Cast your mind back to the day the general election was called. The only question was how big Theresa May’s majority would be, not whether an extreme Brexit could be avoided. Few foresaw the surge from Labour; fewer still that the bold actions of a few local Green parties would affect the outcome in a number of razor thin marginals.
But here we are. A hollowed-out government propped up by the DUP unable to implement its manifesto. No bill to expand Heathrow or grammar schools. No proposals to introduce fox hunting or a dementia tax. Most importantly, the momentum for an extreme Brexit – out of the free market, out of the customs union, a tax haven floating on the edge of the Atlantic – has been stopped in its tracks.
There is no getting away from the fact that the election results were not what we had hoped for, especially in light of the sacrifices made by local parties in certain seats to try to prevent a Conservative majority, so it is now time to articulate not just what we Greens are against, but clearly what we are for.
We must show our fundamentally different vision for the relationships we can have with our neighbours. We must build bridges, not walls. And we must be uncompromising – not least on migration. Theresa May’s offer for EU citizens’ has been nothing short of a betrayal, made possible by Labour’s capitulation on free movement.
And our most important task in the Brexit context is to protect the environment – the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. It is our job to make sure that EU protections are transferred to the UK in full, as well as securing membership of cross-border organisations like the European Environment Agency, maintaining a close relationship with the EU rather than cosying up to Donald Trump and his deregulatory agenda. And we must be unequivocal that the support of both Labour and Conservatives for faster, indiscriminate growth as the basis for new trade deals is incompatible with a sustainable, resilient future.
True economic prosperity depends on the natural world. If we do not defend it now, nothing else will matter.