At the European elections, the Green Party had a strong message for people of the UK. Politics doesn’t have to be dull, dark and divisive. It can – and should – be joyful and full of hope!
As I spoke to people in the South East on the campaign trail, it became increasingly clear that this positive message was striking a chord.
Now that I have been elected as MEP for the South East of England, alongside a cohort of six other UK Green MEPs, I am absolutely over the moon. Together we’ll bring our positive style of politics to the European Parliament – an institution which has the power to shake-up the whole of Europe for the better.
I have actually worked in Brussels before, as an assistant to Caroline Lucas during her years as an MEP. There’s no denying that both Caroline and her successor in the South East region – Keith Taylor – have left some mighty shoes to fill. But if there’s anything I’ve learned from these two wonderful politicians, it’s that politics isn’t simply about money and power: it’s about people.
One reason why the country has been plunged into this Brexit chaos is that people don’t know their MEPs, and don’t understand what they do. Well, that is not going to happen on my watch. In the coming months, I want everyone in the South East to be able to name at least one of their MEPs.
I plan to spend time getting to know my constituents – sharing a cup of tea, learning what people truly love about their local area, and finding out what doesn’t work so we can try and fix it.
Please rest assured that, as the next generation of Greens in the European Parliament, we’ll do everything in our power to stop this Brexit disaster (first and foremost, by demanding our right to a People’s Vote!). But that’s not all I plan to achieve in the European Parliament.
The political debate here in the UK – like in many other parts of Europe – has been dominated by the toxic politics of far-right parties like UKIP and, now, The Brexit Company.
These groups are obsessed with shutting doors, building barriers and excluding people who may have a different nationality, skin tone or faith to their own.
Well, Greens are not afraid to stand up to bullies. I look forward to joining forces with other Greens from across Europe, to shout from the rooftops that diversity makes us stronger!
We’ll fight to bolster free movement – a gift that opens a world of opportunities for EU citizens to live, love, work and study in 27 other EU countries, and that is too often taken for granted. And we’ll support the rights of migrants and refugees, because that’s at the very heart of Green politics.
Another issue I feel strongly about is workers’ rights. Everyone deserves decent pay for a hard day’s work, yet 15 per cent of people in employment in the South East on England currently earn less than the real living wage of £9 an hour.
In the South East of England, one of the wealthiest regions in one of the world’s richest countries, it should be unthinkable for working families go hungry because they can’t make ends meet. I’ll be using my position in the European Parliament to campaign for a real living wage for everyone in my constituency and across the rest of the UK.
And finally – given that we’re in the midst of a monumental climate emergency – I will immediately seek to sit down with MEP colleagues from across the continent to bring about a European Green New Deal. This would boost local economies, secure well-paid jobs for every community and build the infrastructure we desperately need to face up to our planet’s climate challenge.
Thank you, once again, to all my supporters and all the voters who put their faith in the Green Party on 23 May. We promise to work tirelessly to make the UK, Europe and the planet a better place to live, both now and in the future. And we’ll do this with joy, because we’re Greens and that’s what we do.
Alexandra Phillips is Green MEP for the South East of England.