POLITICS
11/01/2019 00:01 GMT | Updated 11/01/2019 09:36 GMT

Exclusive: Caroline Lucas Condemns 'Moral Failure' Of Remain Campaign To Defend Free Movement

New pro-EU drive must reject "vapid centrism" and “urgently learn the lessons of the past”.

Caroline Lucas will launch a blistering attack on the “vapid centrism” of the Remain campaign whose “moral failure” to defend free movement ushered in the Brexit victory in 2016. 

The “project fear” tactics employed by the David Cameron-led campaign “won’t win people over”, the Green MP will say, and reduced the “astonishing achievements” of the EU to rows over “the cost of a shopping trolley”.

Lucas, who wants a re-run of the referendum, will speak at the Another Vote Is Possible convention on Friday in a bid to reset the divisive nature of the Brexit debate. 

It comes as deadlock in parliament ahead of Tuesday’s vote on Theresa May’s deal heightens the prospect a fresh EU poll could be called in the coming weeks.

But any 2019 pro-EU drive must “urgently learn the lessons of the past” and celebrate “the remarkable gift” of free movement, the Brighton MP will say at the event in central London.

“The mistakes of the Remain campaign must not be repeated,” she will say. 

“Mistakes that meant the campaign was seen primarily as defending the status quo, with the political elite pulling the strings; a campaign that utterly failed to inspire any kind of connection with or love for the EU.” 

It was not just a political failure, but a moral one, that saw the Remain campaign hide away from talking about migration in 2016Green MP Caroline Lucas

The Remain argument should pivot from focusing on the economic risk to being “hopeful, inclusive, energetic and radical”, the Brighton MP will say, adding: “If we are to stand any chance of winning a people’s vote we have to abandon any association with vapid centrism that has failed to deliver for so many people, and would fail again.” 

And she had damning words for how the 2016 Remain campaign - then called Britain Stronger In Europe - ignored immigration.  

“It was not just a political failure, but a moral one, that saw the Remain campaign hide away from talking about migration in 2016 - preferring instead to throw economic threats at people, rather than engage in a debate on this pressing issue,” she will say.  

It also failed to move on from “the facts and figures” to celebrate “the good angel” EU which, Lucas will claim, upholds human rights, international friendships and cultural exchange. 

“To have reduced all that to an argument about the cost of a trolley load of shopping was such a tragedy,” she will say. 

Formerly a Green MEP of ten years, Lucas will also use her platform to blast the media, including “so-called mainstream” outlets including the Guardian and the BBC to cease publishing “fake news about straight bananas” and “treating MEPs as though they didn’t exist”.

PA Wire/PA Images

And in an attempt to reach out to Brexit voters she will say “thank you” to them for giving “the establishment a much-deserved kicking” and expressing what she sees as “a collective howl of rage” over how the country was being run. 

“That response was justified then -  and is justified now,” she will say. 

She believes the “core message at the heart of the Brexit vote” was that “the status quo in this country is intolerable for huge numbers of people”.  

“It is right and reasonable to be furious,” she will say.  

Their vote was driven by Britain’s “gross inequalities”, she will claim - something Brexiteers fiercely contest - citing reports of interregional inequality 50% higher in the UK than in France and Germany. 

“In short, this is a country where what dictates your success isn’t how hard you work, or how much you care,” she will say.  “It’s not your passion or your commitment

“No. This is a country where your success is dictated by your postcode, the income of your parents, the year in which you were born.

“The lie at the heart of the Leave campaign was that this downward spiral - indeed, this negative double helix of inequality and insecurity - could be reversed by leaving the EU.”

Lucas’ speech comes as Theresa May prepares to put her Brexit deal before MPs next Tuesday. 

It is widely anticipated that MPs will reject her deal but it is not yet clear what step the prime minister will take next.

She has a range of options, including suspending Article 50, attempting to renegotiate with Brussels, opting for a soft Brexit, a no-deal exit and calling a second referendum.