MEP hits back after fiery exchange in European Parliament

On Thursday, during a debate about Brexit in the European Parliament, Nigel Farage got up and dusted off a routine with which we’ve all become painfully familiar.

“You’re not looking for solutions”, shouted the man who knows nothing but the politics of protest. “We are not dealing with people acting in good faith”, said perhaps the biggest con man of them all. To top it all off, just one day after Leave.EU’s xenophobic tweet in which Angela Merkel was called a “kraut”, Farage exclaimed, proudly, that, “we will never accept a German chancellor attempting to annex part of our nation.”

Familiar as we are with this sort of rhetoric, I could not sit back and watch him spew lie after lie, slogan after slogan, insulting our closest allies while doing so. So, in my own speech that immediately followed his, requested simply that he account for the lies, the inaccuracies and the empty promises that were made during the 2016 referendum. To explain to the public that he had misled them, and that the Brexit fantasy that he had promised simply does not exist. His response? As predictable as ever.

I was a “patronising, stuck up snob”, and how dare I claim that the people were misled? I’ll be honest, I initially took it as a compliment. Anytime you elicit such a strong reaction from someone like him – and this was a incredibly, some might say disproportionally, strong reaction, you must be doing something right. But the comment reveals a level of hypocrisy that has sadly become commonplace amongst the likes of Farage, and one that has distorted public debate.

Sunday School at Church of Christ Carpenter, Dogsthorpe, Peterborough (with my teddy)

My background is very ordinary. I grew up in Dogsthorpe, Peterborough. It would be wrong to say it was a deprived area, it was great, but Dogsthorpe is far from posh. For school, after attending Newark Hill Primary, I went to Peterborough County School for Girls, a state grammar which closed soon after I left in 1979. In its place there is now sheltered housing.

After school, I make no secret about the fact that I attended Cambridge University. In fact, I was one of the first students from our school for 25 years to go to Cambridge, and it happened because Fitzwilliam college was, that year, one of the first all-male Cambridge colleges to admit female undergraduates. The college has a fantastic tradition of championing children from areas of society often underrepresented at the university, and it was this tradition, along with my own hard work and my school’s support, that enabled me to go there. I now campaign to extend opportunities in education because I want others to enjoy the choices that good schooling in Peterborough gave me.

Since those days, I have been a science journalist and produced television documentaries, aiming to use TV as a way to make the sciences more accessible for people of all ages. IN a bit of a twist, my most recent show is Magic Hands, a children’s programme that animates songs and poetry and presents it in British Sign Language (BSL). Our third series, my last before becoming an MEP, aired this year and I couldn’t be more proud of the steps we’ve taken to engage the deaf community and spread awareness of BSL among the hearing community.

By contrast with all this, Farage attended Dulwich College, a prestigious independent boarding school in London that charges as much as £14,782 per pupil, per term. He would then, as we know, bypass university, and head straight for the City where he became a commodities trader. I don’t hold any of this against him, it’s a free country, but it’s not exactly Che Guevara, is it, Nigel?

What is worrying is some if Farage’s financial activities. It was only this summer that EU Integrity Watch revealed that he received £450,000 in the year following the referendum from Arron Banks. This money allegedly helped Farage rent a Chelsea home, to the tune of £13,000 per month, as well pay for a Land Rover Discovery and a personal driver.

So, when it comes to being called stuck up and labelled a snob by a man whose life has been characterised by privilege and affluence, I’m afraid I cannot hold back. What is unfolding before is not a Brexit for the people, rather one for the elite, engineered by the elite. It’s not the family struggling to pay its electricity bills, or the disabled OAP at the mercy of NHS waiting times, who will benefit. It is people like Farage, Rees-Mogg and their cronies, with investments safely stashed away in the tax havens of the Cayman Islands, or even in the USA, that will reap the rewards of a plunging pound and a No-Deal Brexit Britain in which regulations, protections and public services are all slashed.

Yesterday I spoke with unapologetic honesty. Yes, we were lied to, and yes, that means that we didn’t know what we were voting for. These are the facts. There will be no £350m per week for the NHS, we will not sign the “easiest trade deal in human history” with the EU and we are not facing an unprecedented era of economic prosperity. That the public was led to believe these lies is a tragedy. That Farage continues to peddle them is a disgrace.

The future we face, if Farage, Johnson and his gang of would-be Brexit martyrs have their way, is we now know without a doubt to be stark: medicine shortages, a plummeting pound, likely civil unrest and the break-up of the United Kingdom. I don’t remember seeing any of these things on the side of a bus. Do you?

No doubt Farage feels he has the right to stand up and label me patronising and stuck up because I dare to hold and voice my opinions, despite my ordinary background. He may even feel justified in doing so. But on the accusation of snobbery, Farage – Old Alleynian, former City trader and friend of billionaire presidents – has no right, no grounds and frankly no shame.

How dare I, Mr Farage? How dare you.

Liberal Democrat South East MEP condemns Leave.EU’s xenophobic tweet

Judith Bunting MEP has responded to the Pro-Brexit group’s controversial tweet, in which German Chancellor Merkel was labelled a ‘kraut’. Aaron Banks, the organisation’s co-founder, has today apologised, following widespread backlash.

Judith says: “Like many others, I was shocked, saddened and slightly sickened when I saw Leave.EU’s xenophobic tweet including a photo of Germany’s Chancellor Merkel. Our country is divided, that’s for sure, but for a political organisation to post such nationalistic propaganda shames us all.

“This is not a version of the UK that I recognise, nor is it the one that we should strive to be. Whatever happens on October 31st, and I certainly hope we Remain, we will need our closest allies more than ever. Now is the time to be building bridges and strengthening ties, not reverting to slogans and insults.

“Leave.EU’s apology is welcome, but as a country we urgently need to bring an end to the toxic political rhetoric that’s taken over. That is why we need a People’s Vote to give the 46 million+ voters a chance to decide between Johnson’s deal and remaining in the EU.”

Cross Party Declaration

A Cross Party Group of UK Members of the European Parliament has signed a Declaration committing themselves to work together in the face of brexit, and have called upon continental colleagues to support their efforts.

Meeting in Brussels, representatives of the Green, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Alliance, Plaid Cymru and Scottish National Party were able to sign “the Brussels Declaration” stating:

We, the undersigned UK Members of the European Parliament, representing England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, declare as follows:

The proroguing, or shutting down the UK Parliament in order to limit scrutiny of the implications of a potential no deal Brexit is completely unacceptable. Limiting the opportunity for MPs to debate, vote and crucially, to legislate, cannot be the response to a referendum in which Leave campaigned for the UK Parliament to “take back control”.

In the continuation of the spirit that UK MEPs have worked in since the 2016 Referendum we commit ourselves to continue to work across party lines and declare that it is vital that MPs do likewise.

We were all elected just four months ago with clear mandates. We are working together. We call upon our European friends and colleagues to assist domestic efforts in keeping the door open to us.

Judith Bunting said on signing the agreement; “Our MPs were elected to represent us. We voted for them, they are our voice in Westminster. To silence Parliament is to silence the voice of the people.

“I salute the Conservative MPs who last night put Country before Party, and I call on all Remainers to hold fast. Any form of Brexit would plunge the UK into another long recession which would hurt Leavers and Remainers alike. We will, we must work together to Stop Brexit.”


The Declaration was signed by:
Liberal Democrat Party
Catherine Bearder MEP
Caroline Voaden MEP
Chris Davies MEP
Phil Bennion MEP
Jane Brophy MEP
Judith Bunting MEP
Dinesh Dhamija MEP
Barbara Ann Gibson MEP
Anthony Hook MEP
Martin Horwood MEP
Shaffaq Mohammed MEP
Lucy Nethsingha MEP
Bill Newton Dunn MEP
Luisa Porritt MEP
Sheila Ritchie MEP
Irina Von Wiese MEP

Green Party
Molly Scott Cato MEP
Alexandra Phillips MEP
Magid Magid MEP
Scott Ainslie MEP
Ellie Chowns MEP
Gina Dowding MEP
Catherine Rowett MEP

Labour Party
Richard Corbett MEP
Seb Dance MEP
Jude Kirton-Darling MEP
Neena Gill MEP
John Howarth MEP
Theresa Griffin MEP
Jackie Jones MEP
Julie Ward MEP
Rory Palmer MEP
Claude Moraes MEP

Alliance Party
Naomi Long MEP

Plaid Cymru
Jill Evans MEP

Scottish National Party
Alyn Smith MEP
Aileen Mcleod MEP
Christian Allard MEP

Summer in the South East- MEP Life 7


For the last couple of weeks, I have been back for the Summer, working in the UK, meeting and campaigning with local groups in the South East. It has been great to meet new members and old, as well as other Remain supporters who are part of the fantastic Grassroots for Europe network.

Attending a meeting of West Berkshire for Europe  (formerly West Berkshire Stronger Together EU), this week, I enjoyed some encouraging and positive cross-party discussions about how Remain parties can work together to stop Brexit. If you have a ‘for Europe’ group in your area, please do get in touch with them. 

Have you listened to the Our MEP Life’ podcast yet? In this week’s episode our conversation ranges from reforestation to Erasmus+ and Creative Europe, to girls in science and many things in-between. If there is something you would like us to discuss or if you have feedback for us, please get in touch: MEPLife@judithbunting.co.uk. The podcast is now available on Spotify (which for some reason makes me feel madly cool!). 

On Saturday I joined an EU street stall in Basingstoke where we proudly flew the EU flag. I spoke with many people about the EU and Brexit and had a number of great conversations. We had new stickers to hand out, “Bonkers to Brexit’, as well as the classics, so many conversations end with the priceless question: ‘Would you like Bonkers or B*llocks?’

 Next weekend, on Saturday, I will be at Chesham Town Hall in Buckinghamshire, on a panel with the Head of Brexit Research at the Federation of Small Businesses, Sonali Parekh. If you are in the area, please come along.

Don’t forget you can keep updated with all of my activities and news in the following ways TwitterFacebookInstagramPodcastWebsite, or email and, of course, you can:

SIGN UP TO MY newsletter, HERE.

 

This is a Climate Emergency, Dirty Air Knows no Borders!

Judith Bunting MEP, in European Parliament, delivering her speech to the European Parliament on Climate Change.

Following her speech in the European Parliament last month, Judith Bunting MEP highlights the case for calling a Climate Emergency.

“Ill health caused by air pollution costs the economy billions in lost working days. Causing 400,000 premature deaths per year in Europe alone, it is currently the number one cause of premature deaths. We need to work smarter, we have the technology to do this and we should embrace that.”

The Government has passed a Net-Zero target for Carbon emissions by 2050 whilst also making chaotic decisions that will undermine this target. They have slashed subsidies for solar power, banned the cheapest form of renewable onshore wind energy generation and ended the ‘Green Deal’, which aimed to improve the energy efficiency of people’s homes. As well as these cuts, there is a policy of pursuing fracking to access fossil fuels throughout Britain, including areas of outstanding natural beauty such as the Weald Basin in the South Downs covering Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and Kent, to further compound their policy of supporting expanding the airport provision in one of busiest Airports in Europe, London Heathrow.

TrafficJudith continues, “Unfortunately Dirty Air knows no borders, the problems in the South East will affect the nearby areas of the country and impact the health of the world. We can do better than this and the South East deserves better.”

Judith Bunting calls for a stop to meaningless targets on sales of new petrol and diesel cars and a reversal of the cuts to incentivise a change of approach for each and every citizen. Instead we should adopt meaningful policies, which can make a difference to climate change from day one.

Air pollution from carsThe Liberal Democrats demand better and have set out a way of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. We are fighting for a net-zero EU by 2050 across the 28 member states of the European Union. Dealing with carbon emissions will not only deal with the climate emergency but cut air-pollution, reduce fuel poverty and create thousands of jobs in the renewables sector. These targets can be positive for our health, our economy and the planet.

Campaigning, Councillors and Congratulations- MEP Life -Week 6

The big event last week was, of course, the by-election in Brecon and Radnorshire. What a fantastic result! Jane Dodds is a hugely welcome addition to the Lib Dem team in Westminster. Most importantly, right now, her presence in parliament reduces the Conservative majority to just one vote.  

The European Parliament closed down for the Summer at the end of July. Most MEPs take their annual leave at this time but, for Lib Dem MEPs, this year the story is different as we continue to campaign to stop Brexit. 

On Wednesday I had the pleasure of going to Brecon and Llandrindod to campaign for Jane Dodds in the by-election. Jane was the first Council Candidate that I ever delivered for, and it was great to meet her team in Wales as well as so many terrific people, including June Davies, an important part of the Remain Alliance. It was a brilliant day of campaigning in a truly beautiful part of the world.

Jane’s win in Brecon sends a clear message to Boris: Brexit is not a foregone conclusion. With only one vote in hand, and with pro-EU Tory MPs considering whether to defect, the government’s Commons majority could be wiped out at any moment.

Continuing the LibDem surge, more than 35,000 people have joined the Liberal Democrats since May. We demand better for Britain. We need to use our time as MEPs wisely, and as Liberal Democrat MEPs we are working hard to stop Brexit.

On Saturday I joined local councillors and the newly announced Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate, Councillor Lee Dillon, in Newbury. The street stall was a great opportunity to meet with people and discuss some of their concerns with Brexit. 

Later that day I attended an event in Whitchurch and Overton where I met the fabulous Gavin James and Lucy Sloane Williams, as well as newly elected Councillors Ryan Hickling and Andy Koniecko. If you are holding any local events or street stalls in your area, over the summer, please let me know at judith@judithbunting.co.uk .

In this week’s podcast Caroline Voaden and I discuss our committee work and what it has involved so far. My areas of responsibility are education, industry, research and energy – with a little culture thrown in for good measure. We also talk about pilot projects, STEAM, climate change and so much more!

If there is something you would like us to discuss please let us know at MEPLife@judithbunting.co.uk .

Brecon & Radnor – Tomorrow, Weds 31st July

Jane Dodds

The Brecon and Radnorshire by-election is this week 
Thursday, 1st August.

 

Can you join us to help get out the vote TOMORROW, Wednesday 31st July?

 

There is a real chance that we can steal this seat away from the Conservatives – but only if we get the vote out.

Jane Dodds is a terrific candidate – and the first Councillor for whom I ever campaigned. She is Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats and will make a brilliant MP.

I am taking a car of activists on WEDNESDAY 31st July to join the work to Get Out the Vote. If you would like to join us, please message me via Facebook messenger (Judith Bunting MEP) to arrange where to meet. Or contact me by text, if you already have my phone number. 

Pick up:

  • Reading area: ~08:00
  • Newbury/Thatcham area: ~08:30
  • Hungerford area: ~09:00

Please message or text before 8pm TODAY Tuesday to arrange pick up.

I look forward to seeing you. 

An eventful week in politics- MEP Life – week 5

MEP Life

They say a week is a long time in politics, well they are not wrong!! From the London march through to two new party leaders, this week was super-eventful. Thanks to all who attended the March for Change in London, the many photos and videos from the day are just brilliant. We must keep up the pressure and be vocal of our need to Stop Brexit.

Jo Swinson, Leader of the Liberal DemocratsMonday saw the Liberal Democrat leadership announcement, with Jo Swinson elected as the first female leader of the party. Jo gave a barnstormer of a speech that was powerful and motivating and she was clear: “I stand here as a candidate for Prime Minister”. 
And if you have any doubts about how realistic this is, take a look at the latest You Gov polls on Westminster voting intention.

Jo’s election continues the LibDem surge and we have seen well over 20,000 new members join us after our successes in both local and European elections. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to join us. This is the fightback for liberal Britain.

Judith Bunting officeArriving back in Brussels I have recorded another MEP Life podcast with Caroline Voaden, where we discussed everything from travel, pollution, elections, and the heatwave. In Brussels, this was a week of committee work. Committee weeks come twice a month and are where the real legislative and policy work gets done. On the Education and Culture committee, the Renew team is currently campaigning to increase the budget for Creative Europe, Erasmus Plus and other educational schemes by 10%. On the Industry and Science committee, I was involved in proposing a visit to the fascinating Chalk River Research Facility in Canada, where they do a lot of good work from which I believe the EU could learn, The suggestion was welcomed and the visit may well go ahead in 2020. 

Outside of committees, our MEP delegation joined colleagues in co-signing a letter to the Polish Prime Minister in response to the attacks on the Pride March in Bialystok, and distribution of ‘LGBT-free zone’ stickers. This goes against the Liberal Democrats fundamental principle of a ‘free, fair and open society’. We firmly believe in tolerance, respect, and anti-discrimination for all.

We also met with the group ‘British in Europe’ and counterpart campaigners, the3million, to talk over what will happen to the 1.3 million Brits currently living in Europe and the 3 million EU citizens living in the UK if Boris Johnson goes ahead with a no deal Brexit. These citizens are our friends, family and neighbours. They set up cross-border families and working lives in good faith, while no one had any thought of the UK leaving Europe. If our government chooses to break that contract, they should receive special dispensation to live as Europeans for the foreseeable future. We also discussed the ‘Denied my vote’ movement is raising money to take the UK government to court over the electoral chaos which surrounded the most recent European elections. They have the lawyers and a great case, now they need the cash.

This week saw the launch of my monthly newsletter, you can sign up here. Other ways to keep in touch are Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Podcast, Website, or email.

Dirty Air Knows No Borders

Judith Bunting MEP, in European Parliament, delivering her speech to the European Parliament on Climate Change.

Giving my maiden speech in plenary at the European Parliament, I addressed the Clean Air debate. Air pollution directly causes both chronic and serious diseases such as asthma, cardiovascular problems and lung cancer. Ill health caused by air pollution costs the economy billions in lost working days. Causing 400,000 premature deaths per year in Europe alone, it is currently the number one cause of premature death. Poor air quality has more than ten times the health impact of road traffic accidents. In this age of innovation and advanced technology this is simply unacceptable. I demand better, and we must do better.
 
The EU has a solid framework in place which includes Ambient Air Quality Directives, with low emission zones and incentives for cleaner transportation starting to be implemented across cities and regions in Europe with encouraging results. To combat dirty air, we need ambition, we need to work together. 

We need to work with member states to enforce Ultralow Emissions Zones in our small towns, our market towns, as well as in our cities. Every small town has a road or junction where locals know that the air pollution is out of control. There is a clear case, to charge dirty drivers on health grounds and we can. There is a need for targeted clean air zones in our towns across the UK.
 
As a British Liberal Democrat, I was elected to keep Britain in the European Union – and one of my main reasons for wanting to be here is to help protect our shared environment.
 
Dirty air knows no borders. 
 
What are your thoughts on clean air and ULEZ? Do you live in an area where air pollution is excessive? Please get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.

Demand better for education

The Education Select Committee report, published today, calls on the Government to commit to a 10-year, multi-billion cash injection for schools and colleges. Sitting on the Education and Culture committee, I have been horrified over the past few years by the way that the Conservative government has cut funding for schools and colleges to the bone. Funding levels have failed to keep up with spiralling costs and increased pupil numbers. 

Representing the South East of England in the European Union, I wholeheartedly support the cross party call for the Government to commit to a 10-year, multi-billion cash injection for schools and colleges.

Teachers have been forced to buy resources out of their own pockets, teaching assistants have been let go, and many schools have been forced to shut their doors early. Schools report not having enough funding to pay for textbooks, stationery and science equipment. 

Today’s report shows that MPs across all parties are not prepared to see our schools and colleges face years of continued uncertainty. Yet this is exactly what the Conservative Government has created. They have seemingly scrapped an announcement on school funding planned for this week, and have not yet told teachers how much they will be paid next year. 

As Liberal Democrats, we demand better for our children and teachers. That is why we are campaigning for an emergency cash injection into our schools and colleges, so that they have the resources teachers need to teach and pupils need to learn.