UK Politics

Green Party leader calls for 'pernicious' Home Office to be abolished

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Media caption"The oceans are rising but so are we"

The Green Party's co-leader is calling for the Home Office to be scrapped in a radical shake-up of immigration policy.

Jonathan Bartley said the department was "pernicious" in its treatment of people and a new Ministry for Sanctuary should oversee a "fairer" system.

In a speech to his party conference, he warned of a "new authoritarianism" in Britain and said he was "ashamed of what our country has become".

Only the Greens could deal with the injustices that led to Brexit, he said.

Addressing activists on the first day of the Green Party conference in Newport, Mr Bartley also called for free bus travel in England, and for all future laws passed by Parliament to be measured against their environmental impact on the next generation.

The party, which opposes Brexit and supports another referendum, has only one MP in Westminster, Caroline Lucas, but performed strongly in council and European elections earlier this year.

'Green wave'

In his speech, Mr Bartley - who shares the leadership with Sian Berry - said a "green wave was sweeping the continent and we are surfing it in England and Wales".

Paying tribute to climate protesters, including Extinction Rebellion, who he said had made the future of the planet a political imperative, he said the "oceans are rising but so are we".

Outlining a "radical plan" to revamp government and the economy, he said the Home Office should be scrapped and its responsibilities shared between two new departments.

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Image caption All bus travel should be free in England and Wales, Mr Bartley said

While the Ministry for Sanctuary would be in charge of immigration policy, the Ministry for the Interior would have responsibility for law and order.

The changes, he said, were needed to address the "austerity, inequality and political exclusion" which he said had contributed to the Brexit vote.

"We would abolish the pernicious Home Office because transformation of our country demands a system that is truly representative of and fair to everyone," he said.

While his party opposed Brexit, he said it would not be joining the Liberal Democrats in calling for Article 50 to be revoked, which would end the process entirely.

Welcoming Labour's "late" conversion to the idea of another referendum on Brexit, he said only the people could settle the issue of the UK's future in Europe.

"If we want to stay in Europe, we must win the argument over Europe," he said.

"If they (the government) were on the side of the people they would trust the people, and give the people a people's vote"

'Climate chancellor'

He called for the a total overhaul of the economy to deal with the climate emergency, saying policy-makers "must do what the science demands not what is deemed politically possible".

His key environmental proposals include:

  • Introducing a carbon tax to fund investments in renewable energy.
  • Scrapping the HS2 rail line and investing £70bn in local transport networks
  • Phasing out petrol and diesel cars by 2030
  • Installing a "Climate Chancellor" so all decisions are judged on environmental impact
  • Passing a Future Generations Act which would require the needs of young people to be taken into account before every government decision

"This can be a new start," he concluded. "We need a decisive break from business as usual, and we are ready to make the leap.

"The Green Party has always been on the right side of history. The time is now to shape our future."

Ms Berry, who is running to be Mayor of London, will address the three-day event on Sunday.