The Mayor of Bristol invoked Martin Luther King to warn about Brexit


Politicians running the Brexit campaign do not have the best interests of the British people in mind, according to the Mayor of Bristol.

Marvin Rees used a Martin Luther King speech from 1967 to allude to the kind of policies he feels Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and co support.

He said: "Martin Luther King back in 1967, a year to the day before he was shot, gave a speech called A Time to Break The Silence, which everyone should read. He said there will come a day when corporations invest in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and extract their profit with no regard for the welfare of the people. Now, some of those kinds of policies are being brought back to the UK.

"I would say that the Brexit move is being led by a bunch of people who are sympathetic to those policies, but are playing it through on the idea of getting our sovereignty back."

Speaking outside Bristol's City Hall, Rees added: "What you are doing is you are handing the power in the UK to people who support non-intervention in free markets, so don't be fooled by that one. Don't give it back to the British aristocracy.

"We have a lot of safeguards in Europe, it's not a perfect collection, it's not a perfect organisation, but it offers some safeguards."

Rees, a Labour politician, became Britain's first directly elected black mayor earlier this year when he beat then-mayor George Ferguson.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn went to visit and offer his support to Rees during the campaign, and was in Bristol to congratulate him on the day of his victory. There appears to be plenty of common ground between the two.

Jeremy Corbyn and Marvin Rees in Bristol

Rees suggested low-income households and individuals leaning towards a vote to leave are right to be frustrated, but that the blame should be laid on government austerity, not Europe.

"The strength of the Brexit argument amongst people whose interests are not served by Brexit is a judgment on the way we've done economic development in the past," said Rees.

"Those people who are vulnerable to people making the Brexit argument on the basis that they've not been served by our economy are quite right. They haven't been served by our economy.

"I think it's a judgment on austerity too, because those people who are vulnerable to the Brexit argument on the basis of defending our public services are quite right. We haven't defended our public services - because we've gone through a whole culture of austerity that's ripping the heart out of government service and actually leaving me with the shortfalls in finance in local government I'm facing now.

"Brexit has shown us the fragility and the weakness of our country. The lesson we need to learn and the opportunity we have (if Britain votes to remain) is to turn that around and begin to make sure that business and government pursue a way of doing economic development that is much more inclusive, and make sure people realise they have a stake in our country. An economic stake and a political stake, not just saying you share in some vague national narrative."

And as for the leaders of the Brexit movement, Rees suggested they're "pretending to be the voice of the workers".

"It's incumbent upon government to begin defending our public services and reinvesting in public services," said Rees.

"Because clearly that's been a weak point in our society, and that has fed into the desire to give a kicking to whatever the 'establishment' is. It's a vague idea. What we have is a bunch of people who are the establishment pretending not to be the establishment - Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Liam Fox, Farage. They're all establishment characters running around pretending to be the voice of the workers and they're not."