14 June 2016
JONATHAN Bartley, the Green Party's Work and Pensions spokesperson has challenged Iain Duncan Smith to publicly debate the impact of Brexit on the UK's ten million disabled people.
Jonathan Bartley, who successfully exposed the former Work and Pensions Secretary over the suicides of benefit claimants during a live TV debate at the 2015 general election, says that leaving the European Union would mean the loss of dozens of important disabled rights and vital support for disabled people.
Bartley will be supporting disabled campaigners at the Supreme Court tomorrow morning as they make their case for improved transport accessibility (1).
"Iain Duncan Smith should come clean about the hugely detrimental impact that leaving the EU would have on disabled people. I will debate this with him, any place, and at any time before the referendum on 23rd June.
"Non discrimination measures to protect disabled people are written into dozens of treaties, directives and strategies at the European level on goods and services, access and independent living.
"It is for example EU rules on accessible vehicles and provision of assistance on all forms of public transport, which mean that those bodies who do not provide for equal access can now be taken through the courts.
"The EU also provides millions in social funds to promote and enact support for disabled people. These funds would be taken away if we leave, and a Tory government which has already scrapped the UK's own Independent Living Fund will not replace them."
(1) Jonathan Bartley will be outside the Supreme Court tomorrow at 9.00am with disabled campaigners, highlighting a case has wide implications for wheelchair users who want to travel by bus. Wheelchair-user Doug Paulley successfully sued First Bus Group in 2013 after he had been denied access to one of their buses because a bus driver didn’t enforce priority in the wheelchair space and a buggy owner refused to make room for him. But this decision was overturned by the Appeal Court in November 2014. The Supreme Court will now reconsider the case. If the original verdict in Mr Paulley’s favour is upheld by the Supreme Court, then the requirement in law to give a wheelchair/mobility scooter user access to the wheelchair space will be absolutely undeniable, and all bus companies will have to enforce it.