It is not usual for political parties to be complimentary about an opponent but, on behalf of the local Liberal Democrats, I want to register our admiration of the brave act carried out by Wakefield’s Labour MP, Mary Creagh.
While Mary and I will continue to have many differences over policy, her decision to vote against Article 50 in the House of Commons was something that I and my party support. In voting against it, she not only rebelled against her party’s whip but her vote was also contrary to the local referendum results. In explaining her decision she states that “in the referendum people were promised more money for the NHS. Last week, the government admitted that the NHS’s budget per person will be cut in real terms next year. In the referendum, people were promised controls on immigration. Yet former Cabinet Minister Stephen Crabb has since warned there’s ‘nothing to suggest reduction in immigration is achievable’ post Brexit.
In the referendum, people were promised we wouldn’t leave the Single Market. Now the Prime Minister has announced she is taking the UK out of the Single Market, the biggest free trade area in the world, where 44 per cent of our exports currently trade, tariff free. George Osborne warned that her decision will not prioritise the UK economy in the negotiations. That decision puts thousands of British jobs at risk.”
The Liberal Democrats also do not support a hard Brexit. There is a danger that dogma is replacing common sense, instead we should all be working on achieving an amicable divorce from the EU.
In our opinion once negotiations have concluded the people should be asked to approve the terms of our exit so that when we depart everyone fully understands what this means. Unfortunately the Labour Party refused to back the Lib Dem amendment, which would have granted you, the people, this vote. By failing to oppose the government’s Brexit Bill they are allowing the Conservative government to blindly pursue a hard Brexit that will cause untold financial and social pain to many people in the Wakefield District. It was therefore pleasing to see that Mary Creagh had the strength to join with Lib Dem MPs in opposing the bill.
No doubt many Leave campaigners would say that this is just sour grapes and an attempt to undermine the will of the people. I would counter this with two questions:
1. The referendum was narrowly won and it did not include any details of what exit would actually look like – once we know the terms surely it is right that the people decide if this is acceptable to them?
2. What are you afraid of? If the negotiations yield favourable terms for the UK, the people will confirm their support for exiting the EU.
The next few years are going to be challenging – both nationally with Brexit and locally because of pressures on council resources. Wakefield District Liberal Democrats will work hard to speak up for those who are neglected, campaign for what is fair and hold to account those in office - and yes, commend those, whatever their party, who are making difficult but correct decisions.
Dr Peter Williams, chairman of Wakefield District Liberal Democrats
Coalition calls for resignation
Wakefield Socialist Party and Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition members have in the last week amassed hundreds of signatures on our petition calling for Mary Creagh MP’s resignation.
Out in the streets, voters have registered their strong feelings against Wakefield’s MP for voting against the triggering of Article 50 to leave the EU.
Workers throughout Europe have suffered cuts and austerity while EU bank bondholders have been bailed out. EU Tories are no different to ours.
Over the coming weeks and months, once we have collected thousands in support of the resignation demand, we will lobby Mary Creagh with them.
We believe that the Labour Party should be developing a left anti-austerity programme for withdrawal from the EU.
We want the best for district
Mick Griffiths, Wakefield Socialist Party