transport Committee, I’ve been working to improve the facilities and services for public transport passengers with disabilities and reduced mobility. This includes making sure that ticketing and online booking services are equally accessible and usable, making sure passengers can freely move around in buses, trains or station buildings regardless of their needs, and pushing for a joined-up approach to EU legislation to ensure all transport services in the EU are working towards the same accessibility requirements. My goal is to ensure an equal opportunity for everyone to travel without worrying about mobility barriers.
Furthermore, continuing my focus on maritime transport, I’m also about to start work on a new report which will help improve the safety standards of ferries and other passenger ships.
Continuing my work with campaigners and local Greens to oppose the expansion of the A27, I issued a statement of support for the Chichester and Bognor Regis Green Party who were staging a protest against the undemocratic decision-making process for the A27 developments at Chichester. I will continue to highlight the urgent need to develop real sustainable alternatives to Highways England’s damaging transport strategy.
With regard to airport expansion, I condemned Theresa May’s decision to sanction expansion at Heathrow and wrote a number of articles setting out the reasons why. The articles were published by Left Foot Forward, DeSmogUK, New Statesman, and the Ecologist.
After an ambitious resolution I helped draft, calling for an immediate and full EU-wide ban on the trade in ivory, was voted in favour by the European Parliament’s Environment committee last autumn, I was delighted to see it adopted by an overwhelming majority of MEPs during a plenary voting session in Strasbourg last November. The resolution also calls for common sanctions at EU level against wildlife trafficking, which is worth an estimated €20 billion annually.
I called out Andrea Leadsom’s duplicity on animal welfare issues, following the Environment Minister’s speech at the Oxford Farming Conference 2017 this January, during which she announced plans to scrap vital protections.
On International Animal Rights Day, I outlined my thoughts on animal welfare in a post-referendum Britain, reiterating how the EU has been a key factor in much of the positive action taken on animal welfare in Britain over the last few decades. EU laws are currently protecting millions of British animals and acres of beloved wildlife.
I’m keeping up my work to oppose live animal exports by supporting the recently launched Stop The Trucks campaign, which is calling on the EU Commission to review and update transport regulations, to impose maximum journey times and better conditions that align with animal welfare science.
During the forthcoming GPEW spring conference in Liverpool, I am co-hosting a session on responsible agriculture and sustainable food production that will examine ways to fight climate change and strengthen animal welfare as well as share best practice examples. The event is due to take place on Saturday 1 April between 14:00 and 15:30.
TTIP & CETA
TTIP looks likely to remain in deep freeze for the time being.
Last year, despite fierce opposition from myself and my Green colleagues, CETA was rushed through the European Council and signed at the EU-Canada Summit on 30 October 2016. On February 15 in Strasbourg, MEPs will vote on whether to ratify the agreement or not. Due to efforts by the centre left-right ‘Grand Coalition’, including the Socialists & Democrats group to which the UK Labour Party belongs, there will be no accompanying resolution that would normally outline the stance of the European Parliament on various aspects of the deal.
The CETA CHECK campaign has been helping citizens to lobby their MEPs via email, phone and in person since late last year – I outlined my concerns and pledged to vote against CETA on their website – and you can still get in touch with your MEPs as part of the campaign’s third phase before 15 February to request a no vote.
I backed Global Justice Reading’s action against CETA, with campaigners taking to Broad Street on Saturday 21 January to ask people to sign a card for Anneliese Dodds, Labour MEP for the region, asking her not to ratify the deal.
Some key reasons why the Greens are against CETA can be found here. You can follow the Greens/EFA group’s efforts to oppose damaging trade deals such as CETA and TTIP at ttip2016.eu. A briefing on how to lobby your MEPs can be found here.
CETA has been deemed a ‘mixed agreement’ meaning all 28 Member States need to ratify the agreement before it can come fully into force. Most of CETA will be provisionally applied if the European Parliament votes in favour, but EU countries still have the chance to halt the introduction of the controversial investment court system (ICS) and delay conclusion of CETA altogether.
Following my reaction to The Network for Police Monitoring’s report analysing the policing of protests against fracking and unconventional fossil fuel extraction since 2014, I sent a number of letters about freedom to protest to the National Police Chief Council, the Police and Crime Commissioner and Chief Constable for Sussex as well as the Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey, asking them for a response to the concerns raised and to ensure local peoples’ legitimate rights to protest. The responses can be found here.
After I visited the sites at Leith Hill in Surrey and Billingshurst this winter, I lent my support to a peaceful protest against oil drilling plans in Dorking, the Leith Hill Celebration Walk, which was organised by Surrey Hill Slings and supported by A Voice for Leith Hill, Leith Hill Action Group, and the Leith Hill Protection Camp.
I sent an objection letter to the South Downs National Park Authority last month, opposing the planning application to extract oil at Markwell’s Wood, an ancient woodland and unique habitat endangered by this proposal.
Reacting to more positive news, I welcomed plans to expand the Thanet Offshore Wind Farm, which will make the site one of the largest offshore wind farms in the world and able to supply more than 400,000 homes with clean electricity.
In other news…
- The European Parliament last month elected EPP MEP Antonio Tajani as its new President. My colleague Jean Lambert stood as the candidate for the Greens and Greens/EFA MEP Ulrike Lunacek was re-elected as Vice-President.
- There’s a new European Citizens’ Initiative calling for a ban on glyphosate. It needs at least one million signatures to be considered by the European Commission, so please support it!
- I will be involved in two sessions at the GPEW spring conference in Liverpool (30 March-2 April). In the first session, on 1 April from 11:00-12:30, my MEP colleagues and I will talk about how MEPs are making the Green voice heard in Europe. The second session entitled “responsible agriculture and sustainable food production: addressing meat production and consumption, animal welfare and GMOs” will also take place on Saturday between 14:00 and 15:30. A preliminary conference programme can be found here.
- In January, I co-signed a letter to the editor of the Guardian condemning Trump’s travel ban.
- I have been supporting campaigners in Sussex opposed to the sale of publically owned downland.
- I offered my support to demonstrators in Winchester ahead of their air pollution protest march.
- I criticised the government’s consistent failure to tackle the air pollution crisis as the EU prepares to escalate action against the UK for breaching air quality laws.
- Responding to news, I condemned the appalling rise in rough sleeping in Brighton.