THE Green Party candidate for St Helens North has called Brexit a "sideshow", saying he is prioritising the climate emergency in his campaign.

David van der Burg, who was elected as a Green councillor for Haydock ward in May, is contesting the seat held by Labour's Conor McGinn in the general election.

In their manifesto the Green Party of England and Wales are campaigning for £100bn a year to be spent on tackling the "climate emergency".

READ MORE > What voters in St Helens are saying about the general election

Asked how the message translates on the doorstep, Mr van der Burg said: "There is the difficult bit persuading people that there is an emergency going on.

"Some people are already convinced, the evidence is there and actually convincing people to do something about it right now is more difficult.

“You get a lot of inertia. People say what about China or India? I can’t do anything about China or India and I can’t do anything about China or India. All I can do is ask people to change their minds round here and from a parliamentary point of view the government can do a lot and to encourage industry very quickly to de-carbonise.

“In some sense St Helens can help as well, we have a reserve here of engineering expertise that is being lost in the past 20 years as Pilkington's shrinks and as we lost the Vulcan Works.

“But this is a place with an engineering and industrial heritage and it strikes me that all these giant warehouses that are being built, some of them can be converted and re-tooled for use in green technologies and actually producing solar panels and wind turbines.”

St Helens Star:

David van der Burg

On Brexit, Mr van der Burg says he believes a negotiated deal should be put to the people in another referendum but says the issue of Britain's membership of the EU is a "sideshow".

He added: “Brexit to me is a sideshow. Our policy is to have a confirmatory referendum once a deal has got through Parliament which I am happy with. I don’t really have a position either way because it is basically a sideshow.

"It doesn’t matter if we are in or out of the European Union if the planet becomes uninhabitable in 50 or 100 years."

St Helens voted 58 per cent to 42 per cent to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum and there has been frustration from many voters as the Brexit deadline was extended as the parliamentary gridlock continued.

Asked what he would say to those voters, Mr van der Burg said: “We won’t let you down, you will get another referendum. In 2016 you were just asked, do you want to stay, do you want to leave? Both sides lied all the way through the campaign.

“There are benefits to staying in the EU, those haven’t really been set out properly.

“We all know an awful lot more about it three and a half years later, we’ve seen parliament can’t agree on it, the country’s still hugely divided on it so what we need to do is whoever gets elected, we get to a deal that can be agreed and put that back to a confirmatory referendum and that would put it to bed.

“I know a lot of people who voted leave think there should never be another referendum, I don’t agree. I think there was not enough information and too many lies on both sides in 2016 and I think people are an awful lot better informed nowadays about the consequences of leaving and the consequences of staying."