A top Green has given the seal of approval to North Devon’s Green Party parliamentary candidate during a whistle-stop visit to Barnstaple.

Former Green Party leader and MP Caroline Lucas was speaking to the party faithful at an event at Barnstaple Library on Friday, October 18.

A scheduled lecture had to become an informal question and answer session as Ms Lucas had to catch the last train back to London for the crunch debate on Boris Johnson's Brexit deal on the Saturday.

Speaking exclusively to the Gazette before the talk, she discussed Brexit, Extinction Rebellion and praised the North Devon party's prospective parliamentary candidate Robbie Mack, who is also a district and Barnstaple town councillor.

She said: "I really hope that people do vote for Robbie, I have heard about him and suggest that he would make an excellent member of parliament.

"I am incredibly impressed by people getting on to local town councils and district councils because under first past the post it is doubly difficult for small parties to do that and yet the impact even just one or two councillors can make on the council is huge."

As it turned out, the prime minister's Brexit deal was not voted on during Saturday's session of parliament because MPs instead voted for an amendment which withholds approval until the Withdrawal Agreement Bill was passed, forcing the PM to seek another extension from the EU beyond October 31.

Ms Lucas said she would vote against the new deal because it would be 'a race to the bottom' for environmental standards, as well as cause economic problems and tension in Northern Ireland.

She called for another referendum, a 'people's vote', saying: "It feels to me that three-and-half years after the initial referendum that so much more has become apparent in terms of the cost and complexity of Brexit that it's only right to go back to the people."

She also said she felt the current government would not benefit the South West, adding: "I think we can have absolutely no confidence that this government is going to properly reflect the concerns of areas like the South West when it comes to decision-making at Westminster."

And she said: "It's almost as if once you get to Bristol anything beyond that is irrelevant."

Several members of the audience on Friday had been part of Extinction Rebellion protests both in North Devon and London.

Ms Lucas praised their stand and said the movement had managed to reach people in a way that conventional methods struggled to do.

She said: "I think what they have very cleverly managed to do is to involve people who are not necessarily serial activists, for example their spokespeople included someone who has been a policeman who has been talking about why be as a former police officer has been taking action and risked arrest.

"They don't do this lightly and it's because successive governments have failed to act with the necessary urgency to deal with the climate crisis and although there are some tactics they use I am not a great supporter of, I think overall their impact and their strategy has been very effective.

"There have been moments in our history where law breaking has been important to uphold a more important legal principle and the legal principal of the right to life feels to me like the most important principle and if that means people are going to get arrested for sitting down in the road then that to me is a much lesser offence."