We have stopped the Conservatives in their tracks, denying them another 5 years as a majority government. I am exceptionally proud of Jeremy Corbyn and the campaign he, the shadow cabinet and thousands of members and supporters across the UK ran for this snap General Election. It was particularly wonderful to see the creative community get behind the campaign with posters, songs, poems, comedy and endorsements from a whole host of artists such as Billy Bragg, Lily Allen, Maxine Peake, Julie Hesmondhalgh.
We increased our vote share not just because of the positive and ambitious future we laid out in our manifesto, but because thousands of our members and supporters came out to campaign for local candidates. From Warrington and Withington to Worsley and Wirral, from Bury to Blackpool and Manchester to Morecambe, from Chester and Crewe to Carlisle and Copeland, I was pleased to support our candidates - many of whom have now been duly elected, including excellent women candidates such as Laura Smith, Yasmin Qureshi, Liz McInnes, Margaret Greenwood, Cat Smith, Rosie Duffield, Emma Dent Coad and many more.
With analysis showing more than 50% of people under the age of 39 voting for Labour, and a significant increase in youth turnout, this was a fantastic result for Labour. We showed young people that their vote does matter, that they can shape the course of history and, through our manifesto, we gave them hope and aspirations for their futures.
This General Election was a chance for people to choose between a hard Tory Brexit that threatens workers’ rights and living standards and Labour‘s desire for a new collaborative partnership with the EU that promises to protect our hard-won rights and ensure our living standards are not adversely affected by being outside the union.
The Tories misread the public mood, foolishly suggesting that they knew best. The reality is that they know very little about life for ordinary hard-working people, or the daily struggles of the elderly and people with disabilities, or the despair of the homeless, including many veterans. Voters hated Theresa May‘s arrogant autocratic attitude and people came back to Labour in their droves, whilst many lifelong Tories and LibDems also voted for us.
The people have indeed spoken. Now more than ever we need to be on top of Theresa May and her band of Brexiteers and ready to challenge whoever takes her place when she is toppled from power. We need to make it clear that as a minority government, the Conservatives do not have the support necessary to govern our country or chase their hard Brexit at any price. And as we mark the first anniversary of the terrible murder of Jo Cox it is particularly incumbent on us to fight the xenophobia, racism and hatred that was exposed during the referendum campaign and to stand up for Labour values of social justice, equality and peace.
The Conservatives are on the verge of civil war, recovering from a manifesto dubbed the ‘worst‘ ever by their own Tory MPs, and facing a coalition of chaos with the far-right DUP. A united Labour Party under Jeremy’s leadership has shown we can offer this country a better future and we really can make a difference by doing politics differently.
Congratulations to all those new Labour MPs who were elected on June 8th, especially my Eurolabour colleagues Afzal Khan (now MP for Manchester Gorton) and Anneliese Dodds (the new MP for Oxford East). Whilst they will be greatly missed we look forward to welcoming excellent replacements, especially Wajid Khan from Burnley who will hopefully be joining Theresa Griffin and myself to represent the north west of England in the European Parliament. Many thanks and congratulations to those comrades who stood for re-election as well as new candidates, many gaining spectacular majorities. Commiserations to those candidates who just missed out such as Vikki Singleton in Morecambe, Ruth Alcroft in Carlisle, Liz Savage in Southport, Wayne Blackburn in Pendle, Julie Hilling in Bolton, Gill Troughton in Copeland and Chris Webb in Blackpool North & Cleveleys. I look forward to being out on the campaign trail again, be it next month, later this year or whenever this coalition of hard-right chaos inevitably falls apart.
Meanwhile, in the European Parliament I have been working hard in my committees and in my delegations, maintaining my record as one of the top three performing British MEPs. For your information I will be preparing a mid-term report for members and constituents during the summer months with the help of my staff team who will all be together in Manchester in mid-July. If you wish to meet them or myself please get in touch for details of availability.
Finally, I would like to inform you of an initiative I have taken in collaboration with New Europeans regarding the submission of a Priority Written Question to the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, asking that the citizenship rights of British nationals residing in the EU 27 be unilaterally guaranteed regardless of the position taken by the UK government. This is intended to stop the two sides using people as bargaining chips in the Brexit negotiations. As well as this, I have also co-signed a letter alongside many of my Labour Party colleagues both in Europe and in Westminster, calling for a rejection of 'Hard-Brexit' and to defend the single market.
Thanks to all those who came together across diverse communities over the weekend to share our common humanity, standing strong against hatred and division in memory of Jo Cox. We will not be divided but go forwards stronger and more united.
Julie Ward, MEP
Click here to learn more about my role in the European Parliament and the work I do for you in the North West.
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