Greens vow to be 'tough on Brexit' as they launch EU elections campaign

8 May 2019, 10:32 | Updated: 8 May 2019, 14:16

The Greens have launched their European elections campaign, urging voters to back their message of "yes to Europe" and "no to climate chaos".

The party is hoping to build on its best ever set of local election results in England last week, when it gained more than 100 seats.

A key plank of its platform is a pledge to make the UK carbon-neutral by 2030, despite warnings that the target may be over-ambitious.

The party gained three MEPs during the last European elections in 2014.

Speaking at the campaign launch in north London on Wednesday, top party figures were confident it could do better this time.

Co-leader Jonathan Bartley said the Greens would be "tough on Brexit and tough on the causes of Brexit" and had a "real vision for Britain in Europe" alongside its "long-standing plan for the climate emergency".

"We are the party that has called all the most important issues of recent times absolutely right," he continued, calling the Greens "the most credible pro-Europe party in this election".

"So if you want to say yes to Europe, yes to investing in our communities and no to climate chaos right now and for the future, then cast the most powerful vote you have and vote more Greens into Europe on 23 May."

Other parties firmly in the anti-Brexit camp are the Liberal Democrats, fresh off election success and the local vote last week, and the newly formed Change UK, which did not contest the local election.

Caroline Lucas, the party's sole MP at Westminster, told the audience that a "green wave" was sweeping across Europe.

"Over the last weekend we had a new member joining us every three minutes," the Brighton Pavillion MP said.

"Opinion polls, not surprisingly, are absolutely predicting Greens will win seats in these European elections again.

"We're excited by this moment in our history, when more and more people are coming together.

"Not only to stop Brexit, but also to resolve the deep-seated inequalities in our society that did so much to drive that Brexit vote in the first place."

Mr Bartley, who shares the leadership of the party with Sian Berry, rejected suggestions that the Remain vote would be split between his party, the Lib Dems and Change UK.

"There are three Remain parties, there are four Leave parties. That's the way this election is broken down," he said.

"The European elections are run under PR. The danger of splitting the vote is significantly less in these elections than it would be under a first-past-the-post Westminster election.

"Polls are all over the place at the moment. Some put us in the lead, some don't.

"But if you take the aggregate polls, we're right up there.

"At the last election, we got more seats than the Lib Dems."

Climate change has come back to the fore of the public debate amid the Extinction Rebellion protests held in recent weeks in cities across the world.

In London, demonstrators held about two weeks of action, at times paralysing parts of the city.