The European Movement in Northern Ireland (EMNI) – the longest established pro-European organisation in the North- has rejected comments by shadow international trade secretary, Barry Gardiner, that a referendum on the final Brexit deal would cause ‘social unrest’ and instead has called on the British Labour Party to support a Peoples Vote.
EMNI Chair Dónal Lyons said democracy is a process, and as a public vote allowed for the Brexit negotiations to begin, a public vote should be held to give approval, or not, on the final negotiations.
“I find it extremely patronising of Barry Gardiner and those who oppose a People’s Vote that we, the people, were only allowed to have our say on an abstract question in many ways in which the outcome for ordinary lives would be profound. Yet once we actually know the terms, we are not allowed to have our say. This is nothing short of scandalous.
Barry Gardiner is singing from the same hymn sheet as John Redwood (who before the 2016 vote had called for a referendum on the final deal) and other extreme Brexiters, and is insisting the Labour Party will join with the Tories and deny the people a say on the final deal.”
EMNI officers attended a public lecture in Queen’s University, Belfast last month and heard Lord Andrew Adonis argue passionately for a people’s vote. Subsequently, the Executive of EMNI took an historic decision to support a People’s Vote.
“We call on the Labour Party to join with many other members of civic society who, aggrieved at the level of information available to them in 2016, the lies told and the cheating that took place, demand a people’s vote at the end of the negotiations,” added Mr Lyons.
The EMNI also welcomed the news that NUS-USI, the umbrella group for student unions in NI, also support the campaign for a People’s Vote and look forward to working with the President and their executive committee in the month ahead.
Speaking to young people gathered in the Belfast MAC on August 16 under the banner ‘Our Future Our Choice’, EMNI Members also welcomed their pro-active engagement pushing the positive side of staying in the European Union.
Members of the EMNI Executive, Ivo Stuparich, Geoffrey Watt, and President Jane Morrice took the floor to thank campaigners from the People’s Vote campaign for bringing this important message to Northern Ireland and for their desire to include grass roots civil society, particularly young people, in the movement.
“We need to make our voices louder and clearer that Brexit is bad for Britain, but it will be even worse for Northern Ireland. The EU has given us special treatment ever since we joined in 1973 and the PEACE Programme is the greatest example of just how important that support has been.
Brexit is already doing damage to community relations in Northern Ireland and UK/Irish relations in general, and we have recently heard concerns from the business community, the health sector, from hill farmers and from the third level education sector. Why should we accept the fact that a deal would negatively affect all these sectors, and thus everyone on Northern Ireland, because of this obsession with holding on to the result in 2016, which as we know was won by spin, lies and cheating. And, what if there is no deal? How can we sit by and not have a say on this? The people must be given the opportunity to make their decision based on the facts we now know rather than the fiction we were spun.”
-Geoff Watt, Executive Committee EMNI
EMNI are planning a major pro-European rally to be held in Belfast in the autumn are calling on all civic society organisations and everyone with an interest to join them in their support for the European Union, and for a People’s Vote.