Britain talks: Get talking on the things that keep us together

EARLIER this month the Daily Express launched BritainTalks – our plan to bring our divided nation back together over a nice cup of tea. Our research showed that the continuing Brexit crisis has left much of Britain split into opposing camps. And not just over whether to deliver the EU vote. Divisions are getting deeper between young and old, residents of towns and cities, between England and Scotland, in Northern Ireland and over welfare benefits, immigration and animal rights.

But it’s also clear that people are keen to heal those divisions – 82 per cent of those we surveyed told us that you long for a more united Britain.

Which is why the Daily Express is joining with other Reach PLC newspapers to ask readers to sign up to meet someone local to you – but with different opinions – to have a constructive conversation.

BritainTalks will team up people to have chats over tea or coffee on the weekend of June 23, the third anniversary of the Brexit vote.

This would also have been the 45th birthday weekend of murdered Labour MP Jo Cox, which will be marked by the Great Get Together, a programme of street parties and events throughout the country to celebrate Jo’s belief that we have “more in common than that which divides us”.

Britain Talks will be at Great Get Together events in London, Newcastle, Leeds, Birmingham, Hull and Reading, with more venues to be announced.

Therefore, on June 23 we’re asking you to have a difficult conversation. We don’t want you to agree with the other person unless you want to. We just want you to converse – to really listen to each other.

Maybe you will find something in common, maybe not. Maybe you’ll make a new friend, maybe not. Maybe you’ll even want to tell us all about it.

But whatever happens, you will have shown the courage to step outside your comfort zone.

So please fill in the form over on the left and send it in to us – or alternatively you can sign up online at

I hoped Jo’s murder would lead to more compassion. I refuse to give up that hope

By Kim Leadbeater

MY SISTER Jo was a great campaigner for all the things she believed in so passionately.Tragically she was murdered in the middle of the Brexit referendum campaign while out doing her job as an MP in the town where we were both brought up.

That was three years ago. But if the country felt split then, those divisions feel even deeper and more bitter today.

Jo would have hated that. She was all about bringing people and communities together.

As she famously said, “we are far more united and have more in common than that which divides us”.

Jo was Labour but she was more than ready to work with Tories or anybody else to get things done on the issues she cared about.Whether it was the scourge of loneliness or the plight of civilians caught up in the fighting in Syria and elsewhere.

Today the Jo Cox Foundation is announcing details of this year’s Great Get Together which aims to put the values Jo lived by into practice. By coincidence the events – over the weekend of June 21-23 – will be taking place on the third anniversary of the Brexit referendum itself.

It’s also the date when readers of the Daily Express and its sister publications are being urged to help bring the nation back together over a cup of tea with Britain Talks.

I’m delighted that we’re teaming up to encourage as many people as possible to get together with someone they may not always see eye-to-eye with. Sit down, have a cuppa or a bite to eat. Enjoy a BBQ or a sporting event. Get talking and you’ll probably discover that you really do have more in common than you might think.

Great Get Togethers will be taking place all across the country.And at some of them there will be a special corner set aside for Britain Talks conversations. It’s what I think the country is crying out for.

There’s going to be a lot more campaigning going on over the next few weeks and months. Healthy debate is what living in a democracy is all about. But I believe that we can have those disagreements in a respectful way without language that is threatening or intimidating.

Nobody in public life should feel in danger or be too scared to speak their mind. Freedom of speech is one of the foundations of our great country.

Working hand in hand, I believe the Great Get Together and Britain Talks can help heal some of the divisions that have scarred this country of late.

I had hoped the reaction to Jo’s murder would lead to a more compassionate politics and stronger communities. Instead it feels like things have got worse.

I refuse to give up that hope, however. We can all make a difference. For me it’s about trying to create a legacy for Jo and her children that we can all be proud of. It’s not too late to start planning a Great Get Together where you live and I really hope you’ll join us.

You can find more information and register your events on June 21-23 here: Thank you for your support.

Kim Leadbeater is sister of Jo Cox, MP

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