As the historic debate in Parliament surrounding the EU referendum came to its first climax yesterday, former Liberal Democrat MP John Leech has vowed that the ‘fight for Manchester’s place in Europe is not over’.
Manchester Withington’s former MP of ten years, John Leech who campaigned to remain during the referendum, has pledged that he will ‘fight against this Government’s aggressive Brexit agenda every step of the way.’
The Liberal Democrat Remain campaigner said: “When Britain voted, marginally, to leave, there was no opportunity to vote for a destination, and I will not simply stand by and watch Manchester suffer unfairly for something they didn’t vote for.”
On 23rd June the UK voted narrowly to Leave with a result of 52% in favour of pulling out of the EU. However, Manchester voted overwhelmingly to Remain, with Leech’s former seat of Manchester Withington voting three-quarters in favour of staying put in the EU.
Now standing as Manchester’s only opposition councillor, John Leech continued: “There was no say on how future trading relationships should be, or how we should work with other countries, and no say over things like criminal justice, law and order, ease of travel and health funding or climate change.
“Despite voting to remain, the people of Manchester are now stuck with the truly appalling consequences of a Leave campaign founded upon narrow-minded narcissism, scaremongering and outright lies.
“The Leave campaign was littered with attempts to divide communities across the country which now provides absolutely no comfort to an already critically overstretched NHS, or Manchester’s plummeting air quality, or to any other of the countless industries that rely heavily on our close link with the EU.
“Nearly one in ten jobs in our region are linked to our trade with the EU and I will not stand by and witness as residents are left without an income because of this Government’s aggressive Brexit agenda set purely to satisfy Nigel Farage.”
Earlier this year, John Leech stormed to victory with 53% of the vote in Didsbury West becoming the only non-Labour councillor in the town hall. UKIP, however, received just 1% picking up a measly 69 votes, making it officially the least popular ward for the anti-EU party anywhere in the country.
John Leech added: “Britain voted for a departure, but they were not given an option on a destination.
“When we finally know what that deal is, then the British people must have a chance to say if they would prefer the new arrangement, outside the European Union, or would prefer to Remain inside the European Union.
“Together, we will fight against this aggressive Brexit. The fight for Manchester’s place in Europe is not over.”
Manchester Withington’s current MP, Labour whip Jeff Smith, wasn’t present to vote.