Britons are less certain about Labour’s policy than the Conservative’s on all issues except the NHS YouGov’s latest polling shows that 70% of Britons see Brexit as the most important issue facing the country. Given this, it’s vital that parties make their policy crystal clear approaching the general election. But have they?
Labour has not always been clear about what it’s position on Brexit would be if elected in a General Election. Now that they have set it out, it has proved to confuse several people.
Labour are simply saying that the General Elecion should not be about Brexit, as it should be about the kind of policies people want from government for the next 5 years.
The people should be allowed to confirm if they still want to leave the EU or if they want to remain.
If Labour forms a majority government, there will be a confirmatory referendum on Brexit with a remain option, this time it would be given Binding status.
General Election issues should be separated from Brexit as voters who support the same party have different views on Brexit.
Randhir, I concur with you all the way to the skys. Thinking about it; people say: “The referendum was never explained to us.” Never thought for e.g.; we would need to renegotiate new ways of doing business with E.U., and rest of the world at the same time. And that it would take upwards of 4 years and still counting till we enjoy the frankenstein monster of ‘phenomenon’ called Brexit. No major new domestic policies; and UK’s influence on geopolitical stage almost coming to ZERO. Nobodoy wants to listen to someone about global affairs when they cannot put their own small hut in order///CRIMSON TAZVINZWA
That’s pretty hilarious that the issue of Brexit should be separated from General Election issues. Brexit is precisely why the election has been called by the Conservatives – LEON PACZYNSKY
Labour has just unleashed some powerful pledges on its National Education Service. And in one knockout sentence, party leader Jeremy Corbyn said everything we need to know about the difference between Labour and Tory priorities.
Investment in ordinary people or investment in billionaires?
Corbyn first said that “by ensuring the ultra-rich pay their way, we can provide training to everyone who needs it”. And then, with a clear reference to Conservative Party plans to save wealthy citizens billions of pounds, he insisted:
Personally, I’d rather give a break to a worker who wants to learn than give a tax break to the billionaire who wants for nothing.
To clarify, he stressed “that’s the difference between Labour and the Conservatives”. He also revealed that “it makes me angry when I hear of schools closing on a Friday because they can’t pay their bills, while the government can afford multi-billion-pound tax giveaways to corporations and the very richest”.
“It never occurred to me when I was Foreign Secretary,” says David Miliband, addressing his audience at the United Synagogue, “that people were looking at me and saying: ‘He’s a Jewish Foreign Secretary’. It never occurred to me that, when I was speaking, it was my religion that was in the front of people’s minds.”
It has been “painful” for the former Labour minister to discover the depths of anti-Semitism that exists in the UK, he says, and how his party has become “a magnet for some people with some utterly repulsive views” since Jeremy Corbyn became leader, resulting in some MPs quitting.
The i politics newsletter cut through the noise
The members of Miliband’s Jewish community, here in Highgate, north London, share that pain. The mood is sombre as he delivers a lecture on Brexit, fake news and the challenges facing British democracy in tribute to the late historian Sir Martin Gilbert.
Miliband, 54, is usually an observer rather than a protagonist in UK politics these days. Those on the Left of the Labour party may say good riddance to the Blairite who was the favourite to win the party leadership in 2010 yet failed to inspire and lost to his brother, Ed. Others will agree with the actor James Corden, who tweeted yesterday: “I truly believe the day David Miliband left British politics it all started to unravel.”
Fighting anti-immigrant populism
David Miliband has led the International Rescue Committee, founded at the request of Albert Einstein in 1933, for six years (Photo: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty)
Miliband’s passion is still evident when he sits down with i ahead of his lecture, in his capacity as the CEO of the International Rescue Committee, the New York-based aid charity he has run as CEO since 2013.
The story “should be a call on conscience to make a difference to desperate people”, he says, “in a world that is putting walls up rather than offering help”.
“The higher you build the walls, the more the people smugglers will work to get around them – and the more desperate, and the more that people will pay, to get around them.”
We met at the HQ of the Citi investment bank in London’s Canary Wharf, where his charity is announcing the expansion of its Rescuing Futures partnership with the bank’s charitable foundation. It will provide $3.5m to fund business training, mentorship and start-up grants for refugees and vulnerable people in six cities around the world.
David Livingstone, CEO of Citi Europe Middle East and Africa, speaks movingly of meeting an “inspiring” shoemaker named Lydia two weeks ago in Yola, Nigeria. She and her children had to flee armed groups who arrived in her town, leaving her with no money or possessions. But has been trained to help set up her own shoemaking business.
Miliband says: “People think the refugee crisis is so big that we can’t do anything about it. We say no, it’s so big that we’ve got to do something about it.”
He adds: “We’re living in an age when governments are in retreat, and so it’s incumbent on us as an NGO to step up, but we want to step up with the private sector.”
Miliband has been criticised for being paid $911,796 (£741,883) by the charity, a sum that has risen by $240,047 in the last two years. The 12 top-paid staff at the IRC take home $5m.
Unsurprisingly he does not discuss the ethics of this, saying only that he doesn’t decide his own salary. “We have independent mechanisms to set pay – that’s the right thing to do – and it’s run by the independent board of directors.”
Where should the UK go now with Brexit?
Miliband tells i that the UK should hold a second referendum on Brexit “for the democratic health of the country”.
In light of Boris Johnson’s proposed deal with the EU, “now we know what Brexit means,” says Miliband, who supports Remain.
“We can see the proposal and people can argue about the threat it poses to the integrity of the UK. They can argue about the economics, they can argue about the immigration, but at least now we’ve got something to argue about – or at least some some facts.”
He is dismissive of Labour’s claim last year that it could secure a “Jobs-First Brexit”, saying in his lecture that it was “a vain hope at best and a deception at worst. The only jobs in a Jobs-First Brexit are jobs for Holland, Germany and France”.
He also advocates the creation of a written constitution for the UK, to remove the Queen from politics, after “a near-miss event with our parliamentary democracy” with Johnson’s attempt to prorogue Parliament.
He refers to himself as an “ex-politician” at the synagogue, but does not rule out a return to UK politics. “I don’t know what I’m going to do next but I know what the test is: it’s where I can make the most difference for the things I believe in.”
As for the leadership of Labour and its future, he says: “There are so many talented people in the Labour Party… I wish they had more power.”
DESERTED PARLIAMENT//BORIS’S PROROGATION OF THE HOUSE
Real politics is about giving power to people who don’t have a lot of money and don’t have friends in high places so they can take control of their own lives/
Amid united outrage over Boris Johnson’s anti-democratic antics, Labour has had some respite from Brexit rows recently. But a public fare-up was due, and it has arrived. Labour’s current position was summed up by Jeremy Corbyn speaking at the TUC congress 2019 yesterday: “And in that election, we will commit to a public vote with a credible option to leave and the option to remain.” No more, no less. That is pretty straight-forward, but it does leave a couple of key questions unanswered. What is the credible Leave option? And would Labour back Remain in that referendum?///SIENNA RODGESR; LABOURLIST
A “credible Leave option” means no deal wouldn’t be on the ballot paper. That in itself does attract some criticism, because it excludes a position held by a significant chunk of voters, and it has led a number of Labour MPs opposing a referendum. (They argue that a public vote could not include such a destructive option, but couldn’t be legitimate without it either.) On the whole, however, Labour is agreed on that front.
The debate that has sprung up recently is whether Labour would renegotiate and establish its own Leave option, or just stick Theresa May’s deal on the ballot paper – as some interpreted John McDonnell as saying last weekend. Those worried by criticism of Emily Thornberry’s explanation of the Labour position (i.e. ‘we’d renegotiate, then I’d campaign against that Labour deal’) reckon cutting out a prolonged negotiation would be easier to communicate to voters. But affiliated unions want a proper renegotiation because otherwise the Leave option isn’t very credible and it’d be trickier to campaign in favour of it. This seems reasonable: Labour has never really had a problem with May’s (binding) withdrawal agreement anyway, and only needs to rejig the (non-binding) political declaration.
On the second question regarding Labour’s referendum position, the unions are winning the argument so far. They want the official stance to be dependent on the quality of the deal negotiated, not confirmed before the election, as set out after a crunch meeting in July. McDonnell, Thornberry, Diane Abbott, Keir Starmer and other shadow cabinet members have pledged to campaign for Remain in the referendum, but as a whole Labour hasn’t nailed its colours to the mast. As yet, the ‘1975’ approach of allowing Labour figures to campaign as they wish hasn’t been ruled out either. This could all change at conference, however, when members may be able to force the leadership into unequivocally backing Remain – even against its own deal.
As if there wasn’t already enough to argue about, Tom Watson will make a dramatic intervention today with a speech announcing his view that Labour should back an election only after a referendum. Here is the full story. There is some logic to this idea: many believe Labour would be far more likely to win an election if it wasn’t all about Brexit. But there is a lot that isn’t logical about the deputy leader’s stance.
The whole thing about this parliament is that it can’t make a positive decision on Brexit. Boris Johnson is right when he says it has only dithered and delayed. How does anyone actually propose to get a referendum through the Commons? Especially without extended rows over what to put on the ballot paper? Which brings us to another big, huge, gaping flaw in the referendum-then-election plan: this government with no working majority and a reckless Tory at the helm would have to preside over the whole thing and it would take several months. That means Labour would be telling the public, even more so than it already has over the last week: ‘Booting out a dangerous PM who is damaging this country on a daily basis? Nah, we’re alright thanks.’
Labour is still going ahead with its push for an early general election, only after which there would be another referendum (if Corbyn’s party wins). This was articulated by Richard Burgon at a TUC rally last night, and it is almost impossible to see that changing – even if many Labour MPs agree with Tom Watson and Tony Blair on their preferred order of priorities. As Jeremy Corbyn will emphasise on his visit to the Midlands today, the leadership’s focus is now on getting people to register to vote and kicking the Tories out – ASAP.
Yet that’s exactly what Boris Johnson is contemplating with his sinister threat to prorogue – or suspend – the UK parliament to ensure that MPs can’t stop a no-deal Brexit on October 31st. We know it’s undemocratic. What we don’t know, but will test in the courts, is whether it’s unlawful. That legal process starts tomorrow in the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
Around 70 MPs and peers from Labour, the Lib Dems, the Greens, the SNP and Plaid Cymru are among the petitioners. The future of the country is at stake, and working together across parties in the best interests of the people of the entire UK has never been more important. The team also includes Jolyon Maugham QC of the Good Law Project, which is backing the action, with Balfour+Manson instructing a counsel team headed by Aidan O’Neill QC and assisted by Professor Kenneth Armstrong.
The action is being brought before the Court of Session because it sits throughout August, unlike the English courts. We’re asking the Court to declare that the Prime Minister can’t advise the Queen to suspend parliament and stop it voting on no deal. If the Court agrees, then Boris Johnson will not be able to suspend the Commons for that purpose without parliament’s permission. We live in a country where our rule of law protects citizens from government. This is what is being invoked here.
The legal petition has already granted permission to go ahead, and – given the urgency of the situation – tomorrow’s initial hearing will determine how to proceed. Like any legal process, this costs money and a crowdfunder has been set up at crowdjustice.com for anyone who would like to help.
Boris Johnson’s reckless proposal to shut parliament down is undemocratic and simply cannot go unchallenged. I’m not prepared to stand back and allow the Prime Minister to take us out of the EU without a deal. That was not on the ballot paper in 2016 and will devastate our economy for perhaps generations.
My city, Edinburgh, is home to more than 39,000 EU nationals, more than anywhere else in Scotland. As many as 5% of all jobs in the capital are filled by workers from EU countries, with this ratio much higher in many of the key sectors and institutions across tourism, hospitality, health and social care, and financial services. Within higher education alone, EU workers constitute 17% of all Edinburgh University staff, while Edinburgh records a higher proportion of EU national students than any other UK city.
The financial services industry provides £5bn in gross value added to Edinburgh’s economy and employs 50,000 people. The UK enjoys the benefits of 750 international agreements through our membership of the EU, but the loss of ‘financial passporting’ would, at the very least, cause major disruption as it would mean we are unable to service markets and trade within the EU and other international markets.
Edinburgh’s economy is more reliant on financial services than the London economy or any UK city economy. Boris Johnson wants to put all this at risk, in turn putting the livelihoods of my constituents at risk. He made a political calculation to get himself into Downing Street and although it worked for him, his lies will come back and bite the country in a big way.
You don’t solve problems by creating borders, but by building bridges. The way to resolve this constitutional crisis is to give the people a final say on Brexit, with the option to remain in the EU. The answer certainly isn’t Scottish independence, which some of my Labour colleagues would do well to remember. Breaking up successful economic and social unions does not work, as Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson said at the weekend.
In 2014, Alex Salmond threatened a no-deal Scexit if the UK government wouldn’t let him share the pound. Now, the SNP is offering an even more extreme version – wanting to ditch the pound and hope for the best with a new fantasy currency, with flags and borders more important than people’s wages, pensions, mortgages or savings.
All the wrong-headed arguments for Brexit are the same as the wrong-headed arguments for independence. And when things go wrong, nationalists – Tory or SNP – simply blame others. An age-old political diversion tactic. Now the PM is employing that tactic by blaming the EU before a no deal Brexit in order to shirk responsibility for his own mess.
Rather than seeking to divide our communities, it’s time to bring people together. Let’s start by coming together to show Boris Johnson that he can’t take away parliament’s control and force through a catastrophic no-deal Brexit.