Farmers mobilise against U.S “Hell Meat”

Pressure is building on North Yorkshire MPs to support plans for a ban on imports of inferior, low-welfare meat from US factory farms – following some of the biggest farmers’ protests seen in recent times.

Tractors with trailers, lorries and farm machinery decked out with “Save British Farming” banners travelled in convoy up Northallerton High Street on Friday 25th September and in Stokesley on Friday 9th October. Scores of supporters  lined the street, clapping, cheering and waving and placards calling for protection of food and animal welfare standards. 

The demo’s have received widespread media coverage including North East Bylines, the Northern Echo and the Yorkshire Post  – and the personal support of Yorkshire Post editor James Mitchinson who tweeted“Farmers – the people who put  food on the table – need our help if the country cares about the chemicals that go into our children and/ or the way animals are treated.”  The paper’s leader column said the demo: “offered further evidence of the simmering unease which has the potential to reach boiling point unless the Government listens to farmers, peers and all those who are now fearful for UK agriculture’s future because of its obdurance over Brexit.”

The protests, supported by Save British Farming, North Yorkshire for Europe and York for Europe, was organised to increase public awareness of the threat from planned deregulation of food standards to smooth the way for post-Brexit trade deals.

There were speeches by Graham Clarke, the Bedale farmer who led the convoy, Jon Johnson, of Save British Farming, and Lord Newby, leader of the Lib Dems in the House of Lords, who said: “When this Government says ‘trust us’ you have to double lock your wallet. Worse, this Bill will only be debated for 90 minutes, so keep pressuring your MP.

Later Graham travelled by tractor to the outskirts of the town to deliver a protest letter to Richmondshire MP Rishi Sunak’s office. Graham said unregulated US imports “will mean ruin for huge numbers (of farmers) who are just getting by right now.” 

Graham Clarke delivering his letter to Chancellor Sunak’s office

A US trade deal could allow in not just chlorinated chicken but also meat from cows and pigs kept in extreme crowded conditions in US factory farms  – where they are pumped full of antibiotics and artificial growth hormones banned in the UK, the EU and scores of other countries.

Imports of cheap meat from US factory farms – described as “hell meat” in a recent investigation by the Daily Mirror – would expose consumers to chemicals linked to cancer and undercut traditional livestock farmers in North Yorkshire. This would exacerbate problems created by a hard Brexit, with farmers likely to find themselves cut off from their main export market (90 per cent of UK lamb and beef exports go to the EU).

In May Rishi Sunak failed to support a rebel Tory amendment to the Agriculture Bill that sought to ban US imports of food produced to lower welfare, food safety and environmental standards than those required of British farmers. (In fact he voted for the amendment but made it clear later he had done so accidentally).

To their shame all of North Yorkshire’s other five Conservative MPs voted against the amendment: Julian Smith (Skipton & Ripon); Kevin Hollinrake (Thirsk & Malton); Andrew Jones (Harrogate & Knaresborough); Nigel Adams (Selby & Ainsty) and Bob Goodenough (Scarborough & Whitby) See the full list of MPs who voted the amendment down here

York Outer Tory MP Julian Sturdy joined the rebels by backing the amendment, also supported by York Central MP Rachael Maskell (Lab). We must build momentum to maximise pressure on MPs ahead of crucial vote next month!  (please see below)

It’s not too late to stop this madness!

On Thursday a pivotal amendment to the Agriculture Bill was passed in the House of Lords – that would “require agricultural and food imports to meet domestic standards.”So when the bill comes back to the Commons next month MPs will have another opportunity to do the right thing by backing our farmers and protecting our food and animal welfare standards – as promised in the Conservative manifesto and demanded by more than a million people who’ve signed the NFU’s food standards petition.

Please take five minutes to email or write to your MP! 

Contacting your MP

You email your MP using the Save British Farming link where letter is already part written …

Alternatively, you can email your MP direct (click on appropriate MP’s name below)  – remembering to include your address and postcode to show you are a constituent …

you can write an old-fashioned letter (click on link for office address). 

Rishi Sunak (Richmondshire) Constituency Office

Julian Smith (Skipton & Ripon) Constituency Office: Churchill House, 19 Otley Street, Skipton BD23 1DY
Kevin Hollinrake (Thirsk & Malton) Constituency office
Andrew Jones (Harrogate & Knaresborough) Constituency Office
Nigel Adams (Selby & Ainsty) Constituency Office
Robert Goodwill (Scarborough & Whitby) Constituency Office
Julian Sturdy (York Outer) Constituency office


Thank EU for Being Here!

Our ‘Thank EU for Being Here’ party for EU27 citizens on January 31st was a roaring success.

On a sad day for our country our supporters refused to be despondent – and more than 130 of us packed into the historic St Wilfrid’s parish Hall in Harrogate – including around 40 EU27 nationals with citizens from Poland, Spain, Germany, Italy, France, Holland, Luxembourg and numerous other countries.

Entertainment was laid on by Arnold and the Raisers blues & folk band and by Arnold (again!) and the Reunion Chorus (the new name for the Yorkshire Remain Voice Choir). A vegan buffet was provided by the award-winning Mango Indian restaurant,  as well as stone-baked pizzas from a local Italian restaurant. There were speeches by European Movement vice-chair Richard Wilson,  Andy Dennis (an NHS nurse who volunteers with Medicins Sans Frontieres), and Richard Sadler, of North Yorkshire for Europe.

At 11pm , when the UK formally left the EU after 47 years, a minute’s silence was held followed by a mass rendition of Ode to Joy, the European anthem.

There were tears of sorrow but there was also optimism and very strong sense of kinship between so many like-minded people determined not to be downtrodden.

The event was filmed live via satellite link by a crew from ITN News at Ten. Watch News at Ten report from our party here [at 24′ 5″] Participants were also interviewed by Nick Robinson from BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme a film crew from BBC Look North and by BBC Radio York.

Our message: We want to thank our EU27 friends for the huge contribution they’ve made to our country – and we will do everything we can to hold the Government to account for the coming Brexit shambles! 

A big welcome to all our new EU27 friends … and a huge thank you to our supporters whose generous donations made this event possible.

Read more about the party on Margaret’s blog

New Online Newspaper – The Byline Times

New Online Newspaper planned for Yorkshire – to report the news other media won’t 

… And we’re looking for contributors!

Plans are being drawn up for a regional version of  Byline Times an online newspaper for freelance journalists passionate about reporting on issues not covered elsewhere … and Yorkshire has been chosen for the first pilot!

Throughout the Brexit process Byline Times has established a reputation  for unbiased, fact-based journalism. It’s aim is to concentrate on ‘what the papers don’t say’ and investigate the untold stories of modern Britain.

As their website says: 
“We will follow the story wherever it goes, without fear or favour. No PR company, advertiser or press baron can influence the stories we choose. Our integrity will come from our editorial independence.

“… We think many communities and regions are misrepresented in the media because they are under-represented. We hope to give a voice to those not provided a platform elsewhere.”

Our colleagues at South & West Yorkshire for Europe have been in discussions with Peter Jukes, one of the newspaper’s founders and executive editors.Peter and the team are keen to support citizen-led journalism in local communities and would like to pilot this with Byline Yorkshire. They’ll provide the website and technical support, if we write the stories. These might include items such as:

  • Local hospital services being put out to private tender
  • Commentary on the actions of our elected representatives
  • Local business owner struggling post-Brexit
  • Other human interest stories or even random funny videos 
  • Historical or current pride stories about our communities

We’re looking for writers, photographers, researchers and videographers. Input can be as frequent or as infrequent as time allows.  We’re be particularly interested in hearing from journalists from student newspapers. Interested? Contact Louise 

Emergency fundraising appeal launched to stop Boris Johnson

Yorkshire for Europe – an alliance of no less than 18 pro EU groups across the region – has launched an emergency campaign Fighting Fund to stop Boris Johnson.  We desperately need to raise £20,000 over the next three weeks to make as big an impact as we can across Yorkshire & the Humber’s 54 constituencies … and we’re asking YOU to help us reach our target!

We want to build on the success we’ve had with eye-catching campaign initiatives that have already attracted mainstream media attention in Yorkshire, the UK and worldwide. In the few weeks before the next election we want to:

– Ensure we get young people on the electoral roll and that we can help turn out the vote

– Target support to MPs in marginals to prevent Tory gains by highlighting the lies told

– Work with other anti-Brexit groups (like Lions Led by Donkeys) to strengthen our message

– Develop and professionalise our social media campaign

Creating all the events, leaflets, media releases, billboards etc that you would expect for a high profile campaign

We’re on the brink of a momentous decision over our relationship with our European friends and partners. It will have profound implications for future generations: our economy, future peace and prosperity – and our rights and freedoms to live, love and work across Europe.

There are less than six weeks to go before polling day on December 12th – it’s vital that we do what we can to influence the outcome. Please help!

A heartfelt letter from Selby

Dear Brits and fellow world citizens,

Reflecting on the last 3 years, we can only say that as Brits how do we regain our dignity and respect again in the world? How did we get to this place? We need to take a hard look at ourselves and face some hard facts….

We had a recession in 2008 and we had freedom of movement. Did the government invest the 3 billion tax paid by EU citizens into the areas where most of them were living to support and expand the infrastructure in the East and North East and other communities which were ignored and disenfranchised? You know the answer to this…..

On Selby Town Council’s website, it clearly states that they are “proud to live in a diverse and tolerant society. Racism and hate crimes have no place in our society.” So how about the inhabitants of Selby lead the way for the rest of our country to stand together with our fellow world citizens who have contributed so much to this country for decades, and demand that the government seriously reforms the Home Office’s monstrous Hostile Environment where families are separated and vulnerable children are left without one or none of their parents and families are split up. Utterly inhumane and shameful! 

Let’s build respect for each other again, save our planet for our children and grandchildren, break down barriers of hatred and dare to be one human race. Let’s respect our habitat which provides us with life, making use of our collective innovative brains to support this beautiful biodiverse earth and each other. Let’s focus on what really matters; we haven’t got long to save ourselves…. 

Saturday in Harrogate

Another fantastic day at Harrogate street stall with Yorks Remain Voice Choir. Lots of claps and cheers from smiling Remainers and loads of people took our new leaflets plugging Peoples Vote march. We even had group of passing German tourists joining in with choir for German language version of Ode to Joy!

Join Yorkshire for Europe Rally in support of our Parliament!

Yorkshire for Europe have booked a coach to Westminster for next Monday, Oct 7th – to show our unequivocal support for the courageous MPs working for our best interests.

Our unscrupulous,  self-serving PM and his cabal of extreme ideologues are prepared to sacrifice everything for their calamitous No Deal Brexit with no mandate to do so … and Parliament is all that’s standing in their way. After the momentous events of the past week, it’s vital that we show solidarity with our democratically-elected representatives … voted in by 32.3 million people! 

Book coach ticket for Westminster rally

As has been well documented, many MPs – including several from our region – have been threatened with death or violence by fanatical brexiteers. The inflammatory language used by the PM and his friends in the media can only make matters worse.

Yet this has not deterred those MPs working to avert the disaster of a cliff edge Brexit. They are portrayed as the enemies of the people but they are our friends and they deserve our support!  Next Monday, October 7th – a week earlier than originally planned –  supporters from across Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire will be travelling with the famous Yorkshire Remain Voice Choir, which attracted media coverage across the UK and around the world on our last trip several weeks ago.

Come and join us outside Parliament, support our MPs –  and remind the world’s media that Yorkshire does not want a catastrophic No Deal Brexit … or any other sort of Brexit! 

Tickets are just £25 rtn – and we’re picking up in Boroughbridge and Wetherby, as well as West and South Yorkshire. Find out more and book your tickets here

Flying the flag for Yorkshire

Johnson will suspend Parliament

Boris Johnson has confirmed that his Government will shut down Parliament today, Monday, 9 September. This move has caused outrage amongst opposition parties and the general public, with thousands of people protesting in towns and cities across the country when this plan was first announced.

There is a lack of support from many within his own party, with resignations increasing day by day. Amber Rudd MP is the latest cabinet minister to resign, claiming that she no longer believes that the Prime Minister is serious about getting a deal, citing no evidence of real negotiations taking place. She closely follows the Prime Minister’s brother, Joe Johnson MP, who resigned saying that he had to put the National Interest above family loyalty.

These are not the only prominent Conservatives appalled at Boris Johnson’s actions. Former Prime Minister, Sir John Major, said:

“I cannot imagine Mr Disraeli, Mr Gladstone, Mr Churchill or Mrs Thatcher even in their most difficult moments saying let us put parliament aside while I carry through this difficult policy that a part of my party disagrees with.” 

Meanwhile, Lord Heseltine has come out with a statement condemning the current Prime Ministers actions.

“The government’s decision to suspend parliament in order to force through a No Deal Brexit is a constitutional outrage. A government which is frightened of parliament is frightened of democracy. I hope that every member of parliament in feeling this humiliation will use every legal and constitutional weapon to obstruct a government proposing to force on the British people a historic change for which they have long since lost any mandate.  
“To abandon parliamentary scrutiny is a constitutional affront. My party, the one I have worked for all my life, told the British people about the new role that Britain could play in the world. Britain has helped to change Europe from Fascist and Communist dictatorships to Parliamentary democracies. And now I am told by the leader and the cabinet of that same party that we were all wrong – that we now must become some subordinate vassal state to the United States.
“This is outside anything I could ever have believed that the Conservative party would propose, and I hope that large numbers of Conservatives, as well as friends from other political traditions, will join together to resist it.”

Labour backs Remain!

Labour supporters at the Peoples Vote March, October 2018

After years of campaigning and internal pressure, Remain supporting members of the Labour party won a huge victory today with Jeremy Corbyn finally going on record to declare that Labour now demands a confirmatory vote on any deal or no-deal option, and that Labour would campaign to Remain.

Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour party said “Our members have been telling us for some time now that they want us to be a Remain party and that they want us to put the new deal to the people,”

“We’re now going to campaign for that and I’m very proud that the shadow cabinet have now listened to their concerns.”

A Labour bloc on the People’s march, organised by Remain Labour and the LabourSay campaign

Miriam Mirwitch, chair of Young Labour, welcomed the move, adding: “This vital shift shows that Labour is a party centred around democracy that has listened to what it’s members have wanted for some time: a People’s Vote in which Labour campaigns to Remain.”

The move is indeed a great victory for those within the Labour party that have worked so hard to keep opinion moving and whose work at the last Labour Conference and in Labour branches and CLP’s up and down the country has finally paid off. Groups such as Another Europe is Possible, Remain Labour, LabourSay, Open Labour and Labour for a Public Vote, amongst many others, can rightly be proud of what they have achieved today.

Remain Labour activists in Parliament Square

Whilst some might say that there is still some ambiguity in Labours stance, especially concerning a general election and what a future manifesto position might be, it is unarguable that the current position is that Labour backs a public vote on any deal in all circumstances. There is a slight possibility that IF a general election is called, and IF Labour win, that they may decide to try and renegotiate a deal, and IF they succeed, may call a vote on that Labour deal.

But regardless, a vote there will be, and, my friends, looking back to where we were just four months ago, I am happy with that. And, after the next three months of Labour members campaigning for a public vote and arguing the case for Remain – what odds that the Labour leadership can change tack once again and look towards a possible Lexit, without destroying any hopes of a GE win in the process? Slender, I think, and remote.

Today, Labour backs Remain, and we are that much closer to preventing the disaster that Brexit entails. Today, hope is winning.

A labour activist marching in London