Ruth George Statement – A Comprehensive Response to Brexit

I campaigned for Britain to remain in the EU during last year’s Referendum because I believed that was in the best interests of the UK’s economy, that collaboration with partners in Europe was important for our scientific and academic communities, and for us to be part of a wider community.

However I respect the result of last year’s Referendum and am now focused on the need for the next Government to negotiate the best possible settlement for the UK.

I reject the Conservatives’ insistence on a hard Brexit, as this will damage our economy, but I also reject the Lib Dems’ policy of negotiating a soft Brexit and then putting the deal to referendum as there is every chance it would be rejected at referendum, leaving us with no deal. Labour’s policy of Parliamentary scrutiny and a meaningful vote in Parliament offers the only way to ensure both a deal that will best support our economic aims, but also that offers a secure way forward.

The Labour Party accepts the referendum result and a Labour government will put the national interest first. We will prioritise jobs and living standards, build a close new relationship with the EU, protect workers’ rights and environmental standards, provide certainty to EU nationals and give a meaningful role to Parliament throughout negotiations. We will legislate to guarantee that Parliament has a truly meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal.

It is very important that this election does not result in Theresa May having a free hand to negotiate whatever deal she wishes – however detrimental to the UK’s economy and our people – with no reference to Parliament required.

I believe the best possible outcome in the Brexit negotiations will be achieved by a collaborative approach by Jeremy Corbyn, who has been working with the other European political parties, rather than by Theresa May’s antagonistic posturing ,which has only succeeded in alienating the other European nations who will have the final say on the deal we are offered.

Labour will scrap the Conservatives’ Brexit White Paper and replace it with fresh negotiating priorities that have a strong emphasis on retaining the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union – which are essential for maintaining industries, jobs and businesses in Britain. Labour will always put jobs and the economy first.

Labour recognises that leaving the EU with ‘no deal’ is the worst possible deal for Britain and that it would do damage to our economy and trade. We will reject ‘no deal’ as unviable and negotiate transitional arrangements to avoid a cliff-edge for the UK economy.

A Labour Government will immediately guarantee existing rights for all EU nationals living in Britain and secure reciprocal rights for UK citizens who have chosen to make their lives in EU countries.

Our borders will be controlled by the appropriate issue of work, study and tourist permits and visas. We will work with employers who need to recruit from abroad, but we will ensure that this does not undercut workers at home and crack down on any employer that exploits the system to undermine wages and conditions.

We will establish a Migrant Impact Fund for public services which are under additional pressure in areas where high numbers of migrants are living.

A Labour government will never scapegoat refugees and asylum seekers. We will uphold all our responsibilities under the Refugee Convention and offer a safe haven to those fleeing persecution and war. We will review the current arrangements for housing and dispersing refugees which are not fit for purpose.

Labour will bring forward an integrated trade and industrial strategy that boosts exports, investment and decent jobs in Britain. The UK’s future prosperity depends on minimising tariff and non-tariff barriers that prevent us from exporting and creating the jobs and economic growth we need. This needs to include mutually recognised standards and qualifications maintained under proper regulation – we may like to complain about health and safety rules but no one wants to buy electrical equipment that bursts into flames or unsafe medical equipment.

We will ensure proper transparency and parliamentary scrutiny of all future trade and investment deals and that they safeguard the right to regulate in the public interest and to protect public services.

Labour is committed to the rules-based international trading system of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). We will rejoin the Government Procurement Agreement, whilst safeguarding the capacity for public bodies to make procurement decisions in keeping with public policy objectives. We will ensure that trade agreements cannot undermine human rights and labour standards , and that UK Export Finance support is not available to companies engaged in bribery or corrupt practices.

We will work with other WTO members to end the dumping of state-subsidised goods on our markets and develop the full range of trade subsidies necessary to support key sectors affected by these unfair practices. The Conservatives consistently blocked EU efforts to respond to dumping with the duties needed to defend our steel industry.

We will champion the export interests of SMEs, ensuring that all new trade agreements include a commitment to support their internal market access needs, develop an export incentive scheme for SMEs and ring-fence Tradeshow Access Grants to help SMEs reach new customers abroad.

Labour will develop capital investment schemes and other incentives to encourage investment into the UK, especially into target areas identified by our Industrial Strategy.