Lammy on the EU/FTC

Lammy on the EU/FTC

Two days ago, David Lammy, Labour’s Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs made a speech (mirrored) to a seminar hosted by “UK in a changing Europe”, in which he makes a searing attack on Johnson’s Govt, highlighting the myopia of the defence white papers, and the sectarianism of their approach towards Northern Ireland, and towards the EU. He concludes by stating that Brexit is over, we’re out but that a Labour Government will seek to improve the terms of the Trade & Co-operation agreement, albeit without renegotiating the deal, and without rejoining either the customs union or the single market.

Duncan R2, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons – Different times

This is disappointing for those of us who never wanted to leave and campaigned with Labour to remain; when will this mandate of the referendum die? When the Labour leadership says, “Not in 50 years”, it is not speaking for me!

In his speech, Lammy says,

The question the country faces is no longer leave or remain. We have already left. The questions people are asking are: How do I pay the bills? How do I put food on the table? How will afford my heating this winter? How do I get an appointment with a GP? What jobs and opportunities are there for my children? And how do we keep our country safe? Only Labour wants to leave behind the binaries of the past.

… the issues that have divided us for half a decade have been settled,

David Lammy MP at UK in a changing Europe

I say, “No they haven’t!”

Corbyn tried this, and Labour’s anti-Corbyn Remainer plotters and Labour’s true Remainer ideologues and voters told him to fuck off; if this comes from Keir and his focus group[1] driven kitchen cabinet. Kier can go there too! This is too important an issue to be a factional issue in my mind.

Brexit has led to a reduction in trade, both imports and exports, failing businesses, a falling currency, a labour shortage, weaker growth, a reduced foreign inward investment flow, the impact of the last compounded by falling domestic investment and the withdrawal of the EU’s cohesion fund expenditure not being replaced by the Govt’s levelling up promises. Brexit also threatens the Union in both Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Lammy addresses the issues of Northern Ireland, and states the Protocol Bill introduced to the House of Commons breaks international law. He then lists a series of failings of the policy and the Bill and concludes,

It’s not even enough to get the DUP to commit to return to Stormont. The only people this Bill satisfies are the ERG.

It’s an interesting and devastatingly accurate criticism.

When he lists proposals on trade friction, he only focuses on Great Britain and Northern Ireland, there seems little interest in addressing the problems that being outside the single market/customs union causes in Kent, or on the east coast and in Scotland, or even in Wales as Eire/Europe trade is diverted to avoid the UK

He proposes free movement for creatives and professional services workers; there is no recognition of the Labour shortages in the UK economy, nor that the UK’s ‘flexible’ immigration policy has a requirement that immigrants can economically support themselves, with a job earning more than £25,600 [2]. This limit means we cannot recruit large numbers of worker roles from abroad, both white and blue collar, most obviously agricultural workers and even teachers.

For some reason they’re frightened of free movement, presumably electoral politics, but immigration numbers are not declining and won’t because the work needs to be done and the taxes paid. Lammy and Labour’s proposals are a freedom of movement for the rich, and says nothing about the right to learn and live across the continent.  Anyone studying Starmer’s track record in the topic knows it comes from him and McSweeny’s focus groups.

He talks about ‘Adequacy’ and ‘Equivalence’. There is little doubt that the Tories plans for weakening the GDPR and monetizing personal data, the extension of state surveillance and their attacks on the independence of the ICO will jeopardise the UK’s ‘Adequacy’ ruling which is becoming more valuable as the CJEU reviews standard clauses and binding corporate commitments against the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Adequacy is important for small business who want to operate without a compliance department. With Adequacy, businesses can trade with the EU and with EU citizens, if we lose it then it becomes more difficulty, although at the moment we have an Adequacy ruling, which we can expect to last until 2024.

Lammy argues that adequacy is crucial for our digital services companies. What digital services companies?  There are now no UK quoted large music companies, the top three of the top four are quoted in the ‘States, while Universal is quoted in the Netherlands and let’s not talk about movies.  For the UK digital services exports, we are talking about people, which brings us back to freedom of movement and the same is true for movies.  Obviously, BT & Vodafone and the BBC are important players here, but the BBC monetises its content through other digital services companies, such as Netflix and Sky[3] and is constrained by law from streaming its own content outside the UK.

Financial Services equivalence should not be a partisan issue; financial services regulation is global and is managed by the G7 and Bank of International Settlements. The change in market share over the last two years is due to the Eurozone requiring that Euro trades occur on EU/member state regulated exchanges.

These items seem to be tick boxes to prove modernity.

I have been campaigning for five demands to ease the problems of the Brexit treaties, and while Lammy and I agree on a creative’s visa, reentry to Horizon and negotiation with the EU over GB/NI trade, he avoids Erasmus and reciprocal voting rights for the 1m Brits living in the EU. Erasmus is and was an important way in which UK academe recruited talent and exercised soft power. Leaving was ideologically driven and designed to increase xenophobia. Again, Labour and the UK could do better. My demands are 5½ months old; I think the modus of acceptable demands has moved since then and that talking about the single market is both acceptable and justified. Those who oppose the single market due to freedom of movement need to answer the question as to how we pick [4] our domestic fruit and veg which is rotting in the fields.

The last issue I want to pick up on is security and defence. I agree that the Tories have since 2010 been dreadful on defence, firstly gutting the budget and then publishing a white paper that ‘turns to the East’ leaving us with a military unprepared for the Ukraine War and Russia’s aggression. There is no question the UK can only defend itself with allies and that NATO is all there is. However, its defenders must recognised that NATO has over the last 30 years looked outside Europe and spent much of its effort and mindshare on ‘out of theatre’ operations which have stretched the popular consent it holds in a number of European countries. I am also of the view that the UK is not, as Lammy said, the largest European military power. France is! France spends more and has more of most assets and more people. It’s just more vainglorious bullshit, echoing Johnson and the Tory’s party’s mantra that defence is only safe in the Tories hands. It also ignores the fact that the EU treaties have a mutual defence clause, that the US under both Trump and Biden have proved unreliable and Germany is probably on the way to rearming. We need allies and we need France & Germany, The future may be more than NATO.

I am disappointed at the cowardice shown by the Labour Front Bench, but not particularly surprised. Starmer has shown himself to be more accepting of Brexit than Corbyn, who it seems, at least remembered that the policy was to accept the referendum but only if the terms were acceptable. Starmer’s Labour voted for the final deal and are not challenging the Brexiters, even as their fantasy crumbles around them.

Finally I am reminded of a prediction made in of all places the International Socialist Journal, on 2nd Jan 2019 where a dissident author, Wayne Asher, argued for a remain position opposing the more popular, in those circles, Lexit position. He argued that the Brexit vote within the working class was not progressive.  He finished his article,

Imagine a worse case situation in the spring, a chaotic Brexit has led to queues on the M20, factory layoffs, food shortages and high inflation after a currency collapse. We will be forced to tell workers that all this is very dreadful and should be fought, but, ahem…we actually supported Brexit. It won’t wash.

Wayne Asher – ISJ Jan 2019

It looks as if the right of the Labour Party have not read this and are still playing triangulation within the Overton window. There is an uber-Remainer vote to win, it’s young, it works and is often not white. The policy goals are insufficient and they are chasing the wrong votes.


Here’s the speech,


[1] Focus groups should test messaging not policies.

[2] This is more than double the pension and four times universal credit. Why are the benefits so low?

[3] That would explain the massive interest by politicians. We should note that creative industries have historically been net importers.

[4] This business sector needs serious improvements in employment protection laws covering zero hour contracts, sick pay and tied accommodation.


Human rights and the ECHR

Human rights and the ECHR

The Govt have published their response to the consultation on Human Rights Act. The responsible minister is Dominc Raab, for whom it has been a long term aim to weaken people’s access to legal remediation, well for anything actually. Raab wrote, The Assault on Liberty, reviewed in the independent and the Guardian. In this case, the target human rights and their 1st target is the right to a private and family life, arguing that honouring this right makes deporting people harder. There’s another answer,

 While developing the GMB London Region’s evidence to the consultation, I was asked to focus the needs and rights of GMB members as trade unionists and concluded that too much attention was being placed on the relationship between the various institutions and insufficient on what might occur if a sense of impunity were developed in the administrative organs of the State. In the preface, to the evidence, it was stated that,

My concern is that, as a result of the framing of the consultation, too much attention will be applied to the relationship between the government, parliament, the UK Supreme court and the Strasbourg Court, and insufficient attention to the effective transfer of power to Ministers, Councillors and Officials who may behave poorly and with impunity should they feel less likely to have to answer to the UK or Strasbourg courts.

Dave Levy – On this blog

The fears, expressed by the Civil Liberty organisations have all come to pass, a review of the government’s arguments for proceeding show that this is about reducing the burden on government of complying with human rights law and some cases of permitting government actions particularly within the administration of justice that would otherwise be illegal. It’s a further development of the authoritarianism central to this government’s politics. The UK’s record at the European Court is good, with only two adverse rulings in the last report, both related to the administration of justice. This trend was notified by the Law Society to the United Nations for that organisation’s quinquennial periodic review, which it conducts for all member states.

Prof Mark Elliot has published a response to the Bill and its announcement. I found this explanation very simple in a good way and very direct. If you’re interested you should read it and as Jo Maughan says,

Prof Eliot concludes,  

From all of this, two key conclusions follow. First, contrary to the assertion of the Justice Secretary, the Bill certainly does not enhance human rights protection. The very most that can be said for it is that it preserves human rights protection in the sense that it bites upon the same catalogue of rights as the HRA. Second, however, any suggestion that the Bill maintains the same level of protection as the HRA is ultimately doomed to failure because, for reasons hinted at above and developed below, the Bill significantly diminishes the level and forms of domestic protection afforded to the Convention rights.

prof Mark Elliot – Public Law for Everyone


The current UK Government is increasingly showing itself to be allergic to scrutiny. When Parliament stood up to it in relation to Brexit, the Government unlawfully attempted to prorogue, or suspend, Parliament, in flagrant breach of fundamental constitutional principle. When the Supreme Court said as much, the Government bridled and made noises about limiting the courts’ powers of judicial review. When the last-but-one Independent Adviser on Ministerial Interests reached an inconvenient conclusion (namely, that the Home Secretary had breached the Ministerial Code by bullying officials), the Prime Minister rejected it, prompting the Adviser’s resignation. When the Prime Minister was found to have breached the criminal law, he rewrote the Ministerial Code, removing references to integrity and honesty. And when, just last week, the ECtHR intervened in relation to the Rwanda deportations, the Government apparently responded by introducing legislation, in the form of clause 24 of the current Bill, ordering British courts to ignore such interventions. The pattern, then, is undeniable: the Government dislikes scrutiny and views accountability mechanisms as threats that should be neutralised or at least marginalised.

prof Mark Elliot – Public Law for Everyone

A detailed statement on the image credit is on the image page. Having conducted a reasonable search I believe it to be an image without copyright.  …

Coming soon, at #Lab22

Coming soon, at #Lab22

Two Labour Party comrades have managed to submit rule changes to LP Conference; one is an attempt to ensure that the LP takes decisions conformant with the European Convention on Human Rights, the second is an attempt to constrain the NEC's powers to make the rules up when conducting selections. The text can be found in this CLPD doc for the first (or below/overleaf), and in this document for the second, (or below/overleaf).

Please get mandates to support these rule changes. ...

Another fine hole!

Another fine hole!

So it appears that Sir Keir Starmer is going to return to his comfort zone on immigration. Ruling out that a Labour Government, led by him, will agree a freedom of movement of workers with the EU, except of course, Eire, Malta and Cyprus, although given some of his comments in the Union, he may well be willing to sacrifice the UK/Eire Common Travel Area.

I don’t know how many times I and others need to say this. We need foreigners, particularly young foreigners to come to this country to work and pay taxes. If they don’t come, the work doesn’t get done, which is one reason there’s a labour shortage. The search for a ‘fair immigration’ policy that restricts incoming workers is like looking for a chimera. We now have an earnings limit that means that teachers and nurses cannot enter the country to work. It’s an economic act of self harm and panders to racism.

Starmer isn’t very good at economics and this is trolling his base. He assumes they have nowhere else to go; the last people to think this were wrong and he is too. …

An old idea, whose time has come

An old idea, whose time has come

Has the single market pendulum swung? Tobias Ellwood MP, a Tory, lifted the lid? The GMB voted to recognise that we could do better than the terms agreed; it seems I was preceded (or maybe not) by Ann McMorrin MP, who was rebuked by a courageous un-named Labour spokesperson. McMorrin was followed today, by an article from Stella Creasy, arguing that Labour’s silence on the crapness of the Brexit deal leaves the whole of the narrative to the Tories, although crapness is not the word used by Creasy. This is compounded in my mind by Starmer’s decision to vote for the withdrawal deal! The Creasy article is to my mind very good, and here are two quotes,

For fear of saying the wrong thing, many in Labour claim it is better to say nothing at all about Brexit. But such reticence does not honour those who voted Leave – or Remain. Each wanted their vote to mean something better than chaos at the borders or businesses in peril. Post-Brexit, there are many ways forward for the UK and the EU – and most don’t end in a trade war as a distraction from a prime minister’s personal misconduct

Aneurin Bevan once argued that “silent pain evokes no response”. The same is true of silent politics. It will damage our national interest for generations if hostility about the UK working with the EU seeps into public life without dissent. To be able to do business with the biggest trading block in the world, stand shoulder to shoulder against Russian aggression and tackle climate change, terrorism and social injustice, Britain needs us to speak up now. Keeping stumm is not in anyone’s interest except Johnson’s.

Stella creasy – The Observer 19 June 2022

She’s right, we need to talk about the post Brexit deal and the single market; and if the Chair of the Labour Movement for Europe won’t then there’s little reason to expect others to do so as the treatment of McMorrin shows.  …

Fair Voting at GMB22

Fair Voting at GMB22

Our branch proposed a motion on PR & FPTP asking for a member's consultation and a position of abstention while that occurs. The GMB have a position of robustly supporting FPTP. ( I should find out how many members the GMB group of the PLP has.) The video clip includes a speech from the following motion where the delegate used the opportunity of moving a pious motion calling for a Labour Government to argue for FPTP. If the vote had been close, I'd have asked for a count but it wasn't. The GMB continues to support the careerism of its parliamentary allies. The video of the debate, my speech notess and the words of the motion are overleaf. ...

AEIP Affiliaiton

AEIP Affiliaiton

We took a motion calling for affiliation to AEIP to Congress, the debate is on you tube see overleaf/below; one interesting aspect of this debate is that it was opposed due to the view that AEIP took a divisive position in 2019. I was able to reply and took the high road, using the Buffy Somers argument, “That was then, this is now!”. The video and speech are documented overleaf ...

The EU and the FTC at GMB22

The EU and the FTC at GMB22

I moved Motion 194, from my branch, on the Future Trade & Co-operation Agreement. This motion called for five reforms in the FTC, calling for relaxation of the agreement on freedom of movement, rejoining Horizon Europe, the mutual R&D programme, to enhance inward investment, rejoining Erasmus+ to continue youth and educational exchanges, mutual reciprocal voting agreements to allow citizens of the UK and of the EU to vote where they live, and to ease trade friction particularly in the context of the Northern Ireland Protocol. I have clipped my moving speech, and Joanne Rust's seconding speech. The CEC supported with qualification, and the motion was carried. If you use the 'read more' button, you can see the video of the debate, the words of the motion and my notes on the speech ...

On GMB sponsored councillors

On GMB sponsored councillors

Motion 193 caused some excitement in our branch. It calls for all councillors supported by the GMB to support GMB members and sign up to the implementation of GMB policies. The debate as is all the others, on youtube. It was carried, a signal perhaps of a more transactional relationship between GMB and the Labour Party.

The words of the motion moved by Newcastle City LA Branch are as follows.

193. GMB LOCAL GOVERNMENT COUNCILLORS This Congress calls on all GMB sponsored or supported Councillors to unequivocally support GMB members in Councils, Contracted Services, Schools and Academies. Congress notes that obtaining support from the GMB in political circles, is based on those seeking our support, signing up to the implementation of GMB policies and that includes in Public Services. Congress calls for progress on delivering this motion being reported on an on-going basis to the CEC.

Newcastle City LA Branch, Northern Region


Non-compete clauses

Non-compete clauses

On behalf of our members, I took a motion seeking to criminalise non-compete clauses, I moved the motion, and it was seconded. The CEC asked us to refer, and given the choice between that and opposition we agreed. Overleaf, you'll find the video, words of the motion and notes of my speech. I conclude with the following phrases,

The CEC will ask you to refer this motion as they have not made up their mind on the govt’s proposed options. Only prohibition works for our members.