Defending Labour MEP Alex Mayer brings her campaign to Suffolk
PUBLISHED: 05:30 16 May 2019
Labour's lead candidate to represent the East of England in the European Parliament after next week's elections joined party activists for a day of campaigning in Suffolk and north Essex.
Alex Mayer has been an MEP for two years after succeeding Richard Howitt as the party's East of England representative at Strasbourg and Brussels.
And while few expected the elections to go ahead a few months ago, Ms Mayer is hoping to retain her seat . . . and stay in Europe for some time.
During an afternoon canvassing session in Ipswich between trips to Bury St Edmunds and Colchester, she said: "We are standing as MEPs at least until Halloween - the end of October - and some of us hope for a great deal longer than that.
"At the last European election the East of England voted for three UKIP MEPs, three Conservatives who are all in favour of Brexit which leaves me as the only Remain voice from the region in the parliament."
Labour has come under criticism from some political observers - and some of its own supporters - for having an unclear European strategy.
MPs from seats in the north of England where there was a strong leave vote in 2016 are resisting calls to back a second referendum - but members from London and other large cities which did vote Remain say the party should back such a move.
Ms Mayer said she had voted Remain, and still wanted the UK to stay in the EU.
The Remain vote has become fractured with Liberal Democrats, Change UK, and the Green Party all backing a second referendum. Polls suggest they are all snapping at the heels of the two big parties although Nigel Farage's Brexit Party seems to be in the lead.
Ms Mayer is trying to attract votes away from the Green Party: "We say that Climate Change is the biggest challenge we face and we need to tackle this on a local, national, and international level.
"We have been very strong on environmental protection in the European Parliament and will continue to press on that - but there are also other policies that are important to us. If you vote Labour you can have it all."
Voting for the European Parliament is next Thursday from 7am to 10pm. However the election results are not announced immediately because some countries vote at the weekend. Britain's votes are counted and announced on Sunday evening, May 26.