Miguel Teixeira (MT): Tiago Corais, how could a “Portuguese” who has lived in UK so few years be elected Councillor in a city with the historical and cultural relevance as Oxford in such a short time?
Indeed, I also think that in four years I have been able to accomplish many things, not just politics, but family and professionals too. Oxford is a multicultural and diverse city where everyone feels at home. The Labour in UK is the party works for represents all the communities and for all of them have succeed in their integration, respecting their values, costumes and traditions. Therefore the integration is made in two-way or rather we acquire part of the British Culture and British people acquire part of ours culture.
Another fundamental factor for my election as a City Councillor is that the process of choosing candidates in the Labour Party is transparent to all members and the way they choose the candidates is from the bottom to the top. For being Labour candidate have to be member of the party at least six months and want to be the candidate. Then we have to fill the forms and make the statement to introduce ourselves and the reason why we want to be Labour candidate. The Labour Party has a panel of three experience members who will make an interview to all members would like to be selected as a Labour Candidate. The purpose of the interview is to be aware if the candidates really share the Labour values, if they are qualify for the job, if their participation in the Party gives assurances that their performance as a Councillor will follow Labour standards and for being sure that they have no situation that could compromise the Labour Party. If after the interview they passed they can choose the ward(s) which they want to be selected from their members of the branch as a Labour City Councillor candidate.
For increasing my probability to be chosen I chose five wards where I will try to be selected it. I lost the first two wards and I was selected on the third ward which was my first choice because it is where I live. Therefore I can say I elected Oxford City Councillor because I want it and gave step forward.
(MT): What is the role of the City Councillor in the UK political system? What are their competencies and responsibilities?
The competencies and responsibilities of City Councillor are similar as in Portugal: planning, licensing, recycling and waste management. The difference is the concept of the local politician. The City Councillor is considered a voluntary role which is not a full time and hasn’t got salary. The role is pay by allowance defined from an independent panel. Almost the Oxford City Councillors have a professional activity that accumulates with the councillor. The idea is the Councillors make the Political decisions and the staff of the City Council implement it. All the staffs are independent of the parties.
Another thing it important in the role of the City Councillor is to hear the concerns of the residents of their ward and resolve it. For example the next day I was elected City Councillor one resident send me an email complain about the dog fouling in his road. I will have to contact the authorities and persuade the residents in his area for changing their behaviours.
Also we are advised to be part of the board of associations or charities. Being a City Councillor is fundamental being close to our communities and being our interlocutor.
(MT): What will your priorities be as City Councillor in your mandate? What politics will you develop for improve the quality of life in Oxford and for the residents in Littlemore?
I pretend in my mandate represent everyone in every part of Littlemore being proactive in listening their problems and suggestions.
The affordable housing is the top issues in UK and it is worse in Oxford. Oxford is considered the less affordable housing in UK. Therefore I will do everything I can to build more quality and affordable houses.
Also I work for more frequent buses in Littlemore and campaign to re-open the Cowley branch line passengers.
As European and Oxford City Councillor I would like to have influence for changing the approach of the Brexit. I love to live in UK and I want a great future for this country. In my opinion UK hasn’t got any plan for Brexit. Without a plan and a strategy Brexit will be a disastrous for this country. As European I hope to be an active voice in Brexit and special I hope to help Oxford remain a strong connection with the European Union.
(MT): How do you think your election could be important for the Portuguese and other European Citizens have a better integration in Oxford and in UK?
As I said above Oxford is a multicultural and diverse city that everyone comes here feel welcome. In the European referendum in Oxford 70% supported remain in EU and 30% of the residents were born outside the UK. The Oxford City Council for responding against Brexit and for giving a message that all non-British Europeans are welcome and that Oxford is their home created the Oxford European Association. Therefore my election and my French colleague Nadine Bely-Summers as City Councillors represent the reinforcement of Oxford’s “DNA” as a diverse, inclusive and open city to the world.
(MT): What do you do for your electors following your political work?
For the residents in Littlemore following my work I remain the same frequency of the door-knocking to listening their concerns and suggestion as Oxford Labour has done. Also I would like to create a site and a page in Social Medias.
(MT): What the main issues has the Oxford and Littlemore residents got?
The main issues in Oxford and Littlemore are the unaffordable housing, in some areas the frequency of the public transports, in others areas is parking spaces and the drives behaviours, they don’t follow the speed limit. Another serious problem I found in my canvassing is a lot of older people live alone in Littlemore. I will do everything to find a solution at least to minimize this issue.
(MT): Do you think the Brexit is irreversible?
I think Brexit is irreversible although it is a small probability in the end the UK realizes their implementation is difficult and it is better for the country gives it up.
In my opinion the UK hasn’t got a plan for Brexit and if Government want to be successful they have to be honest with the British people. They have to say the UK need a 10 years of the transition period to leave the EU. Hong Kong and China before move the hands from UK and Portugal to China had a transition period for 10 years. I don’t believe the Brexit is fewer complexes than these two examples, I think it is the opposite Brexit is much more complex.
(MT): Tiago Corais is also the leader of the Portuguese Socialist Party in UK. Do you think your election as an Oxford City Councillor could be an opportunity to further strengthen the relationship between the Labour and the Portuguese Socialist Party?
Indeed, I think my election can be a good opportunity to relationship between the two “sister parties”. Last year the Oxford Labour Party invited me to be a speaker for talking about the Portuguese Government policies. I will do all I can to promote a stronger relationship between the two parties I am a member.
(MT): What do you like to say the residents in Littlemore who vote for you and elected you an Oxford City Councillor at a time when you are beginning your mandate?
First I would like to thanks for the big support they gave me. I am aware it is a big responsibility and I will do all I can to fulfil what I have promised and they are able to count with my full commitment. If they have any concern or issue do you want to report I will be pleased to take care and I promise that I will respond to all requests with honesty and commitment.