Calls for the Government to implement Brexit without any undue delay or a second referendum have been rejected in Eastbourne.
Last night (16 November), at the Full Borough Council meeting, the Conservatives tabled the motion, saying it was the will of not only the majority of voters in Britain, but also of the majority in Eastbourne. The group highlighted the EU Referendum in June, was a clear vote to give the British public the choice to vote in or out when it came to the European Union and no terms and conditions were included in that vote. To use the Prime Minister’s phrasing, the Tories said that “final means final” and that as Eastbourne had a higher percentage of voters than nationally who voted leave, it was the town’s responsibility to push the Government to trigger Article 50. The Conservatives said it was the “overwhelming democratic will of Eastbourne voters to leave the EU”.
However, the Liberal Democrats rejected the call, saying to invoke the leaving process without first securing terms, would leave thousands of EU nationals, working in Eastbourne, in the lurch, unsure as to whether they would still be able to stay in the UK or not. The LibDems said that the Brexit campaign promised false realities, with the exception that to leave would create more jobs, pointing to Whitehall, where they say 30,000 civil service jobs have been created to work through the Brexit strategy. Responding to calls that the Party doesn’t respect the will of the British people, the LibDems said they are happy to see Brexit implemented, but not until voters are given the chance to have a say on how they want Brexit to look.
An amended motion was put forward by the Liberal Democrats, calling for the Government to ensure the rights of foreign workers, living in the UK, including their right to live and work here post-Brexit and to recognize their contribution to the country, rather than use them as bargaining chips in any deal-brokering.
The Conservatives rejected this amendment, saying it was a completely new motion and added that the Government has said it will look after EU nationals already in the UK.
However, after the democracy officer interjected to say the amended motion was within the rules, a vote was carried and it was the Liberal Democrats’ motion which was passed, with a majority of 16:7.
The original Conservative motion was defeated.
The Labour Party currently does not have any elected councillors in Town Hall and therefore, did not take part in the debate or vote.