Newsletter - 16 November 2018
Dear member or supporter
Congratulations to LB Camden for backing the People's Vote. As forecast in an article and a blog in the local press, and urged on by letters from L4E member Jonathan Livingstone in the Ham&High and the Camden New Journal and by a rally outside the Council building before the meeting, there was cross-party support for the Liberal Democrat motion calling for a referendum on any deal (or no-deal) with the option to Remain. All Labour councillors present voted in favour, though a few were not in the room; even one Conservative voted in favour (the rest of his group abstained). The Liberals had accepted a Labour amendment which called for action on the real grievances that underpinned the Leave vote; good - Remain does not mean a return to the status quo ante but a commitment to a better country. You can read the text of the amended motion 1 here. The Council also voted for a Labour motion that was more clearly in line with the Party's policy of calling for a general election; failing that all options should be on the table including a public vote with Remain as an option (text here - motion 4). Since Keir Starmer's constituency is in the borough the motions have special significance. They should strengthen his hand. Councillors' speeches were of high quality referencing the EU's role in supporting peace, fears of EU citizens living here, prospects for the young to study abroad, the impact on universities, science and arts. The result was fully reported in the local press (Ham&High, Camden New Journal) and should therefore have an impact on local opinion. Congratulations to all EM members and fellow-campaigners from Open Britain and Liberal Democrat and Labour party groups in the borough.
Congratulations to the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames which held its State of the Borough debate on Brexit on 13 November and passed a motion backing the People's Vote. The text says "To support the right of the people of the United Kingdom to vote on whether to accept the deal negotiated by the government, or whether to revoke Article 50 and remain within the European Union". Cllr Liz Green, Leader of the Council said "The majority of Kingston residents voted to remain in the EU. I along with many other people are worried about the impact of Brexit and the People's Vote campaign allows residents to make a final decision about our membership of the European Union (EU), once we know what deal may be available.". The Council's announcement is here. The Conservatives absented themselves from the debate and all Liberal Democrat councillors present voted in favour. One of our members had put down a public question to the Council calling for a motion; that will have helped encourage the Council to go down that route. He was able to speak at the meeting and called for a higher standard of respect for Leave voters if they are to be persuaded to our cause. The decision was reported in the local Surrey Comet. Congratulations to all our members who contributed to this result.
LB Sutton's council meeting on 12 November passed without a resolution being considered. I am hopeful that the Council's leadership will make a formal public statement in favour. I would encourage residents to write to their councillors and the Leader of the Council to call for such a statement to be issued (the next council meeting is now not until 28 January; Sutton voted Leave 2016, now Remain*; it is the only Liberal Democrat controlled Council in London that has not yet come out formally for a People's Vote).
LB Redbridge will consider a motion in Council on 22 November. The motion reflects Labour party policy and calls for a general election. Only "Should a General Election not be called, this council further resolves to support a People's Vote in the form of a second referendum which includes the option to remain in the EU.". So the motion is primarily about obtaining a Labour government and a Labour Brexit, rather than about the opportunity to stop Brexit. However, if there is no general election then under the motion the only option identified is a People's Vote; Remain would be on the ballot paper. There is not much prospect of amending the motion.
There are 32 boroughs plus the City so 33 in all. We now have 12 names on our Gold roll of honour. So more than one third of boroughs have come out for a People's Vote. If another five come out in favour we can say that over half of boroughs are in favour. Please call on your borough to help us over the line!
Roll of Honour
Gold: for local authorities that have come out for a People's Vote on any deal/ a bad deal and normally explicitly with a Remain option: LB Hammersmith & Fulham, LB Ealing* (position re-affirmed by the leader after the local elections), London Assembly*, LB Richmond upon Thames, LB Merton, Mayor of London, LB Tower Hamlets, LB Lewisham, LB Lambeth, LB Waltham Forest, LB Hounslow*, RB Greenwich*, LB Camden, RB Kingston-upon-Thames
* Explicit Remain option not formally part of resolution
Bronze: For the local authority that has come out for all options to be on the table including a public vote if there is no general election and with no commitment to Remain being an option: LB Haringey
Active Campaigns in the Boroughs
Please write to your councillors (model letter in the blog) in these Boroughs where we know that a People's Vote motion is being promoted for consideration:
- LB Brent - Labour Group considering which motions to discuss at 26 November council;
- LB Hackney - Join calls on the directly elected Mayor and his Cabinet to make a formal public statement in support to be endorsed at the 23 January 2019 Council meeting;
- LB Islington - especially Islington! - where members are launching a second attempt to persuade the ruling Labour group to come out for a People's Vote (Council meeting 6 December);
- LB Southwark - hopes for a debate in full council on 28 November.
Please also write to your ward councillors in these Boroughs. As far as we know, they have not yet backed the People's Vote and there is no active consideration of doing so (all boroughs voted Remain in 2016 except where stated; dates of full council meetings to January 2019):
- Conservative controlled: Hillingdon (Voted Leave in 2016, now Remain*; Council meetings 22 November (no referendum motion on the agenda) & 17 January), Kensington & Chelsea (Council meeting 5 December & 23 January), Wandsworth (Council meeting 5 December) and Westminster (Council meeting 23 January)
- Labour controlled: Barking & Dagenham (voted Leave 2016; now probably Remain*; Assembly meetings 21 November (no referendum motion on agenda) & 30 January), Croydon (Council meeting 3 December & 28 January), Enfield (Council meetings 21 November (there is a Brexit item on the agenda but not a call for a referendum) & 30 January), Harrow (ruling Labour group have no plan for a motion; Council meeting 29 November), Newham (Council meetings 26 November & 10 December)
- No overall control (Conservatives largest group): Havering (Voted Leave in 2016, still Leave*; Council meetings 21 November (no Brexit motion on agenda) & 23 January)
* Assessment of present status is based on Survation's borough level analysis of polling, November 2018 and more background here
If you live or work in the City
please write to your ward Alderman and Common Councilmen. The model letter is here - do explain what your connexion to the City is if it is not obviously your home; and adapt the terminology - you should refer to Members rather than Councillors, and the decision-making body is the Court of Common Council. You can use this page on the City website to find your Members or use Writetothem with the relevant postcode. There are Common Council meetings set for: 6 December 2018 and 10 January 2019.
How to Campaign
The sooner that you can get your Council to debate a motion the better to keep up momentum. The timing of the Meaningful Vote in Parliament is not clear: the first will probably be in December but there may well be more in January. So even if the earliest meeting at which you could obtain a debate in full Council is not until January it would still be worth campaigning, though better now as January and especially late January might well be too late. Remember that motions normally need to be listed at least one week before Council meetings, and that party groups decide voting in policy in meetings about a week before the Council meeting.
If the next Council meeting is not until late December or later you could ask that the Leader (Directly Elected Mayor in the case of Hackney and Newham) and Cabinet issue a formal public declaration on behalf of the Council which should be endorsed by the full Council at its next meeting.
- write to your ward councillors (model letter in the blog), the leader of the council and the leaders of the Green, Labour and Liberal Democrat groups
- write to your local newspaper - an under-utilised resource - you can take inspiration from the model letter to councillors in the blog or the letters in the Camden section above (please send us links to published letters)
- if your MP is a supporter of the People's Vote ask her/ him to call on the Council to come out for a People's Vote (London4Europe have written to selected MPs, but it is only constituents' letters that receive real attention)
- ask your friends and neighbours to follow steps 1 - 3
- tell us what you are doing and the progress made, e.g. commitments to table motions - E-mail: [email protected]
You can then take your campaign to a higher level in your Borough with these steps:
- get involved with your local EM branch
- contact other Remain groups in the borough and ask them to mobilise their members
- meet your councillors, the leader of the council/ directly elected mayor (Hackney & Newham) and the leaders of the Green, Labour and Liberal Democrat groups
- ask a public question at a Council meeting - they will have a guide on their democracy pages
- launch a formal petition to the Council - they will have a guide on their democracy pages
- street campaigning with your EM local branch or other Remain organisation
And afterwards, please remember your thank-you letters to councillors and in the local press.
The contents of this newsletter reflect the views of the author and not necessarily of London4Europe