Articles & letters

  • Brexiteers are falling behind

    In my latest article for Labour List, I argue that while the European election results were not good for Labour, nor were they good for the Brexit supporting parties. Labour must move to a wholehearted backing of a public vote on Brexit in order to stop haemorrhaging votes.

  • Courtesy Kalhh via Pixabay

    Brexit Options Are Running Out

    Although the new year has seen several Brexit options being discussed, in fact the actual options for Labour MPs on Brexit are increasingly clear. My latest article for Labour List.

  • Courtesy Leo Wilkinson

    Should Labour fear single market rules?

    Are there specific aspects of single market rules that would be problematic for a Labour government? Several are cited from time to time. Writing for Labour List, I point out that none in fact would cause insurmountable problems to delivering our manifesto,

  • Courtesy Tribune

    Interview in Tribune

    I was interviewed by Tribune Magazine on becoming Labour’s new Leader in the European Parliament.

  • Courtesy News Statesman (via Getty Images)

    Latest Article in The New Statesman

    The New Statesman has published my latest article ‘Brexiteers are not being honest about negotiations because they are panicking’

  • Image: Miron Podgorean

    Fabian Review | The Next Steps

    Fabian Review has launched a regular series of pieces looking at the view from Brussels on Brexit from the UK and EU politicians playing key roles in the negotiations, to which I will be regularly contributing.

    To start the series, I explain what the EU is planning while it waits for Britain to fire the Brexit starting pistol.

  • Courtesy Verdict

    State aid within the EU

    Writing for Verdict, a new geopolitical, finance and economics platform, I expose some of the myths about how state aid for industry works within the EU.

  • From Labour List

    Brexit at any cost?

    In Labour List, I argue that it may well be in the national interest, and Labour’s electoral interest, not to consider Brexit a done deal without a chance to reconsider when we eventually see what it actually entails.

  • Red lines

    Red lines

    In an analysis for the Fabian Society, I suggest a range of possible ways to square the circle between voters’ genuine concerns about migration and the urgent need to keep our economy afloat.

  • courtesy Dafne Cholet via Flickr

    Brexit deadlines

    I wrote this letter to The Times: Sir, Contrary to reports, triggering Article 50 in March 2017 doesn’t mean we will leave the EU in March 2019. The two-year deadline in the treaty is just a last resort, in case negotiations totally fail. Otherwise, the date for departure is set in the Article 50 agreement […]

  • courtesy Ken Teegardin (seniorliving.org) via Flickr

    A clean bill of health

    An exchange of letters in the Times brought up the old myth that the EU accounts had not been signed off by the auditors. I wrote the following reply, which was not printed. Sir, When it comes to the EU accounts, Alan Sked (letters, May 25) should go back to primary sources rather than trusting […]

  • courtesy Policy Exchange via Flickr

    Gove exploiting lack of knowledge

    I wrote a point-by-point criticism of Michael Gove’s argument for LabourList this week: Gove knows full well that most of his readers will not be conversant with the intricacies of EU procedures. He is cynically and dishonestly trying to exploit that, to try to restore his side’s chances to make inroads into the Remain vote. […]

  • courtesy Progress magazine

    Nasty tactics in referendum race

    My article in Progress magazine was published today: Some nasty tactics have already appeared in the European Union referendum campaign. One is the way that anti-EU campaigners try to bully or discredit their opponents, rather than discuss the issues. Their response to any message they do not like is to threaten, dismiss or try to […]

  • courtesy Gideon Benari via Flickr

    Fighting political battles

    A representative of ‘Trade Unionists Against the EU’ has been a regular correspondent in the Guardian letters column recently. I responded to his most recent assertions with a letter of my own, published today: Fawzi Ibrahim (letters, 30 March) wants to use the EU referendum to inflict maximum embarrassment on the government. He need not […]

  • courtesy Chatham House via Flickr

    By the strength of our common endeavour

    Policy Network commissioned a piece from me on Labour’s role in the upcoming referendum, and published it today: Whatever we think of the balance of Cameron’s reforms — and they are mostly a mixture of trivial and useful, with a few bad ideas thrown into the mix — we are not forced, like the Tories, […]

  • courtesy Arturo de La Barrera via Flickr

    Journalistic shorthand

    A letter in last week’s Spectator magazine bemoaned the journalistic habit of using “Europe” as a shorthand for “the European Union”. I was amused, and sent them this further comment: Sir, Your correspondent Anthony Jennings takes umbrage at the shorthand “Europe” to refer to the European Union. A lady I met the other day told […]

  • An unhealthy obsession with migration

    My opinion piece on migration and the EU has just been published by New Statesman: If we want to take seriously people’s concerns about immigration, first and foremost we must be honest about what gives rise to those concerns. And if immigration is a problem, it is emphatically not an EU problem. It suits the […]

  • Video screenshot

    What goes on at the sidelines?

    I gave an extended video and written interview to ITV News today on the behind-the-scenes details of the European Council summit. A very difficult meeting to chair. You’ve got 28 prima donnas around the table who all think they are right and usually get their own way domestically. They’re suddenly in a meeting where none […]

  • courtesy Dave Kellam via Flickr

    The useful and the trivial

    My analysis of Cameron’s current EU negotiations was published this morning in Europe’s World: David Cameron seemed pleased with himself earlier this month when he stood up in the House of Commons and finally announced the details of the draft deal for his renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with the EU – a draft that will […]

  • Photo via Number 10

    Labour should focus on the big picture

    I wrote an article for Labour Movement for Europe’s op-ed series, assessing Cameron’s draft deal and what happens next in the ongoing debate about Britain’s EU membership. Are moments like these the first signs of genuine political engagement from a prime minister who has, up till now, been obsessed with trying to keep a lid […]

  • courtesy Vito Manzari via Flickr

    The EU is made of democracies

    My letter to the Telegraph was published over the weekend: SIR – European countries have not covered themselves in glory when it comes to addressing the migrant crisis. But it is wrong to suggest that the proposal to suspend Greece from the Schengen area is characteristic of a dictatorship. These proposals will be put to […]

  • courtesy Dave Kellam via Flickr

    Retreating from the fight would betray our values

    I write in the Huffington Post today that Europe is a political battleground where the left can, and do, win — which is why we must stay and fight: In fact, Labour is more united now on Europe than it has ever been – not just in parliament but at every level. Despite intense lobbying […]

  • creative commons via lse.ac.uk

    Parliament and Brexit

    I contributed to a collected article published by LSE on MEPs’ views about the UK referendum. The role of the European Parliament in the UK’s renegotiation saga could be crucial or minor — depending on how the talks go — and in the ultimate case of an eventual Brexit, decisive as regards the terms and […]

  • European Commission building

    Are these really EU failures?

    I sent this letter to the editor of the Daily Telegraph today. Dear Editor, You list “a democratic deficit, economic stagnation and chronic failure over mass migration” as the failures of the EU (Telegraph View, 10 Dec). But are they? “Democratic deficit” trips nicely off the tongue. But it would beggar belief that 28 democracies […]

  • Cameron & Juncker

    Tackling migration

    A short piece I wrote a few weeks ago about Cameron’s plans to limit EU migration has just been published by Progress magazine: What does the government claim it wants to do? European Union freedom of movement, enshrined in the EU treaties, was not on David Cameron’s initial list of demands, but later became a […]

  • via The Guardian

    Hopes and hurdles for the European project

    My letter about the EU was the leader in today’s Guardian comments section: Paul Mason relies on tired old cliches – and, bizarrely, his dislike of the Belgian police – to justify his claim that there is no democratic control over the European Union (G2, 19 October). He talks of “vast bureaucratic structures” and “the […]

  • There’s nothing left-wing about being anti-EU

    This article was originally published on Labour List. Like Britain, the EU isn’t perfect. Political battles need to be fought at European level, just as at national level, to change things. But our economic and environmental interdependence with our neighbouring countries makes such battles at European level vital – and the idea of opting out […]

  • courtesy Altogetherfool via Flickr

    How to oppose austerity without looking like deficit-deniers

    LabourList have published an extended essay of mine about the current economic situation. Across Europe – from Spain to Scotland, from the Labour leadership contest to the situation in Greece – this is turning into a central political question. No party of the left can support savage cuts to essential benefits, nor to vital investments […]

  • Photo by Sebastian Zwez courtesy of Munich Security Conference

    Steering between the trivial and the impossible

    Policy Network today published my paper analysing Cameron’s reform agenda and the likelihood of success in each key area. The prime minister’s demands for the future of the EU vary hugely in relevance and plausibility. With the referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU now a certainty, David Cameron now has to finally spell out […]

  • courtesy EU naval force via Flickr

    The EU is not the USSR

    My letter was published this morning in the Times: Sir, The claim by John Neimer (June 29) that the EU is centralised “just like the old USSR” is absurd. The EU can only act in those fields where its member states, all democracies, have conferred powers on it. Even then, any EU legislation requires the […]

  • Syriza

    Greece: don’t take things at face value

    My blog on Greece (originally on this website) has been republished as an article by Left Foot Forward: At first sight, the natural sympathies of many people, especially on the left, will be with Greece. Is this not a plucky little country, standing up to the IMF and the richer eurozone countries to oppose austerity […]

  • courtesy Gideon Benari via Flickr

    For a strong and progressive Europe

    An article jointly written by Neil Kinnock and me has been published today in LabourList. The European Union is changing. This is nothing new. We Brits might not be very good at noticing, but the European Union (EU) has always been changing — sometimes gradually, sometimes rapidly. It changes in response to our needs as […]

  • European reform is already happening

    The article below first appeared today in The Guardian and is reproduced with permission. It’s rare to find a politician in Europe who can talk about the EU without mentioning the R-word. Reform is the apple pie of European politics: every politician wants a slice. This is fair enough. Nobody would seriously argue that the […]

  • courtesy DFID via Flickr

    An open letter to David Cameron

    British Influence have today published my open letter to David Cameron. The full text is below. Dear Prime Minister, Firstly, congratulations on your election result. Your majority is thin, and your government will be fragile — but it is a government nonetheless. In the course of winning power, you have committed us all to a […]

  • courtesy werner22brigitte via Pixabay

    Shaping transatlantic trade

    The British Chambers of Commerce have just reprinted my column from a couple of months ago on TTIP and what’s at stake: The proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, is not all sweetness and light. Even as initial negotiations got underway between European and American trade representatives a couple of years ago, concerns […]

  • EU reform: what do we actually need?

    My thoughts on what ‘EU reform’ actually means for the current UK government have just been published on UCL’s Britain and Europe Blog: A strange thing happened in the second half of last year. As the British Prime Minister David Cameron proclaimed to the British people that he ‘won’t take no for an answer’ when […]

  • How much UK law is made at European level?

    I’ve just published an article in Business for New Europe’s blog on the simple point of how much UK law is made at European level, and how it has become a political hot potato: Of course, the question can be tricky to answer, because a lot depends on what counts as ‘a law’ and what counts as […]

  • Photo via Number 10

    An opportunity for meaningful reform

    I’ve just published an article in Progress on why the vacuum created by Cameron’s dilemma over his party’s EU policy is an opportunity for us to achieve real, meaningful policy reform in Europe: The truth is that European reform is an ongoing process about policy, not a one-off symbolic event. The whole point of the […]

  • EU and UK flags

    Idealism or pragmatism?

    I wrote my first article for the UK European Movement since becoming Vice Chair, on the subject of balancing pragmatism and idealism about the European Union. The EU today might appear to be less about inspirational idealism, and more about nitty-gritty pragmatism. And pragmatism is important. But when we focus exclusively on self-interested arguments, we […]

  • Me in Commissioner-designate Vella's hearing

    MEPs keep the Commission in line

    As a member of the European Parliament’s constitutional affairs committee, I’ve been observing the commissioner hearings to see how the procedure can be improved in the future. The process, and my report, is yet to be finalised — but I have written some of my initial thoughts in an article for the Parliament Magazine: When it […]

  • Photo courtesy of the European Commission

    A common sense guide to EU reform

    Europe’s World (a European policy journal)  has published an article of mine that outlines my thoughts on EU reform: Reform in the European context is an ongoing process, not a one-off event to be initiated, negotiated and completed within a self-proclaimed deadline. Rather, the whole point of the EU is to be a non-stop negotiating forum, year […]

  • Photo by Richard

    A lesson in democracy?

    Left Foot Forward have published an article of mine reviewing the hearings process and comparing it to the national political scene: How illuminating it would be, then, if the Commons took a greater interest in ministerial appointments and submitted ministers to close questioning in public confirmation hearings before they could take office! What a powerful […]

  • Courtesy jeffowenphotos via Wikimedia

    Are British MEPs usually outvoted?

    I sent this letter to the editor of the Telegraph today. Sir, The eurosceptic pressure group ‘Business for Britain’ has attempted to unpick the voting record of ‘the British’ in the European Parliament (How British MEPs are outvoted time and again in Brussels, 1 September). Sadly, their analysis is full of holes. First there’s the […]