CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Camden Council to debate whether there should be a second Brexit referendum

Tory leader says full council meeting should not be distracted by foreign policy

04 October, 2018 — By Richard Osley

THE leader of the Conservatives has hit out at plans to use Camden’s all-member meeting to debate – and possibly pass a motion – supporting a second referendum on Europe.

Councillor Oliver Cooper said Labour and the Liberal Democrats were misusing the meeting after bringing their own motions to next week’s full council on Brexit. He said it was not for Camden to be trying to change foreign policy when councillors had been elected to resolve local matters.

Conservative leader Oliver Cooper

“There are three motions that have been laid down – the two from Labour and the Lib Dems are more motions about Brexit, something that’s outside the competence of Camden,” said Cllr Cooper, who supported the Leave campaign in the 2016 EU referendum. “We have a £1billion budget every year that needs to be scrutinised and services that need to be delivered that people rely upon. If councils don’t focus on the day job, as Labour just don’t want to do in Camden because they are doing such a bad job of the day job, things will get worse. We’ve instead put down a motion about the community investment programme that is the redevelopment of housing estates programme which has, frankly, failed miserably.”

He added: “With Camden having 5,000 homes that are unfit for human habitation and failing the decent homes standard in the council housing stock, it’s important they focus on stuff like that, rather than talking about foreign policy.”

Labour council leader Georgia Gould wants a second national vote – with remaining in Europe among the options

The New Journal reported last week how backstage negotiations had taken place to see what likely support there would be for a motion on calling for a new national vote on Brexit, with remaining in the European Union on the ballot paper. Around three-quarters of people in Camden who voted in the original referendum opposed the divorce.

Some Labour members, however, had raised concerns that a joint motion with the Lib Dems could undermine the national leadership of their party and shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer’s position. Mr Starmer, the Holborn and St Pancras, said “nobody is ruling out remain” at last week’s Labour Party conference.

Council leader Georgia Gould said she personally was backing a referendum with remain as an option, adding: “I think people were sold this idea that we could have everything, that we could leave the EU and keep the rights we have and all the benefits. We’ve seen by the way the Conservatives are handling this, that this is absolutely not be the case.”

Asked whether there was a risk of alienating Labour supporters in other areas of the country where there was a high Leave vote, Cllr Gould said: “I’ve an obligation to stand up for my constituents and what they want. We are a diverse community, we have so many EU citizens. Of course we need to stand up for them, but we need to be part of a national movement. Our position is a fair one, it just gives people the chance to have their say.”

Lib Dem councillor Luisa Porritt

Lib Dem councillor Luisa Porritt, who is proposing her party’s own version of a motion calling for a second referendum, said Labour’s position does not go far enough and urged residents to press councillors to support their wording.

She said Labour’s motion “amounts to no more than a plan to try and force a general election rather than a referendum”, adding: “Should the Labour Party win power nationally, it has made no commitment to hold a People’s Vote afterwards. It would rather restart the Brexit negotiations, with a cherry-picking approach that is no more likely to succeed than what the Tories are currently doing.”

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