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'Brexit: What Next?' Debate in Harrogate

January 26, 2019 5:44 PM

Almost 200 people packed into the Wesley Centre in Harrogate on Friday evening to take part in the 'Brexit: What Next?' debate organised by North Yorkshire for Europe. The event raised over £500 for the Harrogate Homeless Project.

Local Conservative MP Andrew Jones unfortunately declined the invitation to take part, but those present were able to hear from speakers representing the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party, Labour, the Conservatives and UKIP. There then followed a series of passionate interventions from audience members with views on both sides of the Brexit debate.

The most striking contributions came from those who spoke of their own personal experiences. People whose sick family members were looked after by doctors and carers from other EU countries, whose parents had escaped the horrors of WW2 and deeply valued the peace that we have enjoyed for nearly 75 years, those with concerns about future opportunities for their children or worried about what advice to give those looking to invest in the UK.

The vote by a show of hands at the end of the meeting showed overwhelming support for a People's Vote on the deal, with most of those present preferring to remain in the EU.

Brexit Debate 25.1.19Judith Rogerson, Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Harrogate & Knaresborough, explained why a public vote on the deal is now the only way to resolve the deadlock now facing Parliament. She told the meeting:

"Democracy did not end on 23rd June 2016. But an awful lot has changed since then.

We now know that the promises made during the Leave campaign cannot, and will not, be honoured.

We also know that the law was broken by some of those campaigning to leave. So that narrow win by the Leave campaign followed law breaking and misleading promises.

Who would have ever dreamt that a Government of this country would choose to put itself in a position where it has to consider contingency plans to keep up the supply of food and medicine? That would voluntarily turn the areas around our ports into massive lorry parks? That we would force our friends and neighbours, who have legitimately come to this country, to register so they can stay in their homes? We are so much better than that as a country.

Because this is about people's lives. Those who will suffer the most are the poorest and most vulnerable in our society. And we can't ignore Northern Ireland, that hardly got a mention in the referendum campaign, but where Brexiteers are now putting at risk that hard-won peace.

'No deal' cannot be allowed to happen. And there is no deal that can command a majority in Parliament. It's essential that the Prime Minister goes back to Brussels to ask for an extension of Article 50. Then the only way to resolve the deadlock in Parliament is to go back to the people.

Theresa May says that a second referendum would be too divisive. The sad reality is that our country is already deeply divided. We can't just ignore that and hope it goes away. And we absolutely must not appease those who threaten trouble if there is another referendum.

Now is the time that MPs need to put aside short-term party political interests and do what is in the best interests of the country and their constituents. Everyone who voted to leave can do so again if that is still what they want. But it's ok for anyone to change their mind when the facts change. The facts have changed and now is the time we must have a People's Vote."