A motion calling for Brexit to be stopped were thrown out by Worthing councillors last night (Tuesday October 22).
Before the meeting anti-Brexit demonstrators gathered on the steps outside the town hall, with Tory councillor Sean McDonald holding his own one-man pro-Brexit demonstration opposite.
The motion, which would have asked the leader of the council to write to the Prime Minister and urge him to stop Brexit, only received two votes in support.
An EU flag was draped over the public gallery before the meeting, while Lib Dem Bob Smytherman was heckled for wearing an EU-themed beret in the council chamber.
Martin McCabe (LDem, Tarring), who proposed the motion, said: “Brexit is really bad for Worthing and we need to stand against it.”
But Cllr McDonald (Con, Northbrook) suggested the motion was defunct as minutes earlier a majority of MPs had backed Boris Johnson’s deal with the EU.
He added: “It’s completely and utterly irrelevant now.”
Dawn Smith (Lab, Broadwater) also opposed the motion. She explained: “I can’t support it because asking the leader of the council to vote to stop Brexit is going against democracy.
“People did vote to leave. I voted remain but I respect people wanted the option to leave.”
At a national level she felt a good compromise would be to give people a choice to either remain or back a deal ‘where we have a lot more information’.
Seconding the motion Cllr Smytherman (LDem, Tarring) said: “If a democracy can’t change its mind it ceases to be a democracy.”
He felt it was right that community leaders had an opportunity to debate such an important issue and argued Brexit would be ‘hugely damaging’ to Worthing.
However his beret appeared to garner more attention than his speech.
Paul High (Con, Heene) said: “To wear a cap in this chamber is discourteous to the badge above your head madam mayor.”
One Tory called it ‘ghastly’ and another shouted: “It’s pretty horrible Bob.”
Afterwards Cllr McCabe said: “Worthing is at the Brexit cliff edge. People are worried. That’s why so many people turned up to our remain rally today.
“It’s just so sad to see UKIP, Labour and the Tories all unite in the council chamber to call for Brexit. The pro-Brexit back slapping between the three parties was embarrassing.
“Brexit is going to damage our town. Worthing Liberal Democrats will keep giving our council the opposition it needs and calling for an open, tolerant town that is proud to be European.”