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Title: Jobs, workers’ rights and Brexit
Date and time: September 12th, 12PM
Register Link: Meeting Registration - Zoom

- Seb Dance, former Labour MEP & chair of the Labour Movement for Europe

- Jude Kirton-Darling, former Labour MEP & now Deputy General Secretary at IndustriAll Europe, which represents over 7 million working people who belong to almost 200 European trade unions
- Mark Hendrick, Labour MP for Preston & member of the International Trade Committee
- Theresa Griffin, former Labour MEP & now Senior Associate at European climate change think tank E3G
- Elena Crasta, the TUC's European Officer, representing the TUC in the European Union


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Watch our previous webinars

What has the EU done for women and how can we still work with our European friends?

Women's History Month: The Women's Agenda and the EU

UK-EU Relations: How can Labour supporters remain connected with the EU Progressive Family?

No deal/bare bones Brexit: A conversation with Richard Corbett, Seb Dance & Christabel Cooper

How will Brexit affect your healthcare? (Jointly held with the Socialist Health Association London region)

Why is antisemitism rising in the UK & across Europe? (Jointly held with Jewish Labour Movement)

How should Labour respond to the incoming bare bones/no deal Brexit?

How will Brexit affect women?

Brexit: The unanswered questions (Jointly held with Labour Party Irish Society and Labour for a European Future)

How will Brexit affect workers’ rights?

How can Labour challenge the Tory Brexit disaster: A Conversation with Richard Corbett - the last leader of Labour in the EU

What would a no deal Brexit mean for Women, the BAME community and people with Disabilities? (Jointly held with BAME Labour, Disability Labour and Fabian Women)

What would a no deal Brexit mean for LGBT+ people? (Jointly held with LGBT+ Labour and Rainbow Rose)

Coronavirus: A European Response

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Latest Articles

The latest polls suggest Keir Starmer’s best hope of power is at the head of a minority government. And the signs are that many - perhaps a majority of - party members are already getting used to the idea.

First the polls - the party has seen a dramatic improvement in its polling performance since Starmer took over the leadership in April last year. At that point Labour was on 30% in an Opinium poll – trailing the Tories by 23%. 

The Tory lead is down to 4 per cent in a recent YouGov poll for the Times. Throughout October, the Tory lead has been in single figures thanks to a collapse in Tory numbers rather than a dramatic advance by Labour.

Nonetheless, if the YouGov figures: Tory 37, Labour 33, LD 9, SNP 5 and Greens 10, were the outcome of a General Election, the Tories would probably have lost their overall majority. 

The leading political academic, Paula Sturridge, has produced figures based on the British Electoral Study data to suggest that Labour would be able to squeeze the Green vote in the run up to the election.

The stage would be set for Keir Starmer to walk into Downing Street as Prime Minister with Rachel Reeves as Chancellor. They would dependent on support from smaller parties including a 50-strong SNP bloc. A formal coalition would be unlikely, but the SNP would be taking a huge risk if they decided to keep the Tories in power.

The idea of depending on the SNP will horrify older Labour members who remember when the nationalists voted with Margaret Thatcher to bring down the Callaghan government in 1979. Callaghan’s quip that they were “turkey’s voting for Christmas” proved prescient. The nine-strong SNP group was reduced to two.

Many will still deny that the SNP are a progressive force, charging them with a long list of failures while holding power in Holyrood. Then, there are the Lib Dems, yet to redeem themselves after those five years supporting Tory austerity.

These are the people Starmer would have to negotiate with, but the vote at Labour conference last month - when 80 per cent of CLP delegates backed PR - suggests the membership may be forgiving and ready for the new world.

Since then, Unite’s policy conference has come out against first-past-the-post, which should ensure reform becomes party policy next year.

And if we get that minority Starmer government, all the potential partners would be anti-Brexit.

By Don Brind - Labour Movement for Europe Press Officer & Former BBC political correspondent

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Are Labour Members Getting Used To The Idea Of Minority Government?

The latest polls suggest Keir Starmer’s best hope of power is at the head of a minority government. And the signs are that many - perhaps a majority of -...

Something odd is happening with Brexit. Since October 2017, the overwhelming majority of polls have had more people saying voting for Brexit was wrong than right, but not by much. Now there appears to be a shift. Why?

Walk into many supermarkets and shelves are often half empty. Greggs the popular low-cost sandwich chain, or major food providers like KFC and Nando have had to close branches as they cannot get deliveries. Now for the first time since Brexit major business leaders, especially those in the delivery and import-export sectors, are openly protesting.

The Financial Times report hotels cannot get clean linen for their beds due to Brexit staff shortages. But then Brexit always was a dirty business.

The latest figures on trade are dramatic:

  • All food and drinks exports down to £9.2bn in first half of 2021, from £11.1bn in 2019
  • Exports of beef and cheese to EU down 37% and 34%, respectively, on 2019

One in five small exporters have stopped selling into Europe as Brexit rules and regulations make it too difficult. A further 20% are thinking of pulling out of trading with Europe.

They were told that leaving Europe would initiate a flourishing new economic era but so far this has not happened. The exodus of hard-working Europeans who cooperated willingly with British employers, especially in driving trucks to and from the EU has hit hard. Britain has relied for centuries on labour from beyond its shores to do so called ‘unskilled’ work.

Conservative MPs and the pro-Brexit press try and present the shortage of essential workers as a pandemic related labour market problem. Brexit however has made this far worse. The UK has a rigid inflexible regime aimed at keeping EU citizens out of Britain. Employers who want to hire EU citizens as workers must pay them £25,600 (€2,500 a month) and negotiate with government bureaucrats to obtain permits.

Covid has hit all countries and all labour market sectors. But only in the UK is the evidence in front of people in terms of empty shelves. Napoleon called Britain a nation of shopkeepers. Brexit is making the business of running profitable shops far worse than anyone predicted during the years of anti-European campaigning.

Brexit is spinning hundreds of Gulliver strings that are irritating everyone from mothers who can’t get au pairs, to musicians who can’t perform at the network of summer music festivals on the continent. The UK government is insisting that European children should have full passport to visit England and in some cases a visa.

This hits the 750,000 German and French school students who come on education trips to Britain to improve their English. Often, they have only an ID card or enter on a collective identity document to keep down costs. Now they face paying €110 for a visa plus the cost of a national passport. 

Mobile phone companies now say they will re-impose roaming charges on UK mobile phone user visiting the continent. The UK government is setting up its own kite-mark scheme to replace the EU’s obligatory CE mark showing a product meets safety and other standards. This is a pointless duplication, but as with the UK government’s insistence on having its own nationalist data protection system in place of the EU GDPR standards, Boris Johnson’s obsession with rejecting anything that is linked with Europe is worrying business.

The European Court of Justice has been very tough in upholding EU wide data protection regulation. If Britain fully opts out, firms will have to negotiate nation-by-nation deals to send data across borders hitting anything from E-commerce to HR details of employees that transnational firms keep and exchange.

Boris Johnson and UK ministers no longer appear on television or radio to defend Brexit. The champions of leaving Europe before 2016 in the media now write on other issues. There are no advantages from Brexit anyone can proclaim. 

The idea of “Global Britain” which was promoted as a major benefit of Brexit disappeared in the disaster of the Taliban taking over Afghanistan. President Biden ignored with contempt Boris Johnson’s appeals for the US to stay longer in Afghanistan in order to help evacuate British nations or Afghanis who had collaborated with the British.

Even obdurate Tories are beginning to understand that placing Britain in a global Brexit isolation ward can only weaken the nation’s influence in world affairs.

Finally, this is working into politics. The latest poll published in September in The Times suggest support is ebbing. It found 39 per cent think the Brexit vote was right, 48 per cent think it was wrong and 13 percent don’t know.

If support for Brexit stays below 40% the Europe question in British politics will alter, as it will become very difficult if not impossible to argue that Brexit has benefitted Britain.

British voters like facts not political theory. The theory that the UK would benefit from leaving the EU is losing salience fast as the facts of Brexit prove the opposite.

How long before this works into political discourse remains to be seen. But it will happen.

By Denis MacShane - former Labour Minister of Europe. His latest book is “Brexiternity. The Uncertain Fate of Britain” (IB Tauris-Bloomsbury)

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Shine Going Off Brexit Faster than Expected

Something odd is happening with Brexit. Since October 2017, the overwhelming majority of polls have had more people saying voting for Brexit was wrong than right, but not by much....

In my part of the world, we are gearing up for what we hope will be an historic victory in next year’s borough elections – seizing Wandsworth after more than 40 years in Tory hands.

At the weekend we began choosing candidates from a high-quality field. Confidence is high based on recent elections.

Last time round, in 2018, we won the popular vote across the borough and made seven gains. The Tories clung on with majorities on four seats of 10, 30, 35 and 62. We also hold all three Westminster seats with majorities of 14,000, 5,000 and 4,000.

What’s our secret – apart from hard graft? Simple, we live in an anti-Brexit part of the country.

A Tory number taker told me “I voted for you. I’m a Remainer. But will our “luck” spread as voters realise what a disaster Brexit has turned out to be?

The media is littered with evidence that Brexit isn't working. Take the Times reporting an HMRC assessment that “British businesses will spend £7.5 billion a year handling customs declarations — as much as they would have done under a no-deal Brexit” - or the Mail on Sunday lambasting Home Secretary Priti Patel. Its headline reads: “Farms are set to kill and burn 100,000 pigs because of a post-Brexit butchers’ shortage: Industry chiefs vent fury at Priti Patel for leaving key staff off list.” And the Guardian reports the CBI calling for “the government’s shortage occupation list, which helps recruit workers from abroad to fill particular skills gaps, to be updated to include lorry drivers, welders, butchers and bricklayers.

According to the Road Haulage Association, Britain needs about 100,000 more lorry drivers, which it estimates will take at least 18 months to train enough people to fill the gaps.

And then there’s sewage. Guardian Brexit correspondent Lisa O’Carroll reports “first it was Nandos, then McDonalds, then IKEA. Now it’s [a lack of] sewage treatment chemicals."

It all convinces the Observer’s William Keegan that Leavers are changing their mind. He writes: “Brexit is an almost unmitigated disaster. The slogan ‘get Brexit done’ has been supplanted by ‘supply chain issues.’ As a direct, and wholly predictable, consequence of Brexit, Britain is economically, culturally, reputationally, politically and diplomatically poorer.”

Is he right? The latest YouGov poll for The Times found 39% think the Brexit vote was right, 48% think it was wrong and 13% don’t know.

And when YouGov asked voters what they thought main reason for recent food shortages and supply problems were two thirds of Remain voters and a fifth of Leavers cited Brexit. Perhaps that large bloc of Leavers willing to blame Brexit is an encouraging figure.

Here’s one buyer finally showing remorse - Simon Jenkins told Guardian readers in July 2016: “Ignore the prophets of doom. Brexit will be good for Britain. This week his tune had changed dramatically. “Boris Johnson’s biggest lie is coming home to roost. From plummeting trade to drastic shortages of workers, needlessly leaving the single market has been disastrous.” I suspect, however, it won’t be any shifts on views about Brexit that will deliver Labour electoral success.

Tory MPs are worried. They fear a voter revolt. The Sunday Express writes: “Red Wall could crumble over tax and pension plan ‘madness’.” The challenge for Team Starmer is to make sure those fears are realised.

By Don Brind - Labour Movement for Europe Press Officer & Former BBC political correspondent

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Brexit Shortages Starting to Stick

In my part of the world, we are gearing up for what we hope will be an historic victory in next year’s borough elections – seizing Wandsworth after more than...

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