Lewisham West & Penge in Europe is the local grassroots group for those of all political parties and none who support UK membership of the European Union.
UK politics went into a state of shock after the 2016 referendum, with the leaders of the Leave campaign having less idea of what to do next than anyone. Since then, ordinary citizens have heard details they they ever thought they would want to know about how people in different countries manage to trade with each other, find work elsewhere, go on holiday, or in other words, just go about their normal daily lives. The bottom line, however, it is not a great idea if one country unexpectedly abandons the ways things have developed over forty years with a group of countries with which it does nearly half its trade, and with whom it has been working on how these arrangements are made all along.
Well, some of us never abandoned looking at the facts. Having campaigned in a small way in the ill fated Remain campaign of 2016, I was still using the T shirt to make a modest statement of where I stood, and still stand. And then one day, after a Parkrun in Crystal Palace Park, I was approached by Calix, pleased also to find someone who was not giving up on common sense, From that meeting ‘Lewisham West & Penge in Europe’ emerged.
I knew of a ‘Day of Action’ later that morning in Penge, organised by local groups from other parts of Lewisham and Penge, part of a grassroots grouping, Bromley and Lewisham United for Europe. So I invited Calix to come along, and there, as we collected signatures for a People’s Vote, we agreed there needed to be a group with the same aims and approach covering the Lewisham West & Penge constituency, and reaching out to those of all parties, and none. We also met another activist from Clock House, who put us in touch with Tiziana, who lives in Forest Hill, and has been active in national campaigns against Brexit.
I belong to no political party, but in over twenty years of involvement in community groups, I’ve learned how to get along with local councillors, and that parties are a key part of local democracy. Calix is a member of the Labour Party, and had already put a motion to the constituency Labour Party to support a People’s Vote. He then wrote an open letter to our MP, Ellie Reeves, asking her to support a People’s Vote, we we started gathering signatures.
And then, within days, Ellie came out in favour of a People’s Vote. We can’t claim more than a fraction of the credit, but we claim some. It is not every day that a group will organise itself, and put up a stand in a local High Street, and politicians will realise when they do that something is changing. So let’s keep things changing.