The co-leader of the Green Party, Jonathan Bartley, today joined a panel to discuss the future for ethical consumption post-Brexit. The annual Ethical Consumer Conference, hosted at the Amnesty International Building in London, this year focused on the topic Collaborating for Change.
Bartley told the audience of ethical consumers and businesses: “We need to see everything through the lens of ethical issues.”
In reaction to the leave vote, he said: “We’re deeply concerned about what happens next and we need to harness the collective concern in this room.” Bartley claimed that the Green Party is keen to preserve freedom of movement across the EU, and retain access to the market.
Bartley discussed the future of industry, saying: “We need industry that we can export around the world.” In reference specifically to energy, he highlighted that the UK could either go down a centralised option, like Hinckley Point, or choose an alternative. Bartley said: “The New Economics Foundation [Blue New Deal paper] estimates there is enough renewable potential to get six times our annual energy demand in the UK.” He claims that the price of renewable energy has dropped considerably.
Bartley showed serious concern about the repercussions of Brexit, but acknowledged the finality of the vote. Looking for a positive focus, Bartley suggested that leaving the EU could be: “an opportunity to give control back to local communities and take control away from big businesses.” He acknowledged that the leave vote was for many about feeling a lack of control, and presented this as a way of addressing those fears.
Bartley encouraged individuals to harness concern over Brexit and make an impact on exit negotiations. When asked how he believes businesses could influence EU exit negotiations, he said: “I’d like to turn that around and say how are we going to influence exit negotiations?”
He said: “People are lacking a plan and vision. We need to show what our vision of good trade is, and our vision of what good business is. We have to decide what we want to campaign for and then we have to go for it.”
Bartley said he is: “calling for everyone to have a say on the terms of Brexit.” He made it clear that we need to respect the decision to leave, but that we should have a second referendum on the terms. He said: “And if they’re not going to have a second referendum, we need to have a general election. It’s time for a political awakening.”
In the spirit of the conference theme, Bartley encouraged collaboration. “As progressives, we can come together. Because things are changing so radically, so quickly, we need to think about how we’re going to work together.”