Green Party Co-leader Jonathan Bartley has announced he is stepping down from his role at the end of July.
In a statement made earlier today, Bartley reflected on his time as co-leader, highlighting the achievements made by the Green Party over the years: “I am hugely proud of what the Green Party has achieved over the last five years. We have become a major electoral force, vying to be the country’s third party.
“We beat the governing party in the last European elections and trebled our number of councillors, going from opposition on a handful of authorities to playing a part in running more than a dozen. And despite the challenging circumstances of two snap general elections, we built up strong votes in key seats and are now in a position to win more Parliamentary seats.”
“I have always believed that leadership is about empowering and encouraging others and this is something I’ve done throughout my time as co-leader. I now feel that the time is right to step down so that new leaders can be elected.
“It has been an immense privilege to have been the longest serving leader the party has had - first with Caroline Lucas for two years and then with Siân Berry for three, with Amelia Womack completing the leadership team throughout. During this time so many talented people have emerged.”
Taking over from former leader Natalie Bennett in 2016, Bartley won 86 per cent of the vote in partnership with Caroline Lucas, becoming the party’s first co-leaders. In 2018, Lucas stepped down to make way for new leadership, prompting the election of her successor, Sian Berry.
Since 2018 the pair have overseen record wins for the party, which more than doubled its seats in the European Parliament and secured 158 seats in this year’s local elections, making 99 gains on a further 18 councils.
“It’s also increasingly clear that we may have an earlier than expected general election and a new leadership team needs time to get used to the role, which makes it the right time to step down now and allow the party to choose new leaders.”
With Boris Johnson vowing to repeal the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, speculation has been steadily growing over whether the Prime Minister will call a snap general election in 2023. This would allow the Government to avoid the political aftermath of Covid, likely pre-empting the public inquiry into its handling of the pandemic.
“I have been immensely grateful for the opportunity to put the climate emergency front and centre on the political agenda and to speak up uncompromisingly for migrants, refugees, disabled people and other protected groups who are so often forgotten and ignored, or at worst demonised, exploited and oppressed.
“I have also been grateful for the opportunity to advocate for the need for progressive parties to work together to defeat the government, tackle the climate emergency, eliminate poverty and reform the electoral system.”
After studying Social Policy at the London School of Economics, Bartley put his passion for social justice at the heart of his career, working in Parliament on a cross-party basis from 1994-98. During the 2011 general election he served as the vice chair of the Yes to Fairer Votes campaign, and subsequently became the vice chair of the Electoral Reform Society.
“This is something I believe is needed now more than ever. And so, I plan to use the experience I have gained during my time as co-leader to continue to develop the wider movement for a progressive alliance once I have stepped down from my current position.
“The road down which this Conservative Government is taking the country has many of the hallmarks of neo-fascism. I have said this repeatedly over the last five years and it is now more evident than ever - and the need for progressive parties to come together to defeat it is more urgent than ever. But until progressive parties work together, there is a risk of Conservative governments for years to come.
“I would like to put on record my huge thanks to all my family including my three amazing children who have put up with so much over the last five years but never wavered in their support for me.
“As some may know I will be getting married to my partner Sarah next year and so I’m looking forward to spending some quality time with them all. I also look forward to playing a full, if different role in the Green Party in the future, wherever I can be most helpful.
“My resignation takes effect from 1 August. Sian will continue as acting leader while a leadership election takes place.”
Green Party co-leader Sian Berry praised her colleague, adding: “Jonathan has been a tremendous colleague. Hard-working, thoughtful, kind, collegiate and full of insight and ideas.
“Every member should applaud the huge part he has played in the Green Party’s progress over the past five years. His departure leaves many impressive pairs of shoes to fill."