You have one wish

You have one wish

Terry Reintke MEP, posted to twitter, asking what one change would her correspondents make to the EU. Terry is a co-president of the Green/EFA European Parliamentary group and a loud advocate for welcoming the UK back into the EU. She’s looking after our “Star”. She is also part of the Parliament’s delegation to the EU-UK Parliamentary Assembly, which provides parliamentary oversight over the implementation of the Trade and Co-operation agreement. I wonder if it’s met? She says,

I have replied, here’s my draft, the tweet is different, as I sought to break what I wanted to say into 248 byte chunks.

There are many great proposals in the #CoFoE final report. If having to choose one, I’d choose 11.3, including the goals of greening the economy and social justice within the EU’s economic governance system; I’d make the Semester a Regulation, not embedded in treaty. Economic Policy goals must be accountable to the demos, not embedded in unchangeable treaties.

CoFoE 11.3 Reviewing the EU’s economic governance and the European Semester in order to ensure that the green and digital transitions, social justice and social progress go hand-in-hand with economic competitiveness, without ignoring the economic and fiscal nature of the European Semester. In addition, there is a need to better involve social partners and the local and regional authorities in the implementation of the European Semester in order to improve its application and accountability;  

COFOE Final Report

Having to down select to only one reform, is tricky, as I say, in there’s a lot of great proposals involving extending competency into Education, Health and Energy, as well as other great . Good luck in getting it right, meanwhile it seems us Brits are changing our minds, I know you i.e. she will welcome us back, and it would help if we sought to do so with some respect and humility. …

Trade Friction and free movement.

I co-authored this, published at Brexit Spotlight by Another Europe.

It is little wonder then that the Conservatives are under acute pressure to revise their trading arrangements with the EU in order to re-open access the European single market. But it seems likely that – at least for the time being – Brexit ideology will not allow any serious recognition of the economic reality.    …

Froth about the Swiss style deal with the EU

Froth about the Swiss style deal with the EU

The Times broke a story (£) on Sunday that the UK would start to seek to improve relations with the EU and seek a “Swiss style” deal with the EU. This has caused some bad reactions in the parliamentary Tory party and the detritus of the Leave campaigns, with even that political zombie, Nigel Farage, offered us his advice.

A number of so-called experts add their voices on the impracticality of a “Swiss” style deals for reasons  of the size of UK economy, the absolute lack of will by the EU to repeat the Swiss treaty model and, for some, the democratic deficit that single market membership without the right to appoint CJEU judges, MEPs, commissioners and having a seat (and veto) at the Council would entail.

Opinion both expert and popular is now of the view that the UK must rejoin the single market; even some previously silent Remainers are finding their voices.

The Government spooked by the reaction from some of their backbenchers and Brexit supporters are trying to calm the political seas. The fact is that the language of a Swiss style deal is an attempt to linguistically soften the blow to the Brexit project. The idea, based on some truth, that the Swiss have more say than the rest of the EEA countries on sovereign issues is something that the Tory advocates of the single market are seeking to persuade rump Brexiters as acceptable.

Any road to change will be via the EU-UK Trade and Co-operation agreement. We will have a single agreement, unlike the Swiss, which will be developed to include the customs union, single market and CJEU supervision of regulatory compliance.

Image Credit: from wikipedia, cropped and passed through an ‘inks’ filter originally by John Fielding CC 2012 BY-SA …

Trebles all round!

Trebles all round!

This week, the Labour front bench, in a trinity of acts, supported the autumn statement and thus austerity in principle, criticised Tory immigration policy on the grounds of competence and repeated their promise to not join the EU, its single market, or adopt the EU’s freedom of movement in the next parliament (if they win).

The inconvenient truth is that the UK economy needs unskilled EU workers to do the work, It’s not the net fiscal impact that’s the issue. We have a massive labour shortage, we need migrants to do the work, it’s about the output. It’s not all highly skilled work as we define it either, it’s hospitality, agriculture, and health care. And today we define highly skilled as highly paid; even if only the highly skilled were desirable, they are not synonymous.

I have thought long and hard to find a way of compromising with those who want to pander to racists on free movement, and I can’t find a way of doing it while solving both the macro-economic problems and remaining true to our internationalist principles. All this “control immigration” or a fair “points based” immigration policy which involves stopping people is just pandering to racism.

Differentiating from the Tories on competence is morally vacant.

Accepting the debt fetishism at the heart of the Tories “New Economic Policy” is also morally vacant, and self defeating, you can’t cut your way to growth and austerity causes poverty, homelessness and is killing the NHS. Labour’s next manifesto and government must offer hope. They will lose votes from Corbyn’s voting coalition, and as far as I can see it’s deliberate.

You’d think they’d learn that voters always have somewhere else to go! Some demographics, historically Labour voters, are choosing to vote Tory.  …

We want our star back

We want our star back

The Rejoin EU movement held a national march today, the Evening Standard reported that it was well attended by 15,000 people, and @femi_sorry who took a film of the march and posted it on twitter at 12 times speed, so not as large as others

I’d love to thank the interpretive dancers performing to ‘ode to joy’, the car and van drivers that supported us, and the one builder who told us to “fuck off”. …

Brexit’s over, it’s just about the mopping up now

Phil, of a different Bias, has released a new video, spurred by his observation that the Brexiteers have retreated from “Take back Control” to “Save the Pound” because if we were to rejoin, they think we’d have to join the Euro. This probably isn’t the case. Phil points out that Sweden has agreed to join up and did so in 2002, but hasn’t yet done so and has no plans to do so.  

Actually, I think that of the opt-outs we had, the Euro is the least likely to be required; the issue of integrating a global reserve currency into the Euro maybe sufficiently risky for the EU to not press too much on that front, although of course there remains the fact that when the UK left the EU, the ECB mandated that all Euro capital market transactions were conducted within the Eurozone. Do we want that work back? Will they permit it to transfer back to the UK, is it possible for that to happen given the sale of the London Stock Market and London Clearing House to pan European exchanges?

So while I don’t believe the Euro will be a sticking point, I think something will be agreed. The Stability and Growth Pact is a bigger problem. Austerity vs Keynesianism is a political question and adoption should be accountable to the electorate and not frozen in unchanging treaties. This is not the case in the EU although a number of countries are in breach of the SGP thresholds, which were relaxed during the CV19 pandemic.

What might other sticking points be?

The opt-outs were,

  1. We didn’t have to join the Euro & we were exempted from the Stability and Growth Pact’s enforcement regime.
  2. We received a rebate on the financial contribution.
  3. We were outside Schengen and had a number of opt-outs from the Justice pillar
  4. and our relationship with the Court and the Charter of Fundamental Rights was weaker than most members, yet strong enough to remain full members of Europol.

(I didn’t know about the weaker relationship with the Court, and need to research its meaning but it seems that the pre Lisbon Treaty Labour Govt feared that the Charter of Fundamental Rights might conflict with our labour laws and we opted out of the Justice pillar probably to prevent judicial oversight of UK immigration policy. )

He argues as do I that the path we need is to align with the single market and its regulatory acquis, and re-join the customs union. This is necessary as part of a strategy for fixing broken Britain and may be achievable quite quickly. It will address trade friction, a problem Phil summarises as follows,  

‘ being a third country to your largest trading partner is shit’.

Although Labour are not yet there!

Phil argues that we should confront the arguments, particularly their strongest ones, as ignoring arguments is how remain lost in 2016. He thinks that Schengen is a step too far for the electorate; I am not so sure but I am convinced we need Europe’s young people to come here to work and study.. If the issue is immigration, then we need to argue for the right thing. We need workers and not just highly skilled ones, we should honour our citizen’s rights for family reunification, we must support the rights of refugees and asylum seekers and welcome overseas students, or at least those that want to come here now we have left Erasmus.

Perhaps now is the time to start talking about the issue that if we align with the single market, we will need to pass some judicial questions back to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Membership of the EU and its predecessors has always been a choice between economic security and sovereignty. In the UK, that sovereignty is not shared and so it becomes a false choice. The FT is now strongly saying that Brexit has damaged our economy; we just need an answer that ensures should we get back in control and within the EU, that wealth and income are shared more fairly.

The Truss Government was an ERG Govt, it’s fall marks the end of Brexit.

We remain unlikely to be able to apply to re-join until membership ceases to be a partisan issue and that the UK, if it still exists, can offer a substantial and believably long-term majority in support of re-joining the EU. We are not there yet as the Tony Blair institute reports, and the EU won’t want us if  we plan to dance the okey-cokey.  The majority in the UK seem ready to consider dramatic measures to ease trade friction by aligning with the single market and adopting regulatory harmony with the European Union. I shall be doing my little bit to give it a push. …

Crisis, what crisis!

Crisis, what crisis!

Some aspects of this are hard to understand, here's my attempt. The UK has been in a balance of trade deficit for decades. For most countries it is the main factor in determining foreign exchange rate between sterling (GBP) and other currencies. In the case of the UK, there is significant additional incoming flows buying sterling quoted stocks, bonds and gilts. Sterling has been falling ever since Brexit, in my mind as a result of a drop in confidence due to Brexit and the growing relevance of the balance of payments deficit; the fear of inflation has added to that recently. This article looks at the history of bond prices and interest rates and warns that increasing interest rates may cause mortgage defaults. I conclude, "A triple whammy of inflation, pension losses, and mortgage payment increases, suddenly the UK seems a lot poorer than it was. " The full article and diagrams can be seen overleaf ...

Meeting the European movement

Meeting the European movement

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. …

Labour and Foreign Policy

Labour and Foreign Policy

I have just done the Labour List survey on Labour’s foreign policy advertised and written by the Labour Foreign Policy Group (Who they? Ed). I note that on their question on Brexit, they repeat the political trick used in the corrupted referendum,  Do support the Leadership’s attempts to move on and make Brexit work or should we rejoin the Customs Union and Single Market or the EU, or just satisfy ourselves with a ‘closer relationship’.

I believe we need to re-join the Customs Union and Single Market, to alleviate the economic damage caused by the increased trade friction and this is a closer relationship with the EU. I also believe we should re-acquire our political rights i.e. rejoin. The Labour Leadership have a fantasy that the Tories hard Brexit can be fixed, and we can now see the beginnings  of the Tories  phase III, the repeal of the Working Time Directive, revoking the Banker’s bonus cap and the restarting of fracking. Wake up, we have an equally unprincipled Prime Minister who is an effective servant of the ERG and the UKIP entryists.

With respect to the survey, I wanted to vote for all three ‘No’s but couldn’t as it was a radio button widget answer. This is how they win, it’s called divide and rule and this is why the PR campaign won’t talk about systems until the principle is agreed.

I also said with respect to supporting the Ukraine that Labour should ensure that Russian money is expelled from UK politics and while the Tories and Leave campaigns are the obvious first port of call, Labour needs to make sure its own hands and the hands of its parliamentarians are clean!

I think my first principles would be that a Labour Government must promote democracy and the rule of law at home and abroad, democracies don’t war with each other, …

Labour and the EU

Labour and the EU

I have written an emergency motion for Labour Party Conference, I have ’till noon on Thursday to get it submitted, so better get a move on, unfortunately doing this from a CLP is a bit tricky . I need to check if it’s on the Agenda but that’s a bit tricky, I am not sure they have published all the motions to hoi-polloi like me yet.

Conference notes the announcement by Liz Truss on 19th September that there will be no post Brexit trade deal with the USA, and that the Govt is once again postponing (16th Sept) the imposition of the agreed customs checks between Great Britain and Northern a bit tricky, made worse by the direction not fo

Conference further notes that the Tory ‘Hard Brexit’ has led to reduced foreign inward investment, a worsening balance of trade deficit, reduced employment, a labour shortage in many industries, most obviously in agriculture, hospitality and in the NHS,  jobs are being offshored to western Europe and sterling is at its worse exchange rate ever with both the dollar and the euro. The labour shortages are compounded by the xenophobia released by the referendum and the Tory’s “hostile environment”.  

Conference believes that these negative economic consequences of Tory policy are significant contributors to the cost of living crisis.

Conference believes that to start reversing the damage inflicted by the Tory ‘Hard Brexit’ Britain needs to significantly reduce the trade frictions it has imposed on its imports of goods, services and labour from its biggest trading partner, the EU.

Conference resolves that Labour will call for a closer relationship with the EU in order to alleviate the trade frictions the Tories have introduced, that we will seek to rejoin Horizon Europe and Erasmus+, and that we will repeal the cruel and intrusive hostile environment. …