Lancaster MP criticised for EU position

Cat Smith speaking in Parliamant.
Cat Smith speaking in Parliamant.

A Lancaster-based campaigner has called on the city’s MP Cat Smith to reconsider her views on Brexit or “risk losing support of many people”.

Andy Yuill, 43, who lives in Dorrington Road and is currently doing a PhD at Lancaster University, said he was becoming increasingly disturbed by the position of both the Lancaster MP and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Yuill said that although he is strongly supportive of Ms Smith, her position in a recent community magazine that “all who believe in democracy” should respect the result of June’s EU referendum was “at best misguided”.

Mr Yuill, who has lived in Lancaster for 12 years and has worked for environmental charities and community groups, including the Campaign to Protect Rural England, also said his Spanish wife now felt “threatened and unwanted” for the first time ever in the UK.

In a letter to Ms Smith, he said: “The country has not voted to leave the EU. 37 per cent voted leave, 35 per cent voted remain, 28 per cent didn’t vote. A minority of slightly more than a third is not a mandate for radical and irreversible constitutional change.

“Vastly more people did not vote to leave than voted to leave. To say that ‘the country has voted to leave’ is at best a misrepresentation.

“Misrepresentation is also the best way to describe the Leave campaign.”

Mr Yuill said that Parliament is not legally obliged to take any course of action, but “has been advised that the country is fundamentally divided on the issue...that there is not a majority to leave the EU...”

He added: “The campaign to leave sought to de-humanise immigrants, to scapegoat them, to make them into a category of people less worthy, less human, than us Brits. Pursuing a leave agenda legitimises this discourse, regardless of your own views on the matter, and regardless of your excellent record on challenging inequality.

“If you lost a vote on equal rights for wouldn’t just accept the result and say that we’ve got to make the best of it. You would carry on campaigning passionately for what you know to be right.”

Ms Smith said: “In the days after Brexit I started to receive hundreds of individual emails every day from constituents upset at the outcome of the decision to leave the EU.

“As someone who campaigned cross-party to stay in the EU, it was striking that the majority of these were from people who hadn’t campaigned with us. Some were even from people who hadn’t voted.

“The lesson from this must be that if you feel strongly about something campaign for it.

“The words in Scotforth West Matters were written in the hours after Brexit and since then I have been working and meeting with local businesses affected by the outcome of the referendum.

“I will be ensuring the national interests come first and holding the government to account every step of the way. Brexit can not be an excuse for starving our farmers or our universities of funding and I’ll be standing up for Lancaster and Fleetwood to ensure we will not be harmed by the outcome of the referendum.”