Call for Chichester political parties to unite over no-deal Brexit

Chichester Labour Party outside MP Gillian Keegan's office
Chichester Labour Party outside MP Gillian Keegan's office

Chichester Labour Party has called for all parties opposed to a no-deal Brexit to enter into talks ahead of a possible general election.

Back in 2017 Labour candidate Mark Farwell secured 22 per cent of the vote in second place, with the Lib Dems polling 11 per cent and the Greens three per cent.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s attempt to call a general election was defeated by MPs last week, but a second vote is set to be put to the Commons today (Monday September 9).

Phil Wilson, from the Chichester Labour Party, organised the well-attended demonstration in the city centre last weekend against the proroguing of Parliament and the prospect of a no-deal Brexit.

He said: “Various parties had stood down in the recent Brecon and Radnorshire by-election which saw the Liberal Democrats to take the seat from the Tories. Both the Liberal Democrats and the Greens have been keen in the past to agree to the idea of a progressive alliance so they could be room for an agreement of some nature.”

At a demonstration held on Wednesday night outside Chichester MP Gillian Keegan’s constituency office Mr Wilson addressed the protest and issued a formal invitation to the Liberal Democrats and Green Party to enter into discussions about how to maximise and strength electors message against a no Deal Brexit.

He added: “Any snap election called during this grave constitutional crisis requires us all to be pragmatic in ensuring the best interests of our communities and the nation are put above the interests of our Parties.”

Last week the Lib Dems selected Kate O’Kelly, a Lib Dem district and county councillor, as their prospective parliamentary candidate for Chichester.

She criticised Mrs Keegan for voting with the Government against plans to extend the deadline for the UK leaving the EU until January 31 to take the possibility of the country leaving without a deal on October 31.

But Dr O’Kelly also added: “We are delighted that Labour has declared that they are against a No Deal Brexit. But this does not go far enough. The Liberal Democrats are determined to offer the British public the final say on any deal. Our aim is to exit from Brexit.

“The political landscape has changed greatly since the last general election. Jeremy Corbyn has worked 29 times with the Conservatives to deliver Brexit; whereas the Liberal Democrats have always opposed it.

“We were pleased when a progressive alliance was agreed for the Brecon and Radnorshire by- election. The Green and Plaid Cymru parties agreed to stand aside. However, the Labour party did not.

“In the Chichester area at the May European elections, the Liberal Democrats polled 27 per cent, to Labour’s three per cent. This clearly demonstrates how local people feel about the Labour party’s stance on Europe.

“The Liberal Democrats have seen a surge of new members in the past two months and I am speaking on behalf of everyone who wants to see a positive change for the better in this area.”

Writing in the Chichester Observer last week, the MP said that despite the prorogation Parliament would be sitting from October 14 and the result of any Brexit renegotiation could be brought back.

She said: “This did reduce the parliamentary time available but in my view, still left enough time to vote through a deal to leave the EU or a plan to leave without a deal. Some of my colleagues disagreed and concerned about this unusual manoeuvre, determined to pass new legislation to extend our departure from the EU until January 2020.

“Despite strong views amongst many in Chichester I did not support this approach as I believe the new PM deserved time to find a deal that would be acceptable to Parliament.”

Mrs Keegan went on to describe the decision to strip the Tory whip from a number of MPs who rebelled against the Government ‘deeply concerning’.