The last year was one of the most politically challenging of all my time in Westminster.
We experienced the ideological zealotry of three Brexiteer prime ministers, we are in the midst of a cost-of-living scandal and our environmental protections are under unprecedented attack. These crises are no coincidence. They are all in part caused, or at the very least made worse, by Brexit.
Throughout 2022 we watched the Brexiteer government use every excuse from the pandemic to the war in Ukraine to hide our country’s economic and environmental woes. They tabled the disastrous Retained EU Law Bill which, if passed, could lead to the removal of over 4,000 EU laws that protect our environmental, food and safety standards, the Bill is about to enter a third reading, and last week we learned that the Bill could be delayed by the Lords.
We have seen political leaders start a near Trade War with the Northern Ireland Protocol in its current form. All things that could have been prevented if voters had known the truth back in 2016.
The mainstream political conversation continues to centre around ‘making Brexit work’, but, as I recently said at European Movement’s Big 4 event “you cannot make Brexit work, you might be able to make it slightly less bad around the edges but the idea that you’re going to make it work is dishonest”.
Ultimately, Brexit was a historic mistake and there is, still, no way to make it work.
However, the good news is that public opinion is with us. Poll after poll is now showing that a majority of people realise Brexit was the wrong decision– 56% according to YouGov’s latest data.
We’re winning the argument with people up and down the country, but there’s still a lot of work for us to do before this translates into real action. So, as we enter a new year, it is more important than ever that we continue this work. This is because last year we began laying the groundwork to make this happen.
In October 2022, I became a VP of European Movement UK, the only cross-party organisation with the courage and expertise to reverse the calamity of Brexit. As a VP of a pro-European organisation, and the only Green Party MP, I was also proud to see the Green party (at our most recent party conference) overwhelmingly vote in favour of rejoining the EU as soon as the political situation is favourable.
However, reversing Brexit isn’t something that’s going to happen immediately – in fact, there are some big fights that lie ahead. Yet, there are strategic measures that can be taken in the short term to ensure that we reverse Brexit and return to Europe, such as:
Killing the Retained EU Law Bill;
Rejoining Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe;
Building European Movement’s Membership base, in order to;
Create stronger and more local branches of pro-European activists across the country.
Over the next year we must ensure our precious standards are protected, keep Europe front and centre in the national conversation, and build political pressure to undo the damage of Brexit in the run-up to a general election.
But, in order to do all this, we need a powerful movement behind us. This is why I urge you to join the movement leading the fight.
Clearly, there are some big fights that lie ahead this year, but for the first time, I am feeling hopeful about our journey back to Europe, and I know that together we can reverse the calamity of Brexit.
Thank you for all your support over the last year in making this a reality.
Caroline Lucas MP,
Vice President of European Movement UK