These are dark days and the choice of a cabinet that largely consists of those responsible for the illegality at Vote Leave underlines the extent to which Brexit has put our democracy at risk. While not wishing to spoil your summer, I do think it is important that we confront the seriousness of the situation we are facing and tell the truth to friends and colleagues.
But the positive view of the situation is that there is now no way of implementing Brexit democratically. Parliament will not accept the devastation of No Deal and citizens have recognised that Brexit is not turning out as promised in 2016 and are turning against what now seems complex and risky.
Please continue to let your MPs know the strength of your opposition to going ahead with Brexit. Also please let them know your concerns about the decline in democratic standards and the suggestion that the government might shut down Parliament in order to crash out of the EU, something that is a clear attack on our parliamentary democracy.
In other news, we are reminded daily that Brexit is just a distraction from the real crisis which is the climate emergency. Last weekend I was able to join the Extinction Rebellion protestors in Bristol and am so proud that the resistance to climate chaos began in the South West of England.
This autumn I have plans for two positive actions we can take on climate. First, I’ll be travelling the country with a Western Powerhouse roadshow, engaging with green businesses and trade unions to discuss how we can ensure that the transition to a sustainable economy benefits us all. And I am also initiating a discussion about how we can use the diverse and productive land of South West England to both capture carbon and feed us all in the most sustainable way.
Look out for these events in your area in the autumn.
Greens refuse to back new Commission president
Since the European elections the work programme for the next five years and the selection of people to the Top Jobs has dominated discussions in the EU. The European parliament has to agree the new EU Commission president through a vote and Ursula von der Leyen was elected by the slimmest of majorities. She will now choose her Commissioners and finalise the legislative programme and we then have a chance to vote again to confirm or reject the whole Commission.
While welcoming the fact von der Leyen becomes the first woman president of the Commission and her encouraging comments on Brexit – showing a willingness to grant the UK a further extension and so prevent a disastrous crash out of the EU – Greens did not support her as President.
The UK’s seven Green MEPs issued a joint statement explaining why they refused to back her. Read the full statement here
Further information on the election of the EU Commission president:
Read Molly’s alternative Commission president speech, published by the Independent.
See Molly’s speech to the European parliament >
Darroch affair – another worrying sign of our democracy under threat
Molly coordinated a cross-party group of MEPs to ask for a parliamentary inquiry into whether secret information is being used to the advantage of foreign powers. The request came in the wake of the leak of official diplomatic correspondence between the British Ambassador in Washington, Kim Darroch, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
“This is a perilous time for our country. A full parliamentary enquiry would help establish who is attacking the safeguards we have come to expect in our democracy and who does and doesn’t have the best interests of our country at heart.”
Full story and links to letter here
Read Molly’s article in Green World about this issue here
News on the climate emergency
See video in which Molly explains why this year’s record-breaking heatwaves are indicative of the climate emergency >
Time to end investment in fossil fuels
A group of Green MEPs have written to the President of the European Investment Bank (EIB) demanding it ends its investments in fossil fuels and immediately shifts lending towards green energy and energy efficiency. Von der Leyen, the new Commission president, has pledged to convert parts of the EIB into a climate bank to unlock €1 trillion of investment over the next decade. However, that presumably leaves the other part of the bank free to continue investing in fossil fuel projects!
“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.
Full story and links to letter here
Flying – an issue of social and environmental justice
The climate emergency also calls us to challenge the way we travel, and Molly has urged people to sign up to a flight-free 2020 pledge. Molly has become known as the ‘MEP who doesn’t fly.’ She flew just once in the last mandate, visiting Latin America on an official EU visit. But trips to Latvia, Lisbon, Poland and Gibraltar were all made by a combination of train, other overland travel and ferry.
Molly is keen to highlight that flying is an issue of inequality and social justice as well as climate. She says:
“70% of flights are taken by just 15% of the UK population, while the average UK resident flies only once every two years. Meanwhile the poorest in the world will never board a plane. So rich people are taking the most flights and trashing the planet, but we will all pay the price. Choosing not to fly is an important commitment to social justice as well as to the climate.”
See here for more details and to sign the flight free pledge.
Adding nuclear to your energy bills
Keeping up her campaign against new nuclear power plants, including the new build at Hinkley Point, Molly has slammed government proposals to finance new nuclear by forcing consumers to pay upfront through their energy bills. She says:
“Nuclear is not the answer to the climate emergency. It is too slow, far too expensive and can only be supported by an outrageous policy that breaks the government’s previous commitment to require nuclear to survive without subsidies or not at all.
“Renewables, smart energy solutions and emerging battery technologies together with a big drive on energy efficiency will make nuclear redundant.”
More details here