Today we reach the anniversary of the reckless triggering of the Article 50 process. As your representative in the European Parliament, I am more concerned than ever about how Brexit is working out.
The Prime Minister's cheerful rhetoric about a bright future outside the EU is nothing but empty words that fly in the face of the evidence of the severe economic cost. Meanwhile, so many of the promises that were made during the referendum campaign have been broken that the mandate for leaving the EU has been seriously weakened.
In the past couple of weeks we have also seen exactly how the referendum was won - the victory was based on breaking funding rules and spending vast amounts of money on companies who specialise in propaganda and electoral manipulation. Behind these companies and this process lurk shadowy, anti-democratic figures like Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer.
I know that Brexit has become complex and divisive and that it is tempting to hope for the best and avoid the tough politics. But I would urge you to do whatever you can to resist the pressure for such a damaging course and to get involved in the various campaigning groups that are fighting Brexit (see ideas below). It is the most fundamental change to our political system in my lifetime and none of us should stand aside.
Read more about my reflections one year on from the triggering of Article 50, here.
Vote Leave: a dark and tangled web
The allegations of illegal behaviour and electoral manipulation swirling around the EU referendum have become complex. They fall under three main three main headings:
- Theft of data from Facebook to enable creation of individual voter profiles
- Micro-targeting with fear-based messages and military-informed psyops
- Breach of spending limits
I have attempted to untangle all this here. What is clear is the narrow victory for the Leave side is far from robust and our case for a people’s poll on the final deal is greatly strengthened.
In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal which revealed that millions of Facebook users have had their private information harvested I wrote an open letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg challenging him to turn Facebook into a real social network by handing ownership it over to those who invest their personal lives in it. Read this letter here.
Challenging the result of the EU referendum
I have written to the Electoral Commission to question the legitimacy of the EU referendum result. I have asked them to clarify if their on-going investigations into whether Vote Leave breached campaign finance rules will now extend to looking into the latest revelations about voter manipulation. I want to know what would make an election illegitimate and what steps they will take if the EU referendum is considered illegitimate. More on this here.
European Parliament votes for level playing field
MEPs have voted overwhelmingly in support of a resolution on the framework of the future EU – UK relationship. This makes clear that a deal between the UK and EU will only be supported by the Parliament if it guarantees a ‘level playing field’.
Examples from the text:
This has sent a clear message to the UK government that Brexit cannot be used as an excuse for a race to the bottom. Only if Britain complies with EU standards can it hope to achieve a comprehensive free trade deal with the EU27. You can read the full framework here
South West rally - a display of unity against Brexit
It was as great to join around 2,500 people at the March and Rally for Europe in Exeter last Saturday, part of a national day of action with rallies across the country. It was encouraging to share the stage with members from Labour, Lib Dems and Conservative Parties, as well as European citizens, student representatives and farmers. The event was organised by Devon for Europe, part of the Britain for Europe network of regional groups. Check out your local group! Best for Britain is another group worth looking at. You can use their website to write to your MP to demand a final say on the Brexit deal.
It is exciting to see an emerging political alliance against Brexit. For instance, a cross-party group of 19 UK MEPs recently wrote to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to complain about the use of ‘utterly inappropriate language’ by government and the press in relation to Brexit negotiations. Read about this here. The three South West pro-Europe MEPs – myself, Clare Moody (Labour) and Julie Girling (Conservative) – also wrote to the European Commission expressing our concerns about Russian interference in the EU referendum. You can find out more here.
Molly Scott Cato
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Mayor must take action on fossil fuel funds
Green Councillors have submitted a motion to next Tuesday’s Full Council meeting (19 March) calling on Bristol’s Labour Mayor to meet with the head of Avon Pension Fund and discuss divestment of funds away from fossil fuel industries within 5 years. Despite a similar Green motion passed in 2015 (1), the Avon Pension Fund continues to hold significant investments in fossil fuel industries. A recent UN study found that resource extraction industries are responsible for half of the world’s carbon emissions and more than 80% of biodiversity loss. (2) Bristol’s branch of local government union UNISON (the second largest union in the UK) also backs the campaign for pension fund divestment.
Bristol Greens back return of student climate strike
Thousands of students are expected to strike over climate action once again this Friday 15 March in Bristol. Green councillors welcomed the news and praised young people for putting the Climate Emergency on the agenda.
Job Advert: [Paid] Campaigns Manager Wanted
The Bristol Green Party is looking for a Campaigns Manager to help elect Sandy Hore-Ruthven as the UK’s first Green Mayor. You will be an experienced campaigns manager and have a commitment to Green values. The role will build the groundwork for an effective campaign for the elections in May 2020. Deadlines for applications is the 21st of March.
Green Group Leader's letter to the Prime Minister
As Bristol’s Labour administration voted through a budget which takes millions from adult social care and children & families services, Eleanor Combley, Leader of the Green Group, wrote to the Prime Minister to demand an end to the “triple whammy of cuts” hitting local authorities.
Green Councillor - Labour incompetence to blame for bin collection delays
Over 200 streets in Bristol were recently impacted by bin and recycling collection delays of as much as two weeks due to the failure of ‘worn-out’ vehicles due to be replaced.
Greens refuse to vote for Labour’s ‘no action’ budget
Bristol Green councillors have abstained from voting for the Labour administration’s budget at the budget council meeting this evening. While Councillors passed successful amendments, they said the budget overall was still not good enough, lacking key action on critical areas and continuing the rollout of cuts to services voted through by Labour in the 2018 budget.
All Green amendments at today's Budget meeting
Green Councillors have proposed 5 amendments to this evening's budget meeting at full Council. They include taking action towards carbon neutrality by 2030, creating more housing and providing better bus services.
Greens: scrap City Hall perks and pay foster carers more
A Green amendment to be debated at Bristol’s budget council meeting this evening proposes to increase allowances for in-house foster carers at Bristol City Council, funded by scrapping free parking perks for councillors and reducing the size of the budget for the Mayor’s Office.
Greens present budget amendments to create more housing and save money
Green Councillors have proposed measures to Bristol’s budget meeting tomorrow that would create additional council housing and independent housing for adults with social care needs – while saving the council hundreds of thousands of pounds per year.
Fund climate change adaptation, stop fly-tipping and tackle local flooding
Green councillors have submitted an amendment to next week’s budget which funds practical measures to address a wide range of challenges in Bristol, both local and city-wide. Proposals include a scheme dubbed the “puddle police” which identifies problem drains across the city to reduce local flooding, tougher enforcement action on fly-tipping, and development of a 12 year plan to make Bristol carbon neutral by 2030.
Accusations of racism within Bristol City Council
We are deeply concerned at the contents of the report and condemn unequivocally any racism taking place within the council. We regard it as completely unacceptable that any officer should feel enabled to behave in a way which is discriminatory, or that any culture of bigotry should be tolerated.
Bristol needs “Clean air, not hot air Mr Mayor”
Bristol Greens have condemned the Mayor of Bristol for his failure to meet a deadline to produce a Clean Air Plan. The plan was supposed to be written by the end of 2018 and Bristol Council was given until 21 February to respond.
Bristol's Green MEP arrested in anti-nuclear bombs protest
Bristol's Green MEP for the South West, Molly Scott Cato, is one of three MEPs arrested after breaking into a Belgian military airbase to protest against its stockpiling of American B61 nuclear bombs
People and Power: Populism, Fascism, and How to Defend Democracy
A recording of Bristol's Green MEP recently talking on People and Power: Populism, Fascism, and How to Defend Democracy
Plans for £6m+ a year investment into buses at no cost to the Bristol taxpayer
Green councillors in Bristol and the Green Party Mayoral Candidate for 2020 have put forward an amendment to Bristol City Council’s budget to be discussed at the Council Budget meeting on Tuesday 26th. The amendment proposes a £6.5m annual investment in buses, making them more affordable, improving reliability, speed and numbers of routes, to be funded through a congestion charge on cars from outside the city.
School climate strike children’s brave stand has our support
We are inspired that our children, spurred on by the noble actions of Greta Thunberg and other striking students, are making their voices heard, say 224 academics
"Voices of young people must be heard"
Green councillors have called for Bristol’s Mayor, Bristol City Council and local teachers and parents to support those students choosing to join this Friday’s school strike on climate change. On Friday 15th February, school children from across Bristol will be taking part in the first nationwide ‘Youth Strike 4 Climate’ inspired by the actions of 16 year old Greta Thunberg in Sweden. This Friday, many of Bristol’s schoolchildren will be joining the 70,000 schoolchildren from 270 cities and towns across the world who have been taking part in ‘Fridays for Future’ demanding that politicians take action to confront the climate emergency.
Mayor must end support of airport expansion
"How can Mayor Marvin Rees unequivocally support the expansion of Bristol Airport (BBC Sunday Politics 3rd February), when he has voted for a Green plan to make Bristol carbon neutral by 2030 and has tasked council officers to explore how to achieve this aim. Their report won’t be due until May, so on what evidence is he making this decision?
Bristol's Green Lord Mayor to save money, cut pollution with new hybrid car
Green Lord Mayor of Bristol, Cllr Cleo Lake, has a new hybrid car for her Mayoral vehicle after the expiry of the lease on the previous diesel vehicle
Bristol Council buys new home for children in care thanks to Green budget amendment
An item coming to Bristol Council Cabinet today approved the purchase of a home for children in care, putting a budget amendment introduced by Green Group leader Councillor Eleanor Combley into practice.
Last chance to have your say on “reckless” airport expansion
There is one week left to respond to a public consultation on Bristol Airport’s expansion plans, which closes on 26 January
Government threatens legal action against Bristol Mayor over poor air quality
Government threatens legal action against Bristol Mayor over inaction on poor air quality
Bristol Green councillor named politician of the year
Councillor Carla Denyer (Clifton Down) has been named politician of the year by The Big Green Political Podcast.
Green condemnation of death threats to mayor and deputy mayor
"Westminster is now in gridlock" says MEP after Brexit vote
Responding to last night’s defeat for the government in the Brexit vote and today’s vote of confidence in the government, Bristol's Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato, said: “Westminster is now in gridlock. The failed leadership of Theresa May and weak or non-existent opposition from Labour’s front bench has brought us to a crisis; one which our politicians seem unable to resolve. That is why the only way forwards is to go back to the people.
Bristol Green Party welcome two city MPs supporting a People’s Vote
Senior Bristol Green Party representatives have today warmly welcomed Darren Jones MP and Kerry McCarthy MP’s publicly stated support for a 2nd Brexit referendum alongside 69 of their parliamentary colleagues but have expressed ‘bitter disappointment if not surprise’ that neither Thangam DebbonaireMP or Karin Smyth MP signed up to the call.
Labour wasting council time with attacks and “self-congratulatory cheerleading”
At a Bristol Full Council meeting today, Green councillors criticised the Labour group for wasting valuable policy space with a 'self-congratulatory' motion, and tabled amendments to the motion which would have committed all councillors to protect valuable Council services in forthcoming budget.
BRISTOL GREENS CALL FOR A PEOPLE’S VOTE ON BREXIT
BRISTOL GREENS CALL FOR A PEOPLE’S VOTE ON BREXIT
Corbyn’s Brexit stance leave Labour facing mass defections
Commenting on Jeremy Corbyn’s speech, Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for South West England and leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said: “Theresa May is plainly not the only senior politician who has mastered the art of can kicking, as Jeremy Corbyn’s speech today avoided providing definitive answers to any of the major questions facing the country over Brexit.
Action needed for Bristol to be carbon neutral by 2030
Bristol’s Green Councillors have today launched a new report outlining the action needed for Bristol to meet its new commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2030.