The Letters page: 30/06/16

(30 June, 2016)

This week, it's Brexit, Brexit, Bexit, and a poignant appeal ahead of the Battle of the Somme's centenary

We now need a general election

Southwark voted to Remain in the EU, with one of the highest votes (73%) in the whole of the UK, and of the major parties, Green Party voters recorded the highest level nationally of support for Remain (75%).

Southwark Green Party ran a strong Remain campaign, and we would like to thank all the local people who helped us make that case.

Britain has voted to leave the EU, and we need a unifying government to manage the uncertainty and division this has created.  We are therefore very concerned that the lack of leadership from both the government and from the Labour opposition is putting our country at grave risk.  We believe that a general election is needed to deliver a way forward for Britain, and that it needs to be held under a fair voting system to deliver a government that truly reflects the will of the people.

Over the last six years, we’ve seen how the Conservatives have passed the impacts of the financial crisis onto the most vulnerable in our society.  This vote does not give any government a mandate to slash rights at work or cut environmental regulations. While locally Southwark Green Party will of course continue to hold Southwark Council to account for its policies and performance, nationally we are calling on all progressive parties to unite to protect these rights.

The rich cultural mix in Southwark is one of its strengths. Many Londoners are linked by family, history or love to other parts of the world, whether they were born in London or have moved here. Southwark Greens celebrate the diversity of our borough. We recognise that our health, education, transport and construction sectors – to name just a few – depend on the expertise and dedication of people from all over the world, including EU citizens. We are all part of Southwark. The referendum result has been treated by a few as a licence to suggest that some are not welcome here.  As members of Southwark Green Party, we commit ourselves to retaining our invaluable links with Europe, and to ensuring that all our fellow Londoners, our friends and neighbours, can participate as equals and feel at home in the city we share.

Colin Boyle, Chair, Southwark Green Party


Let’s unite out of Europe

I would like to thank all those in Vote Leave, Grassroots Out and Leave.EU who worked hard on the Brexit campaign here in Southwark.

I would also like to thank the 35,209 who voted for the United Kingdom to regain her democracy, steer her own course and afford the younger generation the opportunity to drive the future of their country.

In the days following the referendum, sterling has not crashed, the markets have not nosedived, David Cameron and George Osborne have spoken publicly, contradicting those fearful forecasts they made prior to the 23rd June.  Senior Labour and Conservative politicians from the Remain side have come out saying they respect the will of the nation, confirming that they uphold the democratic vote and that now is the time for the nation to heal and to move forward.

I hope that our politicians here in Southwark will also be able to respect the will of the nation and promote unity.  Now is the time to take stock and look to the future and the great opportunities that lie ahead with Europe as our friends and trading partners, but  with the additional freedom to control our own affairs and build trade relations globally.

Rosamund Beattie, Chairman UKIP Southwark


The brave men who would not fight

This Friday we mark a grim centenary.

A hundred years ago the whistles blew to launch the battle of the Somme. Sixty thousand men, advancing line-abreast, were mown down by German machine-guns on the first day alone. Never mind: Haig, the bungling commander-in-chief, knew he had God on his side.

As well as these victims of war, it’s a good time to remember the brave men from south London who stood out against this futile slaughter by refusing to serve in the army.

Men like the clerk and trade unionist Eddy Jope, of 86 Crofton Road, Peckham; the brothers Bertram and William Boxall, of 135 Long Lane, Bermondsey, and the union official Arthur Gillian, of 86 Park Road, West Dulwich (a street no longer in the A to Z).

I’ve been trying to recover the story of these men and others like them. You get glimpses in press and in the archives but it would be good to learn more.

Maybe among your readers there’s someone who recognises one of these names. If so I would be delighted to hear from them at

The battle of the Somme dragged on until November 1916. The British gained 12 square miles, but at the cost of 400,00 dead and wounded. Survivors called it “the Great F-Up.”

John Taylor, Rotherhithe


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