‘Rise in community tensions’ in Doncaster if ‘intellectual giants’ in Parliament delay or scrap Brexit says Labour’s Tosh McDonald

Town ward councillor Tosh McDonald
Town ward councillor Tosh McDonald

A rise in community tensions across Doncaster could develop if the ‘intellectual giants’ in Parliament delay or scrap Brexit, a councillor has said.

Labour Town ward councillor Tosh McDonald said people will see their ‘democratic right being taken away from them’ if the process is delayed.

His comments came at a special meeting to discuss the council’s preparations for Brexit as the UK seeks to leave the European Union by March 29.

Coun McDonald, a key ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Brexit supporter, said far right groups were already tapping into discontent over the process.

The union boss also praised officers around their preparations for Brexit but raised concern around tensions moving forward.

“It’s good to come here and listen to people talk about Brexit which isn’t all doom and gloom but my fear is what happens when Brexit is delayed or even worse, when it doesn’t happen bearing in mind the large majority of people in Doncaster voted to leave the EU.

“We’re already seeing some pretty nasty (far right) groups trying to win these people who voted leave across. I don’t think the majority of people in Doncaster are being properly represented.

“Community tensions is where I see the problem if the intellectual giants in Parliament decide that we’re not going to leave or delay the process. People will see there democratic right being taken away from them.

“That’s where I see tensions coming from the people of Doncaster that I speak to.”

Gill Gilles, assistant director of environment at Doncaster Council, said: “In terms of the contingency plans that we have in place, we are confident we can adapt and be pretty flexible if we stay in the EU or not.

"We work closely with elected members and there are pathways for councillors to speak to us, to the local police and community teams about perceived issues and tensions within the community.

“Our plans are not just something we make up in an office somewhere – they should be reflective of the different demographics and we look at the vulnerabilities of communities and what they may need going forward.

“I’m not suggesting there won’t be challenges but we have flexibility in those plans.”