“If we’re serious about this campaign, we have to put Brexit at the front” – Rob Blackie’s speech at the London Mayoral hustings

The London Mayoral hustings was held on 31 October. Four candidates are standing for the Lib Dem nomination. I asked  Rob Blackie for permission to publish his speech below. I must confess to being one of those who has not thought it important in the past to give the Lib Dem nomination a second thought, wasted vote and all that.

Brexit is a game changer. Rob was able to convey a passion combined with a thoughtful pragmatism about the challenges that confront us. Rob was a stand-out among the candidates due to his ability to present coherent answers which stood up to questioning about his campaign messages. 

Rob Blackie’s speech

When I look at Europeans in our city I see friends, I see neighbours and I see family. So when I look back at 24th June 2016 – what do I remember?

I felt sick. Like so many of you here tonight and millions of people around the country. Each and every person in this room knows that Brexit will be a disaster for our country and our city. It’s also a practical issue

Brexit is also practically important to almost everything we campaign on.

Transport for London was already in financial problems because of the Mayor’s mismanagement. But now passenger numbers are falling, partly because of Brexit. That means slower replacement of dirty buses. Less tube maintenance. And that means worse air pollution. And more train delays.

Take a look at your nearest hospital. One in six NHS staff are EU citizens. Earlier this year when I had an operation in King’s hospital the nurses were brilliant. And Spanish. Now they are looking to leave. And Brexit is crucial to our party’s success. Brexit gets people in the gut, unlike any other issue we are talking about at present. I love the idea of early bird fares on the tube, but that’s not a gut issue.

I was canvassing in Haringey the other day.

And a man there saw me and told me ‘I want to join the Lib Dems’

I’d like to say I charmed him into joining. But in reality he was ready because of our stance on Brexit.

If we’re serious about this campaign, we have to put Brexit at the front.

I think we should. And when I worked to stop the Iraq war with Charles Kennedy I saw how we had to take the hard decisions, not avoid them. That brings us abuse and assaults. Abuse and assaults from the right people. People like Farage and Jacob Rees Mogg. Taking abuse from people like Farage and Rees-Mogg isn’t something to be afraid of. It’s something to be proud of.

Working with the United Nations to fight climate change I saw that we can never think too big. And I’ve spent the last two years fighting Brexit at the Best for Britain campaign. If we put Brexit at the centre of our campaign it will be popular.

If we put Brexit at the centre of our campaign it will solve London’s practical problems.

And if we put Brexit at the centre of our campaign, we might change the world. That would be a campaign worth fighting  for.  That’s a campaign that we can be proud of.

Libdemvoice has published an article on all the mayoral candidates.

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