Greens consulted on supporting Unite to Remain electoral alliance

Sian Berry and Jonathan Bartley
Image credit: Creative Commons, Kelly Hill

This week, a new pro-EU group – Unite to Remain – was formally launched. The launch was fronted by former Tory, turned Independent Group, turned Change UK, turned Independent MP Heidi Allen. Unite to Remain is seeking to build a series of electoral alliances across the UK in the event of a General Election in order to maximise the number of anti-Brexit MPs in a new parliament.

In an email sent to Green Party of England and Wales members, party co-leaders Jonathan Bartley and Sian Berry opened a consultation on whether Greens should participate in such an alliance and on what grounds. Members have until 15 July to respond to the consultation.

Speaking on the consultation, Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley said:

As the Green Party is a democratic party, with direction provided by its members, we are today launching a survey of members to seek their views on the proposals in circulation about how the number of Remain MPs can be maximised in the next election, with the aim of stopping Brexit and transforming the UK to tackle our environmental and social crises.

The consultation follows the controversial “progressive alliances strategy in the 2017 General Election, and the Green Party subsequently passing policy at its conference which called for the Greens to only enter an electoral alliance in order to secure a proportional voting system.

Magid Magid criticises visionless EU

Magid Magid on Newsnight
Image credit: BBC screengrab

Green MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber Magid Magid has this week hit out at the EU for its lack of vision and purpose. In an article for the Politico website, Magid claimed EU leaders were “soullessly waddling through corridors of power”. He wrote:

Next to nobody in Brussels has any clue what the European Union truly stands for — beyond a flag and an anthem — and more crucially, where it is heading. And that includes the EU leaders and senior officials soullessly waddling through the corridors of power.

When I arrived in the EU capital, I expected to find it brimming with activity and potential answers to these questions.

Instead, I felt duped: Making a tangible impact on constituents’ lives is apparently not what being an MEP is all about.

But Magid’s article wasn’t defeatist about the EU as an institution which can drive social and political change. Concluding, he wrote:

We need to build a Europe that is democratic, compassionate and gifted with an enlivened democratic mandate. We need a radically progressive program, one that puts our most vulnerable first, while protecting future generations from the climate crisis.

It’s a reality we can make happen — and one I will fight for in my mandate, however long that may be.

Greens welcome equal marriage and abortion proposals

This week, the UK parliament voted to extend equal marriage and abortion legislation to the North of Ireland. This seeks to level marriage and abortion legislation across the whole of the UK, and is seen as a major step forward for women’s and LGBT+ rights on the Island of Ireland.

The votes have been welcomed by Greens.

Deputy Leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland Malachai O’Hara described them as a “watershed moment”:

O’Hara’s comments were echoed by the party’s leader Clare Bailey, who put the decision down to the work of campaigners and social movements:

And Green MP Caroline Lucas – who voted for the extension of the legislation in parliament – also welcomed the news:

Greens call for European Investment Bank to cut ties with the fossil fuel industry

Molly Scott Cato
Image Credit: Creative Commons: Bristol Green Party

Green MEPs this week took the international fossil fuel divestment movement to the European Union’s institutions. The MEPs launched a call for the European Investment Bank to divest from fossil fuels, in a letter timed to coincide with the bank reviewing its energy lending policy.

The European Investment Bank has frequently and consistently provided finance for fossil fuel infrastructure and extraction, including providing funding for the Trans Adriatic Pipeline.

Speaking on the MEPs calls for divestment, Green MEP for the South West of England and Gibraltar, Molly Scott Cato said:

The climate emergency demands an immediate end to the funding of fossil fuel infrastructure. As the world’s largest public bank, the EIB has a responsibility to ensure its energy lending policy meets the goals of the Paris Agreement and helps limit warming to the 1.5 degree target.

The bank must use the opportunity presented through the review of its lending policy to become a global leader and international example of how to drive the transition towards a clean green economy and so reduce the risks associated with climate change.

Steven Agnew condemns proposed fossil fuel extraction projects in the north of Ireland

Green MLA Steven Agnew has this week condemned proposals for new fossil fuel extraction projects in Belfast and Fermanagh. He argued that not only were the proposed fossil fuel projects incompatible with the need to respond effectively to climate change, but that they demonstrate the industry’s attempt to abuse the lack of a functioning power sharing government in the north of Ireland:

We’ve opposed the granting of Petroleum Licenses in the strongest of terms through responses to the Department for the Economy.

The application covering Fermanagh amounts to a renewed attempt to frack one of the most beautiful and ecologically important areas of Northern Ireland.

Similarly, the application covering Belfast ignores the pressing need to meet Paris Agreements by keeping fossil fuels in the ground and transitioning to sustainable energy sources.

Agnew continued:

It’s clear that big companies are applying for these licenses in a bid to exploit the collapse of our power sharing arrangements.

The Green Party has set out quite clearly, that in the absence of a minister, any decision on this application would be controversial, political and amount to an abuse of the powers of the Department in the current context.

Mark Ruskell named Scottish Parliamentarian of the month

Mark Ruskell, Green Party MSP
Image credit: YouTube screengrab

Green MSP Mark Ruskell was this week named Cruelty Free International’s parliamentarian of the month. The animal rights NGO gifted Ruskell the award after he secured assurances from the UK’s Environment Secretary Michael Gove that post-Brexit chemical regulations will not require unnecessary animal testing.

Speaking on receipt of the award, Ruskell said:

I’m grateful to Cruelty Free international for this award.

The EU has played a leading role on animal welfare and there remains a very clear risk that much of that could be undone by the Tories’ careless Brexit.

That’s why the work of Caroline Lucas in Westminster has been vital in forcing Michael Gove to recognise animal sentience – that animals can experience pain, loss and degradation.

But that also must be reflected across policy areas, from regulation to rights.

Clare Bailey welcomes integrated education bodies receiving Nobel Peace Prize nominations

Clare Bailey
YouTube screen grab

Green Party in Northern Ireland leader Clare Bailey this week welcomed the nomination of the North of Ireland’s integrated education bodies for the Nobel Peace Prize. The Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education and the Integrated Education Fund have both been nominated for the prize.

The Belfast Telegraph reports Bailey as saying:

I experienced the positive effects of integrated education through Lagan College. I also know the difficulties that advocates of integrated education have faced, particularly in those early days with the troubles all around us.

That’s why I’m delighted that these organisations have received this nomination.