Tag Archives: brexit

  • courtesy Chatham House via Wikimedia Commons

    Brexit questions for the government

    Labour has published a list of 170 unanswered questions about the government’s Brexit plans. The full list is on the LabourList website and reproduced below. Free movement of goods and services We are assuming that the government has considered the following options for its continued post-Brexit trading relationship with the European Union: (i) maintaining full membership […]

  • 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 Claude Truong-Ngoc via Wikimedia Commons

    The EU doesn’t need to make things difficult

    As the European Union prepares for Brexit negotiations, and the realities of Brexit become clearer to the UK, many seem to have realised that negotiations are not going to be the walkover promised by the Leave campaign. Brexit supporters are already trying to pin the blame on European leaders, with the Telegraph claiming that EU […]

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    More complications of Brexit

    I replied to Alyn Smith MEP on Brexit. (You can view my original statement here.)

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    Complications of Brexit

    I spoke in the European Parliament on complications following from the Brexit vote. (You can watch my response on this subject to a question from another member here.)

  • Courtesy jeffowenphotos via Wikimedia

    Labour MEPs warn hasty Brexit will be disastrous

    Labour MEPs will warn the European Parliament that Brexit will be the “mother of all divorce cases” and will be “disastrous” if done hastily, reiterating how the UK government remains divided on membership of the single market, one of the biggest issues to be resolved. MEPs will debate the future of the EU today, and […]

  • courtesy Garry Knight via Flickr

    Marching for Europe

    The many thousands of people who joined the Marches for Europe across several British cities this weekend were not just “sore losers”. There were also “regretful winners”, and a large number of people from both camps who are worried about where we go now. Above all, the demonstrations were a further illustration of the fact […]

  • Theresa May

    Government failure? Blame the EU

    So, the government is contemplating a ‘hard’ Brexit, taking us outside the single market, introducing a tariff barrier and regulatory obstacles to our main export market. The economic cost of this would be enormous. But it is being contemplated in order to curb immigration. The problem is, most migrants in Britain come from outside the […]

  • courtesy Herry Lawford via Flickr

    Do pro-European Tories have any courage?

    The cabinet away day in Chequers has perhaps shed a little light on what kind of Brexit deal the government intends to seek. Faced with the unpalatable choice between aiming for full access to the single market (at the price of accepting its rules, including free movement) or leaving it entirely (at the cost of […]

  • courtesy SumOfUs via Flickr

    TTIP: All bets are off

    There’s a flurry of media activity over the proposed US-EU trade deal, TTIP. It was triggered by the German vice-chancellor, who said that the process had all but failed because the EU and the US couldn’t agree. Both the US government and the European Commission were quick to point out that negotiations continued, though the […]

  • Ventotene

    The BBC reported last night on the summit meeting of the leaders of France, Germany and Italy on the island of Ventotene – but without explaining the significance of the venue! It is yet another example of the British media not fully reporting European affairs. Why is Ventotene symbolic? Because it is where, in 1941, […]

  • courtesy Home Office via Flickr

    Chickens coming home to roost

    The Leave campaign offered two contradictory visions for Brexit. Some argued that we could remain in the EU’s vital single market, despite leaving the EU. Others argued that we should cut links entirely, focusing on the rest of the world. The reason they were divided is that both scenarios are problematic. Staying fully in the single […]

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    On behalf of the 48%

    I spoke in the European Parliament on behalf of “the 48%”.

  • Courtesy Rama on Flickr

    Things are far from settled

    On the face of it, it’s clear. The referendum decided that Britain should leave the EU. And yet, despite this, there have been rallies across the country opposing Brexit, several million people signing a petition to Parliament urging it to vote against triggering Article 50, and the devolved Scottish government hinting it could block the process. So why is this?

  • Photo via Number 10

    What next?

    The key reason why the government doesn’t want to trigger divorce negotiations with the EU is that Britain still has to decide on what alternative relationship to seek. There was no consensus on the Leave side on this. Indeed, contradictory visions were offered. Some advocated seeking to keep full access to the European market which, […]

  • courtesy Policy Exchange via Flickr

    Why did they win?

    In a general climate of suspicion towards politics, the establishment, and globalisation, Leave campaigners managed to portray themselves as anti-establishment insurgents, despite being led by ultra-establishment figures. They they ran a ruthlessly efficient campaign, strong on the dark arts of manipulating media, manufacturing myths and rebutting anything — however authoritative — that didn’t support their […]

  • Boris Johnson

    Long List of Leave Lies

    We send £350m a week to Brussels We can’t stop Turkey joining We can’t stop a European army We are still liable to pay eurozone bailouts The UK rebate can be changed against our will Our VAT exemptions will be ended Cameron’s deal was not legally binding EU law is adopted by unelected bureaucrats We […]

  • EU and UK flags

    Comment on UK referendum result

    I am deeply saddened at the result, which will reverse forty years of outward-looking, progressive collaboration with our neighbouring countries in the European Union we have built together. This is a dark day for Britain, and one whose painful impact will be felt across the country and abroad. It has been a difficult fight, and […]

  • Leeds Makkah mosque

    A letter from Imam Qari Asim

    A Leeds imam, Qari Asim MBE, has written an open letter to Muslim communities and asked me to share it here. On Thursday 23 June, Britain will make a once in a life-time decision: should we remain within the European Union, or come out of it. As British Muslims we must play our role in this […]

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    Q&A with Jonny Walker

    I took live questions on Facebook in a 90-minute conversation hosted by Jonny Walker, a high-profile local musician whom I bumped into in Bradford a couple of days ago.

  • courtesy secretlondon123 via Flickr

    A plea on Facebook

    Following up on yesterday’s contributions from constituents, today a well-argued Facebook post by a young man named Simon Budden was drawn to my attention. Everyone, I normally spare Facebook from my political views; I can’t think anyone particularly comes here to see me get up on my soapbox. However, I’ve broken that rule recently because […]

  • courtesy Adam Wyles via Flickr

    Constituents’ contributions

    Amid the media frenzy of the last few days, I’ve been pleased and intrigued to read some heartfelt contributions to the campaign from some of my constituents. With the permission of the various authors, I thought I would share some of these contributions on my blog. Poetry An author who wishes to remain anonymous has sent me […]

  • Made in Leeds screenshot

    Made in Leeds

    I took part in a four-way debate on the EU referendum for Made In Leeds TV, a local station in Yorkshire. You can watch the film in four segments on their website: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

  • BBC Politics

    Sunday Politics

    I appeared on the Sunday Politics show to talk about future plans for the EU. The video is available for 30 days on the BBC website, and my interview starts at 35:04. Watch the video here.

  • Football, facts and apps

    I spoke to EU Reporter about the interplay between Euro 2016 football, the EU referendum and how to distinguish facts from fiction in the campaign.

  • courtesy Micheal Khanye via YouTube

    A fact-free campaign?

    There is growing disquiet about the nature of the EU referendum debate, with contradictory claims being banded about and accusations that one or another side is resorting to lies, scare tactics or exaggerations. It’s predominantly the Leave campaigners who have a creative attitude to the truth. As some of them freely admit, a fact-free campaign […]

  • Electoral Commission banner

    Votey McVoteface

    The EU referendum is now just around the corner — and the final deadline to register for this historic vote is almost upon us. It’s very simple and easy to do online. And if you’re not registered by Tuesday 7 June, you won’t be able to participate. There are currently 7.5 million eligible voters in […]

  • courtesy BASF

    Strong words from big employers

    Over the last few weeks, we’ve heard a series of forecasts from independent experts both at home and around the world about the potentially disastrous consequences of leaving the EU for British jobs and workers and our standard of living. But we don’t have to take their word for it. To get the view from […]

  • courtesy Andrew Parson via Flickr

    Boris’s blunder-bus

    Last week, Boris kicked off his anti-EU campaign with a series of gaffes so embarrassing that even the Daily Mail couldn’t resist pointing and laughing. Has he finally gone off the rails — or is his instinct for self-promotion behind even his latest series of blunders? First he posed in the doorway of his Vote […]

  • 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. […]

  • Daily Mail 1975

    Daily Mail 1975

    We were never hoodwinked. Here’s an extract from the Daily Mail’s leader, the day before our 1975 referendum on EEC membership.

  • 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 secretlondon123 via Flickr

    The EU and referendums

    A new line of attack by eurosceptics came my way the other day: the claim that the EU ignored national democratic decisions when it came to the French and Dutch referendums on the proposed EU constitution, Ireland’s initial ‘No’ to the Lisbon treaty, and the Greek referendum of 2015. So what actually happened?

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    Debate with Chris Grayling

    I debated issues related to the UK’s EU membership with Chris Grayling MP, Stephen Fidler of the Wall Street Journal, and Socialist MEP Marc Tarabella.

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    VLOG: Project Fear and migration

    Today’s vlog is a discussion of the way eurosceptics are spinning ‘project fear’, especially with regard to migration.

  • 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 Ryszard Hołubowicz via Wikimedia Commons

    Will Cameron’s deal stick?

    Today, eurosceptic minister Michael Gove gave an interview to the BBC in which he repeated Vote Leave’s opinion that Cameron’s new EU-UK deal was not legally binding. A similar claim was also made earlier this month in David Campbell Bannerman’s tirade of myth and negativity, where he suggested that the deal amounted to no more […]

  • Video

    More important than party politics

    I spoke to EU Reporter about the implications of the UK ‘in-out’ referendum for the future of the Union.

  • 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 […]

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    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 […]

  • Inside the EU summit: what can we expect?

    All eyes are on this evening’s crunch “summit” (European Council) meeting in Brussels, where David Cameron hopes to clinch a deal for his EU reform agenda. But how do these meetings really work? What happens if there is disagreement? Who will help broker the deal? I thought I’d give my behind-the-scenes insight (I used to […]

  • Vlog

    Vlog: The EU summit

    My latest vlog covers what to expect from the upcoming EU summit.

  • 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 […]

  • Cameron’s package: the view from Parliament

    Much is being made of the fact that, on some aspects of Cameron’s proposed EU deal, secondary legislation will have to pass through the European Parliament, which (it’s claimed) might water it down or even reject it. Legally speaking this is of course true. The European Parliament, like any other parliament, is by definition free […]

  • The Erasmus generation

    Today I had the pleasure of speaking to students at a school in York about how the EU works, what the key issues facing our continent are, and how we can best tackle such issues. Naturally, the talk with the students gravitated toward the looming referendum on Britain’s continued membership of the EU. And it’s […]

  • courtesy History Channel

    Who holds the cards?

    A perennial problem with the Leave campaign is that they have no idea what situation we’d find ourselves in if we quit the EU. Some of them glibly say we’d get a trade deal with the EU, keeping full access to the European market for our exports. Never mind that no country outside the EU […]

  • Speaking in plenary

    Cameron’s draft reform deal

    I address the European Parliament on Cameron’s draft reform deal.

  • 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 […]

  • Collaborating on cancer cures

    Today is World Cancer Day — and we are reminded of the sad fact that, with people now living longer, the risk of getting cancer is dramatically increasing. In 2012, there were an estimated 3.4 million new cases of cancer in Europe, an average of 254 new cancer cases for every 100,000 Europeans. In Yorkshire […]

  • courtesy FCO via Flickr

    Get the big picture

    Eurosceptic campaigners were up very early this morning, rubbishing Cameron’s draft EU deal as pointless and inconsequential before it was even published. But of course: if you want to stick to the hackneyed old line that the EU is unreformable, then you have to find some way to dismiss every single reform, and this is […]

  • Photo by Sebastian Zwez courtesy of Munich Security Conference

    Why the focus on migrants’ benefits?

    Difficulties in securing a deal on Cameron’s EU proposals, widely reported today, were predictable as soon as Cameron added the subject of EU migrants’ benefits to his list of demands. This issue didn’t feature in his original Bloomberg speech, where he first set out his intention to reform the European Union and hold a referendum. […]

  • Stronger In

    Behind the headlines of Stronger In

    This week, the Stronger In campaign sent a newsletter called Europe & You to households across Britain. It does a good job of presenting the hard-headed economic case for our continuing EU membership. Earlier this week, a group of journalists got together to launch an excellent new initiative called InFacts, dedicated to fact-checking EU campaign […]

  • 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 […]

  • Winston Churchill: a champion of European unity

    The last few days have seen one of the two anti-EU campaigns trying to use Churchill to their advantage, provoking outrage from his family. It is indeed a damn cheek, because Churchill was both an initiator and a strong supporter of the creation of what became the European Union. Eurosceptics like to quote Churchill’s speech in […]

  • 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 […]

  • courtesy Kenneth Allen via geograph.org.uk

    Labour Leave: an uphill struggle

    The recently relaunched ‘Labour Leave’ pressure group faces an uphill struggle. Its fundamental problem is that its name is a misnomer. This group no more represents Labour on Europe than the handful of MPs who rebelled over same-sex marriage in 2012 represented Labour on equality. In fact, the Labour party is squarely and unambiguously pro-European. […]

  • courtesy FCO via Flickr

    Thin gruel

    The Guardian reports today that Cameron is still hoping for a quick deal on his reform demands in this month’s EU leaders’ summit. Will he get it? It depends on how demanding he is. And that in turn may depend less on his assessment of what is genuinely desirable, and more on what his backbenchers […]

  • Alan Johnson MP

    Labour In for Britain

    Labour’s campaign to keep Britain in the European Union launches today. One question that might spring to mind is why Labour even needs a campaign of its own. After all, there’s already a vibrant and fast-growing cross-party campaign, Stronger In, which is doing a great job. There are three reasons why we’ve decided to have […]

  • 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 […]

  • Britain stronger IN Europe

    The Out Campaign have been preparing for the EU referendum for many years. They have UKIP donors funding them and are using that money to get their message out far and wide. Unlike them, the Stronger IN campaign is starting from scratch. It needs as many supporters as possible. To support the Stronger IN campaign […]

  • Sky News

    Sky News interview on Juncker

    I spoke to Sky News about Jean-Claude Juncker’s views on the UK’s place in the EU.

  • 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 […]

  • Mixed flags

    Rigging the referendum?

    Britain needs independent voices from business, politics and civil society to speak out about the benefits of being part of the European Union. But a worrying trend has emerged. Instead of engaging with these arguments, eurosceptics are ruthlessly focused on trying to close down debate. They do this either by claiming that nobody except them […]

  • Addressing conference

    Conference speech

    I told Labour’s annual conference: “The referendum is not on Cameron’s reforms. The referendum is on the much bigger question of our very membership of the European Union.”

  • David Cameron

    What’s Cameron’s real agenda?

    David Cameron told Andrew Marr on Sunday [pdf] that he “cannot rule out campaigning to leave if he cannot secure his goals”. Up to now, most pundits would have considered that to be rhetoric, assuming that he will come back from a meeting on Brussels proclaiming that his goals have been secured and duly campaign […]

  • Nigel Lawson

    Squabbling sceptics

    The venom with which various ‘Out’ campaigners (Nigel Farage, Nigel Lawson, Arron Banks) have attacked each other over the last few days tells you a lot about what sort of politicians they are — more interested in how the referendum campaign can enhance (or shore up) their profiles than anything else. But there is an […]

  • 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 […]

  • Seeing sense on workers’ rights

    With several news outlets reporting this morning that Cameron is rethinking his plan to attack workers’ rights, Labour has made its position clear: It was never going to be a good idea to try to build support for the EU based on a bonfire of workers’ rights. Strong economies should have decent rights for people […]

  • courtesy Graham Norrie via Wikimedia Commons

    Silence, bully and intimidate: a campaign strategy

    Yesterday, I reported on the strongly pro-European stance adopted by Britain’s universities. Vice-chancellors are queueing up to raise the alarm about a possible Brexit, pointing out that a ‘No’ vote in the upcoming referendum would not only cut off a critical source of funding for their work, but would rip British researchers out of vital […]

  • Universities for Europe

    The forthcoming referendum on our EU membership has made it all the more important that we concentrate on challenging misinformation. To do this convincingly, it’s crucial that we have a constellation of voices. Those in the No camp can easily laugh off politicians, but they find it far harder to laugh off businesspeople, charities, scientists, […]

  • 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 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 […]

  • History of a pro-European monarch

    In a forthright statement, yesterday Queen Elizabeth called for unity in Europe. Addressing German president Joachim Gauck, she said: The United Kingdom has always been closely involved in its continent. We know that division in Europe is dangerous and that we must guard against it … that remains a common endeavour. She did not explicity […]

  • Alan Johnson

    Labour relaunches grassroots pro-European movement

    The Labour Party’s grassroots pro-European organisation relaunches today with a reception and planning meeting in Westminster. The event brings together grassroots members from across the country and senior politicians to unite around making the case for the UK’s continued membership of the European Union, ahead of the forthcoming referendum. The Labour Movement for Europe’s honorary […]

  • Labour Movement for Europe in Westminster

    Labour Movement for Europe (LME) will be launching its Westminster Parliamentary Group in the Palace of Westminster today. Unfortunately I cannot make it to the launch, but I’ve put some thoughts down for all those attending: On behalf of the LME MEP group — of which all Labour MEPs are members (no backstabbers here!) — I […]

  • courtesy Amio Cajander via Flickr

    A particularly blinkered kind of euroscepticism

    Every commentator and his dog has advice to offer Cameron on his EU referendum strategy. I made a few suggestions myself in the Guardian last week; now it’s the turn of Matthew Elliott, who heads up a eurosceptic pressure group, to do the same in the Telegraph. Most of Mr Elliott’s ideas seem sensible at […]

  • 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 […]

  • EU referendum: who gets to vote?

    Two thirds of the way into her speech at the State Opening of Parliament this afternoon, the Queen announced what we’ve all been expecting: “My government will renegotiate the United Kingdom’s relationship with the European Union and pursue reform of the European Union for the benefit of all Member States. Alongside this, early legislation will […]

  • 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 Russavia via Wikimedia Commons

    Cameron’s difficulties start now

    There will be no honeymoon for our returning Prime Minister. He can savour his moment of triumph, but governing over the next five years with such a slim majority — the smallest of any incoming Conservative PM since the 1840s — will leave him in hock to even the smallest of rebellions on his backbenches, […]