We are just days away from the near certainty of Boris Johnson becoming Prime Minister and just a matter of weeks away from a catastrophic no deal cliff edge. Taken together, this represents a critical challenge for progressives – and a big moment for those who care about our nation’s future and the course the country follows for the next generation.
That’s why, on Saturday, I will be joining the ‘No to Boris, Yes to Europe’ demo in London. This campaign isn’t just about Brexit; it’s about the future direction and outlook of our country, and the stakes could not be higher. We are in a state of national emergency, and I believe that as progressives we have a duty to be clear and unrelenting in our opposition to Boris Johnson’s regressive vision for Britain.
Having been re-elected to the European parliament in May, I am as determined as ever to make the patriotic, proud and positive case for the UK’s membership of the EU. I have written previously about the damage a no deal Brexit would do to the economy. Analysis from the UK Trade Policy Observatory shows that over 50,000 jobs could be at risk in the East Midlands, the region I represent, from a no deal Brexit.
Imagine the misery that tens of thousands of potential job losses would create, coming on top of almost a decade of Tory austerity. Child poverty is going up, queues at foodbanks are growing. If Boris Johnson crashes us out of the EU without a deal, the impact on the economy and living standards would pile misery on top of misery. That may well be a price worth paying if, like Boris Johnson, the only currency you care about is personal political ambition. For ordinary people across the country, it is a price that cannot and must not be paid.
With three years of botched negotiations, deadlock in Westminster, a catalogue of broken Brexiteer promises and no deal staring us in the face, the case for a change of course is stronger than ever. In 2016, Leave campaigned on the basis of leaving with a deal, meaning there is no public mandate for a catastrophic no deal. The reality of Brexit is becoming clear and it’s not surprising that people across the country are now changing their minds.
Polls have consistently shown a shift towards remaining in the EU and throughout May’s European elections campaign 2016 Leave voters as well as Remain supporters told me they now believe the best route is for people to have their say again. And it’s clear the public don’t trust Boris Johnson to serve in the national interest. A poll commissioned by Best for Britain and HOPE not hate last week revealed that voters see Johnson as “irresponsible”, “untrustworthy” and “self-serving”. With this in mind, it seems only right that the British public, not Johnson, is allowed to have the final say on Brexit.
The summer holidays might well be upon us, but this is no time for sitting on the sidelines. I will spend my summer making the patriotic and positive case for internationalist values and that our best future is secured by remaining in the EU. This campaign won’t be won in Westminster alone, far from it. It will be won in towns and cities across the country, so from London’s national event on Saturday I will be taking this campaign across the East Midlands. Join us in London on Saturday and then across the East Midlands and the whole country this summer to say ‘No to Boris, Yes to Europe’.