Lee Sibley is a level 3 business student at Gloucestershire College and has been featured in local and international media, appearing The Sun, Metro and others for campaigning to ban Homework whilst still at school. Lee has also lobbied MPs on protecting the countryside and continues to do so.
Lee is sixteen years of age and lives in Gloucester. His concern for the countryside came when bike riding, walking and visiting places, realising that areas of great outstanding natural beauty are being subjected to intense pressure from development with little or no protection.
His interest in politics is long-standing and he plans to work in environmental protection and at some point the future may consider standing for parliament.

Brexit: Epic Fail or Big Success?

November 8, 2018

However one dresses it up (or undresses it), Brexit is not and will not be a failure, as some would have us believe.

   I would suggest that it is, and will be, a great success, and will be because for it to happen, meant that the British people took part in a democratic vote, the result being, as we know, a clear decision to leave the European Union (EU). Whatever supporters of one view or the other say, there were no lies told. When it came to the vote itself, there was no collusion with any non-UK organisation or other body and the referendum asked one simple question: remain in or leave the EU?

   One can have any opinion one likes about where the campaign money came from but the referendum itself was carried out according to Law and the electoral rules governing such events, including that of funding. Yet over the past few days we have seen news reports on Aaron Banks, the Leave.EU group founder and one of, if not the, biggest donor to UKIP, suggesting that he lied and cheated over his donations. So who exactly has accused him of lying?

   Some Remainers certainly have but he appears to openly welcome investigations into his affairs, yet there are numerous users of social media platforms saying that he has much to hide. Should anybody be jumping to conclusions? No, not at all. Until or unless Banks is actually found to have committed some offence of some kind, he is not guilty and should, and must, be treated that way.

   Brexit will be a success as the UK will regain complete control of its borders instead of the part-control it now has, in that although we can deny entry to anybody without an EU country passport, we cannot deny entry to any EU country’s citizens. The UK will also regain compete control over our laws and how we interpret them, instead again of having to bow to EU law, which is not voted upon democratically, but imposed by an unelected group of people nobody has ever heard of. Brexit will also be a success because we will no longer have to pay billions to Brussels without getting anything back.

   ‘Hang on a moment’, I hear you say. ‘What about all those things that are directly funded by the EU in the UK?’ Fair question - except for the fact that the amount of money that comes into the UK from the EU in such funding is a very small fraction of what we pay to be a member – that money could be given directly to those same recipients without the extra cost of EU membership to begin with. Not having to pay the high cost of membership also means extra money being available to the NHS. We have a crippled education system that needs fixing (I’m still in it – I should know), so extra funding as a result of no EU costs could mean additional teachers and other resources for schools. There are a number of things that the money spent on EU membership can be used for once we are free of that cost.

   The real big question over Brexit is not whether or not the UK can stand on its own two feet; of course it can. The UK stood on its own for centuries before the EU was even thought of. The question is whether or not the UK really will leave under Theresa May. 17.4 million people voted to leave and their voices are not being heard, their voices are not being listened to. Although the result of the referendum was a clear majority in favour of leaving, the numbers who voted to remain were still significant so their concerns must be addressed and they are being heard – which is one of the problems. Far too much is made of the remain campaign and too little given to leave. Some newspapers and other mainstream media give a huge amount of coverage to remain and that includes coverage of the young – like me. Most news reports quote teenagers saying they want to remain yet none, apparently, wanting to stay. I’m a teenager, and I want my country to leave. Why has nobody asked me, especially since I was also too young to vote as well?

   Returning to the question of Aaron Banks and the investigation into where his donation came from, one of the other aspects to the skewed coverage of this is that under David Cameron and George Osborne, the government spent a huge amount of taxpayers money sending leaflets to every household in the country saying why we must vote to remain. Hardly impartial, was it? Not only that, but former US President Barack Obama duly obliged Cameron by telling the British people that the UK would be ‘at the back of the queue’ when it came to a trade deal with the US.

   Obama’s use of words was briefly questioned at one point but Americans do not use the word ‘queue’. They simply say ‘line’ instead, as in ‘the back of the line’. Had Obama said it that way and not used the British term, his words might have been less open to question but why is it that Cameron and Osborne’s open bias has not been questioned in the same way that Banks has?

   Barack Obama is of course, not US President any more and his comments are even more strange if one considers that at the time of his visit to the UK, he, along with everybody else, knew fine well that his term as President was coming to an end. Which meant that he had no right to tell the UK where we would be when in came to doing a trade deal – and his successor, Donald Trump, seems to want to put the UK first, not last.

   So will Theresa May lead Great Britain out of the EU? She is known for being a remainer but she has consistently said that the UK will indeed, leave. Even so, the doubts are still there. Will any deal she makes really give the UK back its independence? We don’t know – yet. Would Jeremy Corbyn be any different? I don’t believe he would. He has, until recently, always been a Euro-sceptic but seems now to want to sit on the fence and say whatever he thinks he needs to say in order to stay on as Labour leader and become Prime Minister. What about Boris Johnson? Johnson again says all the right things for brexiteers and is very voter-friendly. His resignation from the government however seemed a little staged but at the moment, for most leavers he seems to tick the right boxes.

   What of students? Despite the negative coverage, there are more students supporting Brexit that one might think, including me, and I believe that leaving the EU will benefit our future.

   I support Brexit simply because I have grown up and am growing up, in a country where the important decisions that will affect me are not made in my country, by people that I will be able to vote for (or vote against), but are made by people I know nothing about and have no influence over.


© Lee Sibley 2018.


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Green Fields – a future or none?

For decades the United Kingdom of Great Britain has been famous for it’s natural beauty. Written of by countless poets and authors, painted and photographed by even more, this timeless wonder is under threat in a way that has never been seen until now. That beauty however, is declining at a dramatic rate and successive Governments (both Conservative and Labour) seem not to care about an issue that will impact not only on society today but on future generations as well.

Since we have democratic representation in the UK, I contacted my local MP, Labour’s David Drew, and his reply indicated support for the cause of the countryside; in three month’s time the Agricultural bill will be debated and he will be adding my concerns to it. This of course, is great, but will it be enough?

Farming has declined markedly in recent years for a number of reasons, one being the intense pressure from supermarket chains to get prices down. This translates in to a low purchase price for produce paid to farmers, to the point where some are forced to sell their harvested crop for less than it cost to grow to begin with. With no big cash reserves to subsidise a price war, that’s a fast way to closure for small farms. The big chains however, know fine well that with their financial muscle, they do have the cash needed to keep going whenever there is pressure on prices. The result is that an increasing number of farmers are giving in, giving up and selling up.

The problem is that what then becomes an unused farm is now redundant land; with no planning permission for housing on that land, it is worth very little so is bought by property developers for next to nothing compared to what they will later get when houses are built by them and sold by them.

Much is made by politicians of the need for more housing and often, their comments are aimed at young people, people just like me, but as somebody still in my teens, it is my generation, as well as those coming after me, that will suffer the loss of the green fields of England, not to mention those around the rest of the UK.

Whether greenbelt land is built on for houses or used for fracking (or for anything else), the end result is the same – a country that will look like the planet in the Star Wars movies that is completely built over, with not a tree or field to be seen.

I am of course, not the only one who thinks of our disappearing countryside but in what seems to be becoming a mad rush to build more houses, and on greenbelt land, nobody appears to be thinking about the continuing loss of plant life. It may be very easy to shrug and dismiss a line of trees but think of this; in Kevan James’ excellent book, Comments of a Common Man, (Amazon £9.99) he includes a chapter on Grenfell Tower and the wisdom, or rather lack of it, on how and where we build housing. He writes:


…where does the oxygen produced by plant life come from when there are no plants because the ground is covered by the never-ending growth in population (a population that breathes out the poison that the plants need to produce oxygen that we need)? It is humanity’s eternal dilemma; keep breeding, keep filling the available space, keep building high and keep dying because of it. Yet elsewhere in this very book, I made the point that there are alternatives, that there is space in which to build homes. If that is, we care to look for them and use them with thought and care.


He is of course, right when he points out that we, the human species, breath out toxic fumes, then used by plant life to produce the fresh air we need to breathe in – and if there is no oxygen, we die.

Sadly we in the UK are not alone however. Published in the journal, Nature, a recent study by Queensland University revealed that in the last twenty years, the world has lost wilderness land the size of India – 1.2 million square miles of land in which plant and animal life previously flourished. Researcher James Allen said that such areas need protection as they are the habitat for wildlife and help protect the planet; forests for example, absorb the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. The University’s Professor James Watson added, ‘A century ago, only 15 per cent of the Earth’s surface was used…Today, more than 77 per cent of the land – excluding Antarctica – and 87 per cent of the ocean has been modified by…human activities’.

Since so much of the earth has already been used, why do we have to build on green fields in the UK (and elsewhere)? The answer is money – and lots of it. Brownfield land is that which has already been developed but is now unused. Land like this had previously been the site of, for example, factories, and as such is often contaminated land. By what is something else, but whatever the contamination (and how much of it there may or may not be) it costs more to make it suitable for housing and before a brick is laid. Right there is the problem; property developers are greedy so do not want to spend money decontaminating brownfield sites when they can acquire farmland for almost nothing by comparison – and the profits made by house builders are huge, particularly given the stupidly-high prices now demanded of those wanting to buy their own home (or rent it).

One possible solution might be legislation to prevent building on greenbelt land and with that in mind, I started a petition on change.org. In addition, and among others, I contacted Conservative MP Richard Graham. He replied with the following:


Dear Lee, Thanks for this. I understand the spirit behind it, and love our countryside as much as the next man – I was brought up on a small holding - but I absolutely do not agree that we need ‘to create legislation which stops any more building’. We need a lot more houses which would provide our children and grandchildren with a much greater chance of getting on the housing ladder. Yes brown field first where possible: but some green fields in our country will be used for homes, and rightly so. Best regards, Richard


Politicians are notorious for not thinking ahead, but only of their immediate and short-term requirements, and of course, looking good in newspaper headlines, hence the comment about children and grandchildren. It’s a sound-bite that is currently very popular among those who live in the Westminster bubble, insulated from the reality of life and the consequences of their actions. Such thinking is a betrayal of future generations, who will have to live with, and try to clear up, the mess being made today. That includes people like me. Yes we do need more housing but it cannot and must not be at the expense of our rapidly disappearing countryside. Because it is people like me who will be around in forty and fifty years time who will have to live with those consequences.

You can find the petitions at the following addresses:

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/create-legislation-to-stop-any-more-building-on-the-greenland-land-and-the-countryside-we-have-left

https://www.change.org/p/theresa-may-mp-protect-rural-england

© Lee Sibley 2018.

If you want to say something about my articles, either agreeing or disagreeing, please use the ‘Get-In-Touch’ form at the bottom of the home page and send it to kjmtoday for publication on the ‘Reader’s Comments’ page. kjmtoday.com will not promise to publish everybody’s comments and you must include your real name and address but these can be withheld if you ask.

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