Caroline Lucas, The Independent
The headlines on Wednesday were all depressingly predictable: Grinches stealing Christmas, turkeys being stuffed or voting for Christmas. But there was one that I profoundly disagreed with: “It’s on: the Brexit election”.
I disagreed for two reasons. First, this general election will not resolve Brexit, however Boris Johnson tries to frame it. A clear decision on Brexit requires a clear and specific question to voters in the form of a people’s vote or confirmatory ballot. A general election – with its myriad issues – will not deliver this especially given that, under our archaic and undemocratic electoral system, majority governments are regularly elected on a minority of votes.
For three and a half years now, Johnson has been manipulating the Brexit issue for his own political advantage, starting from the moment he decided to back the Leave campaign because he thought it would deliver him the keys to Number 10. Sadly, it eventually did.
He is now weaponising Brexit to try to win a majority. He’s abandoned his Withdrawal Bill – despite it winning a majority in the commons – and is targeting Leave-voting areas with his poisonous narrative of “people vs parliament”. If we allow him to frame this as a Brexit election, we are falling into his trap.
Opposition parties had been quite shrewd in spotting these traps and shutting them down. His attempt to force through a no-deal Brexit by proroguing Parliament was foiled; his planned crash-out on 31 October “do or die” was averted; his cynical push for an early election was resisted – until now.
Earlier this week, all objections were swept aside as 438 MPs signed up for a December poll – even though it plays straight into Johnson’s hands. It’s a deeply disappointing response after months of principled resistance to one of the most right-wing prime ministers in recent history.
If his gamble pays off – and it is a huge gamble – we face years of lies, the scrapping of regulations protecting workers’ rights and the environment, the sacrifice of our NHS to US drug companies in the pursuit of a trade deal with Trump’s America, and the very real prospect of a no-deal Brexit at some time in the future.
The second reason I reject the notion of a Brexit election is that this is not the most important issue facing our country – despite the column inches and airtime devoted to it.
We are facing a climate emergency with very little time to respond to it. The government’s own advisors, the Committee on Climate Change, warned us back in July that the next 18 months would be critical in determining whether we are serious about averting climate catastrophe.
Over the past year, the government has delivered just one of 25 critical policies needed to meet emissions reduction targets. Climate action to prepare homes, businesses and our natural environment for climate change is going backwards.
When Boris Johnson says he wants to “get Brexit done to regulate differently” – and his first step is to drop environmental protections from his Withdrawal Bill – it sends a clear message about his commitment to climate action. He isn’t interested.
A survey from ClientEarth shows that climate change would influence the way more than half of adults will vote in the general election, and nearly two-thirds of them want a Green New Deal.
This isn’t the Brexit election, it’s the climate election. Boris Johnson has shown he can’t be trusted to tell the truth, obey the law, or even deliver on his own promises. He certainly can’t be trusted to set us on a path away from climate catastrophe.
This is a decisive moment for our country. How people vote will determine our future not just for the next five years but for generations. It feels like the moment to vote Green.
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