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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End Immigration Detention - these walls must fall
Green Councillors have submitted a motion to a coming Full Council meeting (11 December) supporting calls for an end to immigration detention in the UK. The motion, proposed by Green councillor Fi Hance and seconded by Labour councillor Ruth Pickersgill, calls on Bristol’s Mayor to endorse the ‘These Walls Must Fall’ Campaign (1), lobby the UK government, and work with local MPs and other councils to push for changes in immigration law and alternatives to detention.(2)
Cuts still hitting the poorest despite Mayor’s warm words
Green Mayoral Candidate, Sandy Hore-Ruthven, has responded to the news that Bristol Mayor, Marvin Rees, has today joined a nationwide warning that ‘councils have reached breaking point’ over funding cuts
Greens demands for the COP24 negotiations
This December government leaders will gather in Katowice, Poland for the COP24 climate summit, where all countries of the world, including EU Member States, must commit to put forward higher 2030 climate targets by 2020. To stay below 1.5°C, as indicated in the landmark IPCC report, the EU needs to commit to significantly increase both its long-term and 2030 targets.
Bristol can "become a beacon to the world on how to tackle climate change"
Bristol's Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato, has said the South West region can become a beacon to the world on how to tackle climate change as well as showcasing the economic gains to be had from doing so. The region’s MEP has made the claim as negotiators from around the globe meet in Poland to discuss action on climate change and how to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement which aims to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
Bristol's Green MEP challenges charitable status of right-wing think tanks
Bristol's Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato, has written to the Charity Commission to challenge the charitable status granted to a series of far-right think tanks. The challenge comes in the wake of the concession by one such organisation, the Taxpayers Alliance, that it had unfairly dismissed and smeared Brexit whistleblower Shahmir Sanni.
Buses are a right – not a privilege, says Sandy Hore-Ruthven
A good bus service means people can get where they need to go, when they need to go. The ability to travel should not be based on your income or where you live.
Lack of affordable housing unacceptable
Lack of affordable housing “completely unacceptable” – Green Councillor calls in Bedminster development plans
"It's time for a People's Vote" Bristol's Green MEP responds to Withdrawal Agreement
People voted neither for no deal or a dodgy deal. It’s time for the real deal – a vote on the reality of Brexit compared with remaining in the EU. It’s time for a People’s Vote
Greens declare a Climate Emergency and bring Bristol’s CO2 emissions target forwards 20 years
A Green party motion calling on the Mayor of Bristol to declare a climate emergency and bring the city’s carbon neutrality target forward by 20 years (to 2030) passed in a Full Council meeting this evening, committing Bristol to the most ambitious climate change target out of all UK Core Cities.
Greens challenge Mayor on support for Tall Buildings
Green councillors have raised concerns about the Labour Mayor’s support for high rise buildings
Greens call on Mayor: declare a Climate Emergency
Green councillors in Bristol are calling on the city’s Mayor to declare a Climate Emergency and bring forward Bristol’s carbon neutrality target, in a motion submitted to Full Council next week.
Time to kick plastic addiction as Green petition to be debated by Council
Thousands of people across Bristol have signed a petition to get rid of unnecessary disposable plastics started by Green Councillor Martin Fodor. The petition has received so much support that it will be debated by all councillors at Full Council. It will also receive a response from the Mayor. The petition calls on the Mayor to take all practical steps to eliminating wasteful plastic across Bristol and has been supported by plastics campaigners across the city. Greens have been campaigning for Bristol to become single-use plastic free for many years, tabling a motion on this in both 2015 and 2016.
Green response to 2018 budget
Responding to the 2018 budget, Bristol's Green MEP and party finance spokesperson, Molly Scott Cato MEP, said: “Greens said that this must be an emergency budget for the climate and that it would fail if a single pound was spent on climate wrecking projects .
Response to Mayor's 'State of the City' speech
Bristol's Green Mayoral Candidate responds to the Labour Mayor's unambitious 'State of the City' annual speech.
Green Councillors support Vision for future of Bristol’s parks
Green Councillors have endorsed the Parks Forum’s vision for the future of Bristol's Parks, and suggested some additional points.
Greens call for Review of Bristol’s House-Building Plans
Sandy Hore-Ruthven, Green Party candidate for Mayor of Bristol is calling for the Mayor to announce a review of Bristol’s Housing strategy at his State of the City Speech  on Wednesday following the government’s announced intention to lift the borrowing cap for local authorities . The cap currently dramatically limits councils from borrowing against their own existing housing stock to build new properties.
Green Councillors support calls to end immigration detention
In 2017, 27,000 people entered indefinite immigration detention in the UK, many of them from Bristol.
Green Councillors oppose government plans to fast track fracking
Green and independent Councillors from across the West of England signed a response to the government’s twin consultations on fracking and fracking exploration at a demo in Bristol on Tuesday 9 October, urging the government to back down from its plan to make controversial fracking developments harder to challenge under planning law.
Greens call for caution on tall buildings - response to Urban Living consultation
Green Councillors support high quality, denser developments to accommodate people and create communities but are concerned Bristol Council could lose sight of the downsides in its enthusiasm for tall buildings
Setting the record straight – the Lord Mayor’s car
Green councillors have expressed their disappointment with the tactics of Bristol’s Labour group after an ‘anonymous Labour source’ falsely claimed to the Bristol Post that Green Lord Mayor Cleo Lake had “demanded the purchase of one of the most expensive cars in the world”.
Bristol shoppers join worldwide campaign returning unnecessary plastic to supermarkets
This weekend Bristol shoppers and Greens joined campaigners from around the world in ‘plastic attacks’ to hand back their unneeded single use plastics to supermarkets across Bristol.
Letter: Bristol Cllrs must vote against the proposed airport expansion
We can all do our bit to help reduce the impact of climate change by choosing to walk and cycle more or fly less, but only politicians can make the big decisions that will decide whether our planet blossoms or burns. It is time they start treating climate change as the global emergency that it is.
Arena decision: Why are we letting austerity dictate how our city should grow?
You can’t shrink to greatness! But with the arena decision at cabinet last week that is what it feels like Bristol has done.
Bristol Greens to attend #RiseForClimate rally in Bristol – 8th September
Alongside organisations in Bristol and in cities around the world, Bristol Green Party members and elected representatives will be demanding urgent action on climate change by taking part in the #RiseForClimate rally in Bristol on 8th September.
Green Group Leader: Mayor's arena decision shows contempt for democracy
The day after he voted for a council motion supporting a Temple Meads location for Bristol's Arena, the city's Labour Mayor has scrapped the project altogether in a Cabinet meeting.
Opinion: Bristol wants the arena on Arena Island
Bristol Green Party's Deputy Coordinator writes for 24/7 about why the Mayor should listen and build the Arena on Arena Island.
Mayor should ‘abide by’ council vote for Arena location
A majority of cross-party councillors have taken the unusual step of calling an extraordinary Council meeting to vote on the location of Bristol’s Arena, and demanding that the Mayor ‘abides by’ the decision made. The Arena’s future was due to be decided by the Mayor on Sept 4th. However, amid growing accusations that the Mayor’s decision may be biased (1), councillors have called for a free vote. The letter to the Mayor includes signatures from a majority of councillors, including signatures from all four political parties.
Listen Again to Molly Scott Cato's speech at Bristol's People's Vote rally
Why Arena island is still the best location for Bristol's Arena
The Mayor’s own Value for Money study showed that the arena will pay for itself, will add no burden to the public purse, will not impact on council services and will leave the city with a significant asset. The Mayor has acknowledged on a number of occasions, and most recently on BBC Points West last Thursday, that an arena at Temple Island would be affordable for the city.
£5m cuts to special needs budget 'hidden' from Council
Bristol’s cabinet member for education and skills has been accused of misleading the council by hiding concerns around £5m of cuts to a special needs budget. A High Court judge has ruled that Bristol City Council did not properly consult over the cuts to the high needs block. Clive Stevens, Green councillor for Clifton Down, said: “It’s important that lessons are learned. The 2016 Bundred Review highlighted the need for councillors to be given clear information, but here in 2018 we had a £5m cut which was simply not shown in the budget papers." For the full article please see here>>