Steven Agnew; “In putting people first the Green Party will also prioritise investment in our public services to ensure a fair and equitable society”

Steven Agnew is the Leader of the Green Party Northern Ireland.

The Green Party is committed to putting people first. This means securing a referendum on the final Brexit deal, protecting our public services and ensuring that equality extends to all our citizens.

“There is nothing to win in this process – and I am talking about both sides. In essence this is about damage control.”
EC president Donald Tusk

I share the bleak assessment of Donald Tusk in this instance and know that we need to change course to avoid the damage that Brexit would inflict upon Northern Ireland.

There must be a referendum on the final Brexit deal and the option to remain must be on the table. Democracy did not end on the 23rd June 2016.

The EU referendum was a vote taken in ignorance, by all of us. Ten months on we still do not know what Brexit will look like; what “no hard border” actually means, what trade with the Republic of Ireland will cost and what opportunities for our young people will be lost.

A referendum on the final deal will allow us to make an informed choice. It will also strengthen the UK’s hand in negotiations.

At the moment we are working on the assumption that if we like the Brexit deal, we leave, if we don’t, we still leave. That gives us no card to play in the negotiations with the EU. We need the option to remain.

That is why I am taking the ‘Dublin case’ which seeks to establish that Article 50 is unilaterally revocable. It’s author, and former Supreme Court Judge, Lord Kerr maintains that it is. I am confident that we will get a referral to the European Court of Justice and a ruling that the decision on EU membership remains with the UK.

In Westminster, Green MP Caroline Lucas has been a leading figure of opposition to Brexit in Westminster.

I’m buoyed by the Green surge that has taken place across the UK with over one million people voting Green in the last general election. This has been replicated across Europe where voters are choosing the Green Party as their alternative to far right populism. Most notably, the Dutch Greens quadrupled their vote share in March 2017.

In Northern Ireland the Green Party continues to grow and in standing in seven constituencies we are standing our greatest number of Westminster candidates ever.

While Brexit will dominate in this election it should not distract us from the fact that it is also about who governs us. More than any decision the Assembly has made, or not made in its absence, it is Tory austerity that is driving our health and education systems to the wall.

It should be a surprise to no one that since the implementation of austerity, hospital waiting lists have risen. You starve the NHS of resources and inevitably things start to crumble. However, anti-immigrant rhetoric is always there to deflect from the true cause of our ills.

The same applies to housing and education. In Northern Ireland we have minimal net immigration with roughly the same number of people leaving as coming in. If the immigration argument were true we would have the best public services in the UK. The reality is we have the longest waiting lists.

In putting people first the Green Party will also prioritise investment in our public services to ensure a fair and equitable society.

, ,

  • Reader

    Steven Agnew: There must be a referendum on the final Brexit deal and the option to remain must be on the table. Democracy did not end on the 23rd June 2016.
    Are you a fan of having a referendum? And what do you think of Gina Miller’s insistence that such decisions must be made by Parliament, as confirmed by the Supreme Court?

  • John O’Connor

    A rather amazing mishmash of disconnected ideas.

  • ulidian

    How can an extra referendum strengthen HMG’s hand in negotiations? The UK is little more than a cash cow for the EU – they’d offer seriously crap terms just to try to hold onto it.

  • Peter Ryan

    Did you read it John or just rush to type something because you are not a fan of the GPNI? Because it reads pretty coherently to me, given especially undoubted limits of space etc.

  • John O’Connor

    Peter – Let me assure you I did read it and my comment still stands.

  • Tochais Siorai

    ‘….Democracy did not end on the 23rd June 2016.’

    Every pro Brexiteer needs to hear that line regularly. And if they disagree with another referendum on the final terms of Brexit then they simply need to be asked ‘Why? What are you afraid of?’

  • Dan

    “The EU referendum was a vote taken in ignorance, by all of us.”

    No it wasn’t.
    Some of us put the nation first, sovereignty and the ability of British people to decide upon our own laws.
    Our decision to vote leave was based on that overriding consideration.

    He’s a joke candidate in a joke party.
    Not to be taken at all seriously.

  • Reader

    Steven Agnew: At the moment we are working on the assumption that if we like the
    Brexit deal, we leave, if we don’t, we still leave. That gives us no card to play in the negotiations with the EU. We need the option to remain.

    This is awesomely, spectacularly wrong.
    You are incentivising the EU to offer the worst possible deal by saying that if it is unacceptable you will give them what they always wanted instead.
    That is NOT the strategy you followed while trying to negotiate a pact with other remain parties. When they offered you a bad deal, did you:
    1) Walk away with no deal; OR
    2) Give them everything they wanted?
    You walked away with no deal, didn’t you? If you had said you would step aside in every constituency if they didn’t offer you a good deal they would have offered you nothing whatsoever.
    You took option 1) yourself, but you are advocating option 2). It’s really hard to respect your suggestion.

  • Patrick Mac

    Eco-twit.

  • Brian Walker

    Reader’s point is pretty strong. The Brexitref2 brigade have to lose this time. Then after we’ve left we can revisit. Yes we can! I’d like to know Steven’s ideas for living with Brexit. That’s where he might have a smidgeon of influence.

  • Brian Walker

    Well done to point out the confusion. You can take the former diplomat Lord Kerr’s word for it that he was the drafter of Art 50. And it is checkable!

  • hgreen

    Enough about yourself. Tell us what you thought about the article?

  • hgreen

    Yet serious enough for you to make a comment?

  • hgreen

    Wouldn’t look good if the referendum was overturned by parliament. A second referendum is an obvious option.

  • Croiteir

    Green surge in Europe?

    How are they surging in the Republic,
    how are they surging in Germany?
    http://dailycaller.com/2017/03/27/germanys-green-party-booted-out-of-govt-in-key-election/
    how are they surging in France?
    http://www.politico.eu/article/europes-greens-search-for-life-after-death-france-yannick-jadot-movement-struggle/

    And even here they manage only two seats, that is not a surge, that is not a wave, dammit, it is not even a ripple.

  • Croiteir

    Committed to putting people first, by putting them to death in the womb?

  • Croiteir

    And what exactly makes anyone think that Europe wants Britain back even if they did have another referendum? This is a nonsense call, the vote was made now the consequence ensues.

  • Croiteir

    Caroline Lucas – isn’t she the one that wanted Mattey booted out for retweeting a post about the Greens, cash, and the Lib Dems, then the Greens say they support whistleblowers?

  • Croiteir

    You claim that this election is about who governs us, fair enough- Dublin or London?

  • Reader

    And what do you think of Gina Miller’s insistence that such decisions must be made by Parliament, as confirmed by the Supreme Court?

  • Reader

    Just thinking, Steven – it’s not fair to blame just you for the plan – I expect it was a team effort? If Ross hadn’t left he might have picked up on the problem before you shared the plan with the outside world.

  • john millar

    “And even here they manage only two seats, that is not a surge, that is not a wave, dammit, it is not even a ripple.”

    And that makes me very sad
    The environmental changes over a relatively short time may escape the notice of city/urban dwellers but these changes are substantial.
    The sound of the corncrake widespread in my youth has gone Hedgerows have vanished The hill named after them is now bereft of Larks . The rivers polluted. Salmon pushed towards extinction An ugly bungalow in the corner of every field. Human greed and a lack of concern for the environment are not causes for celebration

  • Reader

    Steven, I wondered if my own attitude may have made me more attuned to spotting the catastrophic error in your proposal, so I pointed it out to my wife – a Remain voter and quite a frequent Green voter too. I’m relieved to confirm that she reacted with instant shock and a measure of disgust.
    You are at risk of losing some of your more alert and intelligent voters if you persist with this nonsense.

  • Reader

    The politician’s syllogism runs as follows:
    1) We must do something
    2) This is something
    3) Therefore, we must do this.
    So we end up with the Green Party – right questions; wrong answers.
    (And taken over by watermelons too)