I attended two meetings hosted by the European movement. The midday meeting had a panel consisting of Hilary Benn, Anna Bird (EM), Will Hutton and Stella Creasy. It would seem to me that Benn is taking a rest from campaigning, although in answer to questions he did make the point that any move to re-join the EU would need to avoid a ‘yo-yo’ effect i.e. that we can only ask to re-join the EU when it ceases to be a partisan issue. He also questions if Labour, even uber Remainers, are ready for another referendum, although I don’t think we’d need one for aligning with the single market. Hutton was vitriolic in his denunciation of the impact of Brexit and mendacity of its advocates. Bird was in-between. There is a recognition that opinion is becoming anti-Brexit, or at least the Brexit we have. But there is no appetite to challenge Labour’s leadership on their inadequate five point plan except from me.

I spoke, starting by stating that this Government was an ERG government and it should be confronted as such. I asked why the EU would agree to mutual professional qualification recognition outside a freedom of movement for labour agreement. They are looking at such a scheme within the EU, but crudely put, why would they take our dollar paid management consultants if we won’t take their hospitality, farm, care, and low paid NHS workers. I also made the point that border controls are not the only way in which immigration is penalised. We need immigrants to work and the Europeans will not be coming back while the hostile environment is in place. Labour needs to commit to repealing it. This is based on both macro-economic common sense and decency!

I was shocked to read, while checking up for this article, that Labour, in the 2017 manifesto,  committed to the “No recourse to public funds (NRPF)” for migrants, which at its ultimate point leads to children starving and even pregnant women denied hospital assistance. This is part of the hostile environment and should also go!

Bottom line, there’s very little appetite to challenge the leadership, not even over the single market and trade friction. There’s a fear over the politics of the freedom of movement and a denial that we need their low skilled people to run the economy and need their high skilled people to maintain our competitive advantage in bio-sciences research and even in financial services.

The evening meeting reinforced that there is little appetite to pursue even a single market agenda.

Meeting the European movement
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