All along, we’ve been promised that we’ll secure a deal, that we’ll turn the car around before the cliff edge, and that the EU will ‘change their mind.’ With the decision to prorogue Parliament the prospect of a no-deal Brexit becomes an ever-starker reality.
No deal Brexit will have a catastrophic impact on our colleges and universities. Our priorities remain safeguarding peace in Northern Ireland, maintaining membership of Erasmus + and Horizon 2020, securing a fresh vote on any deal which is agreed, and securing the rights of our EU student and apprentice members. Beyond this material campaign the move to close Parliament today speaks to a wider point in our democracy.
You’ll often read about students’ unions as free-speech shutting, snowflake enabling, last bastions of the closed shop. The irony is not lost on us that as these same people choose to leave it is now up to us as students to lead. Today, we face a national crisis, and it’s important we speak out against it as a movement.
As a matter of urgency I will shortly be speaking to colleagues and your elected representatives in NUS on our next steps. It seems unthinkable to even have to say this but our priority must be applying pressure on MPs to fulfil the basic constitutional duties of representing their constituents.
I will be writing to the Prime Minister setting out our concerns and then meeting with other politicians, principals, vice chancellors, trade unions, leaders of civil society, to make it clear that we stand ready to play our party in building the biggest coalition possible in stopping no deal.
In particular, as this plays out in your institutions and on your campuses I want students to know that NUS has their back. We will fight to protect the rights of every EU student who is unsure of their future, of every student in Northern Ireland who knows more about borders and Brexit than the leaders we can no longer believe, and we will defend democracy and the right of people to be heard, in doing so defending our future in Europe and the rights of our members.
I will publish my letter to the Prime Minister shortly, but in the meantime I would ask that you contact your local MP and ask that they do everything in their power to keep Parliament open. There is a petition you can sign here.
Zamzam Ibrahim, NUS National President