Greens elect new co-leaders and vow to become Britain’s ‘third political party’
Jonathan Bartley and Sian Berry said they plan to drive a distinct path through politics at a turbulent time.
The Green Party will provide an “antidote to Ukip” while opposing “vacuous old-school centrism”, its new co-leaders have said after their election by a landslide in a ballot of members.
Jonathan Bartley and Sian Berry said they had ambitions for the party to become Britain’s “third political party” by driving a distinct path through politics at a turbulent time.
Their election, announced on Tuesday, means the Greens in England and Wales will continue with a joint leadership, after Mr Bartley and the party’s only MP Caroline Lucas shared the helm for the past two years.
We are the antidote to Ukip, shifting the debate in the right direction, standing up unequivocally for refugees and migrants, saying we need to be a welcoming country Jonathan Bartley
Mr Bartley laid into the Labour Party, accusing it of “hand-wringing” over Brexit and having “no real clear sense of direction for the country” on issues including HS2, nuclear power, nuclear weapons and voting reform to a proportional representation system.
He also took a swipe at pro-Brexit nationalists, adding: “We are the antidote to Ukip, shifting the debate in the right direction, standing up unequivocally for refugees and migrants, saying we need to be a welcoming country.
“The vacuous old-school centrism is not going to deliver that.”
The pair easily saw off challenges from rivals, scooping 6,239 of the 8,379 votes cast, against 1,466 for Shahrar Ali and 495 for Leslie Rowe.
The new co-leaders pledged to put the party on course to supplant the Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party and said they aim to get a Green into every council chamber.
The Green leaders backed a second referendum on Brexit that includes an option to remain in the EU.
They also believe that the franchise should be extended to all of those aged over 16.
Mr Bartley has led the opposition on Lambeth Borough Council in south London since being elected a councillor in May this year.
Ms Berry, who came third in the race to become mayor of London in 2016, was elected a London Assembly Member the same year and has been a Camden councillor since 2014.
She said the party had shown it had “a very clear, distinct voice”.
Ms Berry added: “The last thing the country needs right now is a new centrist party.
“If anyone launches such a thing they will find a very low appetite for that.
“People want politics with passion, they want people to actually stand for something, pick a side. That is what we do as the Greens.”
The leadership elections also saw Amelia Womack re-elected for a third term as deputy leader, taking 3,981 out of 7,369 votes.