Tony Blair has called for further controls on immigration to be made whilst keeping the UK in the EU (BBC, September 2017, link). It is very disappointing that the former Prime Minister is calling on MPs to ignore last year’s referendum result.
- Blair should remember that David Cameron tried to achieve more control over immigration in his renegotiation, but that these requests were rebuffed by the European Commission, and the watered-down compromise was rejected by the British people in the referendum.
- It is also remarkable that Blair is now calling for these controls, when he presided over giving more money and power to Brussels and failed to impose a transitional regime on the 8 countries which joined the EU in 2004.
- Furthermore, EU leaders have made clear that they are unwilling to split the four freedoms of the single market. The only way to take back control of our borders is to leave the single market. To pretend, as Blair does, that EU leaders would be willing to reverse 40 years of ideology is fundamentally dishonest.
Vital that MPs vote for the Repeal Bill today
- It is vital that MPs honour last year’s referendum result, and vote for the Repeal Bill at today’s second reading. This Bill is essential to ensure we have a smooth and orderly Brexit, and that all EU law has been transposed into UK law when we leave in March 2019.
- It is disappointing that Labour looks set to vote against this vital Bill. Research suggests that 70% of Labour constituencies voted Leave in the referendum (Chris Hanretty, June 2016, link).
- It is welcome that Labour’s Caroline Flint - who campaigned for Remain and served as Europe Minister during Gordon Brown’s premiership - has told the Today Programme that she will not be voting against the Bill. As the Labour MP made clear, it’s important that politicians ‘get on with the job of making sure we can have as smooth an exit from the European Union as possible’. Voting against the Bill would disrupt the Brexit process and fail to respect the referendum result.
TUC’s call for Britain to remain in the EU’s customs union and single market is disappointing
- Frances O’Grady, the TUC’s general secretary, is expected to use her keynote speech to argue for continued, permanent single market and customs union membership as the best way to protect British workers after we have left the European Union (Guardian, September 2017, link).
- This would ignore the referendum result, as it would not allow us to take back control of our laws, borders, money or trade - the key litmus tests which would prove that the referendum vote from last June, in which many trade union members and Labour voters voted to leave, has been respected. It should be remembered that Barry Gardiner, Labour’s shadow international trade secretary, has argued that Brexit means leaving the single market and customs union (Guardian, July 2017, link).
- Moreover, workers’ rights in UK law often predate the EU’s own workers’ rights laws - provisions for workers’ holidays, for example, was introduced in Britain in the 1930s. Likewise, rights for disabled workers was introduced via the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, before the EU passed laws on this topic. Maternity leave and pay were also introduced by the UK Parliament before the EU .
- It is also important to note that the trade union movement is not united on this issue, with the RMT’s national executive committee member Eddie Dempsey rightly arguing that continued single market membership is analogous to continued membership of the EU and would not respect the referendum result, and Unite general secretary Len McCluskey calling for the referendum result to be respected by ‘returning Britain the full powers to shape our future’ after any transition period (Politico London Playbook, September 2017, link).
Good economic news
- The Z/Yen global financial centres index has once again ranked London as the world’s leading financial centre, with the capital having also extended its lead against second-placed New York to its largest since the survey began in 2007 (Reuters, September 2017, link).
- The carmaker McLaren has announced that it is bringing parts of its supply chain back to the UK. This includes a £50m investment in a new carbon-fibre chassis facility in Sheffield replacing an Austrian supplier (FT, September 2017, link).
- Regional PM data released this morning indicates that business activity in all four nations of the UK continue to expand, with Northern Ireland recording its fastest rise in private sector activity so far this year (Markit, September 2017, link) and business activity in England also seeing increased growth in August (Markit, September 2017, link