Posts Tagged ‘EU’

Any member of the PLP who aspires to lead the Labour party must vote against triggering Article 50

28/01/2017, 11:33:12 AM

by Atul Hatwal

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there was a parliamentary vote that transformed Labour politics. It was July 2015, in calendar terms quite recent, but politically another century. The Labour leadership contest had just begun and the government’s welfare bill was coming up for a vote at second reading.

Only one leadership candidate voted against, the others abstained, saying they would vote against if it couldn’t be amended in committee.

Abstention was what moderates thought was the judicious approach – avoid supporting the bill while depriving the Tories of the ability to paint Labour as free spending, welfare junkies. I’m a moderate, I thought it was the only sane option.

What did we know? We were fighting the last war, the general election. The war to come was to be fought before Labour members and supporters not the public. They wanted passion, clarity and, above all else, full-throated opposition to the Tories.

Jeremy Corbyn’s vote against the welfare bill in July 2015 was the catalyst for a surge that deposited him in the leader’s office.

For the 2015 welfare bill, read Brexit. Squared. Any MP who aspires to lead the party one day should pay heed.

Brexit has utterly transformed Labour’s internal politics in terms of what defines the party ideologically and Jeremy Corbyn’s personal standing.

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Labour must fight the right-wing agenda for Brexit

20/01/2017, 07:10:07 PM

by Samuel Dale

The UK is on the brink of a right-wing revolution much bigger than anything Margaret Thatcher managed to achieve. And Labour is simply a bystander.

Labour has yet to find its feet on the Brexit debate and it is being regularly and comprehensively outmaneuvered by the Tory right-wing and Ukip.

There is no Donald Trump protectionist right in the UK, only the libertarian tax and regulation slashers. And they are in the driving seat.

It is a relief that Theresa May has stated the obvious truth about Brexit that we are leaving the single market and customs union.

Labour has to concentrate on two big, incredibly concerning policy areas and shift the debate.

Firstly, it was obvious on 24 June 2016 that we were leaving the single market as it is no way to square the circle of leaving the EU, cutting immigration and staying in the single market. May has accepted reality.

In addition, if we are not part of the EU infrastructure than remaining in the single market would be destructive. Rules would be made and we would have to obey them without any say.

It’s gone. Instead of waffling on about single market access, Labour should focus on being a counterpoint to the intense lobbying operation that is building up in London and Brussels.

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Labour’s response to Brexit is cowardly and shameful. That’s why I’m resigning from the party

18/01/2017, 09:19:42 PM

Robert Williams was a member of the Labour party for over twenty years. He resigned this week over Labour’s response to Brexit. Here’s his letter to his MP, Barry Gardiner

Dear Barry

I write with regret, but much less than I would wish, to tell you that I am resigning from the Labour party with immediate effect.

I joined when I was 17, because I believed in social justice and internationalism. What I have seen over the last two years has been a descent into the most infantile student politics, with an utterly incompetent and inadequate leader standing on a platform of being friends with every terrorist group so long as they are anti-Western, being unable to state how he would defend the country or its people in a crisis, and supported by a pathetically untalented team of and an unpleasant network of people expelled from Labour, supporters of other parties, candidates for other parties and deluded members who no longer care about winning an election.

Corbyn’s utter incompetence and John McDonnell’s unpleasantness, leading to Labour’s total unelectability are not the main reasons for my resignation, however. I would have fought these unrepresentative dinosaurs and Corbyn’s total unfitness to lead from within the party.

It is on Europe, and our impending exit from the European Union that is the final straw for me. A turnout of 72% and a 52%-48% vote is not the overwhelmingly majority of people. The “people” did not vote for a Brexit that means economic catastrophe and political irrelevance. And they did not vote to diminish the opportunities membership of the EU offers all our citizens and to deny the rich cultural and social elements of our membership of a continent wide club.

And then Jeremy Corbyn decided to use his first speech of 2017 to claim that Britain can be better-off outside the EU.

The silence of Labour moderates, with the honourable exceptions of the 23 Labour MPs who voted for sanity on Europe in December, on the most important issue of our times, is deafening. Corbyn and his band of fools have shown no leadership, no principles and no morality. By their cowardice, they have left the way open to mendacious, toxic hard right Brexiteers in government to potentially damage the country beyond repair and that is unforgivable.

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Uncut predictions for 2017: Blair will abandon support for free movement

04/01/2017, 06:23:29 PM

How to solve a problem like Brexit?

Ostensibly, it’s the reason for Tony Blair’s return to fray. He wants a second referendum to reverse the public’s decision to quit the EU back in June, but polls show the voters simply don’t regret the decision.

To get them to change their minds, the facts must change.

Ever the pragmatist, Blair knows full well this means abandoning free movement of people as an article of faith for the pro-globalisationists of British politics, of which, he remains the undisputed leader.

Could he follow contemporary Labour luminaries like Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham, Rachel Reeves, Chuka Umunna and Hilary Benn who have each recently called for an end to free movement?

The impact of mass migration was the defining issue of the campaign and reforming it is an essential down payment in securing any fresh plebiscite. But, even then, there’s no guarantee one can be justified.

Of course, it also requires Europe to even discuss a special deal for Britain, which, variously, Angela Merkel, the Commission and east European Member States have all flatly rejected.

But we are through the looking glass in 2017.

And if John Major could secure his Maastricht Treaty opt-outs from joining the single currency and social chapter, Blair might calculate that a fresh deal on free movement is achievable.

After all, 2017 may be another tumultuous year for the EU, if Marine Le Pen wins the French presidency, or if Merkel is ousted in German federal elections later in the year.

Buying off the truculent Brits with a concession on free movement might seem the cheap option for a bit of stability.

Watch this space.

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Welcome to the United Kingdom of England and Wales

21/12/2016, 03:57:18 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Brexit may mean Brexit, but it also means something else: the United Kingdom, as we have known it, is finished.

The result of our vote to leave the European Union will precipitate a reshaping the United Kingdom from first principles, as our Celtic fringe is shorn off and overseas commitments become more burdensome.

Although a recent poll showed support for Scottish independence dipping a fraction below the 45 per cent level secured in the 2014 referendum, it will prove to be a false dawn for those hoping the fires of nationalism are dying down.

Brexit now makes a second referendum inevitable. More than that, it makes it entirely justifiable. A point Nicola Sturgeon was keen to exploit yesterday with her demands that Scotland be allowed to stay in the single market.

She has a point. Why should 62 per cent of Scots who voted to remain in the EU have their country’s prospects curtailed, as they see it, because of English votes; in a reversal of the famous West Lothian Question (why should Scots MPs vote on English laws?)

The SNP should be in tatters after losing the 2014 vote, but instead now dominates Scottish public life, utterly. So much so that Sturgeon announced back in October that she is teeing up a second referendum bill and amassing for a war chest for the next tilt at independence.

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Article 50: we do not have to lay down and roll over

11/11/2016, 08:00:49 PM

by Rob Marchant

As we reel from the shock of a Trump victory, it would be easy now to lose sight of our own problems as a country. But they remain the same as they were on Tuesday.

Since June, we have rapidly become a country which most of its neighbours now look at with a mixture of sympathy and blank incomprehension; shaking their heads, like a dear friend whose life has suddenly and inexplicably hit the buffers, but has yet to truly recognise the fact. Bless them, those Brits. They know not what they do (and, as of today, it looks like we are not the only Anglo-Saxon country in that position).

No, apart from Brexit, we have a government which operates without the normal checks and balances, beholden to its lunatic rightward fringe; and a dysfunctional opposition which, thanks to Labour’s current leadership, struggles to effectively oppose anything at all, even on this, the most important issue of the day.

Last week, however, a glimmer of light shone into Britain’s troubled political landscape. Seemingly out of nowhere, the High Court ruled that Parliament must be consulted on Brexit and that the referendum itself was not sufficient. The government had constitutionally overreached itself, and Theresa May had to tacitly admit that her prime ministerial powers were not quite as strong as she thought they were.

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Labour needs to learn to accept the public’s mandate

30/08/2016, 09:27:26 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Is it really a surprise that Theresa May intends to press on and trigger Article 50 and begin our negotiated withdrawal from the EU without a vote in Parliament?

After all, June’s referendum was conclusive.

A clear majority of Britons chose to quit the EU. 52 per cent to 48 per cent. 17.4 million votes to 16.1 million. And at 72 per cent, the turnout was higher than the 66 per cent that voted in last year’s general election.

The debate was had. The issues were discussed to death. Both sides made their case. They were well-matched. The Remain campaign lost. Game over.

What comes next is axiomatic, surely? Article 50 is triggered, we negotiate the terms of our exit and future working relationship with the EU and we get on with it.

That’s what the public chose to do. It’s what they commanded ministers to implement on their behalf and the political class to accept.

Yet Owen Smith is standing for the Labour leadership on a platform of offering a second referendum, while Tottenham MP, David Lammy, called Theresa May’s plan to press ahead with Article 50 a ‘stitch-up’.

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Sorry Nigel, nationalisation is not against EU Law

02/10/2015, 05:25:51 PM

by Sam Fowles

Nigel Farage thinks EU law prevents nationalisation. Ironically he seems to have got this from a recent post on Left Futures by Westminster University’s Danny Nicol. Professor Nicol argues that the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) and EU liberalisation directives prohibit renationalisation of energy utilities, as proposed by Jeremy Corbyn.

Professor Nicol raises an important point. The EU probably encroaches on the sovereignty of member states to its most egregious degree when it comes to market liberalisation. Art. 176 TFEU commits member states to the expansion of markets.

I have a lot of respect for Professor Nicol and recommend his excellent book. But I can’t help but feel that, in this instance, he has reduced a complex area of law to a zero sum conclusion. There are many forms of “nationalisation” that would never be touched by the TFEU (such as taking utilities into municipal control, as has happened in Germany). Furthermore, EU law wouldn’t prohibit the sort of nationalisation proposed by Mr Corbyn.

Let’s be clear, the Corbyn plan isn’t for complete nationalisation. Mr Corbyn wants to nationalise the grid (the infrastructure that transports gas and electricity from generator to supplier), the “Big Six” energy companies and the railways.

EU law explicitly protects the right of member states to nationalise industries. Art. 345 TFEU states “The Treaties shall in no way prejudice the rules in Member States (MS) governing the system of property ownership.” In his book Professor Nicol argues that this provision has recently been ignored by the ECJ. This is largely correct but it does not justify the conclusion that it will always be ignored.

Art. 345 remains in the treaty. It is possible to generally promote liberal markets and operate some industries as national monopolies. Arts. 176 and 345 are not mutually exclusive. The ECJ has often been tolerant of member states accused of violating the treaties if their actions are “proportionate“, i.e. for a legitimate aim (which would include one endorsed by the electorate) and effective, but not excessive, in achieving that aim. Assuming that nationalisation was prominent in Mr Corbyn’s manifesto, conducted on a transparent timetable and proper compensation was paid, Mr Corbyn would have a strong case based on Art. 345.

But even without Art. 345 EU law would not prohibit the Corbyn plan. Professor Nicol relies heavily on Art. 106 TFEU. But this provision doesn’t ban nationalised industries. It simply regulates how they can behave in relation to other enterprises. In essence, enterprises with a dominant position in the market due to state action cannot use that position to behave unreasonably. The ECJ will only intervene if Art. 106 is breached.

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Ten hard truths

14/08/2015, 06:02:56 PM

Following Tristram Hunt’s call for “a summer of hard truths” Labour Uncut is running a short series laying them out. As leadership ballot papers are despatched, here’s John Slinger with his top ten for a centre-left party that is serious about winning.

1. Elect someone capable of genuine leadership, who can speak to and for the whole country. Labour members and supporters should spurn the view that this selection process is primarily about them; it should be about the voters.

2. Appeal to people who voted Conservative and for other parties with policies which appeal beyond Labour’s declining ‘core vote’. A winning alliance elected us in 1997, 2001 and 2005. Only leadership as in point 1) can encourage a genuine conversation with all voters rather than ourselves.

3. End the constitutional link with the unions to show that Labour is above sectional interests. No party should hard-wire significant political influence for one section of society into its constitution. Unions should remain close friends, enabling relationships with other sectors to be nurtured.

4. Seek to become the party for workers and business by unashamedly building new bridges to both unions and business, the sector employing more than four in five UK workers.

5. Focus on ideas that work by following wherever evidence leads, rejecting ideology and ignoring protest group purism. That could mean a greater role for the state where markets should be more competitive or more involvement by the private sector in providing, but not owning, public services.

The party would condemn failure in public and private sectors, and encourage both sectors where they succeed. The cases of Mid Staffs, Hillsborough, Jimmy Savile and others show the dichotomy of ‘public sector good/private sector bad’ is false. Labour should incubate excellence wherever it is found.

6. Champion continued EU membership by emphasising its benefits for our economy and for our global influence. With the exception of a few leading politicians such as Pat McFadden, debate on EU membership has long lacked a positive, effective political voice, thereby offering the field to those who peddle the myth that Brexit is the panacea to complex global problems.

7. Stand up for strong defence and diplomacy because at a time of growing global instability Britain must be a confident member of Nato, a proud and trusted ally of the United States and willing to play a leading role in maintaining global security and enforcing the Responsibility to Protect doctrine where appropriate. This would help convince the public that it is a party of hard-nosed, principled government not pious protest. (more…)

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Ten hard truths for Labour

07/08/2015, 12:34:57 PM

Following Tristram Hunt’s call for “a summer of hard truths” Labour Uncut is running a short series laying them out. Here’s Jonathan Todd with his top ten.

1. Most people are not interested in politics. At best they see it as irrelevant to them. At worst they are actively hostile. Most politics, therefore, passes most people by most of the time. They only pay attention when things they hadn’t expected happen.

2. People get that Labour cares. Labour did not lose the election because we were insufficiently stout in our defence of the NHS and other causes typically dear to Labour hearts. Most voters expect Labour to care about the NHS and other institutions – like local schools and Sure Start centres – that tend to (but not always) make the world better. Because they expect this from Labour, noting point 1, they don’t really register Labour providing this.

3. It’s the economy, stupid. Doubts about Labour’s capacity as custodians of the economy and public finances, as well as Labour’s ability to have mutually productive relations with business, contributed toward this year’s defeat.

4. We need to show we’ve changed on business and the economy. If we accept that only counter intuitive political moves gain real public traction and that concerns about Labour’s economic and fiscal management gravely imperil the prospects of Labour government, Labour should be seeking strongly counter intuitive moves that challenge these negative perceptions. This means more than mouthing platitudes about being pro-business or fiscally responsible. It requires actions that show and reshow this to the public. Till the political professionals are bored stiff and the activist class are blue with frustration. Then the public might hear.

5. The case for a reformed EU needs to be made. While voters are paying little attention to UK politics, they are paying even less to EU politics. For the majority of the time that the UK has been in the EU, pro-Europeans have asked Brits to be part of a successful club. The Germans prosper. The French have fast trains. The Italians are well-dressed. Attachment to these successes has been the bedrock of the UK’s EU membership.

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