Tories Accused Of Filibustering People’s Vote Debate

Labour motion for Wandsworth Council to support Second Referendum fails to pass

Cllr Fleur Anderson speaks in favour of a second referendum

The Labour Group in Wandsworth Council are saying that a recent debate asking the Council to support a second referendum was obstructed by Conservative councillors using procedural devices.

At the meeting of the Council this week (6 March) the debate was ruled out of time before most people who wanted to speak on the matter had a chance after the Conservatives brought forward a series of unplanned motions which took the meeting beyond its 10pm ‘guillotine’. The Labour party allege this was a deliberate filibuster to stop a debate on a ‘People’s Vote’.

Following the truncated debate, Wandsworth Conservatives then voted unanimously against the Labour Motion which asked the Council to “instruct the leader to write to the Prime Minister and her cabinet to request that she puts her deal the British people for them to vote on”. This puts local councillors at odds with their party’s MP Justine Greening who supports a second referendum.

A spokesperson for the Wandsworth Labour Party said, “ the filibustering showed the Tories were at odds even with themselves. So keen were they not to have to debate an issue which would reveal them as divided, and in many cases supportive of Brexit, that they opted to suppress democratic debate instead.”

Cllr Fleur Anderson, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Putney, did get the opportunity to speak in favour of a second referendum

Cllr Candida Jones wasn’t able to speak but she says she would have made the following points, “I’ve heard members of both parties tell me residents don’t want us to talk about Brexit. But it’s not true. On this topic more than any other we can be sure we are speaking up for residents on an issue they are extremely concerned about. Some 75% of residents in Wandsworth voted Remain – the 6th highest number in the country. And in a recent poll I did in my ward of Furzedown 78% said they were in favour of a Second Referendum. One respondent left a comment at the end of the poll which simply said: ‘Please do all you can to stop Brexit. Thank you’.

“Over recent weeks I and my colleagues have received dozens of emails asking us to back a second referendum. It’s sad but true to say that I have received more emails about Brexit than about cuts to policing, school budgets or to local authority cuts rolled into one.”

She added it was wrong to suggest Brexit wasn’t a local issue as councils are responsible for enforcing trading, environmental, energy efficiency and air quality standards, as well as waste regulations, all of which are subject to EU legislation. There are 23 days to go before Brexit Day and no one knows what the new standards will be.

In addition the borough’s recycling is currently processed in mainland Europe which may not possible in the absence of a deal. She also pointed out that security is at risk if we leave Europol, the European arrest warrant mechanism and EU-wide intelligence sharing.

Cllr Jones says that since 2010 major projects within Wandsworth have benefitted from E1.5bn in EIB loans and at St George’s Hospital, 16% of all staff come from the EU27 and 13.5% (£1.4m) of its research funding comes from the EU.

At least 23 other councils, including the neighbouring boroughs of Merton, Lambeth, Hammersmith and Fulham and also Richmond (the borough we share services with), have all passed motions supporting a second referendum.

She quoted an NHS Doctor who said, “Wandsworth Council is admired for all the right reasons and should show leadership and not sit by while local businesses fail and our local hospitals lose their hard working EU nurses and doctors. At this 11th hour, are there are any councillors who have the courage to support a People’s Vote?”

Sue Wixley

Sue Wixley, Liberal Democrat and candidate in Southfields in Putney for the Wandsworth Council elections in May 2018 was at the meeting and told this website that she: Was disappointed to see Conservative Councillors use procedural manoeuvres to avoid such a discussion. The Labour Party also sidestepped the topic by putting forward a weak motion containing just two sentences on the subject of Brexit and seemed designed not to be debated at all.

"The local residents and businesses I talk to are extremely worried about Brexit. They're concerned about what leaving the EU will mean for their jobs, businesses, the NHS and other services. I've also spoken to EU citizens who live in Wandsworth, and their family and friends, who are all anxious about what the future holds. People realise that the final Brexit deal will affect generations now and in the future. That's why they want the chance to make an informed choice on the Brexit deal, a People's Vote.

"If the Conservative and Labour Councillors really had the interests of local people at heart, they'd be willing to have a proper debate about Brexit and its implications for our borough. Unfortunately, both parties used last week's Council meeting as an excuse to score political points off each other. I attended the meeting on Wednesday and was disappointed to see Conservative Councillors use procedural manoeuvres to avoid such a discussion. The Labour Party also sidestepped the topic by putting forward a weak motion containing just two sentences on the subject of Brexit and seemed designed not to be debated at all".

Sue stated that the Liberal Democrats have been campaigning against Brexit for the last two and a half years and will continue to stand up for people's interests. She said: "We support a People's Vote one hundred percent and will keep fighting for the people to have a say over a decision that will affect them for years to come."

We have asked the Conservative group in Wandsworth Council for comment but have not yet received a response.

March 12, 2019