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Barbara Gibson's speech at the Harpenden Hustings

May 15, 2019 12:50 PM
Originally published by East of England Liberal Democrats

Barbara Gibson, Eastern region candidate, Welwyn Hatfield PPCOur lead candidate Cllr Dr Barbara Gibson gave the following speech at the Euro Election Harpenden Hustings event on 14th May.

Harpenden Hustings

I don't know about you, but I'm fed up.

Fed up with the mess that is Brexit.

I hear the same thing again and again from the people I speak with across the region.

People are weary, they know that we were lied to, and they are embarrassed by the shambles. They wish we'd never started down this stupid road, and they just want it to end.

Westminster politics has failed us, Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn have their fingers stuck firmly in their ears, ignoring the current will of the people and listening only to the extremists in their parties.

We clearly can't leave it to the self-serving career politicians like Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson, who think that we're all here as the extras in their reality tv show, and are modelling themselves on Donald Trump, competing for who can be the more outrageous, the more hateful, the more deceitful.

It's time we all demand better.

Three years ago, I looked around and what was happening, and I said "if these are the people running our world, it's time for some of the rest of us - the normal, sane, principled people - to step up."

So I became politically active, learned how to campaign from the ground up, became a County Councillor and have been doing what I can, at whatever level I can, to make my world a better place.

It's the only way I know how to deal with the utter devastation I felt after the referendum. It's the only way I know of preventing our country from making the biggest mistake of our lifetimes.

I'm fighting for MY rights - rights that I value. Freedom of movement is MY freedom to live and work anywhere in the EU. Every Brexit deal, every Brexit party - including Labour - are trying to take that away from me, and from you, and from our children.

This is too important to turn away just because we are fed up, or weary of hearing about it. We all need to fight.

Now that we know precisely what the deal is -- and let's remember this is the very best deal that the Government could achieve after nearly three years -- the people should have the opportunity to decide whether it is better than the deal we have remaining in the EU. A people's vote is the only way to break the deadlock and end the Brexit mess.

Whether you want to leave or remain, there is nothing more democratic than allowing the people to accept or reject a deal that will affect our country for decades to come.

That is what the Liberal Democrats are fighting for. A vote for the Lib Dems is a vote to stop Brexit.

We will fight to remain so that we can get back to the important issues of tackling inequality and growing our economy, tackling the climate emergency, and protecting and strengthening our public services. A people's vote and revoking Article 50 is the fastest way to put an end to Brexit once and for all. To restore certainty about the future that our businesses desperately need. To keep Britain a leading force in Europe and the world.

As an MEP, I will be a strong voice for our region in the EU, representing the interests of Hertfordshire's residents and businesses. I will work to rebuild the bridges, to restore our position of influence, to bring about needed reforms, and to make sure we take full advantage of the benefits of being full members of the European Union.

Please join me in the fight. Together, we can send a powerful message that it is time to stop the Brexit madness.

Closing remarks

I want to close with my thanks to you all for coming out tonight, for listening and engaging.

I particularly want to thank not only Lib Dem supporters who have been campaigning alongside me for the last three years, but also those members of Harpenden 4 Europe, St Albans for Europe and other local politically neutral groups who have been fighting and marching and signing and leafleting and making sure our voices are heard.

To me, this is not a party-political fight. It is an all-out war, and we need to be allies to win it.

With an extremist, populist, self-serving party dominating the media coverage and threatening our traditional British values, it is essential that we stand up for our liberal values of openness, fairness, equality and tolerance.

We need to take our country back from the extremists.

To do that, we need to unite to support the strongest remain party. At this point in time, in this Eastern Region, that is clearly the Liberal Democrats.

Let's take back our country, let's beat back the destructive forces of populism and racism and fear. Let's work together to win this one and stop Brexit.

Thank you.

We can focus on building a country where everyone has the opportunity to get on in life. Instead of letting Brexit consume the next decade, let's focus on tackling climate change, building the best health and education systems in the world and tackling the inequalities that limit life chances for so many people.

By working together, it is possible to build a brighter future for everyone and create a fair, free and open society: a united country in a united Europe.

Join us to make that future a reality.